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FROM OLD REPRESENTATIVE SYSTEM TO MODIFIED CROWN COLONY AND THE ELECTIONS OF 1925.

Caldwell Taylor


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
1803.



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.


Marryshow founded the Representative Government Association (RGA) in 1917 to agitate for a new and participative constitutional dispensation for the Grenadian people.


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 population .


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.

END

©
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED JULY 1, 2008


Part 11: 1925-1951

             

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