Some evidence suggests that Barbados may have been settled in the 2nd millennium BC, but this is limited to adze fragments found in association with shells radiocarbon dated to 1630 BC. Fully documented Amerindian settlements are dated to between 350 and 650, by a group known as the Saladoid-Barrancoid, who arrived from the South American continent. The second wave of migrants appeared around the year 800. The Spanish referred to them as Arawak’s, and a third wave occurred in the mid-13th century, who were called Caribs. for the Spanish.
This last group was more organized politically and managed to govern the previous ones. It is presumed that their arrival was from Venezuela by way of the Atlantic Ocean, which occurred by canoe, and the evidence found of the subsequent lifestyle on the island is provided as evidence, this is inferred by some artifacts left and found in the settlements or Aboriginal ranches. It is extrapolated that, as in other parts of the Eastern Caribbean, the Arawak Guayabiskescos could have been annihilated by the Carib invaders, who are supposed to have later abandoned the island around 1200.
The Spanish explored Barbados in 1492 in the context of the first Columbian expeditions, but no permanent populations were established on the island due to the cultural activities of the Carib Indians. The Spanish made frequent expeditions in search of slaves, which led to a massive decline in the Amerindian population in the early 16th century and in 1541 a Spaniard wrote that it was uninhabited. The indigenous people were captured or fled to other more mountainous islands.
Between 1536 and 1627 the island was visited by the Portuguese, who named it “Os Barbados” or “O Barbudo”, due to the appearance of the native fig trees on the island. These, on their way to Brazil, were responsible for the introduction of pigs later found in the wild by English colonizers.
The first British to arrive in Barbados found it uninhabited on May 14, 1625, and its captain, John Powell, claimed it on behalf of King James I of England. The first settlers landed on February 17, 1627, in the area of present-day Holetown (formerly Jamestown), a group of 90 people, of whom ten were African slaves, under the command of Powell.
Many rogues passed throughout the history of Barbados, like Sir Walter Raleigh, but if you are asking yourself what is the meaning of rogue, please continue reading as you’ll get to understand when you go through the full article. According to the British dictionaries, all these historical characters are called Rogues, People who were abnormal, dangerous, and uncontrollable. In those days it was an honor to be called a rogue. Walter established the first English colonies in the New World. He was a poet who fought against the Spanish to defend Briton on many occasions.
Until independence in 1966, Barbados was under uninterrupted British control. However, Barbados has always enjoyed a large measure of local autonomy. Its House of Assembly began to meet in 1639. Among the early important British figures was Sir William Courtteen. Also, Captain Henry Powell, and a group of settlers and slaves who settled in what is now Holetown, were influential in the development of the early British settlements in Barbados.
The sugar industry was the main commercial enterprise. Barbados was divided into large plantations that replaced the small holdings of the early British settlers. Sugarcane dominated Barbados ‘ economic growth, and the island’s exported, unused forage production was at the top of the sugar industry until 1720. Some displaced farmers moved to British colonies in North America, especially South Carolina. To work the plantations, slaves were brought: persecuted Catholics from Ireland and from peoples of Africa. The slave trade ceased a few years before the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire in 1834. The Nuttall Encyclopedia of 1907 states that the population of the island was about 182,000 people.
The slaves brought from Africa and Ireland worked for the British merchants. These merchants continued to dominate politically until after emancipation because only those with the highest incomes could vote. Only 30% had a say in the democratic process, and only after the 1930s did a movement for political rights begin among the descendants of emancipated slaves, who began to form trade unions. One of the leaders of this movement, Sir Grantley Adams, founded the Barbados Progressive League (now the Barbados Labor Party) in 1938. The Great Depression caused massive unemployment, and the quality of life on the island dropped drastically. Despite his loyalty to the Crowned British (a trait that would later be his undoing), Adams wanted more for the people, especially the poor.
Finally, in 1942, the income was lowered to be able to participate. This was followed by the introduction of universal suffrage in 1951, with Adams being elected Prime Minister of Barbados in 1958.
Errol Walton Barrow was to replace Grantley Adams as the people’s advocate and it was he who would ultimately lead the island to independence. Barrow, an ardent reformer and once a member of the BLP, had left the party to form his own Democratic Labor Party, as a liberal alternative to the conservative BLP government under Adams. He remains a national hero for his work in social reform, including the institution of free education for all Barbadians. In 1961, Errol Barrow Adams was elected Premier, while the DLP took control of the government.
Thanks to several years of growing autonomy, Barbados was able to successfully negotiate its own independence at a constitutional conference with the United Kingdom in June 1966. After years of peaceful and democratic progress, Barbados finally became an independent state within the British Commonwealth of Nations on November 30, 1966, with Errol Barrow as its first Prime Minister.
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