The Caribbean History Archives
For those of us born in the thirties, Empire Day was a vacation that you got up early for, and put in your uniform: Police Volunteers, Cadets, Pink Cross, Prisons, Put up Office or faculty uniforms. Then we might go to the parade. You had been given a flag, told where to face and also you obeyed all directions. Afterwards, within the blinding light of midday, you were given a bun and a cup of tepid tea, courtesy of His Majesty King George VI, after which dismissed! Life was so easy in the times when Nice Britain ruled the world.
Sir Winston Churchill, writing in his ‘History of the English-speaking peoples’ (Thomas & Hudson) said:
“Occupation of the empty lands of the globe was violently accelerated by the fall of Napoleon. The long struggle against France had stifled or arrested the expansion of the English-speaking peoples, and the ships and the males who may need founded the second British Empire had been consumed in twenty years of world struggle.”
The first British Empire had been basically a new World creation, carved out of the wilderness of North America’s jap sea board. Gained from Spain within the Caribbean by the privateers, Sir Henry Morgan and Sir Francis Drake, it was immediately challenged by the French, dropping the American colonies by the 1780s by gaining Canada in the following many years and drawing even in the Caribbean.
Great Britain was in a position to cripple the French battle fleet at Trafalgar and win the battle of Waterloo. “A near run factor,” remarked the Duke of Wellington within the fading light after the Prussians had come.
“Once once more the oceans were free,” wrote Churchill. For all intent and purpose Britain ruled the waves. “News started to spread among the many lots that fertile, unoccupied and habitable lands nonetheless existed in which white men could dwell in peace and liberty and will maybe even better themselves.”
Trinidad and Tobago in the British Caribbean was a port of that first British Empire – Tobago, Barbados and Jamaica perhaps extra so than Trinidad.
The mindset of victorious Nice Britian after twenty years of struggle is nicely expressed in Churchill’s words. The idea that ‘lands’ have been on the market for the taking by ‘white men’ who had been in pursuit of peace, liberty and self-improvement was the concept that underpinned the subsequent empire. That these lands were already inhabited by the unique owners at that time in time must have been incidental to those would-be colonists. Might was not excellent, it was additionally white.
Canada, the Caribbean, components of the South American Mainland, most of Africa, Australia, New Zealand, all of India, Burma and innumberable islands all across the globe turned the British Empire. Huge, multi-cultural, multi-lingual, it mixed peoples who ranged from highly complicated monarchic societies to the stone-age individuals within the Tasmanian Sea, to the fossilized remnants of superior civilisations within the high Himalayas.
This world growth of a relatively small island off the coast of Europe was pushed by a number of vital developments. Firstly, the process that had produced England’s system of government was distinctive for its time. The parliament, the king, the city of London’s banking and other considerations created a liberal self-curiosity that augured properly for Britain’s early entry into the industrial revolution. This was underpinned by the world’s only ocean-going battle fleet. Secondly, a population explosion in England from stone island membrana nylon hooded jacket eleven million individuals in 1800 to near 40 million sixty years later sped issues up. And thirdly, with England’s traditional foes France and Spain vanquished, the outward circulation of people commenced. Greater than 250,000 people migrated to the colonies in 1820, and greater than half 1,000,000 by 1830. 1.5 million individuals had left England by 1850, and by 1870, that quantity had risen to 8 million people. Canada was the simplest choice and seemed most acquainted. Delivery lines to Canada had been well established and the fares comparatively low-cost. As soon as there, the immigrants discovered how huge the continent was. The maritime provinces that breasted the Atlantic thrived. Issues only arose as settlers pushed into lower Canada, the province of Quebec. Churchill notes:
“In Decrease Canada, the French had been deeply rooted, a compact, alien group, led by priests and seigneurs uninterested and untouched by the democratic ideals of liberal or revolutionary Europe, and holding stubbornly, like the Boers in South Africa, to their own traditions and language.”
Many of those French would later make their option to the French Antilles after which to Trinidad. The de Gannes household for example, have their New World origins in Canada.
Canada’s population rose from about half 1,000,000 in 1815 to 1.25 million in 1838 – a really low quantity considering that huge area! In 1846, the Oregon Treaty with the United States prolonged the 49th parallel right throughout the continent as the border between the two nice countries, and gave Van Couva island to Nice Britain.
The arrival of the steam-driven trains on steel rails – all products of the industrial revolution – opened up each North American countries. With the defeat and digital starvation of the native folks, white men could develop the nation ‘in peace and liberty’.
Africa, however, was a special story. Its story leads us to Woodbrook in Port of Spain, which has a group of road names that come from a time when Nice Britain sought through power of arms to carry order and establish peace in South Africa. The last word intention was to gain for the Empire itself huge wealth in gold and diamonds that lay beneath the surface of Africa’s southern cape.
In the early days of Britain’s first expansion, South Africa had scant points of interest. It was largely a cease-off level on the strategy to the east. Not many individuals from Europe needed to stay there. In the case of North America, the nice Gulf of St. Lawrence made it straightforward to enter the inside, but the coastline of South Africa, washed by highly effective currents and towering cliffs, barred the way.
Within the 1670s, Dutch adventurors made use of the Cape as a watering spot. They known as it the ‘Tavern of the Seas’. A younger physician from Amsterdam, Jan van Riebeeck, took possession of a bit of coast and known as it Table Bay. By the 1760s, there was one thing of an institution of Europeans within the Table Bay region: Dutch, Germans and Swedes had settled on frough varieties. Mostly protestant, that they had escaped religious persecution in Project Europe. Cape Town was then referred to as ‘Little Paris’, so bright was it with its 5,000 inhabitants! The insland plateau was taken from the native tribes by the frontiersmen, described as ‘restless, onerous, self-reliant, slim-minded, remoted from society and impatient of the restraints of civilized authorities. They have been the forerunners of the Transvaal Boers of a century later. Holland had exercized some management over this wildland, but with a collapse in its banking system and its subsequent defeat by the French the British seized the colony in 1814 in return for an indemnity of 6 million pounds.
It is attention-grabbing to note that this was a case of a social gathering of people taking over a large a part of a whole continent after which reselling it to a different nation with the native inhabitants having no say.
There were, nevertheless, other players. Because the British pushed north and east from South Africa, they came into contact and later conflict with the nice southward migration of the Bantu peoples from central Africa. This extended proper across the continent from Hereros in the west to the Ngumi coast within the east. The Kaffer wars lasted for almost a hundred years and coincided with the Ashanti wars and the wars within the Gambia. In these wars, West India regiments, comprised of black troops with white offiers, took half. Their descendants, households such as the Hodges and the Warners, nonetheless dwell on in Trinidad.
Later, the conflict identified as the Boer struggle was to capture the imagination of the British folks. The generals of this battle, in which Trinidadians served as effectively, are remembers as we speak in Woodbrook’s road names: Buller, Kitchener, Roberts, Baden Powell, Gatacre, Methuen, White, MacDonald and Colville.