ANATOMY OF A GENOCIDE
YOUNG ISLAND is named after SIR WILLIAM YOUNG, Governor of Dominica and President of the Commission for the Sale of Lands in the Ceded Islands (which included Grenada, Tobago, Dominica, and St Vincent and the Grenadines).
Here are letters from Young to the British Government in London – in 1765, 1770 and 1771 – advocating the subjugation, and finally the exile of the Garifuna of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
He sets the stage in 1765: “the Charaibs are altogether uncivilized, and the Blacks particularly of an idle intractable disposition.” They are wasting the land “of which they make no use,” and their property “interfere(s) much with the laying out of plantations for sale.”
Young suggests that “as soon as possible to remove as many of them as can be prevailed upon to quit” and moving them to Bequia “but not permitting them to take up any land again in any other part of St. Vincent’s.”
Five years later, in 1770, Young complains that “near two-thirds of the cultivatable lands remain in possession of the Black Charaibs.” He says that “his Majesty’s revenue will be greatly increased” if they could be driven off. Young then begs England for military intervention, “a force sufficient to reduce them,” and predicts that the “Black Charaibs” would submit, “perhaps without the loss of one life.”
By 1771, the “First Carib War” is well underway and Young’s prediction of a bloodless surrender has proven false. The Garifuna are a formidable adversary. Now Young says that “the sale of lands is no longer the most important object, but the honour of the crown” is more critical “against a race of lawless people.”
He urges that the best thing to do would be to build a road through Garifuna territory, impose “a sufficient military force,” sell most of the land, and “contribute to order by mixing white inhabitants among [the Garifuna].”
By the end of the War, Sir William Young is in fully engaged in trying to eradicate the Garifuna: “it is to be feared that the most healthy, rich and beautiful island of St. Vincent’s may to all intents of national advantage, be lost to the crown of Great Britain.”
Young gives the British Government an ultimatum: “that the British planters, or the Black Charaibs, must be removed from off the island of St. Vincent’s.”
We all know how that ended. . .