This year marks the 100th anniversary of Dr. Eric Williams’ birth and the 30th anniversary of his death. Williams was the first Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago. He served in office from 1956 until his death in 1981. During his tenure he led the Caribbean nation to independence from Britain in 1962, and through the tumult of strikes, protests, a black power movement, and a military mutiny in the 1970s.
As a scholar, Williams is known for his groundbreaking book, “Capitalism and Slavery” (1944), which argued the European transatlantic slave trade and New World systems of slavery financed the Industrial Revolution and generated the massive wealth that led to the ascendancy of the West. He also argued the demise of slavery in the Americas came about due to economics rather than humanitarianism. His research set the stage for the next generation of studies of the political economy of slavery, and left a lasting legacy of scholarship that still is debated today.
Author and Professor Emeritus of the U. of the West Indies, Norman Girvan, has posted a link on his website to a tribute to Dr Williams by Peter Jordens, economist and scholar of Caribbean: Commemorating Dr Eric E Williams at 100, Peter Jordens : Norman Girvan (click on the “Continue Reading” link to access the booklet).
See also: The Eric Williams Memorial Collection.