By anguillian May 29, 2017 10:30 Updated




Longstanding causes

The Anguilla Revolution was concerned with replacing St Kitts’ administration of Anguilla with direct British administration but the basic underlying causes were social, economic and political. It was concerned with the efforts of the Anguillian people to break out of a situation of sub-colonization which was formalized in 1825 with the creation of a legislative union with St Kitts and which retarded Anguilla’s development. The Anguillians opposed the union which deprived them of their own political and other institutions, as limited as they were, but the union was nonetheless foisted upon them. On 10th March 1825, the leading freeholders protested the establishment of the union and wrote their Lieutenant Governor, William Richardson, seeking a postponement of the holding of the election of their representative to the Assembly in St Kitts until they “had the opportunity of representing to His Excellency the Commander in Chief” their views on the matter. That same day, 10th March, in furtherance of their objection to the establishment of the legislative union, the leading freeholders complained, by way of a petition to Governor Charles Maxwell in St Kitts, that the abolition of their Council and the sending of a representative to the House of Assembly in St Kitts were not in their best interest. In questioning the ability of the St Kitts Assembly to legislate justly on their behalf, the freeholders told the Governor that “bad laws [were] the worst of all tyranny,” and asked: “Can we indulge a hope that laws enacted particularly for this community, can or will be made with much regard to its interests, when they are to be passed by a body of men living in a distinct and remote island possessing no property of any kind here, and having no connexion or relation whatever with those for whose Government such laws are intended?”1 In light of such concerns the freeholders proposed, instead, that their Council should be treated as a branch of the Assembly in St Kitts. That proposal was rejected by Governor Maxwell. (Jacob Hardtman was eventually elected as Anguilla’s first representative to the Assembly.)

That legislative union was always a bitter pill for Anguillians to swallow. In fact, they never did swallow it because, several years later, on 23rd August 1872, their longstanding dissatisfaction with it caused them to petition Queen Victoria for its dissolution, but to no avail. The petition said in part: “. . . The interest of Anguilla, its resources, and capabilities of development are not understood and cannot be understood by the Legislative body of St. Christopher who are utter strangers to us, ignorant of the community, careless of their wants, and therefore unqualified to discharge with promptitude and fidelity the important duties of legislating for us . . . This legislative dependence on St. Christopher (can in no sense be termed a legislative union) has operated, and continues to operate most injuriously against us, and is mutually disliked”. Some of the petitioners’ complaints concerned: poor housing; lack of a poorhouse or infirmary; “a most galling and oppressive system of direct taxation on imports”; disrepair of school; a jail “unfit for the reception of human”; poor roads and “no medical doctor”.

The Anguillians saw no tangible social, economic and political benefits being derived from the union and craved its dissolution. And to add insult to injury one official at the Colonial Office described the Anguillians’ petition, to the Queen, as “a petition from a large number of illiterates”. A regrettable statement, indeed, about a hardworking people seeking to find a way out of the poverty in which they were literally buried.

Eventually, Anguilla’s right to send a representative to the St Kitts Legislature ended in 1883 when the Presidency of St Kitts, and the Presidency of Nevis, were united into a single Presidency. To quote from a Handbook History of Anguilla Second Edition (2015): “1st January 1883, the Presidency of St Kitts and the Presidency of Nevis were united into a single Presidency: the Presidency of St Christopher (St Kitts)-Nevis. (Despite Anguilla’s legislative link with St Kitts, Anguilla was not mentioned in the name/title of the Presidency.) And on “18th April 1883, the Legislature Assembly in St Kitts passed an “Ordinance to repeal certain Acts and Ordinances relating to the island of Anguilla, and to make other provisions in lieu thereof”. One of the Acts repealed was No. 21 of 1825 which had given Anguillians the right to send a representative to the Assembly in St Kitts. Also repealed were the Vestry Acts of 1846 and 1867. The result was the abolition of the Vestry and therefore the end to local government in Anguilla. Thereafter, a Magistrate was appointed to oversee the day-to-day administration of the island’s affairs”.  It meant therefore that towards the end of the 19th century, Anguilla had no political institutions whatsoever.

It would be laughable to refer to a Magistrate (some with medical but no legal training) as a political institution, but it was a Magistrate who was placed in charge of the Anguilla’s administration. Decisions affecting the island continued to be made in St Kitts without any input from the people for whom they were made.

It was not until 1936, that Anguilla’s right to send a representative to the Legislature in St Kitts was restored. It followed the passing of the St Christopher-Nevis Constitution Ordinance 1936. The new Legislature comprised “three official members, three nominated members and five elected members”. The Ordinance provided that each island of the Presidency should constitute one electoral district with St. Kitts returning three members, Nevis one and Anguilla one. It also provided for limited suffrage whereby those persons who met certain property or income qualifications were eligible to vote.

A few years later, in 1952, constitutional reform providing for, among other things, full adult suffrage for St Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla took effect. Participation in the electoral process was open to all persons 21 years old and upwards. It was no longer dependent on property or income qualifications. The reforms brought about by the new Constitution also resulted in the introduction of five single-member constituencies in St Kitts, two in Nevis, and one in Anguilla (which was added to the title of the Presidency for the first time).

It was against the foregoing constitutional and political environment that Anguilla always got the dirty end of the stick. The forward movement of its people was slow and haphazard – was given low priority.
Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, Anguilla showed few signs of growth. During the 1950s and early 1960s it remained relatively poor and undeveloped. It had a subsistence economy with agriculture, primarily mixed farming,2 being the largest sector. According to the 1960 census, 41% of the employed labour force was engaged in agriculture compared with 18% in the services (teaching, administration and health), 12% in construction, 12% in sea transportation, 5% in fishing and 5% in commerce (mainly wholesale and retail activities).3 The census also showed that about 57% of the total labour force was unemployed and therefore the economy continued to be heavily dependent on remittances from abroad.

The poor state of the economy was reflected in the quality of the island’s social services. Its health, sanitation and education facilities were grossly inadequate. There was a small hospital (with nine beds and no electricity) and one medical doctor to serve a population of 5,810 persons. The life expectancy at birth in 1960 was 60 years for males and 63 years for females.4 With regard to education, the schools5 were small and overcrowded and the island had an illiteracy rate of 9.5 compared with 3.7 in Basseterre (St Kitts) and 5.6 for the Colony as a whole.6

The island’s infrastructure was in very bad shape. Up until the 1960s electricity in Anguilla was virtually non-existent. (Out of 1,320 houses on the island only eight7 had electricity.) Furthermore, the island had no paved roads nor proper port facilities and the telephone system was obsolete and in a state of disrepair. There was no island-wide water supply system. Almost 43% of the houses obtained water from public standpipes, 24.5% from wells and springs and 22.4% from their own catchments (mostly cisterns).8

Anguilla showed few signs of growth. A letter which Albert R. Lake, Hubert Hughes, J.W. Proctor, Clifford Reid and Alwyn S. Hodge and others submitted to the Colonial Office, in 1965, against Anguilla’s inclusion in the Federation of the “Little Eight” observed:

We . . . find ourselves still in a very backward condition – primitive dusty roads, inadequate water supply and no electricity . . . a fast growing population9 and a fickle one-crop economy.
One year later Atlin Harrigan, in a letter published in The Democrat newspaper (in St Kitts) of 6th August 1966, described conditions like this:

We don’t have electricity, our roads are next to nothing, our hospital is inadequate [and] our schools are overcrowded, especially the East End School. . . . We all are worried about hurricanes, but if a fire breaks out in our island with this drought we have, it would be more disastrous than a hurricane [because] we don’t have any fire trucks. . . . Our airport is even getting worse so it can only be served by small aircraft. We have the most boats in the Colony [but are] without a dock to tie up and unload cargo. The few battery telephones we had are now gone. The water situation is unbearable. . . . What can we say the government has done for us?

Disenchantment with social, economic and political conditions in Anguilla resulted in a demand to replace St Kitts colonialism with direct British colonialism. This disenchantment was heightened by the fact that while Anguilla lacked the basic amenities, St Kitts had paved roads, pipe-borne water, proper air and sea communications, modern public buildings, a radio station, telephones, electricity, street lights and several light industries. St Kitts underwent a complete transformation in the 1950s as a result of an injection of vast amounts of capital in infrastructural projects and in the establishment of new villages with proper housing, roads, water and electricity. Sir Probyn Inniss, a former Governor of St Kitts, described the transformation this way:

Throughout the 1950s there had been a spate of building and related activities in St Kitts and to a lesser extent in Nevis and Anguilla. Public buildings were mushrooming in the town and in the country in a frenzy of governmental activity.

In 1952 a new power station for St Kitts was commissioned. Shortly after the process of taking electricity to the country districts was started. . . .
The Central Housing and Planning Authority . . . acquired land for building new projects and new villages. Projects in Basseterre included Greenlands, Bird Rock and Pond Pasture which provided 129, 357 and 180 residential buildings respectively.

New villages were established in Saddlers, Molyneux and Lodge, while extensions were made to Cayon and Mansion. In 1952 the Central Housing Authority embarked on a policy of providing loans for the purchase of materials for building and repairing estate workers’ houses. The Authority went further and built pre-fabricated wooden houses which were rented to labourers in areas of acute congestion. Within a decade the scourge of the trash house with its dirt floor was removed from the face of St Kitts.10
The extent of these changes was in stark contrast to the lack of development in Anguilla. This contrast was recognized by Vincent F. Byron, the Acting Community Development Officer of St Kitts, who visited Anguilla, on 8th March 1958, “for an official tour and inspection”. In his report to the authorities in St Kitts, he described his landing in Anguilla with these words:

As the little plane in which I was flying prepared to land on the airstrip, I noted with concern the landscape below. It presented a sad picture of fields severely burnt by hot weather. On “terra firma” it was indeed pathetic to observe the way in which passing vehicles plowed up clouds of white dust from the moisture-less [dirt] roads.11

While in Anguilla, Byron held discussions with the Warden (Mr H. King, a Kittitian) who was of the opinion that more frequent visits by Public Works officials may have ensured immediate improvements to certain public buildings, hastened the repair of the telephone system and solved some of the island’s water problems. The Warden was also of the opinion that a visit from a member of the Senior Medical Officer’s staff may have expedited the acquisition of a “delco plant” and a theatre light for the Cottage Hospital as well as some decent beds for the Infirmary – that a visit by the postal authorities may have thrown some light on the reasons why letters which were posted in St Kitts took two weeks to reach Anguilla. However, the Warden expressed doubt about whether the visits would have in fact helped because when the officials from St Kitts did visit Anguilla “they often made many promises which were never kept”.12

Byron reported:
From the Warden I obtained a graphic picture of the apartness of Anguilla from St Kitts. Scattered communities within the island, he explained, made efficient internal communications well nigh impossible. Communication links with the outer world were infinitely worse. Hence it was that many people living in Anguilla often felt cut off from the benefits enjoyed by larger or more progressive communities.

It was the uneven development – the “apartness of Anguilla from St Kitts” and Anguilla’s poverty relative to conditions in St Kitts – which contributed to its people’s determination to end their union with St Kitts. The “apartness” of Anguilla from its other Caribbean neighbours also contributed to the people’s desire for separation from St Kitts.
By the late 1950s and early 1960s many Anguillians had returned home from Curacao and Aruba where employment opportunities both in the oil and other industries had declined. Others returned from St Thomas and St Croix because of stringent immigration regulations. The returning migrants compared the relatively high standard of living to which they had become accustomed (in those islands) to the lack of growth in Anguilla and concluded that the St Kitts Government had done little to help their island. They observed, among other things, that the standard of housing in Anguilla was generally poor. Most of the houses (58% of them) were constructed from lumber while 34.7% were constructed from concrete and 3% from wattle. About 56.2% of them had two rooms or less.13 Most people cooked on wood or charcoal. Others cooked on kerosene which was also used for lighting. Sanitation was most unsatisfactory and 63% of the houses had no toilet facilities at all.14 Many of the returning migrants became disillusioned with the situation because while Anguilla was virtually stagnant, its closest neighbour, the Dutch/French island of St Martin, some five miles away, had begun to reap the benefits of a fledgling tourist industry. Its airport underwent some rapid expansion in order to cope with the increasing airline traffic. By that time, the late 1950s, the only airline which made scheduled flights to Anguilla, which had no proper airport facilities, other than a dirt airstrip at the Wallblake Estate, was the Leeward Islands Air Transport (LIAT).15
The inconvenience caused by the absence of a terminal building and the poor condition of the airstrip gave rise to considerable public discontent. It prompted Rev C. Leonard Carty, an Anguillian Methodist Minister, to write to The Democrat newspaper to publicize the problem in the hope that the authorities in St Kitts would have taken remedial action. In doing so, he stressed that “if ever a people were down-trodden the Anguillians [had] been – right through the years”, and he then went on to describe the extremely poor conditions of the airstrip. Carty said that “about half the strip [was] . . . in bush or high grass, and [that] passengers [had to] wait in the sun and rain without any sort of shelter” because there was “not even a shed roof”. He asked:

Will they [LIAT] be able to use the strip if half of it is not cleared and if the field is not fenced to keep out animals and traffic?16
In contrasting the St Kitts Government’s handling of the development and maintenance of airport facilities in Anguilla with the development of similar facilities in the sister islands, Carty observed that while Government had provided Nevis with an airstrip, “hewn out of the rock” at considerable expense, and a terminal building, it refused to spend money for the cutting of grass on the airstrip in Anguilla. He observed further that while the Government had spent about “a hundred thousand dollars and more of the British taxpayers money” on the airport in St Kitts, “a few thousand dollars to give Anguillians a little pride in their airport [was] not forthcoming”. He concluded that “the whole thing [was] not just disgusting, but typical” and remarked:

Would there was some way out for the poor Anguillians. It is a pity Antigua is so far away. It would be better to link with Barbuda – or to be a part of the Virgin Islands.17

Carty was so incensed about the matter that he called for protest action. In his words:
My experience has been that unless Anguillians make a big noise and border on being “nasty” in doing so they get nothing out of [the] Government based in St Kitts. The matter of the Air Strip calls for long, loud and, if necessary, “nasty” noise.18

Rev Carty’s letter met with severe criticism from The Labour Spokesman, the organ of the Labour Government in St Kitts. The Spokesman’s response, in a front page article entitled Politics and the Pulpit, was a good example of the St Kitts Government’s contempt for the Anguillian people. It took issue with, among other things, Carty’s criticism of the vast sums which were spent on improving the airport in St Kitts (compared to the neglect of the airstrip in Anguilla), and with his call for “nasty noise”. The Spokesman emphasized that “nasty noise” could not help but that “the correct answer [was] for Anguillians to raise their own money to do what they want with their airstrip. In doing so, they [could] be nasty if they wish[ed]”.19 Obviously bitter over the Labour Party’s defeat in Anguilla in the November 1957 general elections, the paper observed:
It may be quite well to encourage Anguillians to be as nasty as they can. The Democrat ha[d] already succeeded in twisting their minds from the direction of Labour, as was seen in last November elections.20
Another aspect of Carty’s letter with which The Spokesman took issue was the suggestion to link Anguilla with Barbuda or the British Virgin Islands. The paper lamented the fact that “Carty did not get his brain wave earlier and let Anguillians make a ‘nasty noise’ to remain connected to Antigua or switch to Barbuda or the Virgin Islands at the advent of the defederation of the Leeward Islands” in 1956. The Spokesman made no attempt to disguise its disdain for the Anguillian people when it said:
The greatest pity of all would be if Anguilla [was] to be attached to Barbuda or anywhere else and [became] dead weight on the hands of such other place as she ha[d] been a financial dead weight to St Kitts.21

A considerable amount of the funds which the St Kitts Government expended on improving airport and other facilities in St Kitts and Nevis had come from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund. The distribution of monies from this fund was the cause of much misunderstanding between the people of Anguilla and the Government of St Kitts. The Anguillians claimed that St Kitts took the lion’s share and that funds which had been approved for projects in Anguilla were in fact spent on projects in St Kitts. They told the Governor of the Leeward Islands, Sir Alexander T. Williams, that:
In 1955 over $5.5 million was entrusted to St Kitts by the British Government to implement a Five-year Development Plan for the Colony of St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla . . . [but that] only a small percentage of this had been received by Anguilla. The allocating was done by the St Kitts politicians, with evident little regard for the principle of proportion. This type of high-handedness was again demonstrated when . . . [in 1958], the British Government granted some £95,000 to the Colony under Colonial Development and Welfare. We are told the Honorable C. A. P. Southwell arbitrarily «reserved» over £11,000 of this money.22

The Anguillians’ charge against the St Kitts Government was not fully justified because the British Government often issued guidelines for the disbursement of the funds and was therefore not without blame for any unfair distributions which may have occurred.

The Anguillians strongly believed that the only way in which they could have received their fair share of the much needed British aid was to sever their sub-colonial link with St Kitts. They had signaled such intentions when Kenneth Hazell (an independent candidate) defeated David Lloyd (of the Bradshaw-led St Kitts Workers’ League) in the November 1957 general elections. Hazell’s victory gave rise to an era of increased militancy among the Anguillian people who seemed determined to make separation from St Kitts a reality and saw Lloyd’s removal from the Legislative Council as a first step. Lloyd’s defeat, in Anguilla, had so embittered Bradshaw23 that he (Bradshaw) allegedly threatened at a victory rally, in St Kitts,24 to “turn Anguilla into a desert” and to “put bones in their [the Anguillians’] rice and pepper in their soup”. Those remarks severely affected relations between the Anguillian people and the St Kitts Government and reference to them provided an easy means of whipping up anti-Bradshaw sentiments. Bradshaw provided the Anguillians with a slogan which they later used to instill fear of his rule. His remarks contributed to the creation of an unbridgeable gap between Anguilla and St Kitts. The Anguillians saw their neglect as part of his plan to turn their island into a desert.

Relations between Anguilla and St Kitts had become so strained that in November 1958 the Anguillians petitioned the Governor, Sir Alexander T. Williams, to “make every exertion” which lay in his power “to bring about the dissolution of the . . . political and administrative association of Anguilla with St Kitts”.25 The petition was engineered by Kenneth Hazell, a former school teacher and tax collector. After leaving Anguilla, Hazell spent several years in Aruba where he worked as a clerk at the docks at the oil refineries. It was while at the refineries that he was inspired to enter politics. He was greatly influenced by the activities of Eric Gairy (of Grenada) who championed the cause of the oil workers in the face of much hostility from the Dutch authorities. Having seen how colonial authorities had to be dealt with to get any concessions from them, Hazell returned home in the early 1950s determined to champion the cause of the Anguillian people. The petition which he initiated was a stinging condemnation of the St Kitts Government which the petitioners accused of either lacking “an enlightened conception of its duty to all the people of [the] colony, or deliberately trying to introduce into [the] colony the principles and practices of a Fascist Government”.26 They stressed that “St Kitts’ method of evincing her responsibility to her wards was by abuse, insults, deliberate neglect and overt discouragement”.27

The petitioners saw “St Kitts’ . . . enforced association with Anguilla [as] a perpetual assault to Anguilla’s development, a threat and a menace to Anguilla’s self-respect”.28 St Kitts, they claimed, was “a burden to Anguilla, a political and constitutional hindrance to Anguilla’s progress, a canker eating at the root of Anguilla’s development, a dishonest trustee . . .”.29 They pleaded:
If it be thought impracticable to grant us the status of an independent grant-aided colony, we would be grateful for any compromise, so long as such compromise confers upon Anguilla as great as possible a measure of emancipation from dominance by the Government of St Kitts.30

The petition which catalogued a host of grievances against the St Kitts Government represented a significant development in the Anguillians’ struggle for self-determination. It had warned the Governor that “a people cannot live without hope for long without erupting socially,” and observed:
It is because the people of Anguilla prefer petition to eruption that we now implore Your Excellency to use your best endeavours with the Secretary of State for the Colonies and with the Federal Government of the West Indies to have Anguilla created a grant-aided Colony, emancipated from the dead hand of the political leaders of St Kitts.
The petition continued:
We know that Anguilla must have at least an economic horizon to bolster a petition of this sort. But, paradoxically, such a horizon can never, never appear unless the island is free of St Kitts’ politics whose avowed intent it is to withhold from Anguilla even the ordinary amenities of modern civilized life.31
The fact that British rule was indirect – that there existed a situation of subcolonization – prevented the Anguillians from appreciating the extent to which Britain’s colonial policies had contributed to their economic and social deprivation. Up until the first half of the twentieth century the British Government continued to hold the position that infrastructural development in its various colonies should be met from monies raised in the colonies themselves. In this situation it was difficult for St Kitts to raise enough revenue to provide Nevis and Anguilla with adequate infrastructure. In addition, once ‘King Sugar’ was dethroned Britain left its Caribbean colonies virtually undeveloped, and on their own, and therefore St Kitts’ ability to contribute to the economic development of its sister islands was severely limited. It was at an early stage in the development of St Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla that Britain shrank from its responsibility of ensuring that the islands acquired the means of sustaining themselves. They were left with a sugar economy, viable only in St Kitts, at a time when the market price of sugar was falling rapidly. In these circumstances St Kitts was unable to generate sufficient savings to meet its own needs along with those of Nevis and Anguilla.

Probyn Inniss advanced similar arguments when he wrote:
From the inception of the union [of Nevis with St Kitts (and Anguilla) in 1882] it seemed clear that it was impossible for St Kitts to satisfy the demands and fulfil the expectations of two other islands in addition to her own. Sooner or later, Nevis and Anguilla were bound to cry out that St Kitts was neglecting them. It was not surprising that the cry came at the end of the period of massive expenditure of the 1950s . . . [in] St Kitts.

He continued:
St Kitts’ position was very ironical indeed! She was a colony herself, but was forced to bear the responsibility and burden as surrogate “Mother” to two other islands whose combined sizes were greater than her own! St Kitts herself neglected by Britain for hundreds of years, was being charged by Nevis and Anguilla with neglecting them, even though they had been foisted on her!32

Despite the above arguments, the St Kitts Government was in a position to undertake a more even distribution of available resources but did not. Its primary concern was meeting the needs of St Kitts’ taxpayers who had put it in power. Furthermore, the way in which the Government utilized its resources was greatly “influenced by the planters through the nominated members of the legislative and executive councils and so, for a long time, [these resources] were used to the advantage of estate economic activity”.33 Such activity in Anguilla was nil.

Whilst it is accepted that St Kitts could have done more to assist Anguilla – could have attempted to develop the island’s beach resources to enable it to take advantage of the inflow of North Americans to the Caribbean – it must also be accepted that there were physical factors in Anguilla which contributed to its state of underdevelopment. The island had few natural resources, apart from its beaches, and suffered from severe droughts which had contributed to the early disappearance of the sugar industry which was never profitable. Further, prolonged droughts and the boll weevil wiped out the island’s sea island cotton industry which it developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Anguillians therefore suffered “for want of some permanent industry upon which to fall back for ready money to purchase food abroad”.34

The Anguillians wanted not only a permanent industry but also the institutions which would have enabled them to make political and economic decisions of their own. They had advised the Governor, in November 1958, that their “petition bespeaks not merely a vote of non-confidence in the Government in St Kitts, but also in a constitutional and administrative arrangement which [had been] weighed in the balances and found wanting”.35 The Anguillians claimed that they had “neither voice nor power” and resented the fact that all political and economic decisions were made outside of Anguilla as were most decisions relating to the day-to-day administration of the island.

An appreciation of the degree to which decision-making was controlled almost entirely by the Government in St Kitts is provided by an examination of some of the correspondences between officials in St Kitts and those in Anguilla. When a decision was taken to provide latrines for the West End Primary School, Anguilla, the Administrator’s Office in St Kitts advised the Warden (in Anguilla) by telegram as follows:

Color scheme and revised drawings for latrines at West End School have been forwarded . . . to Anguilla. 36
Another example of the sort of decisions which St Kitts made with respect to Anguilla is provided by the following extract from the Acting Warden’s letter, of 11th August 1953, to the Acting Administrator:
I have the honor to suggest that a radio be added to the furniture of Government House, Anguilla.
As you are aware this is a very solitary place and cut off from the rest of the Presidency.37

As will be seen from the letter which follows, even permission for the use of school buildings for community organized functions had to be granted by the authorities in St Kitts:

Warden’s Office,

Chief Education Officer,
Education Office,
St Kitts.

Grateful if you will be good enough to grant permission for the East End School Building to be used by the East End Cricket Club for the purpose of holding a Grand Variety Concert on Wednesday, the 2nd October, from 8.00 p.m. to 10.30 p.m. approximately.

I have just been told that permission for this purpose must now come from you.
I recommend the East End Club as a highly organized and reputable body and am confident that they are able to give the usual guarantees for the protection of the building and school furniture.
In view of the short time at their disposal, it will be appreciated if your earliest attention may be given to this application.

Thank you.

V.F. Byron
Warden, Anguilla.

The St Kitts Government’s control over matters relating to public expenditure was exceedingly strict. Up until the 1950s every item of expenditure had to be approved in St Kitts before payment could be made in Anguilla. The following memorandum makes the point:

Administrative Office,
3rd September, 1956.

ADMIN/17 11.

Your Honor,

I forward for the favor of signature and return for payment here the following vouchers:-
$1.68 in favor of Cyril Gumbs (P.W. Truck driver) for transporting the baggage of the Ministers when they visited Anguilla by the M.V. “Silver Arrow”, and special ‘plane.
$1.00 in favor of Christobel Richardson for mending flags for Landsome over a period.
$8.00 for C. Rey & Co. for 1 Union Jack purchased by me when none was obtainable from Headquarters, to have on hand for Federation day. (H. H. approved of this verbally here).

Signed: J. D. M.
Warden, Ang.38

The foregoing procedure caused delays as will be observed from this memorandum:

Administrative Office,
18th January, 1957.
Admin/17 11

Registrar. (St Kitts)

Voucher for Dr. Trapl for post-mortem examination of Carmelita Nichols is forwarded for signature and return for payment.
2. Dr. Trapl complains of being kept waiting for these fees, two others of which are outstanding. The two previous cases for which vouchers were sent you were:
For Milton Gumbs, sent on 27th December.
For Viola Richardson, sent on 6th October.

Signed: J. D. M.
Warden, Ang.39

St Kitts’ system of domination over Anguilla was so thorough that the Anguillian people had little involvement in the control of their own affairs. They played only a nominal role which took the form of sending a representative to the Legislative Council in St Kitts on which, by the 1960s, sat seven Kittitians and two Nevisians. The Anguillians were mere recipients of policies and decisions made in St Kitts. The situation was one where society and government were kept apart. It was one where seventy miles of water separated “the lawmakers, the locus of decisions, and the people for whom the laws [were] made and whom the decisions [affected]”.40 Such a situation could not exist indefinitely.

Appointed in 1970 to examine “the Anguilla problem” – the causes of the Revolution – the Wooding Commission pointed out that:
It [was] not merely that laws [were] made 70 miles away and their application supervised from 70 miles away. It [was] also that they [were] made on another island, which in the Caribbean meant that they [were] made by another people. Moreover they [were] made in a legislature in which Anguillians ha[d] at most one voice. For most of Anguilla’s history this may not have mattered, since legislatures in the West Indies then enacted very little legislation with the intent of improving the life of the people. But when Anguillians dearly wished “Government” to do things for them, they noticed and resented their one voice in a legislature 70 miles away.41

The Commission, in expanding on this line of argument, was of the view that:
Seventy miles [were] also a significant distance between the governors and the governed when administrators [were] without the modern devices which annihilate space and reduce delay in communications. Finally 70 miles [were] a significant distance when a people [were] without any political institutions of their own. They suffer[ed] the disability of having no political responsibility. From the time that the Vestry was disbanded the people of Anguilla have had no opportunity to learn politics. If the Vestry had continued in existence Anguilla’s political relations with St Kitts would have been institutionalized. Both sides would have shared an experience, habits would have been formed.42

The seventy miles which separated the two islands contributed significantly to keeping the two societies – the one in Anguilla egalitarian, and the other in St Kitts stratified (with a large proletarian class comprising mainly estate workers at the base) – separate and distinct. The distance, and a feeling of isolation, prevented the Anguillians from developing a sense of loyalty to the Colony of St Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla. A direct consequence of this was the growth of Anguillian nationalism where the love for country and the desire to control its development, socially and economically, provided a powerful demand for the creation of a state independent of St Kitts (but dependent on Britain).
An additional factor which contributed to the desire to separate was the growing consciousness among Anguillians that Kittitians regarded them as backward and illiterate. This consciousness led to a build-up of resentment of Kittitians. A favourite name which Kittitians had for Anguillians was ‘Bobo Johnny’, about whom they invented several stories which Anguillians found insulting and degrading. One of them went like this:
An Anguillian Bobo bought a block of ice, put it in his valise, and carried it to Anguilla by boat. When the Bobo Johnny reached home and opened the valise and saw only water, he said: ‘Oh God, somebody stole my ice and put water in my valise!’

Another said:
An Anguillian Bobo bought a three-legged pot, put it on the road, and told the pot to walk to the pier, to board the boat to Anguilla, because it had three legs and he (the Bobo) had only two.43

These stories may have provided the Kittitians with much humour but, because they were intended to make Anguillians feel inferior, they contributed significantly to a psychological rift between the two peoples. The rift had widened when Bradshaw threatened to “put bones in their rice and pepper in their soup”.

In a newspaper article on the Anguilla crisis, Mr G. Thomas of St Vincent, who served as Warden and Magistrate in Anguilla from September 1958 to March 1962, claimed that he was in a good position to provide instances of how the “bones in rice and pepper in soup” policy was implemented. In giving one instance, he wrote:

After long and tiring pleading on the part of myself, Colonel Howard the Administrator of St Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla, and Sir Alexander Williams then Governor of the Leeward Islands – pleading with the St Kitts Government to show a greater sense of enlightened responsibility to the people of Anguilla, we at last prevailed upon St Kitts and the Colonial Office to give the people the dignity of local government.

He continued:
There was to be a Council of five Anguillians chosen by Anguillians. The Warden Chairman. This Council was to meet periodically, discuss the island’s problems and needs, and send its decisions and requests to St Kitts, for attention.44

Thomas noted that “the concept” was inaugurated with a big meeting attended by several Anguillians, the Chief Minister of St Kitts, the Administrator and the Governor, and that after many “wonderful speeches . . . everybody looked forward to a thaw in the ‘rice’”. However, when the names of the five members of the “Council”, selected by the Anguillians, were submitted to St Kitts, they were rejected and the Warden was instructed to submit eleven names from which the government chose five. According to Thomas:

The spirit of the enterprise was mangled even before the thing got off the ground. The Warden obeyed. The [members] were chosen by St Kitts.

Thereafter, the Council piped, but St Kitts never danced.45
The above circumstances, to which Thomas referred, were concerned not with a “Legislative” Council in the ordinary usage of the word but with the establishment of the Anguilla Advisory Board in March 1960. The main function of the Board, which comprised G. Thomas (Chairman), Kenneth Hazell, David S. Lloyd, J. B. Owen, George Harrigan and John W. Hodge, was to advise the Chief Minister in St Kitts on suitable projects for Anguilla.46

At its meeting on 16th March 1960, the Board drew up a priority list of projects for financing under the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund. The list was prepared on the assumption that about 10% ($432,000) of the Colony’s allocation of $4,328,00047 would be spent in Anguilla. Thomas, the Warden and Chairman of the Board, forwarded the list to the Financial Secretary in St Kitts and addressed a copy to Chief Minister Paul Southwell who expressed displeasure that the list was not sent directly to him. In addition, he took strong objection to the fact that the Board had assumed that Anguilla would get 10% of the Colony’s allocation. Southwell reminded the Warden, in a somewhat sarcastic memorandum,48 that the Board was to advise the Chief Minister and nobody else – that the Wardens [of Nevis and Anguilla] had not been asked to put up any schemes on an island basis – that the intention was for the Chief Minister “on receiving the views of the Advisory Boards of Nevis and Anguilla, to take those into account whenever he [was] preparing his Development Budget and assigning priorities for performance of those projects approved”. He concluded:
I try to make all these points because of the fact that your minute to the Financial Secretary [was] . . . copied to me. I am sure you will agree that under the circumstances, I am not called upon to take any action on it.49

Southwell’s attitude antagonized the members of the Advisory Board whom Kenneth Hazell told, at their meeting on 13th July 1960, that he had come to the conclusion that the Board served no useful purpose and he was contemplating resigning from it. When Southwell met the Board on 11th November 1960, J. B. Owen expressed much dissatisfaction over the fact that only $193,000 (out of the Colony’s allocation of $4,328,000) was assigned to Anguilla.50 Southwell’s explanation was that it was difficult to plan development on an island basis and that “whatever benefitted the Colony would benefit each island”.

The Anguillians did not accept that argument. They had observed the progress which had taken place in St Kitts and had concluded that they were not getting a fair share of the Colony’s resources. They reasoned that if Anguilla was to progress the break-up of the union with St Kitts was paramount.

1 PRO, CO 239/12. Pages 2 -3 of Petition to Governor Maxwell.
2 Most of the island’s produce of pigeon peas, corn, cassava, yams and potatoes were used mainly for home consumption. Cattle, sheep, goats and pigs were sold to St Bartholomew and St Martin. St Martin was the largest importer of Anguillian fowl.
3 West Indies Population Census. Census of St Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, 7th April 1960, Department of Statistics, Kingston, Jamaica.
4 1974. Anguilla Population Census.
5 Three of the five elementary schools occupied building owned by the Anglican and Methodist Churches.
6 1960 Anguilla Population Census.
7 Ibid. Six of them used private generating sets and two had government-owned sets.
8 Ibid. Most people had to walk a long way to get water – which was brackish – from the standpipes, springs and wells.
9 The natural rate of increase for 1960 was 25 and the net reproduction rate was estimated at 2.8. The rate of population growth was affected significantly by emigration.
10 Innisss, 69 – 70.
11 St Kitts, A report by the Acting Community Development Officer on a visit to Anguilla (8th March  1958).
12 Ibid.
13 1960 Anguilla Population Census.
14 Ibid. About 28% of the houses had pit latrines and 4% had water closets. Because of the poor standard of housing four persons were killed and over 1,000 were left homeless when Hurricane Donna struck the island in September 1960.
15 This dirt strip was cleared in the early 1940s by United States military authorities for their own use during the second world war. Labour costs of construction totalled US$700.
16 The Democrat (St Kitts), 30th August 1958, 7.
17 Ibid.
18 Ibid.
19 The Labour Spokesman (St Kitts), 5th September 1958, 1.
20 Ibid.
21 Ibid.
22 Text of Petition to the Governor of the Leeward Islands (1958), para. 19.
23 During this time Bradshaw was the leader of the Labour Party and a Minister of Government. The position of Chief Minister was created in 1960.
24 The Labour Party had won all five seats in St Kitts.
25 Text of Petition to the Governor of the Leeward Islands (1958), para. 1.
26 Ibid., para. 41.
27 Ibid., para. 31.
28 Ibid., para. 34.
29 Ibid., para. 30.
30 Ibid., para. 45.
31 Ibid., paras. 17 – 18.
32 Inniss, 68.
33 Commission of Inquiry (1970), 45.
34 Jones, 23.
35 Text of Petition to the Governor of the Leeward Islands (1958), para. 57.
36 Files from the Magistrate’s Office, Anguilla. (The telegram was dated 14th March 1950.)
37 Ibid.
38 Ibid.
39 Ibid.
40 Commission of Inquiry (1970), 44.
41 Ibid.
42 Ibid.
43 Colville Petty, “An Anatomy of the Anguilla Revolution (1967-1969 Invasion),” Paper presented at the annual seminar, for students reading for the B. Sc. (Government) degree, organized by the Department of Government, UWI, Mona, Jamaica (April 1972), 9.
44 The Democrat (St Kitts), 17th July 1971, 7.
45 Ibid.
46 Minutes of the Anguilla Advisory Board, March 1960.
47 The accuracy of this figure has not been verified.
48 Files from the Magistrate’s Office, Anguilla.
49 Ibid.
50 Minutes of Anguilla Advisory Board, November 1960. Owen observed at a Board meeting held in February 1961 that out of the fourteen projects which the Board submitted for financing under the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund only four of them were included in the Colony’s Development Program.


By anguillian May 29, 2017 10:30 Updated
  • Jo-Anne Mason

    Great article, thank you Mr. Petty.


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