Friday 5 August 2011

The History of Immigration

Trinidad and Tobago’s most significant characteristic, its most precious possession, is its people. We are unique in the New World for our cosmopolitan population.
At a time when Tobago was being developed by the Dutch and the Courlanders as a tobacco and cotton island - and in London it was en vogue to say ‘rich as a Tobago planter’ - Trinidad was still a vast jungle, populated by a couple dozen Spaniards with their handful of slaves and a few thousand Amerindians, remnants of the many tribes who had lived here.
Trinidadians and Tobagonians today are without exception the descendants of immigrants. The Spanish were brought here by the avarice for gold and the famed El Dorado; the Africans were abducted from their homelands; the French were displaced by the French Revolution and by the capture of other Caribbean islands by the British; the British came with the colonial establishment, and the impoverished and disenchanted people from the Orient and Asia saw Trinidad as a ‘port of hope’ in the New World. Even the Amerindians, whose unrecorded history came to an end when the Europeans arrived in the Americas, had arrived iat some point in time, coming from the peninsula of Paria or the Orinoco delta.
The French Creoles and other Catholics
The fourth wave to arrive in Trinidad after the Amerindians, the Spanish and the first Africans, were mostly descendants of French people from other Caribbean islands. One of these ‘French Creoles’ was Philip Rose Roume de St. Laurent, who was born in Grenada. Roume de St. Laurent was able to obtain the ‘Royal Cedula of Population’ from the Spanish King Charles III. on the 4th November, 1783, a memorandum which granted free lands to foreign settlers and their slaves in Trinidad. The only stipulation was that the settlers were Roman Catholics. As a result, Irish, German, Italian and English families arrived.
The settlers started to arrive in Puerto d’España, plantation owners with their slaves who were driven from their estates in Grenada, Martinique and Guadeloupe by the turbulent times and the conquering British. Some were royalists who fled from the French Revolution in France and its aftermath in the Caribbean.
Under what was to be the last Spanish governor, Don José María Chacon, who assumed office in 1784, a steady stream of immigration was established and the population of Puerto d’España increased from under 3,000 to 10,422 in five years. In 1797, the figure of population of Trinidad stood at 18,627; 2,500 of which were ‘white’, 5,000 were ‘free blacks and people of colour’, 10,000 were slaves and 1,082 Amerindians.
Land was given to these settlers in accordance with the number of slaves they brought, and little by little they cut down the forest, created fields and orchards, and established an agriculture-based economy (sugar and cocoa) for the island.
The French settlers brought their culture to Trinidad. French words are still part of the local dialect of Trinidad, often in their broken ‘Patois’ form. Innumberable Trinidadians of all shades of skin have French ancestors somewhere in their family trees. They cultivated the jungle and converted it into farms, or plantations as they are called in the tropics. They built beautiful mansions with wooden fretwork and wrought-iron balustrades, some of which still exist today and are treasures of our national heritage. A distinctive style of dress developed, with the ladies wearing white dresses, with colourful ‘foulards’ at their necks and ‘madras’, checkered handkerchiefs from India, on their heads.
With this population explosion, Governor Chacon had to implement many innovations. He constructed government buildings for the public services, constructed a road to St. Joseph and a military barracks there, created the town of San Juan, instituted the parish of San Fernando in 1786, which he divided into two wards, created a police service, a fire department, a medical board and the first port health doctor. Today, Chacon is remembered by the National Flower of Trinidad, the Chaconia, and a street in Port-of-Spain bears his name.
The term ‘French Creole’ is by no means restricted to persons of purely French parentage born in the West Indies. It also included the free people of colour, the children of the French planters of the early times with their African slaves, and later, their mulatto, quadroon and octaroon mistresses. Some of these children were recognised by their fathers and legitimized and freed, receiving educations at French universities and inheriting land and property. Several of these families settled in the south of Trinidad, many in Port-of-Spain, their children becoming in turn the doctors, lawyers and school masters in the latter part of the 19th century. They were, however, a minority, almost a curiosity in the socially structured colonial society.
Nothing remains of the Frenchness of Trinidad’s French Creoles, except some family names. As a recognisable group with distinct traditions, language, customs or outward appearance they have vanished completely. But they gave, in their decline, to the country personages like Poleska de Boissière, José Dessources, Captain A. A. Cipriani and Dr. Eric Williams, Trinidad and Tobago’s first Prime Minister.
The Africans
Slavery was a harsh and oppressive system, degrading to all who were a part of it. However, the period of slavery in Trinidad was a relatively short one, compared to other Caribbean islands or the United States. Barbados and Jamaica, for example, possessed slave populations from as early as the beginning of the 16th century.
Slavery in Trinidad really started with the Cedula of Population in 1783, when French settlers, free blacks and people of colour were granted land and came with their African slaves from Martinique, Grenada, St. Lucia and Guadeloupe to work on the estates. Fifty years later, the British, who had conquered Trinidad in 1797, abolished slavery in 1834.
In the first five years after the British conquest, the slave population rose from about 10,000 to nearly 20,000. In 1807 the slave trade was prohibited, and there was a gradual decline in the island’s slave population between 1807 and 1834.
Slaves came from a very wide geopgraphical spread, from Senegambia in the west Africa to Angola in the south. In 1813, the largest ethnic group was formed by people from the Bight of Biafra (39.4% of the African-born slaves).
There was one remarkable group of Africans living in Trinidad before Emancipation: the Mandingoes. These people came from the region of West Africa between the rivers Gambia and Senegal and they were Moslems. They never lost their sense of identity, their religion or their longing to return to Africa. Under the leadership of Jonas Mohammed Bath, they formed a distinct association, acquiring property in Port-of-Spain and cocoa estates in the country, and bought freedom for other Moslems from Senegambia.
In the last decade before Emancipation (1823 - 1834) the planters mounted an almost hysterical propaganda campaign against the abolitionists. It failed, of course, and in August 1834 the British Parliament enacted the formal end of slavery. But this did not mean ‘full free’: all slaves over the age of six were to be ‘apprenticed’ to their former owners and would still have to work 45 hours a week unpaid. The ‘Apprenticeship’ was to last six years for field slaves and four years for domestics. The Apprenticeship was abolished on 1st August, 1838, and full freedom was granted to all categories of ex-slaves.
Free Blacks and People of Colour
Miscegenation has been a central feature of Caribbean society from those early days of Spanish conquest when the ‘mestizo’ class was created from Spanish-Amerindian sexual contacts. With slavery, a new group began to emerge: people of mixed European and African ancestry, the result of sexual contacts between the settlers and the slaves. These were the ‘gens de couleur’, the people of colour, many of whom became eventually manumitted and legally free. Particularly in the French colonies in the Caribbean, where the Creoles had settled for good, the people of colour, as a class, increased rapidly.
Another group were those people who were not of mixed racial origin, but had in one way or another acquired manumission. These were the ‘affranchis’, the free blacks.
These two groups were the intermediate groups between whites and slaves in the Caribbean slave society. A difficult, ambivalent position, since they did not belong to any one master but had to show subordinance to all whites.
Typically, a European man would make an attractive ‘fille de couleur’ his mistress; normally he would free both her and her children. If he was upper class and reasonably well-off, his children by his coloured mistress might receive a privileged upbringing and live in the great house of the estate.
The Cedula of Population of 1783 offered important incentives to free blacks and coloureds. They received free grants of land: 16 acres for each man, woman and child and half of that for each slave brought. This was about half the grant that a white settler would be granted, but still an attractive offer. Article 5 of the Cedula also promised that all settlers the rights of citizenship after five years residence, including the rights to hold public office if qualified. It made no distinction between whites and coloureds, a remarkable situation that was peculiar to Trinidad.
Leading families such as Philippe, Cazabon, Saturnin, Beaubrun, Patience, Boudin, de la Grenade, Vincent, Louison, Latraille and Mortel, to name a few, came to Trinidad from Martinique, Guadeloupe, Ste. Domingue, Grenada and St. Lucia. These free coloureds spoke excellent French, were often cultivated and educated people, established estates of cocoa, cotton and sugar, owned slaves, practised professions in a few cases, and held officers’ commissions in the island militia. They contributed in no small way to the development of Trinidad with the establishment of an educated black middle class unique in the western world.
The British conquest of Trinidad in 1797 did not lead to an immediate deterioration in the position of the free coloureds and blacks. The first British military governors Picton, Hislop and Munro neglected to enforce the humiliating anti-coloured rules that existed elsewhere in the Caribbean. But under the first civil administration, that of Sir Ralph Woodford, serious racial prejudice was institutionalised.
Fortunately for the free blacks and people of colour, a leader emerged: Jean-Baptiste Philippe, whose family was one of the leading coloured planters of Trinidad. Educated as a lawyer, Philippe petitioned to the Colonial Office and the Secretary of State for their rights. To back up the petition, Jean-Baptiste wrote the famous book ‘Free Mulatto’. Philipe succeeded, and in March 1829, an Order in Council was issued from London giving full legal equality and civil rights to Trinidad’s people of colour and free blacks.
The Liberated Africans
After Emancipation in 1834, planters in Trinidad were anxious to get labourers from virtually any part of the globe. Africans who had been captured by foreign slavers were, at this time, often freed by British naval ships in West African waters. These ‘liberated’ Africans, who were never legally slaves, were sent to either St. Helena, a small island in the South Atlantic, or Sierra LEone in West Africa. Conditions were not good in either place, so an organised emigration to the West Indies began just after 1838.
Trinidad received between 1841 and 1861 a total of 3,383 from Sierra Leone and 3,198 from St. Helena. Tobago also received a few. They were indentured to the estates for a year, but unlike the Indians, they did not receive a free return passage.
Despite their lack of numbers, their contribution to Trinidad’s culture was profound. They reinforced African cultural legacies that might otherwise have died out. ‘Shango’ was probably introduced by Yoruba immigrants in the 1840s and 1850s. In Belmont, the Rada community, descended from Dahomey immigrants, maintained its ancestral rites well into the 1950s.
This African diaspora cleared the forest, created by its blood and sweat the bases for the first economies, established the island’s dominant cultural forms and provided its earliest eminent sons and daughters. Families like the Lazars, J.J. Thomas, Maxwell Phillip, Vincent Brown, the Nurse family and many others contributed in making unique in terms of professionalism, scholarship and sport.
The British and the Irish
Long before the British conquest of the island in 1797, several English families had settled in Trinidad. Most of them were merchants who organised the developing colony’s import-export trade in the the post-Cedula years (1783-97). The protestants among them, who were actually banned from settling according to the Cedula, profited from Governor Chacon’s generous interpretation of the law. Quite a few Scots and Irishmen also settled here in this early period.
In 1797, General Sir Ralph Abercromby with his squadron sailed through the Bocas and anchored off the coast of Chaguaramas. The landing of the troops took place at Mucurapu, which was then a sugar factory called ‘Peru’, which belonged to an Irish family named Devenish. They met with no resistance, even though the swampy ground was a most ill-chosen spot. At Peru estate, they found rum, sugar and limes, and mixed up a good rum punch.
Governor Chacon decided to capitulate without fighting. At the command of Vice-Admiral Don Sebastian Apodaca the Spanish fleet in Chaguaramas Bay was set on fire. Trinidad became a British crown colony, with a French-speaking population and Spanish laws.
Naturally, the conquest and formal ceeding of Trinidad in 1802 led to a considerable influx of settlers from England or the British colonies of the Eastern Caribbean. For instance, Burton Williams came from the Bahamas and brought many slaves with him. Williamsville in central Trinidad is named after him. Another is A.C. Carmichael who came from St. Vincent with his slaves and bought Laurel Hill estate in Tacarigua.
As the English community grew more complex in the middle of the 19th century, with some of them being expatriates who only came to Trinidad to govern and work, but not to settle, and some of them becoming Creoles who developed strong roots in the Caribbean, many of the Catholic English and Irish intermarried with the French Creole population. Examples of these are the Frasers, the O’Connors, the Devenish and the O’Hallorans.
And just as the French Creoles who had their first families as remembered in the rhyme ‘and this was sweet old Trinidad, land of the sugarcane and the cocoa pod, where the Ganteaumes spoke only to the de Verteuils, and the de Verteuils spoke only to God’, so had the English Creoles their ‘first families’, the Warners for example. Charles Warner served as Attorney-General between the 1840s and the 1860s. He was the most important influence behind the ‘anglicisation’ of this period and became the ‘bete noire’ of the French Creoles and the catholics. The Anglican Church was introduced, along with English textbooks, English laws, English schooling. The local French population was edged out of higher posts in the administration. After 1876, when Charles Warner had to resign his office, the period in which English families had a monopoly over government, came to an end. From then on, locals re-entered posts, and a dual school system was introduced, where church schools could receive state aid. The English Creoles, however, continued to form an important element in Trinidad’s official life.
The Germans
The first Germans came with the conquering English forces in 1797. Later on, several other German families settled in Trinidad mainly as traders. Since the wars of liberation in Venezuela were in large part financed by German banking houses (like the Fugger), there was an influx of Germans into Trinidad via that country.
One of the very successful German families is the Siegert family. Dr. Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert, a medical doctor from Silesia who emigrated to the town of Angostura on the Orinoco, invented the famous ‘Angostura Bitters’ there. His sons later established the company in Trinidad. Others were the Wuppermann, Boos, Urich, Schroder and Strasser families.
The Indians
After emancipation in 1838, many of the freed slaves withdrew from labour on the sugar estates. Eventually, the planters in Trinidad got the government in London and the local authorities to adopt a scheme to bring people from India to work on the plantations.
The first ship-load of 217 Indians arrived in Trinidad on the ‘Fatel Rozack’ on 10th May, 1845. Over the whole period of immigration (1845-1917) a total of 143,939 people came to Trinidad from India. The great majority came from the British Indian provinces along the Ganges river, especially the United Provinces Bihar and Orissa, while a smaller group came from South India. Hindi or a variant (especially Bhojpuri) was their main language and Hinduism their main religion. A significant minority were Moslem. The majority were simple country folk from traditional communities of village India.
The Indians entered a system of indentureship, where they had to work on a plantation for several years, at the end of which they could choose a free return passage to India or a small parcel of land in Trinidad to live on. As Indian children were born in Trinidad and grew up without any first-hand knowledge of India, more and more Indians decided to stay. The Indian peasantry soon developed, growing rice, cocoa, sugar cane and raising livestock.
As they were gradually transformed from immigrant labourers to settlers, the Indians contributed a great deal to their new society by practising their rich diversity of religious and cultural forms. Temples and mosques were built, Hindu and Moslem festivals were introduced. Indian dance, music and song enriched the already complex Trinidad culture, as did Indian cuisine, arts and crafts.
The Portuguese
The first group of Portuguese came to Trinidad as early as 1630. These were explorers bound for Brazil who would come ashore on Trinidad’s east coast. Sephardic Jews from Portugal were also in Trinidad in the late 18th century. The first group of 25 Portuguese immigrants came in 1834. They had been solicited illegally by people who manned slave ships, and had come from the island of Faial in the Azores in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. Within less than two years, these Azorians died or returned to their island without leaving a trace.
The largest group of Portuguese to come to the island was from Madeira, a small archipelago belonging to Portugal off the west coast of Morocco. Madeira found itself in serious economic straits in the early 19th century. Overcrowding, a decline in the grape harvest, famine and religious tensions were shaking the islands. Two waves of Madeirans came to Trinidad in 1846 and 1847, the first one comprising rural people who fled the economic disaster, and the second urban dwellers who fled religious persecution.
Having found that the plantation work was not conducive to their health, the Portuguese opened shops soon after their arrival. Some of them ran dry goods stores in Port-of-Spain, others rum shops and adjoining small groceries on the estates. Since the Madeirans spoke no English, they could hardly find any other work than with Portuguese shopkeepers, and they hired each other.
In 1854, the Portuguese built their first lusophonic church at the corner of Charlotte Street and Oxford Street. It was called ‘St. Ann’s Church of Scotland’, but commonly referred to as the Portuguese Church, with the church service, bible texts etc. in Portuguese.
By the turn of the 20th century, the entire Portuguese community was about 2000 strong. Madeirans kept immigrating and joining their families in Trinidad. The Presbyterians among them sometimes emigrated to Brazil and the United States. Eventually the Portuguese were absorbed by intermarriage into the larger Roman Catholic community, consisting of Afro-French, Afro-Spanish, Irish and English settlers. Names like Camacho, Coelho, Correia, Fernandes, Pereira, Querino, Ribeiro and Sá Gomes are what is left of their Portuguese legacy.
The Chinese
As early as 1806, a small number of men from China had settled in Trinidad, but significant Chinese immigration began after emancipation. Between 1853 and 1866, about 2,500 mostle male Chinese arrived to work on the estates as indentured labourers. 1866 marked the end of the immigration of these indentured labourers, because the Chinese government insisted on a free return passage, which would have been too costly. Non-indentured Chinese immigrants, however, continued to come to the island, many of them via British Guiana, where a Chinese community already had established itself.
After the Chinese revolution in 1911, immigration picked up and increased even more between the 1920s and the late 1940s, a turbulent chapter in China’s history. Trinidad’s Chinese population increased from 1,334 in 1921 to 8,361 in 1960.
Few of the early immigrants remained on the estates for long. Most of them became shopkeepers, market gardeners or butchers. They married Afro-Creole women and adopted Christianity. The post-1911 immigrants retained to some extent their original culture. Their languages Hakka and Cantonese survived among the Trinidad Chinese. Since the communist takeover of China in 1949, however, the links with China have dwindled to almost nothing and most young Chinese in Trinidad speak only English. Also, by 1960 virtually no Chinese practised Buddhism or Confucianism anymore.
Trinidad’s Chinese community has produced outstanding individuals such as Eugene Chen, who served as Foreign MInister in Sun-Yat-Sen’s government in China, Solomon Hochoy, first local Governor and first Governor-General after independence in 1962, artists Sybil Atteck and Carlisle Chang, Carnival bandleaders Stephen and Elsie Lee Heung, along with prominent businesspeople and professionals.
The Syrians and Lebanese
The first Lebanese men came to Trinidad in 1902, followed by Syrians in 1906. They had left their home country, Greater Syria, which was later divided by European powers into Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and Jordan. Religious persecution was the main reason for those Middle Eastern men, who were Christians, originating from the ‘Valley of the Christians’ in the Middle East, not far from the border between northern Lebanon and Syria. Originally Maronite and Orthodox in faith, they were quickly absorbed into the predominant Roman Catholic church in Trinidad.
Originally, they had wanted to go to America, but since they had to change ships in Trinidad (the steamer line from Marseille went to the French Antilles, Trinidad and Venezuela), some of them stayed on. Others had overslept on the boat, and were ‘dumped’ in Port-of-Spain, others again were refused entry into the United States because of health reasons.
At first, a handful of Syrians and Lebanese stayed in Trinidad. They peddled goods from door to door in the country, slowly saving up money and bringing over other male members of their family to join them. When they had established themselves, they also sent for their wives in the Middle East, or travelled back themselves to find wives.
The community slowly built up, sustaining itself first with peddling and then with the running of clothes and drygoods stores in downtown Port-of-Spain. The Syrians and Lebanese hardly intermarried with any other Trinidadian group, and have maintained their Arab identity to this day.
In 1950, the Syrian Lebanese Women’s Association was founded (initially called ‘The Mediterranean Star’), with the purpose to raise money for charity for Trinidad’s poor and preserve and promote the Arabic culture in Trinidad.
Today, the descendants of the Syrian and Lebanese immigrants form a powerful business and professional community, owning many trading and building companies in the country.
Sephardic and Ashkenazy Jews
There were two waves of Jewish immigration into Trinidad. Both were comparatively small. Sephardic Jews came from Spain and Portugal in the early 19th century. In the 20th century, Ashkenazy Jews from Europe who had to flee from Nazi persecution also came to Trinidad.

A commentary on Bridget Brereton’s article “The Indians” in her book “Race Relations in Colonial Trinidad 1870–1900”

As the second half of the 19th century drew to a close, certain newspapers in Trinidad executed a protracted editorial policy that would serve to lay the foundations for the negative stereotyping of East Indians in Trinidad and Tobago. As a result, Afro-Creole and European-descended Trinidadians as well as immigrants from other West Indian islands came to accept that stereotyping and perceived Indian indentureship and the presence of Indians in the colony as having a deleterious effect on the society as a whole.
Through the use of newspapers like the New Era, Public Opinion, the San Fernando Gazette and the Port of Spain Gazette, amongst others, a relatively small coterie of educated men—French Creoles, Afro-Creoles as well as a sprinkling of Europeans who had formed what was described in the first instance as the Creole Party, later to be know as the Reform Movement—sought to achieve their political ends by gaining public support in denigrating those who were perceived by them as different, alien or outside of their group. In harnessing public opinion in such a manner they, perhaps unwittingly, put into opprobrium an entire people living in their midst, painting all Indian immigrants and their descendants with the same broad brush. In so doing, they set a mechanism of mediatised prejudice into motion that has been reinforced by the Independence political process and arguably continues up to today. 
Bridget Brereton in her book Race Relations in Colonial Trinidad 1870–1900 examined this media stigmatisation in the late 19th century. [1] Other social scientists—CLR James, Ricky Singh, Selwyn Ryan, Raymond Ramcharitar et al—have since written and commented on this. This article looks at Brereton’s groundbreaking research in her Race Relations and examines the reasons for the Creoles’ impulse to segregate themselves as an ‘ingroup’ and the Indian segment as an ‘outgroup’, thus laying the roots of Indophobia in Trinidad and Tobago.
“One of the more troubling aspects of human nature is that we evaluate people differently depending on whether they’re a member of our ‘ingroup’ or ‘outgroup.’ Pretty much every conflict in human history has involved people making distinctions on the basis of who is a member of their own race, religion, social class, and so on. The question we were interested in is: Where do these types of group distinctions come from?” 
This, at first glance innocuous, but quite pertinent question was posed by Laurie Santos, Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale University, in an article published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in June of 2013. [2]
In a segmented society such as Trinidad and Tobago’s, the roots or origins of the prejudices that shape our collective consciousness appear opaque or even lost in the fog of our historic experience. While a lot has been done to untangle the web of our entrenched and in many instances dearly held views of each other, we are still a segmented society.
One of the more eye-opening, or should I say mind-expanding experiences that I had when I started exploring Trinidad history in 1983 was Bridget Brereton’s Race Relations in Colonial Trinidad 1870–1900. Part of this enduringly significant (and eminently readable) work carefully examines the several segments that make up our diverse society. It discusses the point of arrival and the social and political conditions of the European, African and Indian segments. It deals with their offshoots, the products of miscegenation and its various outcomes, and the attitudes and reactions of those who saw themselves at various points in history as the ‘ingroup’ when faced with the arrival of others who were considered by them as an ‘outgroup’. 

Nelson Island
One such ‘outgroup’ was the indentured East Indians, whose initial point of arrival was Nelson Island. Neilson’s Island, called Nelson Island, was a quarantine depot through which tens of thousands of Indians, possibly all indentured Indians, passed on their way to the various estates where they would spend the next five years, if they were men, or three years, if they were women, as indentured labourers, and in some cases, the rest of their lives. Like Ellis Island in the United States, it was their first point of disembarkation and their first encounter with natives of their host country.
I had the good fortune in the 1980s to meet Gregor Duruty, who lived to a great age. In his youth, Duruty had worked in the Colonial Secretary’s office and was around for the arrival of the last of the indentured Indians to come to Trinidad aboard the S.S. Ganges in 1917. He arrived on Nelson Island with some of his friends, a camera and a gramophone, and took a quantity of pictures, capturing a unique moment when cultures clashed.
Duruty told me that the newly arrived had never seen these devices, a machine that produced musical sounds, and as for the camera, they had no idea what it did. Interestingly, the record that he played that day was the world-famous Cab Calloway singing, “I ain’t got nobody and nobody cares for me”. This refrain, both tragic and ironic, was played over and over as the young Indian girls danced and arranged and re-arranged the hair of Gregory’s friends, young Trinidadian women. The Indian men stood in rows for their photographs to be snapped before beginning the long journey towards an uncertain destiny. The meaning of the words of the song may well have been lost on all of them, the significance of the occasion—it being the last of the indentured to arrive in Trinidad—hardly grasped. Such is the naiveté of beginnings!
The transportation of some 143,939 persons to Trinidad from India over the period 1845 to 1917 radically altered the ethnic configuration of Trinidad’s already heterogeneous body politic. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the composition of Trinidad’s population differed from other islands in the Caribbean that had come into the hands of the British from the early 17th century on to the end of the Napoleonic wars. In the older British colonies these societies, based on plantation slavery, had already developed discernible social and cultural patterns that in a sense had matured over time. Tobago, Jamaica and Barbados for example had populations made up almost entirely of people of African descent, with relatively small populations of mixed-race people and a complement of Europeans: British administrators, low status whites, writing clerks, accountants, transients, planters—the majority of whom were absentee landlords represented by an attorney—the military, police and local merchant families of long standing. 
Trinidad’s population, however, virtually arrived almost all at once. This was triggered by the Spanish government’s issuance of a Cedula of Population in 1783. The population rose from 126 whites, mostly Spaniards, 295 Free Blacks and Coloureds, [3] 310 African slaves and 2,082 Amerindians in 1783, totalling 2,763, to a population of well over 90,000 in 1861-1871. This was comprised of 3,632 whites, of which about 80 percent were French Creoles, 18,724 Coloureds and 40,354 people of African descent, the descendents of the formerly enslaved, both native born and immigrants from other West Indian islands. [4] Almost all of these would have spoken French Patois and were in the main Catholic. There were some 2,000 Chinese and 26,281 East Indians, as well as about 571 tribal people.
There was a steady and enduring influx of West Indians coming from both Catholic and Protestant islands, mostly black, some arriving Portuguese, and Africans taken off slave ships bound for Brazil and indentured in Trinidad. 
This was a period when in the popular mind Trinidad was idealised as Iere, the land of the hummingbird. There was, interestingly, “a small emerging middle class of educated and respectable creoles of all colours who shared a common love of country and a common sense of identity,” as Anthony de Verteuil writes, [5] quoting John Jacob Thomas, the leading black intellectual of the day, from his book Froudacity. [6] This emerging middle class had its roots in the nucleus of European-descended French Creoles and the French and Patois-speaking Free Blacks and People of Colour of the late 18th century who had arrived here from the French islands as a result of the upheavals caused by the French revolution as well as those who were attracted by the generous terms of the Cedula. 
The French-descended segment saw themselves as a racially pure, exclusive, aristocratic enclave, notwithstanding their elaborate and indeed intimate relationship with the Free Blacks and Coloureds. These were described by Brereton as “Like the white Creoles, they cherished the past … There was the same nostalgic feeling for aristocratic traditions and the same respect for birth and breeding.” Brereton quotes the French Creole historian Pierre Gustave Louis Borde who cites family traditions and describes relations between the two sectors before the British conquest as “cordial; ill-feelings crept in under the British regime”. [7]
The French Creoles and Free Coloureds shared the same page in the history of the Caribbean, bound together by a Francophone identity, shaped by a common past that included plantation life, miscegenation and slave-owning, as royalists and republicans, settlers and as refugees in Trinidad. Out of this grouping would emerge what we would call today a pressure group that would come to see itself as the Creole Party. 

The Cedula of 1783 as the basis for the Afro-French-Creole impulse
To grasp the Creole Party’s hostility towards Indian indentureship, it is useful to understand what we call in this paper the Creole impulse. This was shaped by the Creoles’—both black and white—attitude towards what they perceived as the British occupation of Trinidad. In coming to Trinidad the French colonists, along with the Free Blacks and People of Colour, had been the net beneficiaries of the Cedula of Population of 1783. Carl Campbell observed: “If taken seriously—and the Cedula must be taken seriously as the outcome of a deliberate plan—it amounted to a new constitution for Trinidad.” [8] Collectively, the Cedulants gave to Trinidad a distinct French flavour expressed in language, dress, cuisine, the architecture of the town, their attitude to the English, and a dedication to religion and to the festival arts.
The Cedula of Population of 1783 was an especially liberal document for its time, if only for its recognition of the civil rights of the Free Blacks and Coloureds and its almost equitable land distribution aspects, as Campbell further notes: “The Cedula of 1783 laid the foundation for a plantation society in the colony, and this development was the most important thing to have happened in Trinidad since the Spanish came ashore in 1498.” [9]
The contents of the Cedula had been accepted in the drawing up of the articles of surrender when Trinidad passed from Spanish rule to English in 1797. This was upheld by the British government in 1829 when challenged by the colony’s first civil governor, Sir Ralph Woodford. A descendant of the Cedulants, a man of colour from the Naparimas, Jean Baptiste Philip, became its champion by bringing it to the attention of the British government, which upheld its contents, thus officially recognising the positions of both the resident French and the People of Colour in Trinidad. This recognition, defined by law, placed Free Blacks and People of Colour in Trinidad in a unique position for personal advancement. As Brereton comments: 
“The government in London issued a law (March 1829) which abolished all ‘Disabilities to which His Majesty’s subjects of European birth or descent’ were not subject. This was the grant of full legal equality between whites and free coloureds which Philip and his colleagues had struggled for. In the words of the historian Carl Campbell, it was their ‘new charter of liberty’. It arrived in Trinidad in July 1829, just two weeks after Philip died, still in his early 20s.” [10]
As descendants, broadly speaking, of those who came to Trinidad under the terms of the Cedula the French Creoles, both black and white, came to believe themselves to be the founding fathers, a patriciate, or the ingroup. They represented, notwithstanding their differences, the biases of a class: economic, institutional, racial, ethnic, cultural, populist, patriotic, incipiently nationalistic and individualistic in nature. They considered themselves to be the true Trinidadians, the Creole Party, as they originally described themselves. [11] Their Francophone identity and nascent nationalism was expressed in the work of individuals such as John Jacob Thomas and Pierre Gustave Louis Borde. Thomas wrote The Theory and Practice of Creole Grammar, a description of Trinidad’s French Patois, becoming the first linguist of African descent to produce a grammar of a Creole language. Borde, a white French Creole, wrote Histoire de l'île de la Trinidad sous le gouvernement espagnol in French in two volumes. This was the first history of Trinidad written by a Trinidad-born historian. Its first volume and most of the second deals with Spanish times; it is in the last third of the second volume that Borde’s true intention expresses itself, for it is here that he relates the founding of modern Trinidad and gives a partial account of the life of the island’s ‘coloniser’, Philippe Rose Roume de Saint Laurent, a French Creole from Grenada, the promulgation of the Cedula of Population of 1783 and the establishment of the ‘founding fathers’. This volume also contains a partial list of the names of both the white French Creoles and the French-speaking Free Blacks and People of Colour, the earliest beneficiaries of the Cedula, the Cedulants. 
The descendants of these settlers bridled at absolute British Crown Colony Rule and yearned for greater representation in the colony’s affairs. In essence, they tended to see the British as an occupier—a feeling that fuelled the Creole impulse. This Francophone cum Creole identity produced a distinctive culture that was based on an agricultural paternalistic lifestyle and expressed in a manner that was often seen as subversive by the colonial authorities. [12]

The Beginnings of Indentureship
Around Emancipation in 1834, the British government began to experiment with the importation of indentured labour into Trinidad to work the sugar estates. Small numbers of Chinese and Portuguese from the Atlantic islands were introduced in the opening decades of the 19th century. [13] However, as is known, these did not prove suitable for agricultural labour and tended towards commerce. The British then turned to India as a source of labour.
According to Donald Wood the sustained influx of East Indians from 1845 was hardly noticed at first, but accelerated swiftly to form 
“by 1851, 6 per cent (4,169) of the population of 69,609; in 1861, 15.9 per cent (13,488) of the population of 84,438 and the largest immigrant group; in 1871, 25.1 per cent (27,425) of a population of 109,638, and 4,545 of them had been born in Trinidad itself. Over 20,000 were still working on the estates in 1871, either completing their industrial residence or on other forms of contract.” [14]
By 1901, Indians and their descendants made up 33% of the population. The indentured Indians were drawn from a variety of casts, sects, religions and backgrounds and also from different parts of the Indian subcontinent, and as such were in themselves a heterogeneous population. Trinidad’s ethnic mix was well underway to being unique. 
One feature of East Indian indentureship was that the immigrants were separated on the cane and other estates from the main population. However, as their numbers grew and as they appeared in startling quantities in the towns, the ingroup increasingly perceived them not as transients but as permanent residents who, in the not so long run, could become a majority. 

The Stigmatisation of the India Indentureds in the Creole Media
In Race Relations, Brereton explores in her chapter “The Indians” possibly for the first time in Trinidad and Tobago how a small ingroup harnessed the media to protest against Indian indentureship. 
However, the words and arguments that were used in the editorial drew the attention away from the indentureship issue. Rather, the newspaper campaign led to the promotion of general racial prejudice against Indians among the wider Creole population. To achieve mass support, media manipulation was used by the Creole Party to create a vehement xenophobic reaction in a population that was ironically comprised of immigrants who had almost all arrived a generation or so before or were in many cases themselves immigrants from Europe or other West Indian islands. Ramcharitar, quoting Gilroy, interprets this as a mechanism to inculcate and institutionalise cultural insiderism. [15] Faith Smith in her book “Creole Recitations” points out that Indians became “crucial to definitions of the identities of … Black Creoles in the Caribbean” and adds “When Trinidadian elites assert Black respectability, this is sometimes secured by belittling Indians.” [16]
These newspapers were principally: the New Era[17] the San Fernando Gazette, Echo of Trinidad, the Port of Spain Gazette [18] and Public Opinion[19] These papers were owned or influenced by the Creole Party, whose members towards the end of the 19th century began to call themselves the Reform Movement. Over time, the membership’s proportion of European-descended “Cedulants” shrank and more Afro-Creole members joined the ranks of the movement. However, their delineation between ingroup and outgroup continued. What was the purpose of this “Creole impulse” to fan the flames of anti-Indian sentiment in the population? 
The Creole Party’s, and later the Reform Movement’s, aim was principally to change the nature of Crown Colony rule while seeking for themselves, as men of education and substance, greater participation in the administration of the colony and more meaningful representation in the City Council and in the island’s legislature, in as much as these institutions were dominated by British planter and merchant interest. To achieve the mass support needed they singled out an outgroup’—the Indian immigrants—and positioned themselves as the ‘ingroup’ opposed to Indian indentureship. Their opposition to indentureship was not based on humanitarian grounds, but on perceiving Indian immigration as a symbol of the power and privilege of the British planters and merchants, representing the dominance of British Crown Colony rule to which they were opposed. 
By singling out Indian indentureship as a policy of the colonial government and by stereotyping the arriving Indians, the Creole Party / Reformists sought to and actually established an absolute sense of ethnic and cultural difference between themselves as residents and the Indians as aliens, all through the use of newspapers. This anti-Indian media thrust was undertaken by a relatively small coterie of men who were in the first instance almost all French and English Creoles, [20] notably Louis de Verteuil, Philip Rostant and Robert Guppy, but who would be joined over time by coloureds and blacks who, according to Brereton, were “involved in the local press to a considerable extent,” [21] and who would eventually take over the movement. 
The newspapers mentioned above promoted ideas that encouraged the population to think along the lines of greater political involvement and of reforms in the constitutional structure of the colony. As Brereton notes, “Through papers managed by these editors and printers, therefore, educated blacks and coloureds had an outlet for the expression of their grievances and aspirations.” [22] She gives the example of editor Samuel Carter who, in an editorial published in the San Fernando Gazette, summed up this view: 
“A Crown Colony is a despotism tempered by the Press. . . In Trinidad, more than in any of the other Colonies, has the existence of the independent Press been an absolute necessity; in none has it done more good.” [23]
As Brereton notes later in her Race Relations, “These papers took the position that Indian immigration was carried on to serve the selfish interest of the planters, to the detriment of the wider community.” [24] Using Indian immigration as an example, the newspaper editors framed their arguments to demonstrate the overwhelming power of the occupying British imperial government so as to arouse indignation in a population that had not previously shown any particular resentment to newcomers. 
Brereton’s thought-provoking research in her chapter “The Indians” of Race Relations demonstrates how through the use of newspapers the attitude of the majority of Trinidadians towards the arriving indentureds, especially of those who considered themselves born and bred Creoles or ‘Trini to the bone’ as one would say today, became one where the Indians were stigmatised, distinguished from the rest of the society in a negative way. Their differences, racial, cultural and religious, were made distinctly obvious and perceived as odious.
For example, the indentureds’ tendency towards frugality was used to pour scorn on them. Thrift was perceived as lacking amongst the Creoles, black and white. Even though much thought of as a virtue in the Victorian period, thriftiness was portrayed as a vice in the entire Indian population. The San Fernando Gazette thought that Indians would “go hungry, starve, live on rice and pepper as well as systematically perjure themselves in court to defeat the ends of justice for their own interest.” [25]
All Indians were vilified and stereotyped as willing to work for starvation wages; their frugality in lifestyle appeared incompatible with that of the Creoles. Brereton quotes the New Era, “the liberal organ of the black and coloured middle class”, which declared: 
“The Coolie is notoriously with us only, but not of us. He gives nothing for what he takes, and thus contributes but little to the wealth of the country. He hoards his treasure to take it back to his native land, and while among us, consumes hardly anything of our imports.” [26]
Historian Donald Wood writing in 1968 observed, 
“A coloured editor whose paper stood for the rights of the Negro population wrote: ‘We do however assert without exaggeration or contradiction that of the human race, none, as regards clothing, food, or other care of the body, approaches more to the brute creation than the Coolie. They generally go naked and show no disposition to abandon this habit.’” [27]
The self-negating, ultra-ascetic diet of the Indian indentured is also remarked upon by Vincent Tothill who, practicing as a physician in 1937, observed: 
“[The Indians’] evening meal will be at sundown. This consists of one huge communal pot of boiled rice. It may be flavoured with a little curry or coloured with saffron, and the only vegetable is a red pepper. There is nothing else; no meat, as these people are vegetarians. The same monotonous diet day after day and year after year; no wonder they have no physique. But what can you buy for two shillings a day? … In Trinidad nearly every Indian agricultural worker of thirty shows vitamin deficiency. This is manifested by a chronic cough and emphysema of the lungs. … They are far too tired at the end of a hot day’s work in the cane fields to do anything but cook the pot of rice.” [28]
Newspapers also resorted to more offensive stereotyping, as Brereton notes: 
“Indians were regarded as deceitful and prone to litigation; there was no understanding that the Indian might not understand the moral force of an oath in a western court, or that he was often forced into litigation—for instance, to inherit his father’s property if he died without a will, since the vast majority of Indians in the period were illegitimate in the eyes of the law.” [29]
The San Fernando Gazette held the view that the indentureds were not viable settlers because they had no real commitment to the colony. The Indian was “a dead weight. . . inert in all matters of Christian civilisation, and only a temporary aid to a development entirely material. He has no sympathy with the social and moral wants of the place.” [30] However, Brereton observes that in truth the Indians, through dint of hard work, had solved the colony’s financial situation 40 or 50 years prior, after the Emancipation of the slaves, and had become an essential adjunct to the island’s economy by producing a substantial quantity of food as owners of livestock and as rice and vegetable farmers on a large scale. 
In various articles that appeared in this period fear of the Indian population was manufactured, the San Fernando Gazette commented on “the riotous tendency of coolies when banded together and the wonderful facility with which, under the least excitement, they are led into acts of violence and brutality.” [31] In this statement, the editor of the Gazette linked the 1857 mutiny in India of elements of the Indian Army that had led to mass killings of English civilians in Calcutta and other places in India to local wife murders and isolated cases of violence on the estates. It was said that the shortage of Indian women at times did cause crimes of passion and this, compounded by the sustained memory of the Mutiny, resulted in branding the Indians with a potential for mass violence. [32]
In the 1880s, industrial action taken by Indians on the cane estates triggered anxieties. As the Moslem festival of Hosein approached in 1884, the Port of Spain Gazette urged: 
“Let it not be forgotten that these Asiatics now form one third of our population, and that, fanatics of an effete superstition and a most corrupt form of ethics, they must, as a matter of self-preservation, be kept in subjection to our laws under pain of the most disastrous results.” [33]
For the Gazette thought Indians to be a people “whose every thought and habit are antagonistic to our system of civilisation”. [34] Disastrous results did occur in October of 1884 when police, after the riot act was read, shot and killed more than twelve Indians in the vicinity of San Fernando, wounding one hundred and four in what was called then the Hosay Riots. [35] Brereton observed: “Although no serious Indian insurrection ever occurred, the fears persisted.” [36] She quotes a newspaper correspondent who wrote in the year following the shootings in San Fernando: 
“The day is not far off, when these Coolies, bent on having everything their own way, and meeting the slightest resistance on the part of the authorities, will break out in open rebellion, and reproduce here the barbarities of the great chief Nana Sahib in British India a few years ago,” 
and continues: 
“Indians soon acquired a reputation for violence which was almost completely undeserved. Indeed, an essential element in the host society’s reaction to the newcomers was fear: fear of their potential for violence and rebellion.” [37]
This intense media-generated xenophobia was heightened as the steady increase in the Indian population was noticed by the colony’s urban population. The Port of Spain Gazette claimed that “Trinidad might soon cease to be a West Indian Island, as Indians came to ‘swamp’ Creoles, ‘so that the mistakes of Columbus will have been ethnologically rectified.’” [38] The social development of the Indian segment of the population tended to be quite separate from Creole life. Indians scarcely had sexual or close social relationships with Creole men and women. Brereton describes how in 1871, twenty-six years after the first indentured Indians arrived in Trinidad, the Protector of Immigrants believed that no single case of cohabitation of male or female with Creoles existed and up to 1917 such cases were very rare. [39] This again was seen as strange by the Creole population, as miscegenation had been the common practice in the Caribbean for centuries.
As the reform militants generated these injurious notions, several prominent white, black and coloured spokesmen such as Philip Rostant, activist and editor of Public Opinion, and C.P. David, QC, the first person of African descent to sit in the Legislative Council, increasingly opposed indentureship. Henry Alcazar, a coloured Spanish Creole who also sat on the Legislative Council, pointed out the abundance of labour and maintained that further immigration would only depress wages and cause unemployment. He said that the black masses were being pauperised by the artificial state of things created by Indian immigration, and that the labour market of the colony, especially in the sugar districts, was so overstocked that the earnings of the black working classes were miserably low. He thought they were unable to find more employment than is absolutely necessary to keep starvation from their doors. [40]
Not that this was factually wrong. The policy of continuing indentureship did indeed lead to depressed wages, which affected all labourers, the black masses as well as the Indians who were coming out of indentureship contracts and onto the labour market. Starvation wages were the reality for all. 

Religious differences are magnified by the media
Throughout the 19th century, the political divisions in the colony tended to be along the lines of the French-Patois-Catholic majority and the Anglo-Protestant colonisers, each vying for dominance in the society. Part of the Creole impulse was the opposition against British domination exercised through the Anglican Church and ward school system that emphasized English. However, with the influx of the Indians, both Christian denominations came together in the ‘ingroup’, defining and indeed ridiculing in a contemptuous way the ‘outgroup’ based on their religion. 
Essentially, the Christian population increasingly had a hostile view of the Indians, who were in the main Hindus and Moslems, and stigmatised them as heathens. As heathens, i.e. persons who do not belong to a widely held religion and in the case of the Hindus, have a polytheistic religion, the newspapers of the Christian ingroup stereotyped all Indians as an immoral people, unprincipled, deceitful, prone to perjury, and thieves. Brereton observed, “From the Euro-Christian perspective of the dominant groups, Indians were generally judged to be an immoral people,” and she continues, “Indeed, newspapers hostile to Indian immigration often contrasted Indians unfavourably with the British West Indian immigrants as potential settlers.” [41]
According to the newspapers, it was inconceivable that anyone who was not a Christian could be moral, honest and just. The newspapers carried this further in their judgment of Hindu and Moslem ceremonies and festivals such as Hosein and the fire pass as “a degrading practice” and “vile customs”, “scandalous performances carried on by gangs of semi-barbarians”, and “painted devilry.”
These views were amplified by the missionaries, whose statements were carried in the press. They thought that the Indians possessed “a low sense of sin.” Brereton writes that “John Morton, the pioneer Canadian missionary, thought they were morally unprincipled and degraded; husbands and wives were unfaithful, the women were ‘quite as wicked as the men, and more ignorant and prejudiced’.” “A jury knows,” wrote Henry Taylor of the Colonial Office in 1871, “that a Coolie is presumably a liar”. It would appear that the jurors were actually instructed by the legal professionals of the day to think so, as Smith points out in her Creole Recitations:
“In 1870, ... Michel Maxwell Philip instructed a jury: ‘You have sat there over and over as jurors, and you are all aware what value you can attach to the unsupported evidence of coolies. You know with what unscrupulous hardihood they violate the most sacred of the sanctions which represent as binding them to tell the truth.’ Philip then offered ‘proof’ of Indians’ propensity to lie by reading ‘from a work bearing on this point of the East Indian character.” [42]
Smith assumes that Philip then quoted from a travelogue, which in those days were the heavily biased observations of transient British visitors to the Caribbean like Trollope, Day, Froude and Kingsley, to name a few. 
The Rev. R. H. Moor opined, 
“The Creole, as a rule looks down on the Indian; he is a semi civilised being. He speaks in barbarous languages and his manners are barbarous. . . He takes work cheaper than the Creoles will do, hence he must be ill-treated when he can be ill-treated with impunity.” [43]
Through years of newspaper rhetoric, what had begun as criticism of the indentureship programme as a rallying point against Crown Colony rule mutated into a widely held, fixed and oversimplified stereotype as well as an enduring hostile attitude by the Creole ingroup toward the Indian outgroup in Trinidad. Brereton observed: 
“By the later years of the century, Creoles were well aware of the economic threat posed by the Indians, and a systematic critique of Indian immigration was developed by spokesmen for the coloured and black middle class.” [44]
Other factors reconfirmed the ingroup’s attitude towards the outgroup. Throughout the late 19th century and well into the 20th in the urban areas, the Indians held mostly low status jobs—street sweepers, garbage collectors—and were perceived as miserable and suffering. Indian men, women and children appeared as street dwellers in startling quantities, destitute, the flotsam from the plantations. In the context of their culture, some were mendicants; this too was misunderstood by non-Indians. Often malnourished and ill with hookworm infestation, malaria and leprosy, they were seen as abhorrent. Institutions such as the jail, Leper Asylum, the hospital and the House of Refuge appeared to be at times disproportionately populated by Indians. This created an impression that Indians, in the judgment of society, could be perceived as inferior beings. 
In 1917, 70% of the Indians were agricultural workers, maintaining religious forms, cultural practices and a clear identity by retaining their names, and forming strong family ties, village and community interest in settlements that were entirely comprised of Indians. Small retail businesses owned by Indians were appearing, laying the foundations for substantial enterprises that a generation hence would generate envy amongst all the Creoles. Indian groupings representing particular local interest were taking shape, such as the East Indian National Association; these would evolve eventually into political movements. Brereton mentions that the first Trinidadian newspaper to be owned by an Indian, the Indian Kohinoor Gazette, with material in both Hindi and English appeared in 1898. [45]
A handful of Indian families would eventually make their way into the colonial establishment. Here Brereton observes a reaction to decades of hostile stereotyping. 
“But we can feel fairly sure that the contempt was mutual. The Indians, heirs to the system of caste, soon decided that by the guidelines of that system, the blacks were hopelessly polluted. They invented a myth about the origin of the blacks, which identified them with the ungodly and the polluted. Blacks engaged in occupations which were ritually impure, they ate the flesh of cattle and pigs, and in general their habits seemed unacceptable to most Indians. In effect, Indians tended to regard blacks as the equivalent of untouchables, and this attitude prevailed especially in the question of intermarriage.” [46]
The notion of perceiving the Indian population as not really belonging to the island’s overall population, when coupled with other negative stereotyping, produced in the minds of a generation of Afro-French-Creole Trinidadians and West Indian migrants, born in the opening decades of the 20th century, a deep animosity against a large and differentiating aspect of the population in such a derogatory manner that it would have lasting consequences. Over time, Trinidadians from various walks of life accepted views such as those described in the newspapers of the time about Indians and Indian religious practices, music, culture and later cinema, and generally tended to avoid and to openly ridicule these. 
The newspapers’ steady attack on Indians and indentureship lasted some thirty years, transferring a deep hostility against Indians amongst the young of yet another generation of the Creole ingroup, and even among the many newcomers who were arriving in Trinidad from the West Indian islands and who had no idea of the issues that were originally at the heart of this prejudice. This prejudice was echoed in calypso, thus popularising in an amusing and entertaining manner a grave injustice. It could be argued that similar to some emigrants from parts of Eastern Europe, where the black presence is negligible, who, upon arriving in the USA, adopted the same racist attitudes towards blacks as white people from the deep South, many of the tens of thousands of West Indian immigrants, on whose islands there were few if any Indians (with the exception of British Guiana), who came to Trinidad from the period of between the world wars on to the present, assimilated the ingroup’s Indophobia.  
Brereton explains: 
“Very few Trinidadians, black or white, tried to understand the culture or social organisation of the Indian community, or the changes which that community was experiencing in the later years of the century. The attitude of the host society to the new arrivals from the East was almost entirely negative. Because the Indians entered the society on peculiarly disadvantageous terms, as indentured labourers replacing ex-slaves, it was only too easy for black and white Trinidadians to despise them. The legal disabilities of indentureship set the Indians apart from the rest of society, as unfree and inferior beings; the low status jobs which they performed on the sugar estates made it possible for the recently freed blacks to look down on them. Partly as a result of the indentureship, partly because of the Indians’ culture and religions, a whole collection of unfavourable stereotypes was built up during the nineteenth century, which did much to form the attitudes of the host society towards the immigrants and their descendants.” [47] 

Indophobia is carried into the Independence process
Opposition to Crown Colony rule and a lingering adherence to a Francophone cultural identity formed the basis of the Creole impulse, one that by well into the twentieth century differentiated itself in race consciousness expressed in nationalistic terms. This Creole impulse, which shaped the origins of the later nationalistic movement, expressed by the class that had created it, would produce personalities in Trinidad such as the white French Creole Philip Rostant, and black and mixed race men such as Emmanuel Mzumbo Lazare, C. P. David, Edgar Maresse-Smith, and later another white French Creole, Arthur Cipriani who was succeeded by the Portuguese politician Albert Gomes and shape the political future for black people. The Creole impulse, expressed as race consciousness, was further popularised and politicised around the world by born Creole scholars such as John Jacob Thomas, Sylvester Williams, George Padmore, C.L.R. James, and Eric Williams. Their ideas would affect the thinking of journalists and academics, philosophers and politicians in the West Indies, Africa and in other colonies, as colonialism came to an end by the 1960s.
It is with interest we note that when the Independence movement commenced in the 1950s, the Indians in the Caribbean were again portrayed as a threat, this time to national security, or should we say international security in the context of the Cold War. In British Guiana, where there had been a similar indentureship programme as in Trinidad, Indians, who were in the majority there, were perceived by the British government as having been politicised by the left-leaning politics of Cheddi Jagan. It was believed that such politics would also find fertile ground amongst the Indian population in Trinidad and Tobago and particular individuals and certain Hindu institutions were placed under police watch. [48]
On the political platforms of Trinidad’s nationalist movement many of the 19th century stereotypes were resurrected and evoked by the historian-turned-politician Eric Williams (born 1911), creating fresh and even longer lasting divisions. In 1956 Williams maintained vitriolic attacks against the Indian community in speeches made at Woodford Square and in other places throughout the country. Winston Mahabir, a politician of Williams’ own party PNM recalls “It contained generous ingredients of abuse of the Indian community which was deemed to be a ‘hostile and recalcitrant minority’. The Indian community represented the greatest danger facing the country. It was an impediment to West Indian progress. It had caused the PNM to lose the federal elections. There were savagely contemptuous references to the Indian illiterates of the country areas who were threatening to submerge the masses whom Williams had enlightened.” [49] This speech, according to Mahabir was repeated at other venues. Vidia Naipaul, who also heard such a speech, remarked that “Much of the hostile feeling released by the sacrament of the square would have focussed on the Indians, who made up the other half of the population.” [50] It was a case of evoking an act of memory, cultivated in the present, in which the past and the future met.

Brereton’s study poses several questions that lie unanswered in the collective psyche of the non-Indian descended population of Trinidad and Tobago. Does society need to reexamine the way in which the segment that perceives itself as the ingroup—today’s media, the calypso fraternity and academia included—continues to stereotype all Trinidadians of Indian descent? Has this stereotyping continued as an inherent tradition in today’s media as the inheritor of the ethos of newspapers of the 19th century and early 20th century? Does Indophobia and by extension Anti-Hinduism exist in Trinidad and Tobago? And if so, is it manufactured and perpetuated by the media? And did it come about as the result of the machinations of the political energies of a specific ingroup, nascent nationalists of a bygone era who were seeking self-determination during the British colonial period at the expense of an outgroup? When the ingroup falters or fails, does it find a scapegoat in the outgroup to blame for its own shortcomings? Does the outgroup facilitate this by its maintenance of difference? Is it right to maintain difference?
The answer to all these questions is clearly “yes”. The work of Bridget Brereton in 1978 laid the first stepping-stones on the road of re-examination of the role of the press in a pluralistic society. A healthy society should neither condone nor allow its media to engage in stereotyping and scapegoating—many of us will remember the events of July 1990, which, according to Gordon Rohlehr, were a direct result of a society that was engaged in scapegoating its own government. [51] As New York Times columnist Frank Rich said: “It’s a story as old as history. Once any group is successfully scapegoated as a subhuman threat to ‘normal’ values by a propaganda machine, emboldened thugs take over.” [52] As can be seen in the case of the pronouncements made in the newspapers of the late 19th century, they did not reflect any so-called “fourth estate” responsibility (which is, in view of newspapers largely being owned by and serving commercial or political interest, largely a fictitious concept perpetuated by the media houses themselves), but the narrow political views of a handful of in this case very ignorant people. The Creole Party/Reform Movement knew or cared nothing about the very ancient and valid cultural, social and emotional background of the human beings from India in their midst. As can also be seen, the damage that the Creole Party/Reformists did through their agitation in the newspapers was far-reaching and it has been argued that the Trinidad and Tobago press continues to perpetuate the stereotypes that their predecessor organs set in place such a long time ago. [53]
Carroll in Constantine’s Sword, a book on the nature and far reaching consequences of prejudice, quotes William Faulkner: “‘The past is never dead, it is not even past.’ It is the act of memory, cultivated in the present, in which past and future meet. Memory—as opposed to a mere cataloguing of bygone episodes and doctrines—presumes a personal commitment, a sense of urgency and implicit hope.” Bridget Brereton’s work as a historian is, to quote Carroll, an “act of personal and institutional memory, and not merely as the repetition of records or the reassertion of conventional interpretations”. Her work is an “act of responsibility to the future.” [54]
It is now up to a young generation of social scientists, many of whom are indeed of Indo-Trinidadian descent, to make their voices heard and focus their own work on exterminating Indophobia in their own country, in their own time—and in their own media. Because, as Carroll observes, “to expose the biases of the past, however, does not mean one does so free of the biases of the present, because it is the nature of bias that the one inflicted with it is the last to know.”

A list of members of the Creole Party in 1871 published the Echo of Trinidad. They were congratulating one of their number on his attaining a position on the local bench. The individuals who may be identified as men of colour are marked*. Those who may have arrived after the 1860s-70s are marked #. These characterisations are based on my knowledge of who most of these men were and having an idea of when they came to Trinidad. 
L.A.A. de Verteuil 
André Bernard 
Charles M. Vessiny
Paul Vessiny
Charles Besson
P.J. Creteau *
H. Creteau *
Jos. S. Agostini
George Fitt #
Jas. Schaeffer #
Henry Ganteaume
John Agostini
Felix Hernandez
Ad. Wuppermann #
John Roberts 
Fritz Zurcher #
Ludwig Schoner #
Wilh. Ehlers #
C. G. F. Urich #
Charles Mahand
George Wuppermann #
E. Zurcher #
Pierre B. André
P. Emile André
L. A. F. André
P. Pampelonne
D. L. O’Connor
Eugene Boissière *
Louis Boissière *
W. Norman #
F. Maingot
Alex. Coryat
Charles G. Pantin
Louis Voisin
Richard Dick #
E. Pampelonne
Fs. Martin
E. F. Lange 
Ante. Sicard
J. B. Antoine
A. Joliclere
John W. Blondel *
T.R.N. Laughlin
Charles Cotton #
Charles Gibbon #
Charles Thavenot #
J. George Radix *
V. Plummer
A. M. Cook
Ths. A. Finlayson #
F. J. Scott
Jules Pollonais
Jos. P. Pollonais
F. C. Mathieu *
A. A. Ligouro
S. G. Richard 
W. R. Eckstern
C. A. Frett
Philip Fort
James Henry Rat *
L.D. O’Connor
H. Massy
Arthur Demile
John de Souza
G. R. Baillie
 James Banting
 Wm. Herbert
 F. Hyndman. jnr.
 Ls. A. Pollonais
Paul Ambard *
Albert Lack
 John Fred. Rat *
George Fuller
 James A. Rousseau *
Louis Boon
A. Valsaint
Em. Fernandez 
Louis Bath *
Francis Damian 
C. M. S. Griffith
George Greenidge
Jackson Collymore *
Jules E. Attale *
Jos. G. Rochemont
Léon Agostini 
M. James Kavanagh #
Lucian F. Ambard *
J. R. Saunier
J. H. Cournand
Arnold Lamy
Chs. Salomon
Isambert Rousseau *
G. Borde
John Vincent
Ernest Desroses
George Fitzwilliam
Chs. Fitzwilliam
J. B. Léotaud
Hte. Cornilliac
W. E. Lynch
Ls. Geoffroy *
Louis Latour
Paul Giuseppi
Jose Penco *
Js. Herbert Rat *
 J. Pampelonne
 Louis Jno. Alcazar *
Philip H. Blanchard *
P. Josse Delisle
Joseph Lewis
Charles P. Savary
George Lewis Garcia
A.T. O’Connor
James Fraser
Edmund D. Felix
Fs. M. Petioni
B. Barony
Paul A. Dubuisson
John A. Bourne
L. Dumoret
Léon Giuseppi
M. Maxwell Philip *
A. Fitzjames
Fs. Blanch Fraser *
J. E. Cipriani *
R. Scott
Robert K. Wight
G. Ajax Cadet *
H. J. Clark *
P. N. Bernard
John Ross
P. C. O’Connor
Jules Espinet * 

[1]         Unless otherwise stated, all quotations from Brereton in this article are taken from her Race Relations in Colonial Trinidad 1870–1900, 1979.
[3] This designation was a legal definition that distinguished them from the African slaves. 
[4]         Besson, Brereton, Book of Trinidad, 1991, from Hart, Daniel, Historical and Statistical Views of Trinidad.
[5] de Verteuil, Anthony, The Years of Revolt, 1984, 221. “Creole” first meant Europeans born in the western world, later this definition was broadened to include white, black and mixed-race people living in Trinidad.
[6] The pinnacle of John Jacob Thomas’ accomplishments came in 1876, when an Englishman by the name of James Anthony Froude published a scathing attack on the black population of the West Indies in his book The Bow of Ulysses. Thomas replied with a spirited attack on Froude and his odious opinions, and he published his rebuttal in a book entitled Froudacity (1889). The book attracted international attention, and Thomas established himself as an author of exceptional scholarship and ability. He also published The Theory and Practice of Creole Grammar (1869), a scholarly work on the Creole patois spoken by the majority of Trinidadians in the 19th century 
 [7]         Brereton, 86
[8] Campbell, Carl, Cedulants & Capitulants, 1992, 86-92
[9]         ibid. The plantation system endured from 1783 to the 1960s.
[10]        Brereton, Bridget, “The Free Mulatto”, Trinidad Express, 27 March, 2013 (, accessed 3 March, 2015)
[11] A sample of the Creole Party’s composition is given in Appendix 1.
[12]         Some historians remember it as the ‘Jamet’  culture of east Port of Spain.  The Jamet or diametre society meaning to be outside of the diameter of polite society, is discussed in Caribbean Quarterly 1956 by several social scientists. This laid the foundation for calypso, carnival and steelband and endured into the 1950s when it was subsumed and eventually overwhelmed by the new nationalist movement. Today, these art forms are mainstream and are considered to be ‘national.’
[13]         Although European, the Portuguese were not considered “socially white” by the Creole ingroup for almost one hundred years, as was the case with the Syrians and Lebanese, who came from the 1910s to the present. It could be argued that this continues up to today.
[14] Wood, Donald, Trinidad in Transition, 1968, 158 
[15] “The essential trademark of cultural insiderism, which also supplies the key to its popularity, is an absolute sense of ethnic difference. This is maximised so that it distinguishes people from one another and at the same time acquires an incontrovertible priority over all other dimensions of their social and historical experiences and identities. Characteristically, these claims are associated with the idea of a national belonging or the aspiration to nationality and other more local but equivalent forms of cultural kinship.” Gilroy, Paul, The Black Atlantic, as quoted in Ramcharitar, Raymond, Breaking the News, 2005, 19.
[16]         Smith, Faith, Creole Recitations, (2002) 20
[17] The New Era was established by Samuel Carter and Joseph Lewis, both coloured, in 1869; Lewis ran the paper alone from 1874 to 1891. It was closed at his death. Carter, a Tobagonian, acquired the San Fernando Gazette after parting with Lewis and ran it until his death in 1895.
[18] The Port of Spain Gazette was owned T.N.R. Laughlin, an Irish-French-Creole and later by A.P.T. Ambard, a coloured man.
[19] The Public Opinion was financed by Hypolite Borde and edited by Philip Rostant, both French Creoles. Hypolite Borde was the brother of Pierre Gustave Louis Borde mentioned earlier. Hypolite donated a fountain with a statue of Columbus to the city of Port-of-Spain in 1897. He was also made a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur by the French Republic.
[20] Brereton also notes that, “Towards the end of the century the French Creoles lost leadership in the radical movements of the day to coloured or black individuals like Alcazar, Edgar Maresse-Smith, and C.P. David.” Race Relations, 55
[21] ibid, 96
[22] ibid, 97
[23] ibid, 96
[24] ibid, 186
[25] ibid, 186
[26] ibid, 188
[27] Wood, op cit, 156
[28]         Tothill, Vincent, Trinidad’s Doctor’s Office, 1938 & 2009, 132 f
[29] Brereton, op cit, 190
[30] ibid, 188
[31] ibid, 187
[32] The actual proportion of females to males dispatched from India to Trinidad on paid-for passages (not including those that paid their own passage) between 1844 and 1871 was 38.79%. Afterwards, a quota of 40% was established. The average proportion between 1874 and 1917 was 43.81%. (Source: Mr. Geogheghan’s Report, pp 1874, XLVII, 496 as quoted in K.O. Laurence, A Question of Labour, 1994, 536)
[33] ibid, 187
[34] ibid, 188
[35] Collens, J. H. in an historical account, 1885, wrote: “During the Canboulay Riots in Port of Spain in 1882, his [Capt. Baker’s] policemen were armed only with cudgels and were severely beaten by rioters. When unrest among the Indians began in 1881-82, he was determined to use deadly force against any future dissidents.” Virtual Museum of T&T,
[36] Brereton, op cit, 184
[37] ibid, 187
[38] ibid, 186
[39]         ibid, 183
[40]         ibid, 188
[41] ibid, 186f
[42]         Smith, op. cit. 125
[43] Brereton, op. cit. 188
[44] ibid, 190
[45]         ibid, 191        . Kohinoor was a famous diamond, surrendered to the British crown on the annexation of the Punjab. It forms today part of the British Crown Jewels. Trinidad referred to itself as a “Crown Jewel” among the British colonies, a linguistic parallel that may have been inspired the naming of the newspaper.
[46]         ibid, 188       
[47]         ibid, 186        
[48] “In the monthly political report for May 1953 the then Governor of the colony [Trinidad & Tobago] H. Hubert Rance states; ‘The latest reports indicate that the Indian element led by the Honourable Bhadase Sagan Maraj has been working steadily through the United Sanatan Dharam Maha Sabha Association towards their goal of political control of the Colony.’ (CO 1031/127) (Figueira, Daurius, The East Indian Problem in Trinidad & Tobago 1953-1962 Terror and Race War in Guyana 1961-1964, 2009, 2)
[49] Mahabir, Winston, In and Out of Politics, 1978, 78.
[50] Naipaul, Vidia, A Way in the World, 1994, 35.
[51] The practice of singling out any group or indivedual for unmerited negative treatment or blame as a scapegoat. See Rohlehr, Gordon, 1992, The Shape of that HurtApocalypso and the Soca Fires of 1990, 343.
[52]         New York Times October 13, 1998, as quoted in Carroll, James, Constantine’s Sword, 2001, 275
 [53]         Ramcharitar in his Breaking the News further explores this topic.
[54]         Carroll, op cit 62

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Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

This interpretation of the History of Immigration is although very refreshing, encompasses some misinformation. Firstly, while there was some mention of the Spanish on the island, no mention was made about the type of administration that was utilized by the Spanish, nor was any mention made on the demographical uniqueness of the island at the time. Secondly, it was stated that the only remnants of the French reside in the last names of some French Creoles, but if the french culture was as influential as previously stated, would there not be more influence. With that being said, I must allude to the fact that birth Carnival resulted from the imitation of the enslaved, toward the French, during their masquerade balls. Thirdly, there was little elaboration of the Indian demographic, as they were pertinent to the revival of the sugar industry in Trinidad. These aspects are pertinent in understanding the History of Trinidad. There must be a revamping of the ideology of the History being taught, as history is not merely the recollection of fact by the genesis of regional and international relations.
Do you think an this information is pertinent or should be added to this specific area of research?

Unknown said...

Hi there, Very interesting reading, I a'm a descendant of the Garcia family, Who resided in Port of Spain in the 1800's, My 4th great grandfather was Ramon Garcia , It was said that he was a member of the Spainish Royal Family, He practiced law as well as his son George Garcia and his grandson. Ramon lived in Garcia's building in Port of Spain at the time. Just wondering if there is any photo's of him and his family. Would appreciate to have pic's if ok sent to is my email address or any information regarding his family , Ramon's wife's name is Vicenta whom is my 4th great grand mother. ALso I a'm a descendant of Ettiene Duruty if remember right he worked with doing sugar plantation in Trinidad back in the old day's, Ettiene's father was Martin Duruty if remember right, Ettiene is also my 4th time's great grandfather. Will love to have any info if ok. :) Thank's so much, I a'm living in New Zealand, As born here, Also i'm related to Clement Bishop and his wife Emily Maude Garcia , They were my 3rd time's great grand parent's.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly enough, there is no mention of the Merikans, former enslaved Africans from America, transported to Trinidad in 1815 and 1816 by the British after the War of 1812. They are the reason the Spiritual Baptist religion exists in Trinidad and they were instrumental in the development of the communities in southern Trinidad.