Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley describes Professor Selwyn Cudjoe’s new book should be used as a teaching tool in all schools across the country.
He was speaking at the launch at the Central Bank in Port-of-Spain last Thursday.
The book, The Slavemaster of Trinidad: William Hardin Burnley and the Nineteenth Century Atlantic World, was published by the University of Massachusetts Press and chronicles the life and times of William Burnley, the largest slave-owner in Trinidad who was often referred to as one of the nation’s founding fathers.
William Hardin Burnley (1780-1850) was the largest slave owner in Trinidad during the nineteenth century. Born in the United States to English parents, he settled on the island in 1802 and became one of its most influential citizens and a prominent agent of the British Empire.
A central figure among slave owners, Burnley moved easily through the Atlantic world of the Caribbean, the United States, Great Britain, and Europe.
According to an online lecture by Cudjoe, Burnley did everything in his power to prevent the emancipation of Africans in the colony.
When slavery ended, he was convinced that only Africans who had tyrannical masters would benefit from emancipation.
The rest, he believed: “Were too ignorant to understand the real position in which they were placed.”
Rowley, speaking at the event said, the book was “gift” to the nation. “This book should be in every library in the country. It is essential reading for all of our citizens,” the Prime Minister said.
Dr Bridget Brereton, Professor Emeritus of The University of the West Indies and authority on West Indian history, described the book as essential and eye-opening.
Specially-invited guest Chief Justice Ivor Archie said the book fills the gap in the nation’s education.
Cudjoe presented the Prime Minister and Chief Justice each with a copy of the book. He also presented Willi Chen, famed writer and painter; Peter George; and his sister Margaret, who came from New York for this event, with copies of the book.
Cudjoe said he grew up seeing Burnley’s Orange Grove, Tacarigua mansion and watching his family members work on the Orange Grove Sugar Estates that was owned by Burnley.
Cudjoe also wrote the foreword to the Prime Minister’s autobiography, From Mason Hall to Whitehall: ‘His Name Is Keith Rowley.’