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Trinidad and Tobago - History of Our People
History of Our People

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History of Our People
 
In order to understand why our nation has so many diversed people, we will examine the history of our people.  In so doing, we would be able to find out under what circumstances our ancestors were brought here and why our culture is so varied.

OUR AMERINDIAN ANCESTORS:

    The Caribs and Arawaks

THE SPANISH ERA: 1498 - 1797

    The Spanish in Trinidad

    The African Arrives

    The French in Trinidad

THE BRITISH ERA: 1797 - 1976

    The East Indian Arrives

HISTORY OF TOBAGO

OUR AMERINDIAN ANCESTORS

      The Caribs and Arawaks

    By the time Columbus re-discovered Trinidad, the island was already inhabited by two Amerindian tribes, the Caribs and the Arawaks.

T    heir tools and weapons were primitive and were made of stone shells, bone, coral or wood.

    When the Spaniards colonized Trinidad they enslaved the Amerindians.

 

THE SPANISH ERA: 1498 -1797

    The Spanish in Trinidad

    When Christopher Columbus re-discovered Trinidad on July 31, 1498, he claimed the island for Spain.  Trinidad became a Spanish Monarchy with the King of Spain the ruler of the island.

    The Spaniards were only interested in gold, silver and precious stones.  Since none of these existed in Trinidad, the colonizers soon began to neglect the island. 

 

    The African Arrives

    When Amerindian slave labour failed in Trinidad, the economy began to becline because of lack of labour.

    This resulted in the Africans being brought to Trinidad as slaves in the 17th century.  As slaves the Africans were treated in the most inhumane manner with extremely harsh punishment for the smallest offence or act of disobedience.

 

    The French in Trinidad

    When Phillipe Roumé Rose de St. Laurent, a French planter from Grenada, visited Trinidad in the 1770's. so impressed was he with the richness of the land that he made proposals to the King of Spain for immigration of French planters into Trinidad.

    On November 20, 1783, the  Spanish King accepted St. Laurent's proposals and granted the Cedula of Population.  As a Result, Frenchmen came in their numbers from Martinique, Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenada brining with them their families and their slaves.

 

THE BRITISH ERA: 1797- 1976

    Soon after the British captured Trinidad in 1797, there was widespread concern throughout the West Indies and also in Europe about the injustice and inhumanity of the slave trade.

    Slavery was finally abolished in 1834, with the slaves having to serve a period of apprenticeship for four years.  thus, in 1838 the apprenticeship of slaves ended and they became free.

    On February 7, 1925, Trinidad and Tobago had its first election.  Limited Adult Franchise was achieved with men over 21 years and women oven 30 years old being allowed to vote.

    In 1946 both men and women over21 years old achieved the right to vote, Full Adult Franchise having been achieved.

 

    The East Indian Arrives

    With the abolition of slavery in 1834 and the end of apprenticeship in 1838, the plantation system in Trinidad found itself in great difficulty as the freed slaves moved away from the plantations.

    When attempts by the British to supplement local labour from Madeira, China and America failed, they turned to India.  India like Trinidad was also under British rule.

    The British taking advantage of the situation, lured the East Indians to Trinidad by promising them fair wages, free housing, medical attention and return passage to India at the end of their indentureship.  But these were only promises and were never fulfilled.

    The first immigrant ship the Fatel Rozack, docked in Port of Spain on May 30, 1845.

 

HISTORY OF TOBAGO

    It is believed that Christopher Coumbus sighted the island on August 14, 1498 and named it Concepcion but never landed on it because of its small size.

    The original inhabitants were the Amerindian tribes of the Ciboneys, thehe Caribs and Arawaks who called the island Tavaco.  The British in the early dys called it Tabago and today it has been transformed to Tobago.

    Tobago became a British colony in 1763, but was captured by the French in 1781 and later re-captured by the British in 1803.