Eric Williams – The First Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago – Biography

Eric Eustace Williams TC CH, better known as Eric Williams – the author of Capitalism and Slavery – became the first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. Dr. Williams served the nation from 1962 until his death.

In honor of the noted Caribbean historian, today, we’ve gathered a proud and inspiring life story of Dr. Williams, including his inventions, thesis, wiki-bio, death, and many more.

Eric Williams age, birthday, death cause,
Eric Williams

When was Dr. Eric Williams born? Where did Dr. Eric live?

Dr. Eric Williams was born on 25 September 1911 in the Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Eric was the son of  Thomas Henry Williams and Eliza Frances Boissiere (13 April 1888 – 1969).

Williams’ father was a minor Post Office official in Trinidad, while his mother was a descendant of the mixed French Creole elite.

Talking about his education, Eric attended Tranquillity Boys’ Intermediate Government School. Later, he graduated from Queen’s Royal College in Port of Spain, where Eric excelled at academics and football.

Eric Williams high school, young, early life, education, college football
Eric during his high school days
Source: Dailykos

Williams had a football injury during his college that led to a hearing problem, but he wore a hearing aid to correct.

In 1932, Eric won an island scholarship that allowed him to attend St Catherine’s Society, Oxford ( now St Catherine’s College, Oxford).

After three years in 1935, Eric received first-class honors for his B.A in history, while ranking in the first place among University of Oxford students.

In 1938, Eric went on to obtain his doctorate under the supervision of Vincent Harlow. During his lifetime, Eric Williams lived in his home in Trinidad and Tobago.

What did Eric invent? Who wrote Capitalism and Slavery?

Eric recalls his early life in Inward Hunger that the lack of money hindered his research while he was turned down everywhere he tried.

However, he also notes that in 1936, the Governor of Trinidad and Tobago Sir Alfred Claud Hollis recommended the Leathersellers’ Co., awarding him £50 for continuing his advanced research in history.

Eventually, his doctoral thesis, supervised by Mr. Harlow, was entitled “The Economic Aspects of the Abolition of the Slave Trade and West Indian Slavery,” which now is known as Capitalism and Slavery that was published in 1944.

Years ahead of its time, Eric’s profound critique became a solid foundation for studying imperialism and economic development.

What is the Williams thesis?

The majority of the Williams thesis addresses the decline of the sugar industry in the 1820s, the emancipation of the slaves in the 1830s, and the sugar equalization acts of the 1840s have not been refuted or undermined.

As a matter of fact, Eric Williams’ thesis held that “capitalism as an economic modality quickly replaced slavery once European elites accumulated the vast surplus capital from slavery that they needed to bankroll their industrial revolution.”

What did Eric do for Trinidad?

The first (apparently the longest-serving) prime minister of independent Trinidad and Tobago, Eric Williams founded the People’s National Movement (PNM) in 1956 and led his country to independence.

What was named after Dr. Eric?

The Eric Williams Plaza has been named after the first prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Eric.

Eric Williams’ Net Worth

The first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Eric Williams had an estimated net worth of $28 million at the time of his death.

Who is Eric Williams’ Wife? Did he have any Child?

The honorable historian Eric Williams had tied the knot with his wife, Mayleen Mook Sang, on November 13, 1957. Eric walked down the aisle with his daughter’s dentist, Dr. Mayleen Mook Sang, a Guyanese.

The duo never lived together, and perhaps that’s why the “marriage” if it could be called such, endured until his death.

Eric Williams Daughter, Children, Son, Married, baby
Eric’s daughter Erica Williams Connell
Source: The Guardian

Erica Williams-Connell is the daughter of former Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Eric Williams. She is the founder and curator of the Eric Williams Memorial Collection.

Her mother, Eric Williams’ true love of his life, died at the age of 28. She had a native intelligence, uncorrupted by a university education.

In the 75th year of the publication of Eric Williams’ Capitalism and Slavery on the 13th November 2019, his daughter Erica remembered her father in a warm speech.

At UWI St. Augustine Campus, Erica addressed, “When I was 14 years old, I told my father, ‘Daddy, when you die, all I want is your books and papers'”.

“I fancy my father’s role was to create history, mine is to preserve it.” – Eric Williams’ daughter Erica Williams-Connell

She’s now devoted nearly four decades after Eric’s passing, to the propagation of his vision.

When did Dr. Eric Williams die? A Tribute to Politician & Historian

Eric Williams died on March 29, 1981, in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and Tobago. The historian who led his two-island nation to independence, died Sunday night in his official residence. Williams’ was 69 years old at the time of his death.

President Ellis Clarke announced the death of Mr. Williams. Mr. Clarke had declared a period of national mourning until April 17, 1981. However, President Clarke did not disclose the cause of Mr. Williams’ death.

Mr. Eric Williams was elected chief minister in 1956, before independence. He had been Prime Minister since 1962.

In the mid-1950s, Mr. Williams left the faculty of Howard University in Washington, where he was a professor of social and political science, to return to Trinidad. A year later, he founded the island’s first political party, the People’s National Movement, which he led until his death.

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Williams’ paper proved that he was a meticulous chronicler and keeper of snippets of information. He regularly had recorded the speeches of opponents and marked off sections for later rebuttal.

Eric collected information on unemployment, crime, foreign relations, and education. These ideas then he would distil in the crucible of his historical mind and craft them into well-documented compelling presentations.

Quite often, he wrote and then re-wrote his speeches, leaving the various versions behind so that now we can trace the evolution of his thought.

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