History of Anguilla
|Anguilla, once a lush island with dense rain forest, was discovered some 4,000 years ago by an Arawak-speaking Amerindian people who called it "Malliouhana". The Arawak, skilled farmers and fishermen and good at pottery making, had slowly made their way to the islands from South America by raft or dug out canoe.
When the English colonized Anguilla in 1650, they met no Arawaks, but their settlement was wiped out in 1656 by Amerindians from a neighboring isle who "killed almost all the men, plundered and burnt the houses, but kept the women and children as slaves". 10 years later, 300 French raided, and terrorized the people who fled into the woods.
Poor returns in cotton, which had replaced tobacco as the cash crop, created considerable hardships which increased from the 1688.
By the early 1700s, the remaining, resolute settlers had turned to sugar as the principal cash crop, the island undergoing transformation from a predominantly white society of small farmers to one mostly populated by African slaves.
In 1744, 300 Anguillians, assisted by two privateers from St. Kitts, captured St.Martin , the French half of our neighboring isle. In 1745, 700 French, on two frigates under M. de la Touche, retaliated from Crosus Bay, only to be repulsed. In 1796, 400 French tried once more, destroying the main settlements at South Hill and The Valley before the British frigate HMS Lapwing sunk their two warships, Le Desius and La Vaillante, causing much loss of life.
In 1825, British pushed Anguilla into a union with St.Kitts-Nevis. On Britain's recommendation, Anguilla was allowed to send one elected representative to the St.Kitts House of Assembly. In the 1840s, the island settled down, as a society of peasant farmers, fishermen and seafarers.
After the prolonged drought and great famine in the 1890s, when many had to creep into "the woods and gather berries and herbs for food", and the depression in the 1920s and 1930s, Anguillian men flocked to Santo Domingo to work in the cane fields, some later going to Aruba and Curacao to work in the oil refineries.
Reform and limited franchise came in 1936 due to original labour disturbances brought on by the depression, the Moyne Commission being set up by Britain study social and economic conditions in the colonies, resulting in universal adult suffrage in 1952.
The Federation collapsed in 1962, and Britain's failure to form the federation of the "Little Eight" brought new constitutions, to most islands, granting Statehood in Association with Britain. The Creation of the Associated State of St.Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla , on February 1967, without the wish on the people, sparked off the Anguilla Revolution.
On Anguilla Day, May 30, 1967, Anguillians marched on the Police headquarters and expelled the 13-man contingent of St.Kitts policemen. A peacekeeping Committee, established to run the affairs of the island until elections were duly carried out, approved the June 10 invasion on St.Kitts when the Defense Force camp and Police Headquarters were attacked by eighteen men, five of whom were captured.
After several years of negotiations Anguilla became a separate British Dependent territory on the 19th December 1980. A proud day for all the Anguillians, celebrated on May 29th, Anguilla Day.