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History of Grenada

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History of Grenada

The recorded history of the Caribbean island of Grenada begins in the early 17th century. First settled by indigenous peoples, by the time of European contact it was inhabited by the Caribs. French colonists drove most of the Caribs off the island and established plantations on the island, eventually importing African slaves to work on sugar plantations.

Control of the island was disputed by Great Britain and France in the 18th century, with the British ultimately prevailing. In 1795, Fédon's Rebellion, inspired by the Haitian Revolution, very nearly succeeded, and was crushed with significant military intervention. Slavery was abolished in the 1830s. In 1885, the island became the capital of the British Windward Islands.

Grenada achieved independence from Britain in 1974. Following a leftist coup in 1983, the island was invaded by U. S. troops and a democratic government was reinstated. The island's major crop, nutmeg, was significantly damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.


  • Early history 1
  • 17th century 2
    • English attempted settlement 2.1
    • French settlement and conquest 2.2
    • French administration 2.3
  • 18th century 3
    • French colony 3.1
    • British colony 3.2
    • Fédon's Rebellion 3.3
  • 19th century 4
    • Early 19th century 4.1
    • Late 19th century 4.2
  • Last colonial years 1900–1974 5
    • Early 20th century 5.1
    • Towards independence:1950–1974 5.2
  • Independence, Revolution and US invasion: 1974–1983 6
    • Independence 6.1
    • The 1979 coup and revolutionary government 6.2
    • The 1983 coups 6.3
    • Invasion 6.4
  • Democracy restored: 1983 to present day 7
    • Post liberation politics 7.1
    • Truth and reconciliation commission 7.2
    • Hurricane Ivan 7.3
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • Further reading 10
  • External links 11

Early history

About 2 million years ago, Grenada was formed as an underwater volcano. Before the arrival of Europeans, Grenada was inhabited by Caribs who had driven the more peaceful Arawaks from the island. Christopher Columbus sighted Grenada in 1498 during his third voyage to the new world. He named the island "Concepción." The origin of the name "Grenada" is obscure, but it is likely that Spanish sailors renamed the island for the city of Granada. By the beginning of the 18th century, the name "Grenada", or "la Grenade" in French, was in common use. Partly because of the Caribs, Grenada remained uncolonized for more than one hundred years after its discovery.

17th century

English attempted settlement

In June 1609, the first attempt at settlement by Europeans was made by an English expedition of 24 adventurers led by Mossis Goldfry, Hall, Lull, and Robincon, who arrived in the ships Diana, the Penelope, and the Endeavour. The settlement was attacked and destroyed by the indigenous islanders and many killed and tortured. The few survivors were evacuated when the ships returned on 15 December 1609.[1]

French settlement and conquest

On 17 March 1649, a French expedition of 203 men from

  • Background Note: Grenada
  • History of the Invasion of Grenada from the Dean Peter Krogh Foreign Affairs Digital Archives

External links

  • Grenade, Wendy C. ed. The Grenada Revolution: Reflections and Lessons (University Press of Mississippi; 2015) 320 pages; $political history of the 1970s and 1980s
  • Kurlansky, Mark. 1992. A Continent of Islands: Searching for the Caribbean Destiny. Addison-Wesley Publishing. ISBN 0-201-52396-5.
  • Steele, Beverley A. (2003). Grenada. A History of its People. Macmillan.  

Further reading

  1. ^ Steele, pp. 35–36
  2. ^ Steele, page 38
  3. ^ Steele, page 39
  4. ^ a b Steele, page 40
  5. ^ Steele, p. 44
  6. ^ Steele, page 52
  7. ^ Steele, page 54
  8. ^ Steele, page 55
  9. ^ Steele, p. 59
  10. ^ [2] Archived October 22, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ a b c d e f g "About Grenada: Historical Events". 2013-05-07. Retrieved 2015-03-16. 
  12. ^ Steele, p. 72
  13. ^ "The Fedon Rebellion". Retrieved 2015-03-16. 
  14. ^ "Grenada Restaurant | Local Restaurants & Dining Guide Reviews". Retrieved 2015-03-16. 
  15. ^ a b "From Old Representative System to Crown Colony". 2008-07-01. Retrieved 2015-03-16. 
  16. ^ a b "1951 and Coming of General Elections". Retrieved 2015-03-16. 
  17. ^ "New Grenada prime minister vows to boost economy, lower cost of living". Associated Press via International Herald Tribune. July 9, 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-08-04. Retrieved 2011-07-31. 


See also

On September 7, 2004, Grenada was hit directly by category four Hurricane Ivan. The hurricane destroyed about 85% of the structures on the island, including the prison and the prime minister's residence, killed thirty-nine people, and destroyed most of the nutmeg crop, Grenada's economic mainstay. Grenada's economy was set back several years by Hurricane Ivan's impact. Hurricane Emily ravaged the island's north end in June 2005.

Hurricane Ivan

In 2000–02, much of the controversy of the late 1970s and early 1980s was once again brought into the public consciousness with the opening of the truth and reconciliation commission. The commission was chaired by a Catholic priest, Miami Herald and the final report was published in a book written by the boys called Big Sky, Little Bullet. It also uncovered that there was still a lot of resentment in Grenadian society resulting from the era, and a feeling that there were many injustices still unaddressed. The commission began shortly after the boys concluded their project.

Truth and reconciliation commission

In 2009, Point Salines International Airport was renamed Maurice Bishop International Airport in tribute to the former Prime Minister.

The 2008 election was won by the National Democratic Congress under Tillman Thomas with 11 of the 15 seats.[17]

The 2001 census showed that the population of Grenada was 100,895.

In parliamentary elections on 20 June 1995, the NNP won 8 of the 15 seats and formed a government headed by Keith Mitchell. The NNP maintained and affirmed its hold on power when it took all 15 parliamentary seats in the January 1999 elections. Mitchell went on to win the 2003 elections with a reduced majority of 8 of the 15 seats and served as Prime Minister for a record 13 years until his defeat in 2008.

The George Brizan who served until the Jun 1995 election.

The first democratic elections since 1976 were held in December 1984 and were won by the Grenada National Party under Herbert Blaize who won 14 out of 15 seats in elections and served as Prime Minister until his death in December 1989. The NNP continued in power until 1989 but with a reduced majority. Five NNP parliamentary members, including two cabinet ministers, left the party in 1986–87 and formed the National Democratic Congress (NDC) which became the official opposition. In August 1989, Prime Minister Blaize broke with the GNP to form another new party, The National Party (TNP), from the ranks of the NNP. This split in the NNP resulted in the formation of a minority government until constitutionally scheduled elections in March 1990. Prime Minister Blaize died in December 1989 and was succeeded as prime minister by Ben Jones until after the 1990 elections.

On 28 October 1984, the new Point Salines International Airport was opened, which enabled Grenada to receive large commercial jets for the first time.

When US troops withdrew from Grenada in December 1983, Nicholas Braithwaite was appointed Prime Minister of an interim administration by the Governor General Sir Paul Scoon until elections could be organized.

Post liberation politics

Democracy restored: 1983 to present day

Seventeen members of the PRG and the PRA were convicted by a court. Fourteen were sentenced to death for actions related to the overthrow of the Bishop government and the murder of several people including Maurice Bishop. The sentences were eventually commuted to life imprisonment after an international campaign. Another three were sentenced to forty five years in prison. These seventeen have become known as the Grenada 17, and are the subject of an ongoing international campaign for their release. In October 2003 Amnesty International issued a report which stated that their trial had been a miscarriage of justice. The seventeen have protested their sentences consistently since 1983. The United States gave $48.4 million in economic assistance to Grenada in 1984.

A U.S.–Caribbean force invaded Grenada on October 25, 1983, in an action called Queen Elizabeth II, Commonwealth institutions or other usual diplomatic channels (as had been done in Anguilla). Furthermore, United States government military strategists feared that Soviet use of the island would enable the Soviet Union to project tactical power over the entire Caribbean region. U.S. citizens were evacuated, and constitutional government was resumed.


On 19 October 1983, the military under Hudson Austin took power in a second coup and formed a military government to run the country. A four-day total curfew was declared under which any civilian outside their home was subject to summary execution.

On 14 October 1983, a power struggle within the government resulted in the house arrest of Bishop at the order of his Deputy Prime Minister, Bernard Coard who became Head of Government. This coup resulted in demonstrations in various parts of the island which eventually led to Bishop being freed from arrest briefly, before being recaptured by the army and executed along with seven others, including members of the cabinet on 19 October 1983.

The 1983 coups

On March 13, 1979, the New Jewel Movement launched an armed revolution which removed Gairy, suspended the constitution, and established a People's Revolutionary Government (PRG), headed by Maurice Bishop who declared himself prime minister. His Marxist-Leninist government established close ties with Cuba, Nicaragua, and other communist bloc countries. All political parties except for the New Jewel Movement were banned and no elections were held during the four years of PRG rule.

Maurice Bishop visiting Germany, 1982.
The 1979 coup and revolutionary government On 7 February 1974, Grenada became a fully independent state. Grenada continued to practise a modified


Independence, Revolution and US invasion: 1974–1983

After the Federation of the West Indies collapsed in 1962, the British government tried to form a small federation out of its remaining dependencies in the Eastern Caribbean. Following the failure of this second effort, the British and the islanders developed the concept of "associated statehood". Under the Associated Statehood Act on 3 March 1967 Grenada was granted full autonomy over its internal affairs. Herbert Blaize was the first Premier of the Associated State of Grenada from March to August 1967. Eric Gairy served as Premier from August 1967 until February 1974, as the Grenada United Labour Party party won majorities in both the 1967 and 1972 general elections.

In 1960, another constitutional evolution established the post of Chief Minister, making the leader of the majority party in the Legislative Council, which at that time was Eric Gairy was elected in a by-election and took the role in August 1961. Also in 1961 the cruise liner MV Bianca C (2) sank off Point Salines, although thankfully there was only a single fatality. In April 1962 Grenada's Administrator, the Queens representative on the island, James Lloyd suspended the constitution, dissolved the Legislative Council, and removed Eric Gairy as Chief Minister, following allegations concerning the Gairy's financial impropriety. At the 1962 general election the Grenada National Party won a majority and Herbert Blaize became Chief Minister for the second time.

On 22 September 1955, Hurricane Janet hit Grenada, killing 500 people and destroying 75% of the nutmeg trees. A new political party, the Grenada National Party led by Herbert Blaize, contested the 1957 general election and with the cooperation of elected independent members took control of the Legislative Council from the Grenada United Labour Party. In 1958, the Windward Islands Administration was dissolved, and Grenada joined the Federation of the West Indies.

In 1950, Grenada had its constitution amended to increase the number of elected seats on the Legislative Council from 5 to 8, to be elected by full adult franchise at the 1951 election. In 1950 Eric Gairy founded the Grenada United Labour Party, initially as a trades union, which led the 1951 general strike for better working conditions. This sparked great unrest - so many buildings were set ablaze that the disturbances became known as the 'red sky' days - and the British authorities had to call in military reinforcements to help regain control of the situation. On 10 October 1951 Grenada held its first general elections on the basis of universal adult suffrage.[16] United Labour won 6 of the 8 elected seats on the Legislative Council in both the 1951 and 1954 elections.[16] However the Legislative Council had few powers at this time, with government remaining fully in the hands of the colonial authorities.

Towards independence:1950–1974

[11] schooner disappeared with the loss of all 56 passengers and 11 crew.Island Queen On 5 August 1944 the [11] was opened.Pearls Airport In 1943 [11] The 1901 census showed that the population of the colony was 63,438. In 1917

Early 20th century

Last colonial years 1900–1974

In 1857, the first East Indian immigrants arrived.[11] In 1871 Grenada was connected to the Sendall Tunnel was built for horse carriages.

Late 19th century

In 1833, Grenada became part of the British Windward Islands Administration and remained so until 1958. Slavery was abolished in 1834. Nutmeg was introduced in 1843, when a merchant ship called in on its way to England from the East Indies.[14]

Early 19th century

St. George, Grenada. 1890s

19th century

[13] The British defeated Fédon's forces in late 1796, but they never caught Fédon himself, and his fate is unknown.

Fédon's Rebellion

[11], began publication.Grenada Chronicle four years later on 3 September 1783. In 1784 the first newspaper, the Treaty of Versailles on 6 July 1779. However the island was restored to Britain with the Battle of Grenada stormed Hospital Hill. A British relief force was defeated in the naval Comte d'Estaing, after American War of Independence between 2–4 July 1779 during the recaptured Grenada France [12] Grenada was captured by the

British colony

In 1700, Grenada had a population of 257 whites, 53 coloureds, and 525 slaves. There were 3 sugar estates, 52 indigo plantations, 64 horses, and 569 head of cattle.[9] Between 1705 and 1710 the French built Fort Royal at St. George's which is now known as Fort George.[10] The collapse of the sugar estates and the introduction of cocoa and coffee in 1714 encouraged the development of smaller land holdings, and the island developed a land-owning yeoman farmer class.[11] In 1738 the first hospital was constructed.[11]

French colony

18th century

On 27th Sep 1650, du Parquet bought Grenada, Martinique, and St. Lucia from the Compagnie des Iles de l'Amerique, which was dissolved, for the equivalent of £1160.[4] In 1657 du Parquet sold Grenada to the Comte de Cerrillac for the equivalent of £1890.[6] In 1664, King Louis XIV bought out the independent island owners and established the French West India Company.[7] In 1674 the French West India Company was dissolved. Proprietary rule ended in Grenada, which became a French colony as a dependency of Martinique. In 1675, Dutch privateers captured Grenada, but a French man-of-war arrived unexpectedly and recaptured the island.[8]

French administration

[5], whose inhabitants had aided the local Grenadian islanders in their struggle and continued to oppose the French.St. Vincent Conflict broke out between the French and the indigenous islanders in November 1649 and fighting lasted for five years until 1654, when the last opposition to the French on Grenada was crushed. The island continued for some time after to suffer raids by war canoe parties from [4] as Governor of Grenada.Jean Le Comte Du Parquet returned to Martinique leaving his cousin [3] to peacefully partition the island between the two communities.Chief Kairouane A treaty was swiftly agreed between du Parquet and the indigenous [2]

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