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Trinidad, anti-colonial movement

Michael F. Toussaint


Trinidad and Tobago's anti-colonial struggle began with the late eighteenth– and early nineteenth-century agitation of the rising black and colored middle classes, their reform movements of the 1880s and 1890s, and the emergence of labor-based organizations from that period onwards. From the twentieth century to the present, such influences worked in tandem with international currents of anti-imperialism and race consciousness to impact attitudes and approaches to the nationalist question. Trinidad's colonial history began in 1498 when Columbus arrived on the island and claimed it in the name of Spain. Thereafter, for some 285 years the island remained an underpopulated, colonial outpost of the Spanish Empire. In the closing decades of the eighteenth century, French white and colored planters, together with their enslaved Africans, settled in the colony at the invitation of the Spanish crown. The island also attracted royalist and republican sympathizers fleeing revolutionary upheavals elsewhere in the Caribbean. Britain captured the island in 1797 and encountered a society which, though governed by Spanish law, was markedly French in culture and imbued with related revolutionary ideologies regarding the rights of men. Some of the inhabitants had an immediate aversion to British rule, preferring to exit the colony under the peaceful terms offered by the British government. Those ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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