REPRESENTATIVE SYSTEM TO MODIFIED CROWN COLONY AND THE
ELECTIONS OF 1925.
Grenada's OLD REPRESENTATIVE SYSTEM (ORS) of government
gave way to the pure Crown Colony model on December 3,
1877. The ORS consisted of three parts: Governor,
Assembly (elected Lower House), and Council (nominated
Upper House). The ORS was unworkable system in which the
Governor had power and no authority, and the
House of Assembly had authority but no power: it was a
formula for stalemate.
Introduced in 1766, following the French cession of
Grenada to the British-the ORS was somewhat of an act of
"generosity". For going by the legal and constitutional
conventions of the day Grenada, which became British via
conquest, was not entitled to a representative body;
indeed, such bodies was reserved for the colonies that
became British by means of "settlement." But the British
were of a generous mind in 1766; they would soon come to
regret it and this was all Alexander Campbell's fault.
CAMPBELL V. HALL
Campbell, one of several Scotsmen who showed up in
Grenada (to scoop up cheap property) in the early hours
of British rule, brought a case against the British
Crown in the wake of the Crown's decision to impose a 4
1/2 per cent duty on Grenadian sugar exports. The
defendant in the case was actually the Collector of
Customs in Grenada, Mr Hall.
In his brief, Campbell argued that Hall's action was
illegal because the Crown forfeited its taxation powers
once it granted representative government to Grenada. In
other words, the grant of representative government gave
the Grenada House of Assembly a power similar to that of
the British House of Commons.
After many years of trying to make the case go away,
Campbell v. Hall was decided in 1774 and Chief Justice
Mansfield ruled in Campbell's favour.
The decision in Campbell v. Hall caused a lot of
arm-ringing in England and there were many
repercussions. As a matter of fact, Grenada could be
held responsible for the British decision to put
Trinidad under "pure" Crown Colony rule in 1797.
Trinidad was actually the first West Indian colony to
fall to Crown Colony hammer; St Lucia followed in
Trinidad and St Lucia paid the price because after their
experience with Grenada the British lost their appetite
for political and constitutional experimentation.
Trinidad got pure Crown Colony rule and roughly eighty
years later, the British caught up to Grenada and the
other islands: only Barbados, Bermuda and the Bahamas-
the so-called "settled colonies" were spared the
indignity of rule by the Crown.
COMING OF CROWN COLONY GOVERNMENT
In Grenada, the idea of dismantling the ORS was strongly
opposed by Dr William Wells, a St David's medical
practioner and speaker of the House of Assembly for 15
years. Dr Wells deserves a place in the pantheon of
Grenadian heroes. (Please pass the word to the
government that comes to office on July 9.)
DR WELLS, GRENADIAN PATRIOT
Dr Wells was a solitary figure in the House of Assembly
in 1876. But his opposition to Crown Colony government
will soon ignite the imagination of younger Grenadians.
First there was William Galwey Donovan, beginning in the
1880s, and later on will come Donovan's protégé, T. A.
Marryshow founded the Representative Government
Association (RGA) in 1917 to agitate for a new and
participative constitutional dispensation for the
Three years later, young Tubal Uriah Butler returned
from the war (WW1) and began his own campaign for a
measure of self-rule: Butler began by accusing Marryshow
of moving too slow! But Tubal activism was a brief fire;
he left for Trinidad in 1921, just before the Wood
Commission arrived "to ascertain if [West Indians] were
ready for some form of political development".
THE WOOD COMMISSION, 1921-1922
After hearing from the people, Major Wood and his
commissioners concluded that the islands were ready for
constitutional renovation. This came in the form of a
'modification' of Crown Colony rule. The modification
granted the vote to just under 4 per cent of the Grenada
The year 1925 saw the first elections under the new
constitution; T.A. Marryshow won a seat in the new
Legislative Council which consisted of five elected
members, seven official and three unofficial members all
nominated by the Governor.
RESERVED JULY 1, 2008
Part 11: 1925-1951