the Carribes inhabited most of the islands in the sea that
bear their name today, but in the 16th century they left
many of these islands - including Antigua - due to lack of
The name Antigua was given by Christopher Columbus to an
island in the Antilles in 1493 in memory of the church in
Seville, "Santa Marķa de Antigua". The Spaniards arrived in
the island in 1520 and the French in 1629, but they too had
to leave because of the lack of fresh water. However, some
Englishmen had developed techniques for collecting and
storing rainwater and therefore remained on the island.
In 1640 there were 30 families on the island. The few
natives who had been there had been killed by the settlers
who acquired African slaves to work first in the tobacco and
later sugar cane plantations.
In 1666, war broke out between England and France,
prompting the French governor of Martinique to invade the
island and abduct all slaves. When the English regained the
island in 1676, a wealthy landowner from Barbados - Colonel
Codrington - acquired large lands on the island and
introduced new slaves. Sugar production on the island was
Slavery was abolished in the British colonies in 1838.
Nevertheless, Antigua continued for several decades with a
slave-like society - right up to the formation of trade
unions in the early 20th century.
The island's first trade union under the leadership of
Vere Bird was established on January 16, 1939. Antigua's
Labor Party (ALP), which was the island's first political
party and also led by Bird, had its starting point in this