Dr. Eric Williams
Born on September 25, 1911, Eric Williams was the son of Elisa and Henry Williams, a minor Post Office official in Trinidad. He was educated at Queen's Royal College and won the Island Scholarship to Oxford University. At Oxford, he placed first in the First Class of the History Honours School and received his Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1938. His doctoral thesis, The Economic Aspect of the West Indian Slave Trade and Slavery, was considered an important contribution to research on the subject and was published in 1944 in Williams' Capitalism and Slavery. Much of Williams' educational pursuits at Queen's Royal College and Oxford University is documented in his book, Inward Hunger: The Education of a Prime Minister.
In 1939, Williams migrated to the United States to teach at Howard University. He became an assistant professor of social and political sciences and organized several courses, especially a humanities course for which he developed a three-volume work called Documents Illustrating the Development of Civilization (1947). While at Howard, Williams began to work as a consultant to the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission, a body set up after the war to study the future of the region. In 1948, he left Howard to head the Research Branch of the Caribbean Commission. He later (1955) resigned from the Commission in protest against its crypto-colonialist policies.
Williams returned to Trinidad and Tobago and became more involved in politics. His first major political speech was titled My Relations with the Caribbean Commission (1955). A year later, Williams formed the People's National Movement (PNM), a political party of which he became the leader. In September of 1956, the PNM won the national elections and he became the chief minister of the country from 1956 to 1959, premier from 1959 to 1962, and prime minister from 1962 to 1981. During his term as prime minister, Williams led Trinidad and Tobago into the Federation of the West Indies and to independence within the Commonwealth in 1962. Williams died in office on March 29, 1981. Often called the "Father of the Nation," Williams remains one of the most significant leaders in the history of modern Trinidad and Tobago.
Dr. Eric Williams considered himself a teacher, historian and a philosopher. Before and during his tenure as prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, he wrote many articles and books on the Caribbean, education, and politics. The following is a bibliography of his works in chronological order:
- "The Golden Age of the Slave System in Britain." Journal of Negro History 25 (1940).
- "British West Indian Slave Trade After Its Abolition in 1807." Journal of Negro History 27 (1942).
- The Negro in the Caribbean. Washington, DC: Associates in Negro Folk Education, 1942.
- "Laissez Faire, Sugar and Slavery." Political Science Quarterly Capitalism and Slavery. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1944.
- "Race Relations in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands." Foreign Affairs 23 (January 1945).
- "Historical Background of British Guiana's Problems." Journal of Negro History 30 (1945).
- "Proposed British West Indian University." School and Society 63 (April 1946).
- "Education in Dependent Territories in America." Journal of Negro Education 15 (Summer 1946).
- Ed. Documents Illustrating the Development of Civilization. 3 vols. Washington, DC: Kaufman Press, 1947.
- Education in the British West Indies. Port of Spain: Guardian Commercial Printery, 1950.
- Ed. Documents on British West Indian History, 1807-1833. Port of Spain: Trinidad Publishing Company, 1952.
- Ed. The British West Indies at Westminster: Extracts from the Debates in Parliament. Port of Spain: Historical Society of Trinidad and Tobago, 1954.
- Constitutional Reform in Trinidad and Tobago. Port of Spain: Teachers' Economic and Cultural Association, Public Affairs Pamphlet, no. 2, 1955.
- Historical Background of Race Relations in the Caribbean. Port of Spain: Teachers' Economic and Cultural Association, Public Affairs Pamphlet, no. 4, 1955.
- Economic Problems of Trinidad and Tobago. Port of Spain: Teacher's Economic and Cultural Association, Public Affairs Pamphlet, no. 1, 1955.
- The Case for Party Politics in Trinidad and Tobago. Port of Spain: Teacher's Economic and Cultural Association, Public Affairs Pamphlet, no. 4, 1955.
- My Relations with the Caribbean Commission. Port of Spain: Teachers' Economic and Cultural Association, 1955.
- Federation: Two Public Lectures. Port of Spain: PNM Publishing, 1956.
- Perspectives for Our Party. Port of Spain: PNM Publishing, 1958.
- From Slavery to Chaguaramas. Port of Spain: PNM Publishing, 1959.
- Economics of Nationhood. Port of Spain: Government Printing Office, 1959.
- People's National Movement: Major Party Documents, Vol. 1 Port of Spain: PNM Publishing, n.d.
- Massa Day Done: A Masterpiece of Political and Sociological Analysis. Port of Spain: PNM Publishing, 1960.
- Perspectives for the West Indies. Port of Spain: PNM Publishing, 1960.
- Our Fourth Anniversary. Port of Spain: PNM Publishing, 1960.
- History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago. Port of Spain: PNM Publishing, 1962.
- "Speech on Independence." Nation, August 31, 1962.
- Documents of West Indian History. Port of Spain: PNM Publishing, 1963.
- Reflections on the Caribbean Economic Community: A Series of Seven Articles. Port of Spain: PNM Publishing, 1965.
- British Historians and the West Indies. London: André Deutsch, 1966.
- Britain and the West Indies. London: Longmans for the University of Essex, 1969.
- Inward Hunger: The Education of a Prime Minister. London: André Deutsch, 1969.
- PNM Perspectives in the World of the Seventies: An Address. Port of Spain: PNM Publishing, 1970.
- From Columbus to Castro: The History of the Caribbean, 1492-1969. London: André Deutsch, 1970.
- Nationwide Broadcast. Port of Spain: Government Printery, 1970.
- Some Historical Reflections on the Church in the Caribbean: An Address. Port of Spain: Public Relations Division, Office of the Prime Minister, 1970.
- The Chaguaramas Declaration. Port of Spain: PNM Publishing, 1970.
- "The Blackest Thing in Slavery Was Not the Black Man." Revista Interamericana (Puerto Rico) 3, no. 1 (1973).
- "The Case Against Proportional Representation." Round Table (Great Britain) 249 (1973).
- "A New Federation for the Commonwealth Caribbean." Political Quarterly (Great Britain) 44, no. 3 (1973).
- PR: To Dissolve Present PNM Majorities. Port of Spain: PNM Publishing, 1973.
- "The Threat to the Caribbean Community." Port of Spain, 1977.
- The Political Leader's Address. Port of Spain: PNM Publishing, 1977.
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