Williams, Eric

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Williams, Eric

Eric Williams, 1911–81, prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago (1961–81). He attended Oxford and taught at Howard Univ. in Washington, D.C. (1939–53). Returning to Trinidad, he founded (1955) the country's first formal political party. He became chief minister in 1956 and prime minister in 1961. Elections in 1966 and 1971 reaffirmed his position. He led his country to independence within the Commonwealth of Nations (1962). Williams launched several ambitious five-year development plans, attracting foreign capital through tax incentives and acquiring foreign aid. He concentrated his efforts on the improvement of education and the development and diversification of industry and agriculture. Although of African descent, he faced increasing black militant opposition to his government. His numerous writings include The Negro in the Caribbean (1942, repr. 1970); History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago (1964); British Historians and the West Indies (1964); and From Columbus to Castro (1970, repr. 1983).

See his autobiography, Inward Hunger (1969).

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