A Chill in the Tropics
A Chill in the Tropics
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter recounts the arrival of the Cold War in Anglo-American-Caribbean affairs, relating how the emerging superpower conflict tempered American anticolonialism and relegated areas outside Europe to the foreign-policy shadows. But this eclipsing of the West Indies and the dampening of reform efforts there were not the only effects of the Cold War. The conflict also invigorated the American pursuit of strategic materials in the region, such as bauxite and oil, and made anticommunism a priority in Anglo-American diplomacy regarding the West Indies. Also of note was the first formal progress toward federation. With the assent of Washington, London, West Indian nationalists, and black-consciousness visionaries alike, plans for regional union began to take shape.
The drift that beset U.S.-Caribbean relations following the Jamaican election and the death of Roosevelt lasted for years. Optimists might have been forgiven for hoping the new administration would renew the push for reform, either by invoking the region's “prototype” status in national‐security strategy and Third World relations or at least by bureaucratic default. After all, in an abrupt transition of power amid crisis, an incoming leader often defers to the holdovers from the previous administration. If this meant greater latitude for the likes of Taussig, there would have been good reason for hope. In the event, during the brief twilight between world war and Cold War, the Caribbean mostly vanished from Washington's policy radar. Europe and Asia held higher priority in a global struggle with communism, one which for many Americans had the dark feel of apocalypse. The Old World thus eclipsed the Caribbean—a region Washington felt it could more or less take for granted—in its potential hour of change. Deferral to Britain in its territories complemented American regional dominance without incurring additional American burdens.
Still, in an ironic twist, even as the Caribbean region was overshadowed, the Truman administration applied the basic tenets of the national‐security “prototype” to the wider postwar world. Washington followed a script written for its original sphere of influence, adapting it after 1945 for a communist rather than imperialist threat on a global rather than hemispheric stage. The consequences within the overshadowed region unfolded unpredictably, in only slightly less “protean” fashion than during the war. This was due to the Caribbean's unique position astride Anglo‐American, inter‐American, African‐diasporan, and Third World relations. That position defied the distinction between core and peripheral interests on which the national‐security doctrine depended.1 It was (p.68) a distinction Truman's team increasingly failed to make, most grievously in areas such as Korea and Vietnam. This produced an erratic policy that did little to prevent—and in some cases fostered—turmoil in decolonizing areas well after Truman's tenure. Yet, in hindsight, the conflation of core and periphery is understandable given the right circumstances. In the oldest corner of the overseas British empire, the United States faced just such a scenario. Washington welcomed in principle the prospect of imperial withdrawal from the Caribbean, but looked warily on the instability that decolonization might bring and which communists might exploit. This could compromise the security of what had been called the “American Lake” since long before the Cold War. In the West Indies, the United States confronted the decolonization of territories that were both core and periphery: core in geostrategic and symbolic terms, but peripheral in population and economic importance.
This ambiguous status pulled U.S. Caribbean policy under Truman in several directions at once. In some ways, the region became little more than an ungainly appendage of the British‐American alliance.2 At certain points after 1945, U.S. policy toward the West Indies was for all practical purposes simply inert. Washington repeatedly deferred to the British there; any trace of the wartime reformism appeared gone. What claim the region still exercised owed to its “core” properties: geography, strategy, and symbolism, the latter term here intended to mean the two principal ways in which the United States used the Caribbean to prove its bona fides to the watching Cold War world. In the first instance, it demonstrated that the United States would not abandon its postwar defense responsibilities but would instead protect its sphere of influence; and second, that the United States would use its Caribbean policy to prove its racial and anticolonial sincerity, its worthiness as an ally, and its sponsorship of reform for colonial peoples who stayed in the Western camp. Relative to Cold War crises over the likes of Berlin, this slow march toward a decolonized Caribbean seemed to hold lower stakes. But as part of those global tensions—and the need, because of them, to maintain the “special relationship”—Caribbean developments had suggestive implications for the United States, Britain, and the peoples of the West Indies.
Geographic, strategic, and symbolic concerns battled for supremacy in Truman‐era U.S.-British‐West Indian relations. Even though these “core” properties were often outshined by the region's “peripheral” status, they were nonetheless instrumental in shaping what policy did emerge. The matter of strategic assets—bases and resources—rose in importance once the Korean War began. Symbolic concerns centered on issues of transnational reach, especially race, colonialism, and the elusive specter of communism. All overlapped in unexpected ways. The continuing “diaspora diplomacy,” for example, although somewhat more attenuated than during the previous decade, set the West Indies apart from its hemispheric neighbors and its global Third World brethren. The colonies' anomalous status in the New World complicated inter‐American geopolitics. At the same time, the West Indies' progress toward federation joined the area to other decolonizing regions far afield, some of which, such as South Asia, were defying the (p.69) repressive “freeze” of the early Cold War by achieving self‐rule. The geostrategic and symbolic concerns at work in the islands thus shed instructive light beyond the islands themselves on the interplay between the superpower conflict and the awakening Third World.
Examination of these issues shows that the surface calm in postwar U.S.-British‐West Indian relations is deceptive. While there were neither the explosions of riot and war nor the anticlimax of formal independence, all of these aspects of relations underwent change; none here found resolution. Like the middle miles of a long‐distance run, the Truman years lack both the starting burst and the finish‐line sprint. The period nonetheless influenced the subsequent course of decolonization—that is, to continue the metaphor, influenced how the marathon later ended. Anticolonialism, race, anticommunism, nationalism, and geostrategy all mark a period of quiet flux. The major developments of the period, including moves toward federation, entrenchment of Anglo‐American and inter‐American anticommunism, and the U.S. pursuit of bauxite, illustrate how relations during the Truman years disappointed reformers dreaming of better, heartened Cold Warriors fearing worse, and reassured those on island and mainland who saw the world seem to grow more dangerous by the day.
Horse Latitudes: Stilled Winds of Change, 1945–1946
The Caribbean colonies may well have been the very last thing on Harry Truman's mind when he was sworn in as president. The war there had in effect been over for two years, while the war in Europe and Asia was reaching endgame and commanded his full attention. Thorny, higher‐stakes questions—the deteriorating Grand Alliance, defeating Japan, and looming postwar chaos—were more pressing. Regarding the Caribbean, this inattention had a broader meaning than just a reorientation toward the nascent Cold War. Roosevelt had been a powerful anticolonial voice, despite late‐war capitulations in places like Indochina. This led to setbacks on the colonial question, among the gravest of which occurred after FDR's death, at the United Nations conference. The delegation there included Taussig, who found little support for his vision of a progressive policy of colonial independence, a vision he hoped would receive the multilateral imprimatur of the U.N. Charter. The opposition of Britain and France, and the acquiescence of the Truman administration, ended his battle.3 However, as the West Indies would demonstrate, the American surrender can be overstated. While the United States did retreat from its 1942 high tide of anticolonial sentiment, postwar collaboration did not mean renunciation of reform. Rather, collaboration entailed a modification of the colonial regime. The U.S. retreat did help to sustain the British empire for a while, but the continued American presence assured that that empire would not be the same as before. At the moment in 1945, though, the uncertainty was palpable. FDR had improved inter‐American relations and had paid special attention to the West Indies. Truman, by contrast, was an unknown quantity. He was no fan of colonialism, but he lacked Roosevelt's active interest in addressing the issue. As a (p.70) result, the drift that had set into U.S.-Caribbean policy following the Jamaican election continued.
Roosevelt's leading Caribbeanist had not given up the fight. Taussig conceded, as he had told Roosevelt in 1945, that Caribbean issues were hard to settle while larger questions regarding U.S. policy and colonialism in general were pending. But he thought the glass half‐full. He felt that the Atlantic allies shared the goal of “progressive development of dependent peoples toward self‐government,” though they interpreted that goal somewhat differently; the United States advocated independence when colonial peoples were “worthy of it and ready for it,” whereas “the British expect[ed] colonial areas to attain self‐government within the framework of Commonwealth.”4 Closer to his heart, he continued: “The U.S.' acute interest in the Caribbean should not be allowed to relax into indifference. [We] should not interfere with internal political structures but should indicate [our] interest in the maintenance of peace and security h. and [should help] bring about a greater degree of education, social welfare, and economic stability.”
Taussig, unfortunately, had much less clout under his new boss; even though he remained chair of the U.S. Section of the AACC, he now lacked the leverage to make his vision a reality.5 In part this owed to the dilution of American influence on the commission following its 1946 expansion, when it became the Caribbean Commission to reflect the addition of France and the Netherlands. In part, too, this was the fault of the presidential transition. But it owed at least as much to the fact that American interests had evolved with the war's end, and the United States now faced a dilemma that would haunt its diplomacy across the Third World: balancing Wilson with Machiavelli, weighing the rhetoric of self‐rule against the reality of instability. A State Department discussion in late 1945 captured this nicely. Ralph Bunche, who served on the AACC, recognized the Caribbean as a test of the Atlantic powers' “treatment of colonial peoples” and reiterated the AACC's role as a model for other areas. State analyst Abe Fortas teased out the main problem: “a fundamental question was whether [we] seek the goodwill of the various peoples in the Caribbean islands or the goodwill of the governments which control their respective colonies. To do the latter would perhaps tend toward stability in the area.”6
Those present, meeting as an ad hoc committee to prepare for the second West Indian Conference, accepted this formulation. Another way of phrasing the dilemma would have pitted socioeconomic reform, which made governments uneasy, against strategic interests, which benefited “peoples” only at long remove. In some ways this was a false choice. Taussig, for one, argued that reform served both stability and strategy. He drew on the lessons of the 1930s to contend that one demanded the other; the Caribbean was vulnerable to both internal and external threat. The committee, though, now deferred to the latter and allowed the initiative to pass from U.S. hands. They did conclude that the United States should keep supporting the Commission and its idea of a federation, which would be at least an implicit step toward self‐rule.
As significant as these points were reiterations of others long unpronounced: affirmation of the Havana Declaration of 1940 and of Roosevelt's (p.71) 1941 statement that America “seek[s] no sovereignty” in the West Indies. These encapsulated U.S. security priorities for the Caribbean, as part of a global military infrastructure then taking shape. The Havana reiteration exchanged the Nazi threat for a vaguer communist one and underscored the U.S. commitment to keeping hemispheric territories from falling under foreign sway. The “sovereignty” reaffirmation was meant as much for the British as for West Indians. Together these two American positions, in the context of efforts to solidify inter‐American defense plans, went some distance toward “the overriding strategic goal,” which “was to have ‘a stable, secure, and friendly flank to the South, not confused by enemy penetration—political, economic, or military.’”7
Washington thus folded the British colonies into its hemispheric security arrangements and continued its retreat from West Indian reform. The retreat, however, was not the whole picture; Washington had made less a change of strategy than a change of tactics. Advocates despaired of finding a rapid end to the colonial regime, but no one seems to have believed the system was entering a permanent, old‐line resurgence. Some change, at least, was already in progress. The ad hoc committee noted that the United States could “point with pride” to reforms in the U.S. possessions, which had pressured the British to follow suit, as with the constitutional changes in Puerto Rico and Jamaica.8 This brand of “competitive colonialism” had an advantage: reform could be pushed unilaterally. Joint‐power reform via the Caribbean Commission always carried the risk of backfiring and was necessarily more complicated, given its place in the complex matrix of Anglo‐American economic and security concerns.
Truman gave an insight into the balancing act in his message to the 1946 West Indian Conference for which Taussig and his team had been preparing. Truman's message, delivered by Taussig to the conference, reaffirmed U.S. support for “any suitable plan” for cooperation and union among the non‐self‐governing Caribbean territories. However, this came at the close of a message whose main thrust was that there was no hurry. Truman outlined U.S. policy toward the West Indies as support for Chapter XI of the U.N. Charter, “to the end that the progressive development of the peoples of the region in political, economic, educational, and social matters shall be ensured,” and that this was the responsibility of the metropolitan government, moving at its chosen pace.9
Outside the halls of government, Caribbean reform remained a live issue. It continued to course through the worldwide dialogue on black freedom, a dialogue at that moment evolving into a Cold War version estranged from its earlier black internationalism.10 However, its outlines, including the nature and objectives of transnational black allegiances, remained in place. Manley's 1944 defeat, for example, did not cost him his allies on the black mainland. On the contrary, he came to the United States roughly once a year to raise funds and publicity, and kept up correspondence with expatriates and sympathizers. One luncheon during a 1945 trip attracted Pearl Buck, Wendell Willkie, and an honor roll of black and white activists.11 A New York (p.72) event during a follow‐up trip was sponsored by the NAACP. Walter White's letter to members lauded Manley as “one of the most distinguished world figures of our time. h. Of all the figures I have met, none impressed me more favorably than he.” Manley's message hit home; one attendee at the luncheon, Mabel Staupers of the National Black Nurses Association, wrote White afterward to thank him for the invitation, commenting on the parallels between the Caribbean regime and the “feudalism” of the U.S. South.12
The luncheon, also co‐sponsored by the NAACP, attracted the notice of the FBI. The FBI tracked Manley's visit not because his message was extravagantly subversive; it was not. Rather, the African‐diasporan nexus merited surveillance because it harbored suspected communists and fellow travelers, including Manley himself.13 However, while communism in the Caribbean, as elsewhere, threatened to spur U.S. reaction, its menace was muted in the West Indies. For one thing, Manley was known to be mindful of the need for U.S. support. For another, Britain was responsible for checking communism on the colonial ground. The most the United States could do was to keep tabs on West Indians' potential communist links to the mainland, as the FBI did with the Manley visit, and to consult with London on its anticommunist efforts.
Racial and, to a lesser degree, ideological ties thus characterized unofficial U.S.-Caribbean relations in the first two years after the war; security concerns and deferral to the British shaped official ones. At frequent intervals either of these official or unofficial dimensions of relations would break the surface, and then submerge again just as a quickly. When the National Council of Negro Women launched an “International Nights” lecture series in January 1946, its inaugural event focused on the West Indies, partly in recognition of the many Caribbean students at nearby Howard University.14 Down Georgia Avenue and up the scales of power, the War Department reiterated the importance of a military presence in the Caribbean, and this only a short while after U.S. intelligence found that Britain was having trouble keeping order in her empire “in the face of ever‐increasing agitation for self‐government and independence.”15 However, at no point did these factors converge into a crisis á la Greece and Turkey, and the region remained more or less a Cold War backwater.
However, race, reform, security, and the minuet of British reassertion and U.S. deferral did begin to coalesce around one issue in the mid-1940s. The idea of a regional federation had long floated about the Colonial Office. At its most basic, a West Indian union held out the prospect of administrative efficiency and economic viability. Most of the colonies, beholden to sugar, could not easily be made self‐sufficient, let alone industrially modern. A federation could permit, among other things, a common market and economies of scale. Although it had never been seriously pursued, the strife of the 1930s and the war dusted off the federal idea for reconsideration. Much of federation's new support came from the labor movement and from intellectuals. For the former, a transnational identity was a natural outgrowth of class solidarity; for the latter, of cosmopolitan education abroad. As Eric Williams put it, “federalism was indicated not only (p.73) by economic considerations but by every dictate of common sense. h. The Caribbean, like the whole world, will federate or collapse.”16
The genius of the federal idea was that it could offer something to everyone. In so doing, it defused many of the tensions that accompanied decolonization. For the Colonial Office, it was a way to control the pace of the process, and for the broader British government, it was a way to navigate a smooth transition to independence that would nonetheless preserve British influence in strategic regions. Viewed cynically, federation both as process and as objective offered cover to colonial officials who sought delay. As the U.S. consul at Trinidad put it, “the Colonial Government hopes to delay more active agitation for increased local participation in h. government by directing the thoughts and energies of the local population towards the eventual Federation.”17 But any cynicism was offset by the Labour government's genuine commitment to exploring the idea, and local leaders' reactions ranged from curious to enthusiastic. Colonial Secretary Creech‐Jones in 1946 began to prepare the ground, calling the 1947 conference at Montego Bay at which the federal idea was fleshed out. The conference called for the establishment of the Standing Closer Association Committee (SCAC), made up of colonial and metropolitan representatives and charged with studying ways to make a federation work. For Whitehall, federation rebutted critics as a creative step towards self‐government. Washington supported federation as a vehicle for decolonization, not least because it offered a promising model for other such areas. From the early 1940s, Taussig had repeatedly voiced his support. For him, federation extended the logic behind the AACC: that regional cooperation could smooth the imperial transition and offer real political and economic benefits to colonial peoples.18
Taussig, in contrast to some of his British counterparts who hedged on the point, had always envisioned federation as a virtually irrevocable step toward self‐government. In this, he was in agreement with West Indian nationalists. Most of them felt that federation offered, at a minimum, a halfway house on the path to independence and economic progress.19 To that end, in 1946, the Jamaican and Trinidadian legislatures endorsed establishment of a federation. The idea also harmonized with calls for black solidarity. A federation could be an expression of “pan‐African” unity. If it did not actually incorporate Africa, it was still a way to show the world that the diaspora shared an identity and an agenda worthy of the political means to pursue them.
Not everyone was on board. Bustamante resisted proposals to federate, not least because Manley had championed them from Kingston to New York. Bustamante blasted London for seeking to shirk its duties, saying he wanted no part of a “federation of paupers.” This reflected the view of many Jamaicans; the island, due to its size, wealth, and location, was the odd man out in most federal schemes. A constitutional federal balance is difficult to achieve in the best of circumstances; doing so within the matrix of the Cold War, the Colonial Office, and American hegemony was still more so.20 Jamaicans were right to wonder how their interests could be served in a distended system. Nor was it clear that union would necessarily shorten their road to (p.74) self‐government. For some, the federal idea in its early stages was a diversion away from greater self‐rule, not a means to it. By 1950, for example, Manley had lost support from some JPL members (including some of his rivals) who thought his pro‐federation position called into question the sincerity of his Jamaican nationalism.21 Other residents of the Caribbean, such as the East Indians who made up more than 40 percent of Trinidad's population and a bare majority of British Guiana's, had mixed emotions. A federation that protected their rights as a religiously and racially distinct minority would be welcome; one that obeyed a regional black majority, given the rise of “race feeling,” would be less so.
These concerns reflected the broader currents in the colonies after the war. Both islands experienced labor unrest between 1946 and 1948, which recalled the riots of the 1930s even if they did not match them in scale. The unrest had its roots in the refusal by employees around the U.S. bases and the Trinidadian oilfields to return to the land. Economic times, for once, were relatively good. Oil grew Trinidad's economy, and bauxite would soon do the same for Jamaica, while world demand for the islands' agricultural produce was rising.22 But these paper gains mostly failed to benefit workers, and in any case, those who had flocked to the bases, oilfields, and cities now found farm wages unappealing. Unemployment had begun to swell.
Socialist and nationalist movements sought to capitalize on the discontent, complicating progress toward federation and self‐rule. In Jamaica, Bustamante's demagoguery and the leftist tint of the rival PNP led to union‐party clashes that drew blood. In Trinidad, universal suffrage in the 1946 elections saw similar competition, with the added effect of raising black‐Indian antipathy. In both islands, street‐level popular action complemented the deliberations of party leaders and crown officials. One result was “the supersession of anti‐colonial agitation by intra‐class electoral competition.”23 A two‐party political culture in Jamaica, and a multi‐faction two‐race clash in Trinidad, were taking root—and overshadowing anticolonial sentiment. Crown officials, and to a lesser extent their American counterparts, posited federation as a means to channel nationalism and check radicalism before either one turned dangerous.
In the two years after the war, the federal idea was still passing from the conceptual to the embryonic stage, and for both proponents and opponents, the devil would be in the details. This is not to suggest that there was conceptual clarity. Did federation represent progress or only the illusion of it? Could federation end up working against the interests of peoples and territories within it? Was federation even feasible? These questions in some ways added to the idea's appeal because concerned parties—West Indians, British and U.S. officials, African‐Americans—could see in it almost any promising if vague solution they wished. Federation provided common ground where race, reform, British reassertion, and American interests converged. It was a locus of U.S.-British‐West Indian relations in the early postwar, in part because there was so little concerted activity of any kind. The era then dawning, though, had the potential to change that.
Colonial leaders surely wondered what Churchill's “iron curtain” speech meant for them. An Anglo‐American focus on Europe might free up political space around the periphery, as appeared to be taking place in South Asia. On the other hand, the need for a unified front might also create pressure to tighten up the allied flanks away from the core, dampening American anticolonialism as in Indochina. Then there were the wild cards: the parlous financial situation of Britain and France which left them at America's mercy, although the latter could hardly afford to see them fail; the “rising wind” of race consciousness among African‐American and colonial peoples; and always the specter of communism, manifest as demagogue, soldier, guerilla, or saboteur, stalking the hungry and downtrodden. For American and British leaders, the crisis year of 1946 confirmed that the world was splitting into hostile camps. For empires and their discontents, the immediate postwar was the calm before the Cold.
Events in early 1947 furnished some clarity. The British empire began to show its cracks in the Mediterranean. U.S.-Soviet tension was sufficient to make this a problem, in American eyes, and the brewing crisis combined with apprehension about Soviet intentions to prompt the Truman Doctrine. Truman announced the Doctrine in March 1947 in an appeal to Congress for aid to Greece and Turkey, and more generally for efforts to contain communism. The Doctrine pledged support for “subjugated peoples fighting for their freedom.” This clause, on its face, seemed to have rich potential for colonial nationalists. It was, however, limited in its scope, since it meant subjugation by communism rather than by empire. Indeed, the example of Greece and Turkey showed the limits of the rhetoric. The fight against “subjugation” in practice meant the replacement of British by American power where necessary and the bolstering of the British empire by the United States elsewhere.
The Truman administration had not turned its back on the Third World; it was committed to what Leffler calls the “orderly decolonization” of a diverse geographical area united only by “the dilemma it posed for the foreign policy of the United States.”24 But the Soviet threat seemed grave enough to give higher priority to the Atlantic alliance, and the national‐security doctrine made the British empire indispensable. This did not mean U.S. accession to European empires in perpetuity. An underlying premise of American diplomacy, which many in London conceded, held that the “age of empire” was nearing its end. The British Ambassador said as much in a speech in Philadelphia.25 The conflict had evolved from U.S. anticolonialism versus British imperialism—a clash of first principles—into a debate about the course of decolonization—a dialogue of splittable differences. British reassertion was more about the process than about the ends.26 Unfortunately, for those who wished to push that process along, U.S. acceptance of that reassertion in the name of Cold War unity meant that the alliance came first.27
(p.76) If the Truman Doctrine thus inaugurated a new‐old era in Anglo‐American relations, the Caribbean retained a unique place in it. As part of the U.S. sphere of influence, the Caribbean and Latin America would be among the first regions of the world to see the Doctrine in action. Historian Roger Trask writes that the twin acts of the 1947 Rio Pact on Inter‐American Defense and the 1948 founding of the Organization of American States (OAS) at Bogotá, Colombia, which united the hemisphere in a common defensive and ideological alliance, were models “for a host of later Cold War collective defense treaties and regional organizations. They were among the earliest examples of [Truman's] implementation of the containment policy.”28
The West Indies complicated these arrangements on two fronts. The Policy Planning Staff in 1947 deemed the colonies a potential security threat. Although the Soviet military was unlikely to be able to reach them anytime soon, they were vulnerable to subversion or sabotage. Even more troubling, their colonial status placed them under the U.N. Charter instead of inter‐American arrangements. Thus, although Trinidad was party to the Rio Pact, legal priority went to the United Nations because the island was not sovereign. This meant that if the colony—seven miles from Rio signee Venezuela—should come to pose a threat, any “necessary” U.S. intervention would incur opprobrium. U.S. policy had to forestall this scenario and to satisfy its neighbors “that we had no selfish imperialistic ambitions” even while “[heading] off demands from the Chicago Tribune school that we should demand the colonies outright.”29
In addition, the British possessions aroused imperialistic ambitions in their neighbors. The colonies' very existence chiseled away at the inter‐American unity—ostensibly anticommunist and anticolonial—pursued in the Rio and OAS accords. The colonies especially complicated the latter. At first glance, the OAS had nothing in particular to do with any area still ruled by Europe, whether in the western hemisphere or not. The organization had been created to serve both the U.S. interest in a forum that would collectively shield Washington's sphere of influence, and the Latin American governments' interest in a shield against the United States. To that end the OAS affirmed anti‐interventionism, and its cousin anticolonialism, as two of its bedrock principles. This had the added virtue of constructing anticolonialism as common grounds for solidarity among the twenty member nations, harking back to the great age of the American, Haitian, and Latin American revolutions a century and a half before. However, it ensured that Europe's lingering western‐hemisphere colonies would offend both the principle and practice of inter‐American diplomacy. The offense that colonies posed to anticolonial principle was obvious enough. Less obvious, but increasingly clear, was that U.S. assent in the continued existence of the colonies invited Latin American powers to make claims on them. The diverse territories they coveted, such as the Falklands/Malvinas, British Honduras, and Dutch Antilles, pointed to a problem noted by the State Department: a basic “conflict of interest between the Inter‐American System and the continued existence of colonies in the western hemisphere.”30
U.S. negotiators at the OAS conference in Bogotá confirmed that the colonies pitted the Atlantic alliance against the inter‐American system. Guatemala, (p.77) for example, sought resolution language declaring “colonial possessions to be a danger to the peace and security.”31 This was more than a bit cynical; Guatemala had designs on British Honduras, and indeed came close to making annexation a part of its constitution. But cynical or not, this stance showed the British holdings to be a weak hemispheric link in more ways than one. They manifested both a physical and philosophical inconsistency in the newly reaffirmed inter‐American bloc. They presented a similar sticking point in the Anglo‐American alliance should U.S. anticolonialism rise anew in response to British imperial reassertion. Finally, as always, they constituted a potential security threat, albeit more from communist subversion than direct Soviet attack.
The final shape of American policy indicates that the last of these threats was seen as the most grave. Inter‐American tension could be lived with, especially given the U.S. belief that Latin American anticolonialism was window dressing. (Third World observers could be forgiven for thinking the same about the United States.) Anglo‐American tension was more troubling, and the United States conceded the West Indian field to British reassertion given an unspoken understanding of three points of agreement. First, reassertion entailed progress toward colonial improvement and self‐government. Second, U.S. base needs would be unaffected by the deferral to London.32 Third, British efforts had to aid regional stability and contain communism. The Truman Doctrine thus dispensed with the West Indian dilemma by a qualified bow to British sovereignty, predicated on, among other things, the latter's anticommunist vigilance.
This was more complicated than it first appeared. On the one hand, anticommunism was the raison d'Être of the Cold War western alliance. Moreover, British officials had wide latitude in policing colonial thought. Censorship, arrest, and deportation were powerful tools for the task, and London was using them; a May 1948 order required West Indian governors to file monthly reports on communist activity. On the other hand, British politics did not treat the Left with the same paranoia that American politics did. This is not to suggest British lassitude when it came to colonial communism. As Jamaican scholar Trevor Munroe writes, “an element of paranoia led London to see real or potential Soviet communists behind every nationalist outbreak.”33 But British and American versions of “vigilance” in the West Indies might differ enough to leave gaps through which subversives could slip.
The task of bridging those gaps was simplified by leaders like Bustamante and Manley, who channeled volatile politics into a reasonably stable rivalry. Bustamante was anticommunist, which brought him electoral success; Manley consorted with “reds” but stopped short of publicly doctrinaire positions.34 Bustamante laid out his position and blasted his rivals, in no uncertain terms. He told the Gleaner that “we want no socialism. I hate communism. I do not believe any one of the socialists who have been elected means any good to this country.”35
Officials feared that communism lurked in the Jamaican shadows, but was more or less contained by the PNP‐JLP equilibrium. The PNP, however, (p.78) housed a Marxist cohort that might muddy the waters, especially as labor unrest spread after 1947.36 In Trinidad, Albert Gomes and the “old guard” shied away from communism, balancing figures like John Rojas who were seen as fellow travelers. Small‐scale marches and rallies constituted the bulk of communist activity. These did have troubling ties to the Caribbean Labour Congress (CLC), which linked them to Manley and to mainland‐based black leftists such as Bindley Cyrus.37 However, at least until about 1950, the communist threat on the ground in the West Indies seemed small and in check.
Trends elsewhere, though, prompted concern that the threat might grow. The paradox of the Truman Doctrine regarding the Third World—support for “subjugated peoples” but alliance with imperial subjugators—gave Moscow an opening. The U.S. retreat from anticolonialism invited Stalin to steal that particular thunder, and fuse it with the idea that only communism meant true liberation. An Intelligence Review dated one day after Truman's address to Congress acknowledged precisely that danger, even extending to the U.S. “empire” in Latin America, but especially elsewhere in the Third World given the resonance there of the neutralism preached by Indian Premier Jawaharlal Nehru, which Washington feared would create the nucleus of a bloc vulnerable to Soviet entreaties.38
A basic part of the dilemma lay in the conflicting time horizons of U.S. diplomacy. As a State Department paper concluded in December 1947, in the short term, the U.S.-Soviet clash required strong affiliation with the teetering imperial masters. In the long term, “U.S. policy toward dependent areas is sympathetic to the national aspirations of non‐self‐governing peoples.” Between these points in time lay the communists' opportunity, and the West's risk:
Since political advancement of dependent peoples is inevitable. h. the U.S. should be sure that [supporting] European colonial policies may not in the long‐run alienate non‐self‐governing peoples to such an extent that US prestige will be damaged irreparably [and the United States] find itself supported only by a group of politically precarious European governments.39
If communists could tie the Truman Doctrine to old‐line imperialism and sustain a propaganda offensive to make colonial liberation and communism more or less synonymous, this would give them an early Cold War victory. It would drive a wedge between the allies, as the United States tried to finesse its concurrent support for imperial masters and colonial subjects.
Officials feared that this could occur even in areas of advanced collaboration, such as the Caribbean. The Caribbean Commission had caught Soviet interest when it added the remaining two European Caribbean powers to its ranks. The British feared that Soviet propaganda in the area might prove effective and lead Washington to take a “radical new line on colonial policy h. which might wreck U.S.-British cooperation on the [Commission].”40 Dean Acheson tried to put a positive spin on allied partnership in the region. He reiterated that the Commission was a model for other decolonizing areas and an appropriate response to the “standing danger” of instability. The United States was leading by example in Puerto Rico, and the British were following suit. This take was (p.79) not wholly without merit. The American areas had the best socioeconomic indices in the region, and the British, despite some intransigence, were progressive enough. But this rosy spin suggested the delicacy of balancing enemies, friends, and hoped‐for friends in the Caribbean.
Race, even more than anticolonialism or anticommunism, was a wild card in these calculations. Indeed, race threaded through the other two in ways that at times made it difficult to separate them. A CIA report in 1948 concluded that race was a potentially devastating Soviet weapon, capable not only of splitting the West over treatment of “dependent peoples”—African‐Americans for the United States, colonial subjects for Europe—but also of turning such peoples against the West.41 Nor was the race‐communism nexus a figment of the imperial imagination. A founder of the PNP's communist cell in Jamaica, Richard Hart, reflected on the sequential fusion of race, leftism, and nationalism: “Garvey's ‘Black is Beautiful’ was the sort of foundation stone on which everything developed. And when the PNP came along with the idea that we could rule ourselves, although we were black, this was a sort of eye‐opener, a revelation to many people.”42
African‐Americans and West Indians in the United States had long raised the anticolonial banner. Many, though by no means all, also leaned left in searching for solutions to the colonial and white‐supremacy world dilemma. Although the United States had left the lion's share of responsibility for West Indies anticommunist surveillance to the British, this nexus of race and communism reached the black mainland, incurring American vigilance. Moreover, the ascent of race at home guaranteed continued mutual interest of black Americans and West Indians in independence. The cause of black freedom created a point of transnational contact between the domestic and foreign spheres, even if that cause became attenuated in the early Cold War.
African‐American‐West Indian ties, however, reveal the limits of that attenuation. As historian Penny Von Eschen shows, the McCarthyite clampdown foreclosed radical visions of black solidarity and transnational race‐based activism. African‐American organizations like the NAACP distanced themselves from more radical bodies like the Council on African Affairs (CAA). Even one‐time militants like CAA founder Max Yergan voiced support for the Truman Doctrine. Many black leaders in the United States abjured pan‐African anticolonialism, instead joining white liberals to argue that it was racial injustice at home—not empires abroad—that impeded U.S. foreign policy. In a sense, anticolonialism's loss became antiracism's gain.
The pattern held true for the West Indies—up to a point. After the war, and in spite of Manley's electoral loss, the NAACP‐PNP bond remained strong. Walter White hosted the 1947 New York meeting of Manley and other leaders to discuss federation, showing the idea's appeal even to those allegedly now less passionate about transnational black solidarity. Indeed, Harlem's interest in the Montego Bay conference was quite pronounced and produced essential funding for its support.43 Initiatives like this burnished the NAACP's appeal. West Indians in Panama wrote asking for formal affiliation with the group. Another proposed a Jamaican branch office: “thousands of colored people in Jamaica [are] ready (p.80) to line up behind the NAACP for the international progress of the colored race.”44 Individual Jamaicans wrote letters praising the group, requesting help getting settled on the mainland. A poignant letter from a Trinidadian expressed pride “to hear of the progress the coloured people are achieving in America.”45
Manley kept in contact with Harlem, which returned the favor. Even African‐Americans who were pulling to the NAACP's left followed the Caribbean situation; Adam Clayton Powell and Paul Robeson, for instance, visited Jamaica in 1948.46 Nor were these the only notables of the black Left to keep the “Harlem Nexus” alive. CLC members Cyrus and Augustine Austin met Manley at the Montego Bay conclave, where they proclaimed their support and offered to raise money for any actions advancing the federation idea including the New York conference. Manley counted such mainland support as utterly crucial to the early stages of the federation project. A 1949 trip to New York netted Manley more money for the PNP as well as meetings with Robeson, A. Phillip Randolph, and Marian Anderson, the last of whom agreed to come to Jamaica to perform on Manley's behalf.47
However, although Manley, Cyrus, and others drew inspiration from left political visions, these may have undermined race unity as much as they reinforced it. For many West Indian and African‐American actors, the essential dyad was race and nationalism, not race and socialism or communism. One American observer, after a Caribbean tour, wrote that he was “impressed by the determination of the blacks to achieve ‘independence’ [but] by ‘independence’ I mean getting rid of people who aren't black. h. In the West Indies it is not a question of democracy versus red fascism. It is a question of black against white.”48
Developments in Harlem, however, suggested the limits of this dynamic, as broad‐brush ethnic solidarity foundered on ideology. In 1942, a faction of WINC had split off to form the AWIA in reply to what it saw as a “communist takeover” of the parent body. AWIA, still active, now found an ally in the United Caribbean American Council (UCAC) of New York, formed late in the decade for the same reason. UCAC was not anti‐Left but anticommunist; the group raised funds for the CLC, but boycotted meetings at which Robeson spoke. They vowed to withhold contributions unless communists were excluded from organization activities.49 The controversy extended beyond the grassroots. In the spring of 1947, the JPL notified the PNP—its own organizational offspring—that it would discontinue their affiliation because of “a [PNP] faction h. declaring itself to be communistic [that] has created confusion and apprehension in the minds of our people.”
The ideological split among West Indians, and among their African‐American allies, may help to explain the Truman administration's willingness to defer to the British in the containment of colonial communism: West Indian communism was at least partly self‐contained. However, it was not clear that this would suffice to defuse the race issue, which by the late 1940s had two faces. The first centered on prospective race unity across the diaspora. The second involved the United States' racial image, which could become a rallying point for the first. The repression of African‐Americans belied the image of the “land of the free,” (p.81) an image vital to waging the Cold War. Proving U.S. worthiness as a friend to Caribbean peoples required attention to that image, to the end of showing that the hegemon could be an anticommunist bulwark while also making positive racial progress.
This led relations into the realm of symbolism. As during the war, Puerto Rico offered an opportunity for the United States to “lead by example.” Truman articulated this claim during a 1948 visit to the island: “I rejoice that here in Puerto Rico we have a true tolerance, where races and creeds and personal views are forgotten in a common citizenship.”50 Real reform in the island's governance was still four years down the road, but the rhetorical trope of Caribbean multicultural equality was too good to pass up in 1948. In the same vein, American racial good faith vis-à-vis the Caribbean took the form of nominations, including Truman's first major black appointment. After the segregationist James Byrnes was named Secretary of State, some blacks speculated that Bunche might be sent to Liberia, Haiti, or Madagascar on the “black circuit” of foreign postings. Instead, Bunche was appointed in late 1945 to the AACC. This won the president accolades from the black press, although many, including White, complained that Bunche was out of touch with other black leaders. It brought praise too from ordinary African‐Americans, one of whom wrote Bunche to say “it does my heart good to see that you will be serving us and the rest of your country.”51
A few months later, Truman made another such choice. Hastie, former federal judge in the Virgin Islands and Dean of Howard Law School, was an obvious choice when the Virgin Islands' governorship came open in 1946. The post carried a joint appointment to the AACC. However, Hastie's race and ties to groups like the NNC made him suspect in the eyes of senators voting on his confirmation.52 Truman took the risk and named him. Opponents tagged Hastie a “dangerous radical,” but no real resistance emerged. Once again the black and island press praised Truman. The gesture even threatened a new round of colonialist one‐upsmanship; when Manley received an honorary doctorate of law from Howard in 1946, Jamaicans called for him to be appointed governor of Jamaica, “[like] Judge Hastie in the Virgin Islands.”53
These gestures, however, did not bleach out the stain of American racial practices. In the context of U.S.-West Indian relations, these and other such gestures, including the desegregation of the military, took on special significance. This was equally true in U.S. relations with most of the nonwhite world. Activists pointed out the harm done to the American image by lynchings in the South and by segregation in Washington.54 The CIA concluded that the West was much more damaged by its race reputation than were its “Eastern” adversaries.55 More so than most Third World peoples, West Indians had firsthand experience of American racism. Truman's State Department took this familiarity seriously and moved to bolster the U.S. image in the islands while monitoring West Indian racial activism. Consular officers attested to race's salience in the region: “[American] racial discrimination h. is well known and [our] information program should be directed toward showing what is being done to improve the situation.”56
(p.82) The race solidarity that resentment of Jim Crow might engender could also furnish, U.S. officials feared, a communist “Trojan horse” even in those colonies with weaker ties to the mainland. But the ramifications of race did not extend exclusively to the United States. In Trinidad, the race problem did connect to racial-cum-colonial revolt in a distant place, yet the problem turned neither on links to Harlem nor on Jim Crow. Rather, tensions flared between blacks and East Indians, the latter of whom followed India's progress to independence with great interest. Trinidad had been given a new constitution in 1946 as a follow‐up to the Jamaican experiment. As in the latter, the document grew the electorate tenfold, challenging the political system to accommodate the consequent energies. One of these was the invigoration, real and imagined, of island communists. Officials feared that rising black‐Indian tensions would coincide with, if not abet, “red” subversives. The U.S. consul in 1947 noted with equanimity that no evidence linked rising labor and racial strife to Communist subversion, although the colonial government feared that this was occurring.57
By 1949, however, London concurred with the latter, and reopened the wartime Regional Intelligence Office in Port of Spain, indicating “a renewal of interest in what appear to be increasing subversive activities.” The British informed the U.S. military that they “expected active communism to take place somewhere in the West Indies, but [were] not aware as to where it would break out, and [were] very much concerned [about it].”58 The United States also took the threat seriously by the turn of the decade. When West Indian communists, such as Jamaica's Ken Hill, were feared to be inciting racial and class tensions, the consul agreed with a U.S. businessman who felt that communism “could easily take root.”59
The most important of West Indian political developments, after universal suffrage, was the continuing, uneven progress toward federation. Race solidarity, self‐government, regional stability—all were wrapped up in the federal dream. That dream had its flaws. Bustamante's government, to Washington's relief, was proving to be stable and friendly. As Bustamante put it, “I am publicly and privately pro‐American in every way.”60 Regarding federation, though, his government was still skeptical. Most worrisome, federation might not necessarily offer an anticommunist bulwark. The United States wondered if the British were not being “taken in” by leaders such as Manley, who were suspected of supporting federation only as a means to eventual leftist takeover.61 This was not enough to derail American support for a federal union. But it did make Washington sensitive to the shortcomings of its policy of deferral to the crown.
American accommodation of British reassertion in the Caribbean was predicated on the latter achieving two main things: (1) “progressive” colonial administration leading eventually to self‐government; and (2) containment of racial and radical movements under British jurisdiction. “Passive” surveillance of these movements satisfied American responsibility for these pockets of British sovereignty within U.S. hegemony. Such accommodation did not, however, extend to strategic matters. On these, Washington meant to have its way, massaging the (p.83) alliance in ways that would bolster U.S. power and, secondarily if at all, benefit the West Indies and their landlord. Race, anticolonialism, and communism added color to the picture of U.S.-British‐West Indian relations under Truman, but national‐security concerns drew the lines.
These concerns split roughly into economic and military ones, although it was often hard to distinguish between the two. The United States had neither the financial nor military means to replace the British in all corners of the globe. London's rickety finances, which had seemed to stabilize after the American loan of December 1945, collapsed when sterling convertibility took effect in July 1947 and grew acute again in 1949. These fell into the economic category of national‐security concerns, while U.S. contemplation of its base requirements fell into the military one. The pursuit of strategic materials blurred the line between the two. These were more a part of the basic national‐security calculation—access to assets crucial to projecting power—than of a concerted economic offensive.
In contrast to Latin America, where American influence had largely displaced British, the West Indies remained imperial redoubts when it came to trade. This mercantilist policy was aimed at shoring up the metropole at the expense of colonial development, and as such it deepened the gap between London and the West Indies, further feeding colonial nationalism.62 The schism turned island minds northward once again. The mainland was the obvious source for the capital needed for development. Furthermore, U.S. national‐security needs created exceptions to British mercantilism in the West Indies. These exceptions took the form of transport infrastructure and raw materials. Negotiations over both became the most prominent feature of the Truman administration's West Indies policy.
Anglo‐American tensions over military responsibility for the colonies had long roiled, despite a basic strategic unity between the two powers. Both parties shared an interest in stability, which they perceived to be threatened as much by internal unrest as by external attack. After the war, Washington, aware of its ally's limitations, sought to consolidate its military umbrella. Many of the bases leased in 1941 were now unnecessary, and the United States began returning these. Trinidad, though, remained a pillar of hemispheric‐defense plans. Both there and in Jamaica, American facilities caused low‐level static even before the Truman Doctrine took effect.63 These spats did not take the exact shape of the later Chaguaramas controversy—the clashes were confined to the colonial government and the State Department, rather than between a nationalist popular movement and the U.S. military—but they hinted at its contours.
The distribution of power was never in question. State warned that the War Department would be “only too glad to ‘get tough’” with Trinidad, even if it meant poisoning relations and holding up the “whole [program] of turning over surplus buildings [and] land.”64 The U.S. consul saw things differently. He detected a gap between the Colonial Office and its appointees, on one hand, and Trinidadians, on the other. The latter “harbor little resentment of the U.S.” and were conscious of the economic benefits the bases (p.84) provided.65 But they resented that the British had granted the bases without having consulted them. The presence of the bases, in this view, was not the problem; the principle of ignoring island desires was. The consul granted that crown and island shared some resentment of the United States, based on the impression that “[our] officials feel free to disregard local wishes.” On the whole, though, colonial feeling was more anti‐Britain than anti‐American. In the 1950s, nationalist leadership in some islands would reverse and intensify that dynamic, but as yet this clash rose only to the level of minor friction.
In any case, even if there had been greater anti‐American unrest in the colonies, there was no chance the United States would pull out of all its West Indian holdings. The CIA assured Truman that the Atlantic powers' control of their colonial areas was “reasonably secure” even with only token forces present.66 The joint chiefs were less sure. Their 1949 assessment affirmed that the Caribbean was “of primary strategic importance to the U.S. [but that] Soviet capabilities in the area were definitely limited” at the moment.67 Much the greater threat lay in local communists' intrigues and sabotage, to which the region and its forces were highly vulnerable. Surveillance of subversives and mobile garrisons would address the threat in part. Minimizing American exposure while maximizing its Caribbean reach would do the rest. This meant “trading away” nonessential bases to guarantee retention of key ones such as Trinidad.68
As the CIA and joint chiefs indicated, however, the Caribbean was a special kind of military frontier. Its distance from the enemy meant that it was not a frontline like the East German border, even if the Antillean perimeter did guard the American underbelly. Its security importance, though, lay equally in its potential for the projection of power—in its role not only as a great wall but also as a springboard and an arsenal as well. Aside from the naval use of Trinidad as a rallying point, the island also lay astride the “belt of bases” that facilitated military transport worldwide and was thus indispensable to the national‐security doctrine. The CIA named Trinidad as a key stop in the Caribbean‐South Atlantic sector of this global network.69
Of still greater importance to the national‐security doctrine was the West Indies' place in the global network of strategic materials, especially oil and bauxite. Trinidad was a key producer and protector of oil in the Americas. As late as 1950, it was the leading crude producer in the British empire, and it guarded the oilfields stretching westward from its shores, which figured prominently in Western plans for both war and peace.70 Although it would soon be eclipsed by the Middle East, Trinidad was thought to have the richest deposits in the empire. Moreover, Mideast oil would not fully eclipse Trinidad's importance, since the latter would be more secure in case of European or Arab‐Israeli war.71 Planners stipulated this security but did not take it for granted. If the short‐term Soviet military threat to the island was small, wargamers nonetheless anticipated submarine attack and sabotage if hostilities should occur even as soon as two years hence. In addition, the threat to Trinidad not only endangered oil production and regional defense. The island was also a key transshipment point for a crucial (p.85) raw material, bauxite, en route from one of its primary sources in the Guianas to North American aluminum plants.72
The vulnerability of this supply line, combined with the Truman defense buildup, the Korean War, the recurring sterling crisis, and the confirmation of large ore deposits in Jamaica, led Washington to renew its pursuit of bauxite in that island. Shortfalls in American aluminum output had bedeviled weapons production throughout the late war.73 Nor had the outlook brightened after hostilities ended, as bauxite deposits within the United States were small and of poor quality. Wartime miracles of aircraft production could not be duplicated—as the postwar superpower's global responsibilities might demand at any moment—unless an ore supply could be assured. U.S. policy‐makers showed acute awareness of this circumstance. Indeed, the empire's successful wartime blocking of Reynolds did little to dissuade that company—or the U.S. government—beyond the short term. Reynolds' project in Jamaica, Hull had written to Stimson, was part of the “national defense of the U.S.”74 Rejection followed, but Foggy Bottom kept the issue alive, taking it up with the new Labour government just before the war's end, to no avail. The end of hostilities removed the urgency of war production and added some clarity to the conflict over imperial resources. The Colonial Office avowed that the crown wished only to secure what was best for Jamaica—which in practice meant that Reynolds', and Washington's, quest would remain frustrated in the immediate postwar years.
However, two events in 1947 changed the equation. The Truman Doctrine that winter lent urgency to the question of American war‐making capacity. Then the sterling crisis that summer—in which London's declaration of pound‐sterling convertibility set off a stampede out of that currency and into the dollar—showed the utter dependence of Britain's recovery on the U.S. economy, and thus forced the crown to reconsider American access to imperial resources and markets. Another, longer‐standing concern—the need for West Indian development—also came to bear, though it carried less weight. Together these factors energized U.S. pursuit of Jamaican bauxite, finally resulting in a much different outcome.
Even before the Korean War, the current had begun to run against imperial protectionism and given additional impetus to Reynolds' project. The sterling crises in 1947 and 1949 made it critical to find sources of dollar exchange for colonies and metropole alike. On the American side, the Truman administration—fearing the recurrence of strategic‐materials shortages should war break out—was formulating plans to stockpile such assets. U.S. diplomats conveyed to British officials the unanimity of American agencies, who “considered the project highly desirable.”75 Among these were the President's Materials Policy Commission (PMPC), the National Strategic Resources Board, the Strategic Materials Department, and the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA). It was this last which helped to broker the final arrangement. The ECA loaned eleven million dollars to the British government, to be repaid by deposit of Jamaican‐derived aluminum into American stockpiles.76 For their part, Manley and Bustamante shelved their (p.86) rivalry and agreed upon the desirability of this massive American investment. The island legislature and appointed governor seconded their position. This sentiment “trickled up,” and even the Colonial Office grudgingly supported the project by 1949.77
A second one‐two punch, in 1950, decisively recast the bauxite question and U.S.-British‐West Indian relations in general. In the autumn of 1949, a pair of Cold War crises—Soviet acquisition of the atomic bomb and the communist triumph in China—had prompted the Truman administration to rethink a containment doctrine that seemed, all of a sudden, to be faltering. The fruit of this process was a new American strategic blueprint, NSC-68, which outlined an aggressive response to the now fully global, and soon fully atomic, communist threat. Two months after Truman approved NSC-68, the outbreak of the Korean War seemed to confirm its dire analysis. This sequence of events altered the diplomatic calculus not only between the United States, its imperial allies, and its East‐bloc enemies, but also reshuffled relations between those entities and the Third World—including the West Indies.
Peripheral, but Not the Periphery: U.S.-Caribbean Affairs in the Shadow of Korea
War in Korea emerged as if on cue to confirm NSC-68's argument that the communist threat was fully a global one—including in those decolonizing quarters of the globe, which the Korean peninsula technically was. The United States now faced the possibility that nationalism and communism could violently collide, rendering transitions of governance explosive. The West Indian transition, already underway, albeit slow and tentative, presented little apparent risk. Given the colonies' location, however, any risk was too much. Washington devoted most of its attention after 1950 to Korea and to European recovery, but continued to monitor West Indian developments, and in the case of bauxite, to direct them. Extraction of this ore was the greatest concern of U.S.-West Indian diplomacy during the war, precisely because aluminum was indispensable to fighting it. This was accompanied by a resurgent fear and surveillance of colonial communism and race‐based activism, and the need to ensure a smooth transition between an “improved” British colonialism and a still inchoate regime of self‐government.
The convergence of factors favoring the Reynolds project now added a final, decisive one. Military aircraft requirements for Korea were comparable to those of World War II.78 NSC-68, moreover, meant that those requirements were more or less permanent. The creation of this air force demanded that Jamaican production be brought quickly on‐line. Efforts to do so were sped up, although even a year into the war the PMPC weighed the need for another ECA loan to stimulate greater Jamaican output.79 This proved unnecessary; production rose in stunning fashion. The buildup pushed U.S. bauxite consumption up to seven million tons per year—nearly double the amount of the total known deposits on the mainland—and midway through the Korean War, Jamaica was furnishing the majority of it.80
(p.87) Even so, the NSC and the PMPC worried that this “general easing” of the situation would be short‐lived. The “four scarce metals”—aluminum, copper, nickel, and tin—commanded the attention of Truman and Churchill at a January 1952 meeting.81 The two leaders assured adequate supplies through an exchange of key commodities: imperial and commonwealth bauxite and aluminum to the United States, and American steel to Britain. At the end of the meeting, Churchill declared the arrangement “a great advance” vital to both America's and Britain's Cold War needs. By Eisenhower's inauguration, Jamaica was pouring 500,000 tons of aluminum into U.S. stockpiles annually, and thousands of pounds sterling in royalties into colonial coffers, monies utterly crucial to balancing Jamaica's sterling‐dollar exchange. Moreover, what the Korean War bestowed, peace did not take away. After the armistice, Jamaica's annual contribution to U.S. aluminum stocks would double to one million tons.82
However, the American pursuit of national‐security assets in the West Indies, while a strategic success, carried with it menacing consequences. The bauxite operations brought a huge influx of dollars and jobs to Jamaica, even larger than that brought by the 1940s construction of U.S. bases. An expansion of Trinidadian oil facilities around the same time, although with less U.S. involvement, similarly stirred the waters there. The resulting flux in labor relations invigorated the colonial Left. West Indian communism, though partly self‐contained, had not disappeared, and there were signs that it was growing more active.83 Its proponents also continued to fuse racial activism with political radicalism, and capitalized on rising race consciousness both within the colonies and against the United States. The latter's suppression of radicalism within its own borders renewed attention to the race‐communism nexus as a foreign policy problem in the Caribbean.
The bauxite expansion and its repercussions gave labor organizations greater standing in island affairs. Unlike the United States, where the Taft‐Hartley Act had forced unions to expel communists, West Indian unions had not disavowed the far Left. Nor, for that matter, had Manley's PNP, which shared some of its leadership with the more radical labor groups. Manley's lieutenant Frank Hill took advantage of the bauxite influx to win gains for labor and the Left's agenda. The Colonial Office reported that the three mining companies had failed to act together on wages for the construction and extraction phases of operations. Hill played them off each other, and thus secured higher wages than Jamaica had ever known.84
It was not only their negotiating success that brought West Indian communists to the fore. Ties to international subversion and transnational racial movements pushed this process along. Links between the islands, as well as to the British Communist Party and unions abroad, had concerned officials for some time. There was no formal Communist Party in either Jamaica or Trinidad. But the governor in Kingston reported to Whitehall that “evidence of growing Communist sympathies h. continues to appear,” and authorities kept tabs on a “number of persons who are substantially more than ‘fellow (p.88) travelers, ’” such as Wills Isaacs, the “four H's” (who formed the core of Jamaica's main communist cell: Frank Hill, Ken Hill, Arthur Henry, and Richard Hart), and even Manley himself in Jamaica, and the unpredictable Butler and Rojas in Trinidad.85 Events in mid-1950 convinced the governor that “signs of contact with Communist influences abroad are increasing.” He allowed that “it is folly to think that there is a Soviet‐inspired and -financed Communist movement. Yet the pattern is a hideous one, we can easily be choked in its tangles, and it is as necessary to beware as though the direction were straight from Moscow.”86
As ominous as the “red” foreign ties were the black ones. Officials were unsettled by the sharp rise—fomented by communists and lamented by civic leaders—in racial tension.87 The phenomenon was not strictly local, as all parties recognized. In 1951, for example, the issue of South Africa raised questions of racial, national, and imperial identity in the West Indies. The PNP championed resolutions protesting disfranchisement of, and expressing solidarity with, blacks and Indians in South Africa, and asking that Jamaica ban imports from that country. Nor was this the only area to galvanize such race feeling. “The Mau Mau troubles,” reported the Colonial Office, “have attracted a good deal of attention in Trinidad,” even inspiring a short‐lived imitator called the Make Move Association. Although little more than symbolic, these acts suggested that increasingly powerful ties—prompting the PNP to support black South Africans, or Indo‐Trinidadians to celebrate Indian independence—connected the corners of the empire along racial and ethnic lines.88
These, of course, also connected the islands to the United States. Washington during the early Cold War responded to race and Left radicalism by targeting its proponents, infamously revoking the passports of Robeson and DuBois rather than risk their sowing anti‐Americanism abroad.89 Even in the West Indies, unique in the Third World for their American ties, the visits of “a man like Robeson can do a great deal of harm to both Britain and the U.S.,” as one American official put it.90 The apparent rise in communist strength in the area raised the risk still higher and called for a counter‐campaign. If nonwhites in distant parts of the world—egged on by Soviet propaganda—could develop a feeling of solidarity with African‐Americans, how much more easily might that feeling develop among blacks in the western hemisphere, some of whom were already living as neighbors in the northern United States?
Yet neither the counter‐campaign nor the repression of radicals black or white achieved much success. The propaganda could do little to stanch the international bad blood that flowed from Jim Crow, even without the agitation of Robeson or DuBois. Over time, awareness of this fact penetrated the highest levels of the Truman administration, although this in itself did not suffice to prompt more than symbolic change.91 As for the repression, the African‐American‐West Indian bond suggests that transnational racial ties that obeyed certain limits were able to weather it. The left‐leaning New York JPL, for example, invited White to a reception honoring Manley in 1951.92 Officials suspected Manley of being a communist, but nonetheless did not (p.89) bar him entry to the United States at that or any other time. Nor was he prevented from making appearances, such as a speech at Howard University and a JPL‐sponsored rally at Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church during his 1951 tour.93 Manley, perhaps guessing that his Howard audience included the FBI, praised Gandhian nonviolence and the American record in Puerto Rico, and announced that he knew no “card‐carrying communists.”94 While disingenuous, his statement signaled a willingness to cut ties with those farther left than he, something Walter White had done when he pushed to expel communists from the NAACP. In an eerie parallel to the mainland witch‐hunts, the issue of communism in the islands came to a head in 1952, and leftist leaders there took a page from White's playbook.
Communist activity had been on the rise for almost a year up to that spring.95 In March, Manley responded by directing a purge of communists from his PNP. Several anticommunist members had already left to form a rival party on the grounds that the PNP leadership harbored communists. This, combined with upcoming elections, prompted Manley to act. He led a “quasi‐judicial inquiry” that concluded the PNP was indeed “tainted by Communism,” a conclusion seconded in a vote of party delegates. That vote led to the expulsion of the “four H's,” four of Manley's longtime associates, and the island's most vocal communists. Some viewed the act as housecleaning; others as window dressing; still others as a “grave moral weakening” that revealed Manley not as a noble patriot but as a dull opportunist. In the event, the gamble did not pay off. The Colonial Office reported “a distinct swing of public opinion in favour of the JLP. The PNP has lost ground with the purge of fellow‐traveling elements.” It was not clear, however, whether this was because of or in spite of the purge.96 In Trinidad, much the same pattern unfolded. There, Butler used the visit of communist Janet Jagan of British Guiana to stave off his own rival on the Left, labor organizer Rojas. At party meetings during her visit, Rojas and others who attempted to praise communism were shouted down.97 Around the same time, one of the expelled Jamaicans was denied entry to Trinidad, with Butler's blessing.
The events of 1952–53 chastened the West Indian Left but did not kill it.98 Although the immediate public reaction in Jamaica to Manley's move was mixed, one effect was greater room to maneuver for the PNP. This was especially important as discussion continued of regional federation, which Manley was determined to shape. At a conference in Barbados just a few months after the purge, he gave “speeches of an anti‐imperialistic nature” and reaffirmed that:
A West Indian Federation must come about through the adoption of socialism throughout the West Indies, and that until socialist principles had been generally accepted, it would be better to go slowly towards Federation, if [doing otherwise] meant a Federation dominated by chambers of commerce.99
In a sense, Manley had sacrificed communism to protect socialism. By pruning the branches that stretched beyond the bounds of colonial politics, he had won a measure of stability for the leftist trunk that remained. He and his party went (p.90) on to win the next general election in 1955. Nor was the episode wholly unrepresentative, given the pattern among West Indians beginning well before the Cold War, of intra‐community tensions over communist infiltration. At any rate, Manley's action could easily be seen as simply a tactical retreat.
Given that federation lay on the horizon, this was arguably wise. Doing less would have raised eyebrows in Washington, not to mention in Whitehall, which had responsibility for mapping the way to federation. Even with the Jamaican purge and “self‐containment” of West Indian communism, the specter had not necessarily been exorcized to American satisfaction. As Manley indicated at Barbados, federation might be a vehicle for what the Americans saw as an unacceptably leftist regime. Certainly Manley had telegraphed his ambitions, including his intention to play a major role in shaping and leading a federated region. Acheson asked the U.S. consul to remain vigilant, since events suggested that racial unrest, communist agitation, and federation might converge into a threat to U.S. interests. Still, federation remained the best way to channel West Indian political energies of all types—communist, socialist, nationalist, and Bustamante‐style “boss unionist”—by offering a federal structure that could preserve stability and check leftist advance, and in any case the British were already moving ahead with it.100
This is not to say that the United States had changed its stance on federation as the West Indian future. Washington was wary, slightly more so than before, of the possibility that it was a Trojan horse. Nevertheless, in the view of the Truman administration, it was the best option for a number of reasons. Principal among these was that federation could be the capstone of reform of Britain's colonial regime, embodying “progressive” decolonization: welfare and development aid, stable political institutions, regional cohesion, and eventual self‐government. The United States could claim some credit for urging this process on by rhetoric—and, so it said, by example. West Indians did express admiration for the American colonial experiment in Puerto Rico. As St. Lucian economist Arthur Lewis summed up his advice to his fellow West Indians: “Study what has been done in Puerto Rico and go, thou, and do likewise!”101
However, Lewis's example is telling. The deep ambiguity of that island's status—made deeper during the Truman years—pointed to the larger problem the United States faced in the West Indies and in the Third World at large. Few now questioned the European metropoles' positive duty to improve colonial welfare, but that duty had to maneuver between a hoped‐for ideal of self‐determination for all and a reality of instability for most. The Korean War, though it did not involve a transition from European rule, showed the potential stakes of any transition in a bipolar world. The violence in post‐independence South Asia gave pause to all who had looked to that area as a model for decolonization. Anticommunist stability became the highest American priority in the colonial world.
The federal solution was the most palatable for the West Indies, because, as a State Department publication of March 1952 put it, “[the United States] affirms the right and capacity of all peoples to work toward self‐government (p.91) or independence, but we recognize that all are not equally ready to shoulder these responsibilities.” The middle way lay in progressive colonial policies that would allow the United States to support both its imperial allies and the colonial audience in good conscience.102 In short, the dynamics of anticolonialism—and to a lesser extent of race—in the international arena were evolving. Creative, “progressive,” and above all noncommunist solutions like Operation Bootstrap or a West Indian federation could elicit agreement from metropole, hegemon, and much of the engaged colonial polity alike.
The Middle of the Marathon: Bases, Bauxite, Bolsheviks, and the Races to Union
U.S.-British‐West Indian relations during the Truman years thus formed part of the larger policy dilemmas of the early Cold War: strengthening the anti‐Soviet alliance, recharging the world economy, seeking stability in the First and Third Worlds, and building a worldwide military arsenal. U.S. relations in the Caribbean, however, were ultimately but a small part of these dilemmas. All of the major themes of postwar American diplomacy make an appearance there: the twitching fear of communism on the march; squaring the anticolonial circle within the Western alliance; tracking and tempering the rise in race activism; creating “a preponderance of power.” None of these, however, can be said to have consistently dominated relations with the West Indies under Truman. The last—bases, bauxite, and oil—make the strongest claim, but even this must be placed in the general pattern of inertia.
The pattern is understandable, given the Truman administration's preoccupations elsewhere. When the West Indies did rise to high‐level attention, such as for bauxite, it was largely as a function of events elsewhere, such as the Korean War. Even dramatic episodes such as the communist purges were dutifully reported to Washington, where they were of some comfort to area specialists but rarely rose to the level of presidential concern. This, perhaps paradoxically, renders Anglo‐American‐Caribbean relations quite suggestive about the real contours of power and principle in the early Cold War. American “disengagement and imperial reassertion” might be better thought of as cooperative American deferral to a changing British empire. The Truman administration was content to leave anticommunism in the West Indies to the British, provided they kept things well in hand. Washington felt it could take the Caribbean for granted once this and certain other hurdles—colonial reform, suppression of race radicalism—were cleared. Truman's team then kept its eye on the national‐security ball elsewhere.
Ideological concerns about colonialism and communism usually led Truman's team to defer to British and West Indian action, while strategic concerns led to the substantive actions, and racial concerns to the symbolic ones, that his tenure did produce. By the end of Truman's presidency, the Policy Planning Staff surmised that all of these concerns were merging: (p.92)
The rebellion of Burma against Britain [for example] is therefore essentially the same kind of thing as the rebellion of the factory worker against the power and privileges of the factory owner, or of the American Negro against white supremacy. h. It is a manifestation of class war.103
This matrix of strategic, ideological, and racial factors places U.S.-British‐West Indian relations during Truman's tenure into helpful comparison with his predecessor's. Some continuities emerge. American consolidation of its military and strategic interests, under the rubric of a national‐security strategy, and the persistence of transnational networks practicing “diaspora diplomacy,” fall into this category. Yet more numerous were the changes forced by the Cold War and the quickening of decolonization. Most prominent among these were the questions that the Cold War raised for U.S. policy toward European empires—including its consequences for raw‐materials development, inter‐American diplomacy, and a united anticommunist front—and the answers starting to take shape, above all in the form of a federation model capable of navigating the way to decolonization. If the early Cold War was marked by the general repression of racial, colonial, and ideological challenge, these years nonetheless laid some of the groundwork for change over the next decade. Ultimately, if the Truman administration in the West Indies, where core and peripheral interests intersected, did not fulfill the Roosevelt promise, at least neither did it precipitate the disaster that so often followed U.S. policy into the decolonizing Third World. Whether this particular run of luck would continue under Eisenhower, Dulles, and the “New Look” was anybody's guess.
Portions of this chapter were previously published in International History Review; I gratefully acknowledge the journal's permission to reproduce them here.
(1.) Leffler, Preponderance.
(2.) Fraser labels the period one of “[U.S.] disengagement and imperial reassertion.” Fraser, Ambivalent, 91–122.
(3.) Fraser recounts that Taussig argued for “an express commitment in the U.N. Charter to the objective of independence for colonial territories” but “bowed before [British and French] opposition… [This] reflected the ascendancy of collaboration with the colonial powers in American foreign policy and the abdication of the role of champion of anticolonialism.” Fraser, Ambivalent, 92; FRUS, 1945, 1:792–797.
(4.) Taussig to Welles, 12 April 1945, Box 4, RG 59 Lot Files, Lot 65D140, Records Relating to Caribbean Dependencies Affairs 1941–1962 (RG 59 Lot Files: Caribbean Dependencies), NA.
(5.) Fraser, Ambivalent, 92–93. However Herbert Corkran notes that despite a weakened Taussig, the Commission continued to make contributions, producing “over a period of fifteen years… substantial achievements in agriculture, trade, fisheries, education, health, and related areas of special concern to the peoples of the West Indies.” Corkran, Patterns of International Cooperation in the Caribbean, 1942–1969 (Dallas, 1970), xii.
(6.) Memorandum of Conversation, Taussig, Bunche, et al., 4 December 1945, Box 4, RG 59 Lot Files: Caribbean Dependencies, NA, cited in Fraser, Ambivalent, 92.
(7.) Quotation is by Secretary of War Robert Patterson, cited in Leffler, Preponderance, 60.
(8.) Beyond the change of direction signaled by the new Labour government, the signs in Kingston and New York were positive too. Creech Jones to Manley, 12 February 1946; Nethersole to Manley, 6 March 1946, folder: 4/60/2B/11, Manley Papers, JA; Memorandum of Conversation, 4 December 1945. On the mutual influence between Jamaica and Puerto Rico, see Pico to Manley, 14 October 1946; and Manley to Pico, 26 October 1946, folder: 4/60/2B/11, Manley, JA.
(9.) Truman to Taussig, 7 February 1946, Box 4, RG 59 Lot Files: Caribbean Dependencies, NA. Fraser notes that Taussig's statement provoked intransigence among the Europeans, who were determined to resist links between the Commission and U.N. or other instruments by which the world might harshly judge Europe's handling of Caribbean affairs. Fraser, Ambivalent, 96–97.
(10.) Manley to Marryshow, 24 January 1946; Manley to Powell, 23 March 1946, folder: 4/60/2B/11, Manley Papers, JA. On the “evolving” black dialogue, see Von Eschen, Race.
(11.) Manley to Graham, undated; Manley to Young, 30 March 1946; Manley to “Comrade,” 31 May 1946, folder: 4/60/2B/11, Manley Papers, JA; Invitation list, 11 October 1945, folder: American Committee for West Indian Federation, 1945–48, Box A356, NAACP Papers, LOC.
(12.) White to Membership, 11 January 1946, in fiche #005,719-1, SC Clipping File; Staupers to White, 29 October 1945, folder: American Committee for West Indian Federation, 1945–48, Box A356, NAACP Papers, LOC.
(13.) White to Hoover, 16 November 1945, folder: American Committee for West Indian Federation, 1945–48, Box A356, NAACP Papers, LOC; Hoover to Lyon, 16 October 1945, 844D.01/10-1645, RG 59, NA. In New York, Manley met with Ferdinand Smith, Max Yergan, and other suspected “reds.” Hoover to Lyon, 16 October 1945.
(14.) National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), “West Indies Night to be First International Night Event, “28 January 1946, folder: Coterie of Social Workers of Trinidad and Tobago 1946, Series 5, Box 8, NCNW Papers, Bethune Museum, Washington, D.C. See also Memorandum on By‐laws, undated (1945), folder: #013, Williams Collection, UWISA.
(15.) Intelligence Review, 14 February 1946, Naval Aide Files—Alphabetical Files, Box 15; Intelligence Review, 23 May 1946, Naval Aide Files—Alphabetical Files, Box 16, Harry S. Truman Papers (HSTP), HSTL.
(17.) U.S. Consul: Port of Spain to State Department, 4 September 1947, 844.00/9-447, RG 59, NA, cited in Fraser, Ambivalent, 107. See also Munroe, Decolonization, 118. On federations as vessels of continued influence, see Louis, “The Imperialism of Decolonization.” On Montego Bay, see Fraser, Ambivalent, 106–110.
(18.) John Mordecai points out that the British provided a “federal” template as well: the Colonial Development and Welfare Organization. “Here for the first time was a West Indian‐wide administrative unit [acting] as if the West Indies were already a single political [being].” Mordecai, The West Indies: The Federal Negotiations (London, 1968), 31.
(19.) Manley to Marryshow, 24 January 1946, folder: 4/60/2B/11, Manley Papers, JA.
(20.) Report, Conference on Closer Association of the British West Indian Colonies, Montego Bay, 11–19 September 1947, (mfilm), 26–27. Manley saw that even with support from London, Washington, and the West Indian center‐left, building a viable federation would be—as he confessed to Williams—“a far harder fight with a far more doubtful outcome than I would care to admit in public.” Manley to Williams, 23 May 1946, folder: #114, Williams Collection, UWISA.
(21.) Munroe, Decolonization, 118–121; McFarlane, “The History of Self‐Government in Jamaica,” June 1950, MS 1893—Walter McFarlane Papers, NLJ.
(22.) Bridget Brereton, A History of Modern Trinidad, 1783–1962 (Kingston, 1981), 214; Selwyn Ryan, Race and Nationalism in Trinidadand Tobago: A Study of Decolonization in Multiracial Society (Toronto, 1972), 70–73.
(23.) Munroe, Decolonization, 61. See also Ryan, Race, 76.
(24.) Leffler, Preponderance, 475; John Lewis Gaddis, We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History (New York, 1997), 154.
(25.) Speech sent with Ambassador to FO, 14 January 1947, FO 371 /60998, UKNA.
(26.) A February 1947 report observed that the Labour government had committed to ultimate self‐rule. Intelligence Review, 13 February 1947, Box 18, Naval Aide Files—Alphabetical Files, HSTP, HSTL. See also Ritchie Ovendale, ed., The Foreign Policy of British Labour Governments, 1945–1951 (Leicester, 1984).
(27.) Intelligence Review, 13 February 1947; Report, “Review of World Situation as it Relates to the Security of the United States,” CIA, 26 September 1947, Box 20, (p.190) Asst. Chief of Staff—Intelligence Division—Reports/Messages 1918–1951, CIA, ORE 1–49 thru 69-49, RG 319, NA.
(29.) Cabot to Kennan, 7 November 1947; Kennan to Butler, 18 November 1947, folder: Communism, Box 8, RG 59 Lot Files, Lot 64D563 Records of the Policy Planning Staff (RG 59: PPS) 1947–1953, NA.
(30.) Hartley to Notter, 21 November 1945, folder: Caribbean Conference—July 1946, Box 28—Misc. Subject Files, 1939–50, RG 59: Harley A. Notter Files (RG 59: Notter), NA; Report, State Committee on Colonial Problems, 11 February 1948, folder: Colonialism, Box 8, RG 59: PPS 1947–1953, NA.
(31.) U.S. Embassy‐London to Undersecretary of State Lovett, 4 March 1948, Box 3, RG 59: PPS 1947–1953, NA.
(32.) How these would be affected by the Truman Doctrine was not very clear; indeed, the Doctrine's main effect on the Caribbean military balance was uncertainty. As the U.S. consul put it, “the ARMY DOES NOT YET KNOW WHAT IT WANTS IN TRINIDAD” [emphasis in original] . U.S. Consul‐Trinidad to State Department, 11 April 1947, folder: Clara Borjes (Confidential Letters) 1946, 1947, Confidential File: Correspondence between Bonnet and Borjes, 1947–48, Box 1, RG 84: Port of Spain, NA.
(34.) This was a point of repeated contention in Manley's relations with expatriates who as seen in chapter 2 were split over communism in their ranks. McFarlane to Manley, 20 February 1947, folder: 4/60/2B/12; Manley to McFarlane, 5 March 1947; Manley to Domingo, 19 July 1948, folder: 4/60/2B/13, Manley Papers, JA.
(35.) Jamaica Daily Gleaner, 23 December 1949. This justified Bustamante's refusal to join the PNP in a coalition government, since Manley had not yet shed the PNP's extreme left wing, and helped to give Jamaican politics its Manichean shape.
(36.) Report, “Jamaica—Constitutional Problems, Political Scene,” Jamaica Governor to CO, 16 August 1947, CO 137 /875/68714/6/47; Report, Jamaica Governor to CO, 20 November 1948, CO 537 /3808, UKNA. On the worsening labor relations, see Munroe, Decolonization, 55–60.
(37.) Police Report, forwarded from Trinidad Governor to CO, 16 April 1948; Report, Trinidad Governor to CO, 16 August 1948; Report, Trinidad Governor to CO, 25 December 1948, CO 537 /3816, UKNA. For an extended and widely researched look at the CLC, see Home, Hot Zone.
(38.) Intelligence Review, 13 March 1947, Box 18, Naval Aide Files (Alphabetical), HSTP, HSTL.
(39.) Report, “US Policy Regarding Non‐Self‐Governing Territories,” State Department Committee on Dependent Areas, 15 December 1947, Box 4, RG 59 Lot Files: Caribbean Dependencies, NA.
(40.) Memorandum, unsigned, 4 June 1947, Box 2; Memorandum of Conversation, “U.S. Policy on Colonial Questions,” 9 September 1948, Box 4; Memorandum of Conversation, Caribbean Commission Working Committee, 26 October 1948, Box 2, RG 59 Lot Files: Caribbean Dependencies, NA; Memorandum of Conversation, Acheson et al, 4 May 1949, folder: May–June 1949, Box 64, Memoranda of Conversations: January–July 1949, Acheson Papers, HSTL.
(41.) Report, “ORE 25–48,” CIA, 3 September 1948, Box 23, Asst. Chief of Staff‐Intel. Div.-Reports and Messages 1918–1951, CIA, ORE 1–49 thru 69-49, RG 319, NA.
(43.) Plummer, Wind, 98; Manley to Williams, 6 August 1947; Domingo to Manley, 25 August 1947; folder: 4/60/2B/12, Manley Papers, JA.
(44.) Barnett to Wilkins, 20 April 1946; Reid to White, 21 September 1948, folder: British West Indies 1940–1949, Box A155, NAACP Papers, LOC.
(45.) Noyes to NAACP, 15 May 1947; McDowall to NAACP, 27 October 1947, folder: British West Indies 1940–1949, Box A155, NAACP Papers, LOC.
(46.) U.S. Consulate‐Kingston to State Department, 1 December 1948; U.S. Consulate‐Kingston to State Department, 7 December 1948, folder: Confidential Correspondence 1948, Box 8 (1948), RG 84: Kingston, NA.
(47.) U.S. Embassy‐Panama to State Department, 11 September 1947, 844D.504/9-1147, RG 59, NA; Domingo to Manley, 15 August 1947. Manley to Domingo, 2 October 1947, folder: 4/60/2B/12; Memorandum, “Political Conditions in the Caribbean Area,” 17 February 1949, Box 4, RG 59 Lot Files: Caribbean Dependencies, NA; Cyrus to Manley, 11 April 1949, folder: 4/60/2B/14, Manley Papers, JA.
(48.) Pabst to Chamberlin, 13 May 1948, Box 4, RG 59 Lot Files: Caribbean Dependencies, NA.
(49.) Nor was this the first time Robeson's reputation clashed with Caribbean interests. Fraser tells of a 1947 CLC rally at Madison Square Garden, at which Robeson was slated to appear with Manley and Barbados' Grantley Adams. Manley's and Adams' appearance was canceled under what Fraser sees as pressure to “de‐radicalize.” Fraser, Ambivalent, 114–15. It was certainly not due to skittishness on Robeson's part; he had been trying to arrange an appearance with Manley for some time, although he would be unsuccesslul until the 1949 event. Robeson to Manley, 1 May 1946, folder: 4/60/2B/11, Manley Papers, JA. See also Nicholson to Labouise and Borjes, 22 August 1950, Box 4, RG 59 Lot Files: Caribbean Dependencies, NA; JPL to PNP, 30 April 1947, MS 234—JPL, NLJ.
(50.) Speech, Harry Truman, February 1948, folder: 1948, Feb. 20–21, Puerto Rican Speeches, Box 31, Presidential Speech File, Clark Clilford Papers, HSTL.
(51.) Taussig to Truman, 12 October 1945, folder: OF-106, Box 593, White House Central File‐Official File (WHCF‐OF), HSTP, HSTL. On Bunche being seen as “out of touch,” see Von Eschen, Race, 76–77, and Kenneth Robert Janken, Rayford W. Logan and the Dilemma of the African American Intellectual (Amherst, 1993), 206–207. Pickens to Bunche, 7 September 1945, folder: OF-106, Box 593, WHCF‐OF, HSTP, HSTL. Emphasis added.
(52.) Cunningham to Barnes, 25 February 1944, folder: White House File—Negroes—Conference of Negro Democratic Leaders, Box 53, Philleo Nash Papers, HSTL; Excerpt, Congressional Record, 1 May 1946, Vol. 92, Part 4, 4296–97, in folder: Internal Security File—Civil Rights—Negro file, Box 42, Stephen Spingarn Papers, HSTL.
(53.) Kemp to Byrnes, 25 June 1946, 844D.00/6-2546, RG 59, NA. Manley wrote Williams that he was deeply honored to receive the Howard degree. Manley to Williams, 23 May 1946, folder: #114, Williams Collection, UWISA.
(54.) Lohman to Chapman, 26 March 1947, folder: Racial Minority Groups, Box 38, Oscar Chapman Papers, HSTL; article, Opportunity (Urban League), Winter 1947, folder: Internal Security File—Civil Rights—Negro File, Box 42, Assistant to President File, Spingarn Papers, HSTL. Dudziak confirms that the administration got the message, using the same argument in amicus curae briefs supporting the NAACP's desegregation effort. Dudziak, Civil Rights, 96, 99.
(55.) Report, “ORE 25-48,” CIA, 3 September 1948.
(56.) Borjes to Allen, 24 March 1950, Box 4, RG 59 Lot Files: Caribbean Dependencies, NA.
(57.) U.S. Consul‐Port of Spain to State Department, 14 May 1947, 844G.504/5-1447, RG 59, NA.
(58.) Oakley to Price, 25 November 1949, Box 4, RG 59 Lot Files: Caribbean Dependencies, NA; “British West Indies—Threat of Communist Activity,” Office of Naval Intelligence, 14 February 1949, 844G.00/2-1449, RG 59, NA, cited in Fraser, Ambivalent, 116.
(59.) U.S. Consul‐Kingston to State Department, 23 June 1950, Box 4, RG 59 Lot Files: Caribbean Dependencies, NA; Elliott to Acheson, 4 May 1950, 741H.00/4-2750, RG 59, NA.
(60.) U.S. Consul‐Kingston to State Department, 12 November 1947, 844D.101/11-1247, RG 59, NA. See also Memorandum of Conversation, “Colonial Policy Talks with U.K.,” Acheson et al, 5 July 1950, Box 13, RG 59 Records of Assistant Secretary/Undersecretary Acheson (RG 59: Acheson), NA.
(61.) Memorandum, “Political Conditions in the Caribbean Area,” 17 February 1949. The NSC concluded that Jamaica and Trinidad by 1950 showed a “moderate degree of communism,” Bustamante notwithstanding. Report, NSC, 19 May 1950, folder: Reports—Current Policies of Government Relating to National Security—Vol. 1—Geographic Area Policies—#2, Box 194, PSF—Subject File: NSC (Memoranda. & Reports -1), HSTP, HSTL.
(62.) Even the “exceptions”—transport and minerals—must be qualified. The Colonial Office fought longer than any other entity against Reynolds's efforts to develop Jamaican bauxite even alter the island government had signed on. CO argued that the deal failed to protect British investors, and thus set a harmlul precedent. Fraser, Ambivalent, 102–106.
(63.) British Embassy‐Washington to FO, 1 January 1947; Jamaica Governor to CO, 5 March 1947, FO 371 /61005, UKNA.
(64.) British Embassy‐Washington to FO, 1 January 1947.
(65.) Memorandum of Conversation, Consul Bonnet and General Stamford, 27 March 1947, folder: Clara Borjes (Confidential Letters) 1946–1947, Box 1, Correspondence between Ellis Bonnet and Clara Borjes 1947–48, RG 84: Port of Spain, NA.
(66.) Intelligence Memorandum 142, CIA, 5 April 1949; Intelligence Memorandum 235, CIA, 13 October 1949, folder: NSC/CIA (5–11)—Intelligence Memoranda, December 1948–December 1949, Box 2, NSC Records, CIA File, HSTP, HSTL.
(67.) “Report by Joint Strategic Plans Committee to JCS Overall Base Requirements of Caribbean Command,” 5 January 1949, folder: CCS 360, Box 146, RG 218, NA.
(68.) Report, “Military Requirements for Base Rights,” 5 March 1949, folder: CCS 360, Box 146, RG 218, NA.
(69.) Report, “Importance to U.S. of Latin American Civil Air Transport,” ORE 22–49, folder: ORE 1949, Box 256, PSF—Intelligence File, HSTP, HSTL.
(70.) Report, “Technical Cooperation—Point Four: Caribbean Dependent Areas,” State Department, November 1950, folder: Caribbean Area—General, Box 64, RG 469—Institute for Inter‐American Affairs (IIAA) 1948–61, NA; Report, “ORE 31–48,” CIA, 14 May 1948, Box 23, Asst. to Chief of Staff, Intelligence—Reports and Messages 1918–51, CIA/ORE, RG 319, NA; Memorandum, Interior Secretary (Chapman) to Bureau of Mines Director, undated, folder: Interior Department 1946–1950, Box (p.193) 20, WHCF‐Confidential File, HSTP, HSTL; Memorandum, “Overall Base Requirements of the Caribbean Command,” Ridgway to Joint Chiefs of Staff, 22 October 1948, folder: CCS 360, Box 146, RG 218, NA.
(71.) Report, Joint Chiefs of Staff, 14 April 1948; Report, Joints Chiefs/Joint Logistics Plans Committee, 4 May 1948, folder: U.S. Petroleum Situation, Box 128, RG 218, NA.
(72.) Report, “ORE 34–49,” CIA, 14 November 1950, Box 24, Asst. to Chief of Staff, Intelligence—Reports and Messages 1918–51, CIA/ORE, RG 319, NA; Report, “Estimate of Soviet Capabilities in Latin American Area in a War Commencing July 1952,” Joint Intelligence Group, June 29, 1951, folder: CCS 381—Section 7–12, Box 117, Geographic File 1951–53, RG 218, NA.
(73.) Palmer to Vanderburg, 6 January 1945; Clipping, “Shortage of Aluminum Sheet May Affect Aircraft Production,” Wall Street Journal, 23 January 1945, folder: Materials—Aluminum, Box 8, National Aircraft War Production Council Files—Correspondence; Draft Report, Interior Department, 6 July 1948, folder: Correspondence—Commission—Aluminum, Box 56, President's Materials Policy Commission (PMPC) Files, HSTL.
(74.) Hull to Stimson, 28 March 1945, 844D.6359/1-3145, RG 59, NA.
(75.) U.S. Consulate‐Kingston to State Department, 24 March 1949, 844D.6359/3-2449, RG 59, NA; see also Eberstadt to Hill, 4 June 1948, folder: Re NSRB: Report by [Eberstadt] to Arthur Hill, Chairman of NSRB, Box 113, Ferdinand Eberstadt Papers, PUL.
(76.) Memorandum of Conversation, State Department, Rice et al., 16 March 1949, 844D.6359/3-1649; “Reynolds Bauxite Proposal,” Jamaica Governor, 6 April 1949, attached to U.S. Consul‐Kingston to State Department, 12 April 1949, 844D.6359/4-1249, RG 59, NA.
(77.) U.S. Embassy‐London to State Department, 28 April 1949, 844D.6359/4-2749, RG 59, NA. CO opinion was not unanimous, even after Korea made the U.S. argument unanswerable. Fraser, Ambivalent, 104; see also Memorandum of Conversation, 17 December 1945.
(78.) Truman's Korean War defense budget envisioned a 58-group Air Force. By 1953, this spending was producing one thousand warplanes per month. Hogan, A Cross of Iron: Harry S. Truman and the Origins of the National Security State, 1945–1951 (New York, 1998), 305, 364.
(79.) Report, PMPC, 11 August 1951.
(80.) Memorandum of Conversation, State Department, Rice, et al., 16 March 1949.
(81.) Minutes of 11 a.m. Meeting, 7 January 1952, folder: Churchill‐Truman Meeting in Cabinet Room, January 1952, Box 18, NSC Records—Chronological List of Policies, HSTP, HSTL; Lay to NSC, 6 March 1952, folder: P-25, Box 1—Policy Papers, RG 273, NA; Draft Report, PMPC, 7 April 1952, folder: Aluminum, Box 21, PMPC Files, HSTL.
(82.) Report, Department of Trade & Commerce, 14 March 1951.
(83.) Munroe, Decolonization, 57–64.
(84.) Jamaica Governor to CO, 1 December 1951, CO 1031 /132, UKNA.
(85.) Jamaica Governor to Colonial Secretary, 6 January 1950; Jamaica Governor to Colonial Secretary, 1 July 1950, CO 537 /6142; Trinidad Governor to CO, 27 April 1950, CO 537 /6149, UKNA.
(86.) Jamaica Governor to Colonial Secretary, 1 January 1951, CO 537 /6142, UKNA.
(87.) Jamaica Governor to Colonial Secretary, 1 July 1950; Jamaica Governor to Colonial Secretary, 1 September 1950; Report, Jamaica Governor to Colonial Secretary, 1 August 1950, CO 537 /6142, UKNA.
(88.) Jamaica Governor to Colonial Secretary, 14 August 1951, CO 537 /7391; CO to Commonwealth Relations Office (CRO), November 1952, CO 1031 /129, UKNA.
(89.) The DuBois case stirred anger in Jamaica, including from Hart who wrote Truman in protest. Hart to Truman, 3 November 1951, MS 126a—PNP Pamphlets Vol. 1, NLJ. This reflected the comradely relationship Hart and DuBois had. DuBois to Hart, 18 September 1946, folder: CLR 7—Pan African Federation, Richard Hart Papers, Institute of Social and Economic Studies, UWIM.
(90.) Memorandum, “Point Four Programs in the West Indies,” 26 January 1951, Box 4, RG 59 Lot Files: Caribbean Dependencies, NA.
(91.) Memorandum of Conversation, Acheson, White, Randolph, Bethune, Logan et al., 13 April 1951, folder: April 1951, Box 68, Memoranda of Conversation, Acheson Papers, HSTL; Letter, Chapman to Hoffman, 24 July 1951, folder: NAACP Miscellaneous Correspondence 1945–1952, Box 114, Ralph J. Bunche Papers, UCLA. Also see Dudziak, Civil Rights, 47–77, especially regarding the USIA pamphlet The Negro in American Life.
(92.) Brown to White, 3 February 1951, folder: BWI 1950–1953, Box A155, NAACP Papers, LOC. Correspondence from West Indians suggests that White remained known as sympathetic to their cause. Rapley to White, 8 August 1951; Swaley to White, 11 October 1951; West Indian Day Association to White, 31 August 1952; White to Mitchell, 2 September 1952, folder: BWI 1950–1953, Box A155, NAACP Papers, LOC.
(93.) Handbill, “Public Meeting—Mr. Norman Manley and‘The Birth of a Nation,’” JPL, 11 February 1951, fiche #002,488-1; “Americans and West Indians Are Invited to Unite with the [JPL]… We Work Better if We Work Together!”, Handbill, JPL, 29 April 1951, fiche #005,719-1, SC Clipping File.
(94.) Memorandum, “Manley Speech at Howard University,” no author, 2 February 1951, Box 4, RG 59 Lot Files: Caribbean Dependencies, NA. On Manley as a “closet communist,” see Memorandum, “Political Conditions in the Caribbean Area,” 17 February 1949.
(95.) Church House (Trinidad) to CRO, March 1952, CO 1031 /129, UKNA.
(96.) Brodie to Ronning, 26 May 1952, folder: 10824-E-40 / #1, Box 4063, RG 25, CNA; CO to CRO, October 1952, CO 1031 /129, UKNA.
(97.) Church House (Trinidad) to CRO, March 1952.
(98.) The decisive marginalization of “an authentic worker opposition movement under Marxist leadership,” according to Munroe, came in December 1953–January 1954, when Bustamante engineered a formal ban on communist activity in Jamaica. Munroe, Cold War, 169. For an overview of the trajectory of Caribbean Leftism, see Perry Mars, Ideology and Change: The Transformation of the Caribbean Left (Detroit, 1998).
(99.) “West Indies Colonial Intelligence Report,” Commissioner—London to Undersecretary of External Affairs, July 1952, folder: 10824-E-40 vol 1, Box 4063, RG 25, CNA.
(100.) Acheson to McGregor, 27 March 1952, 741H.00/12-2352; U.S. Consulate‐Port of Spain to State Department, 6 October 1952; U.S. Embassy‐London to State Department, 3 March 1952, 741E.00/3-352, RG 59, NA.
(101.) TCA Staff to Cramer, 18 August 1952, folder: Development Projects in British West Indies, Box 64, RG 469—IIAA Country Files 1942–53 / Caribbean Area, NA.
(102.) Booklet, State Department, March 1952, folder: Memoranda on‘Our Foreign Policy,’ Box 4, Subject File, Kenneth Hechler Papers, HSTL. Hickerson to Matthews, 13 May 1952, attached to Secret Report, “U.S. Policy Toward Colonial Areas and Colonial (p.195) Powers,” State Department, folder: Colonialism 1952–1959, Box 2, RG 59 Lot Files, Lot 64D 369, Office Files of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Inter‐American Affairs—Regional‐Bloc Affairs, NA; Secret Report, “Re‐examination of U.S. Foreign Policy on Colonial Problems,” SANACC, folder: Documents: Working Group on Colonial Problems, Box 4, RG 353, NA.
(103.) Report, “Problems of U.S. Policy Regarding Colonial Areas,” Policy Planning Staff, 2 October 1952, folder: Colonialism, Box 8, RG 59: PPS 1947–1953, NA.