Failure Of The 1958 West Indies Federation – The Original “CARICOM”


New Book Says British Colonial Office Called Sir Grantley Adams “Lazy, Lethargic”

The Trinidad & Tobago Express reviews a new book about the failure of the 1958 West Indies Federation. (link here)

From the T&T Express review of Colin Palmer’s new book: Eric Williams and the Making of the Modern Caribbean

…Adams had been chosen as the Federal Prime Minister principally because both Williams and Jamaica’s Norman Manley did not stand for the federal elections in their respective countries. In Jamaica, Bustamante wondered how can “this insular Adams, who lacks sufficient imagination, do any good for the ten states, having ruled over pauperised Barbados for so long, obviously without realising the state of poverty there”?…

…But the British and the Americans also had little respect for Adams. He had “a somewhat sleepy exterior and is in fact lazy, though he has an agile mind, particularly in a political tight-spot” the Colonial office concluded in 1961, as it prepared for a meeting with him and British Prime Minister Harold McMillan. This, despite the conclusion that he had a reputation for polished urbanity and a rather old world charm. This report also found that after he had received red carpet treatment in Canada, reports had surfaced about his “growing irritability, swollen-headedness and a readiness to take offence”. Generally, the report concluded his position as the federal Prime Minister was “not wholly secure”…

Read the entire review (link here)

Our Take – We Love History, And We Will Read The Book

It is easy to criticize those who have passed on and cannot defend themselves. Indeed, it has become standard practice for historians to rip into dead national heros just to sell books. In the USA, Dr. Martin Luther King is now known as much for his supposed womanizing as – what else did he do? Oh, yes… was there something happened in Selma, Alabama, or was it Mississippi?

In Britain, Sir Winston Churchill’s bathroom and sleeping habits eclipse all else in some historical circles. FDR in World War Two? Ten martinis a day…. and by the way, wasn’t he in some way involved with the Barbados government and the Royal Navy? Had something to say about Pearl Harbor too, I think.


Fifty Years On – The Truth Changes… Or Maybe Just Sees The Light Of Day

The other side of the coin is that forty or fifty years later, people who witnessed history and historical figures can and will reveal all manner of things that could not be said at the time. Sealed documents are opened, private diaries are found and even the people involved in making history can see their own actions in a different light.

And now, especially with the sheer amount of new information available on the internet, each of us can examine multiple sources and make up our own mind.

Was Sir Grantley Adams “lazy and lethargic”? I don’t know, but I suspect that we would be better off if all Bajans today were as “lazy” as Sir Grantley!

The book review by the Trinidad and Tobago Express is well done, and both the review and the book itself are relevant and important today as we in Barbados continue our CARICOM dance.

Cliverton with Marcus


Filed under Barbados, History, Politics & Corruption

10 responses to “Failure Of The 1958 West Indies Federation – The Original “CARICOM”

  1. Green!

    Judged by the grand and ‘perfect’ standards of the arrogant, all-world-ruling British Colonial Office,
    pontificating from Whitehall(or wherever) in London,
    it’s easy to see that a local, ‘creole’ sleepy-island politician of the equally-sleepy 1950s
    might be judged as lazy.

    Who cares what they think, or thought?
    “What you think of me,
    is none of my business”
    and we need to adopt that stance!

    I have no doubt that Grantley wasn’t up to their ‘scratch’ but then, who ever was?
    Don’t let it upset you.
    Life is VERY different across The Pond,
    and besides, Ye Brits never had to deal with this “ideal” sweltering climate during humid rainy seasons.

    Maybe we should be writing history books about the British Colonial Service, from our point of view,
    pointing out their arrogance and inability to deal with(and accept) local priorities,etc. etc.

    “What you think of me,
    – is none of my business!”

  2. Carson C. Cadogan

    I think what shocks us most about revered charcters is the fact that they may have been less than we were brainwashed to believe. One must remember that these so-called heroes were human just like the rest us. They were subjected to the failings of mankind the way we are today. I have no doubt that the Professor is telling the truth in his book. My father is eighty three years old and he has never had a falltering view of Sir grantley Adams and he knew him first hand and much of what he told me is not that different form what is protrayed in the article.

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  4. John

    Wow Carson, you have said a mouthful.

    …. and here I was thinking you were a die hard Bee …

  5. God.

    Thank you Carson, for what you said!

    In life (during the life of..)
    we are indeed led to believe in Infallible Heroes.
    Look at Owen!
    he sits at my right hand !
    …oops sorry I sit AT HIS right hand(that’s better)

    Ten years after death by cirrhosis of the liver, the real truth shall come out.
    Hey, life’s like that.
    History is spelt Hi-STORY: get it?

    It’s a story, and stories get re-written.
    I read the entire long thing on the Express website last night,
    and it was very interesting seeing these things in now-REAL perspective,
    how Eric Williams, Adams and Bustamante used to dislike each other and jibe at each other.

    Pity someone didn’t supply a matched pair of duelling pistols,
    hi-story might have turned out different/better…!

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  10. Dessalines

    In retrospect maybe what Jamaica and Trinidad needed during the Federation period was a lazy and lethargic leader ruling over their respective pauperised countries. Then maybe they would have the highest income per capita and standard of living in the Caricom region.
    I guess Bustamante never saw whatever hit Jamaica coming.