This Day in History

Cerone White

Eric Eustace Williams, Trinidad and Tobago

T&T’s first Prime Minister Eric Eustace Williams dies

On this day in history, March 29, 1981, Eric Eustace Williams, Trinidad and Tobago’s first Prime Minister and founder of the People’s National Movement (PNM) died at the age of 69. Williams served in office from Aug. 31, 1962 – March 28, 1981, and was succeeded by George Chambers. Williams was the Premier of Trinidad and Tobago from July 9, 1959, to Aug. 31, 1962.

As prime minister, Williams practiced “pragmatic socialism,” which stresses that social services, improves education, and economic developments through the cautious attractions of foreign investment capitals.

Williams was educated at Queen’s Royal College, Port of Spain, and at the University of Oxford. Williams received his B.A. in 1932 and a D.Phil. In 1939, he joined the faculty of social and political science at Howard University.

In the December 1961 elections, the PNM won by a landslide. Williams became Trinidad and Tobago’s first Prime Minister, and after the new nation gained its independence in August of 1962, Williams continued to make history by making Trinidad and Tobago a Republic in 1976.

The former prime minister now has a memorial (The Eric Williams Memorial Collection EWMC) collection at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago.

The memorial was inaugurated in 1998 by former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.  


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