Republic of St. Edward
|Republic of St. Edward|
|Motto: Latin: Flos Gemma Occasus Mare |
English: Crown Jewel of the Western Sea
|Anthem: This, Our Island Home|
- Chairman, Board of Commissioners
|from the United Kingdom|
January 3, 1938
March 18, 1938
- Water (%)
- 2007 estimate
- 2001 census
||Pound ([£]) |
||(UTC-5) (does not observe DST)|
The Republic of St. Edward (usually called St. Edward) is an island republic in the Caribbean Sea, located south of Jamaica. Initially settled, and later abandoned, by the Spanish, it became an English colony in the 17th Century. The island achieved independence from the British in 1938; since then, its government has been tainted by corruption and violence.
History[edit | edit source]
Discovery And Settlement By the Spanish[edit | edit source]
The island was discovered by Christopher Columbus during his Second Voyage in 1494. He made note of the island’s rocky coastline. Although Columbus made Spanish authorities aware of the island, it was not until 1508 when the Spanish began settlement of the island on its south shore.
Once settled, the Spanish came into contact with the island’s Arawak tribe. Such contact would be disastrous for the Indians, who came into contact with smallpox, syphilis, and other hitherto unknown diseases. From 1510 to 1525, it was estimated that over 90% of the Arawaks were killed by a series of smallpox epidemics. Subsequent skirmishes with the Spanish further reduced their population.
In 1548, a massive hurricane destroyed the Spanish settlement. As a result, Spanish authorities abandoned the island, leaving behind some Spanish and Italian laborers and a few African slaves. These remaining residents were predominantly male, and they would marry into the remaining Arawak population (which was now disproportionately female); the intermarriage between the two groups would result in the creation of the Bronzes.
Settlement By the English[edit | edit source]
In 1623, an English fleet under the command of Sir Richard Dalsey landed on the now-abandoned Spanish settlement. Dalsey established a new settlement on the island’s eastern shore, calling the island St. Edward after St. Edward the Confessor; the English port would be called Port St. Edward. As the English explored the island for arable land, they came across the Bronzes. When the English tried to enslave the Bronzes in 1632, they resisted, starting the Bronze War. After a year of bloody fighting, the Bronzes held their ground despite being outnumbered. The English made concessions to the Bronzes, granting them full citizenship and recognizing their territorial rights in exchange for allegiance to the English crown. Meanwhile, the English began importing slaves from Africa to help cultivate the island’s sugar and coffee crops.
Immigration from both England and Africa helped the island’s population grow steadily through the 18th Century. In 1804, French settlers fleeing the Haitian revolution arrived in St. Edward and began further cultivation of the island’s agriculture.
The 1828 Slave Revolt[edit | edit source]
Throughout its early history, St. Edward had to contend with periodic slave uprisings. Rebellions in 1689, 1734 and 1782 were quickly suppressed. In 1828, a slave named Harold Percy began a revolt on the DuBerry plantation, driving the family off the land and claiming the plantation for his fellow slaves. Percy reached out to other slaves to instigate their own rebellions. Soon, the Army was called in to suppress the insurrection after months of fighting. Percy and other rebel leaders were arrested and hanged on roadsides.
Reprisals against the slaves were swift and brutal. Over the next 5 years, many slaveholders killed or castrated their slaves; other slaves were shipped off to Cuba, Mexico, and the United States. Free blacks and Bronzes protected themselves from the violence by wearing armbands with the letter F on them. Concerned citizens raised money to buy freedom for other slaves. Before the 1828 uprising, Africans accounted for over 80% of the island’s population; by the time slavery was abolished in 1833, they comprised less than 5% of the population. British authorities immediately recalled Governor-General Andrew Macy, whose inaction was interpreted as condoning the violence.
Continued Immigration to St. Edward[edit | edit source]
With its former slave population decimated by slaughter and forced exile, planters began advertising for laborers. In 1835, 500 German farmers arrived in Port St. Edward to work on the plantations. Over the years, many of the Germans would eventually buy the land where they worked from the planters. German immigration into St. Edward would continue into the early 20th Century.
In the late 1840’s, the island began to see a small wave of immigration from Ireland; a few years later, Italians began settling on the island. In the late 1860’s, many citizens of the former Confederate States of America arrived, unwilling to live as conquered citizens. Subsequent smaller-scale immigration would also come from Syria, India, and China.
Administrations of Morgan And Gardiner-Morgan[edit | edit source]
After Macy’s recall, the island was governed by a series of incompetent or corrupt administrators. In 1862, Sir Humphrey Morgan was appointed Governor-General of the island. Morgan immediately began to root out the waste and corruption in the island’s government. Law enforcement, which was concentrated heavily in the more affluent parts of Port St. Edward, was uniformly distributed across the island. He kept government spending under control; after his first year in office, his administration never had a budget deficit. He encouraged economic reforms, helping the island’s economy grow. He improved roads in the countryside and upgraded the island’s deteriorating ports. By the end of the century, St. Edward was seen as one of the British Empire’s most economically viable colonies.
When Morgan retired in 1900, he left the islands in the hands of his nephew, John Gardiner-Morgan. Gardiner-Morgan proved to be just as popular as his uncle, providing strong leadership and maintaining a thriving island economy. In 1908, Port St. Edward was renamed Port Morgan in honor of Sir Humphrey Morgan, who had died two years earlier. When World War I began in 1914, Gardiner-Morgan threw his support behind the Allied effort. In 1918, the Spanish Influenza epidemic struck the island. Gardiner-Morgan acted quickly, establishing quarantines and limiting traffic into the island’s ports. Despite these efforts, many still died in the epidemic. Among those was Gardiner-Morgan himself; the disease weakened him profoundly, and he died the following year.
Push For Independence[edit | edit source]
After the death of Gardiner-Morgan, the government of St. Edward was again tainted by administrators accused of corruption and incompetence. As a result, a small independence movement began to develop. This movement would eventually gain momentum through a very unlikely source.
In 1929, Benjamin “Beautiful Benny” Berman, a top lieutenant in Al Capone’s Chicago crime syndicate, proposed expanding the mob’s powers to the Caribbean. Initially dismissed as unrealistic, Berman persuaded mob bosses to let him go to St. Edward, where he would begin setting up mob rackets. Shortly after his arrival a year later, Berman learned about the island’s independence movement, which was holding clandestine meetings to plan for the island’s break with Great Britain. As Berman manned his own racket with young hoodlums from Port Morgan’s rough-and-tumble Nelson’s Cross neighborhood, he groomed a few of his local lieutenants to infiltrate the independence movement. One of those men was Jamie MacDougal, a union organizer and the cousin of Edward Jameson, one of the movement’s leaders.
MacDougal used his influence in the movement to support leaders who were willing to deal with the Syndicate. John Milton King, a plumbing contractor, emerged as the movement’s primary leader. At the same time, MacDougal was using his influence in the island’s labor unions to initiate strikes designed to undermine British authority, while Jameson was able to bring students at the University of St. Edward to support the cause. King reached out to the island’s minorities, promising them a part in the new government.
Facing an unprecedented campaign of civil disobedience, British authorities began negotiations with leaders of the independence movement. In December 1937, a non-binding referendum was held, with voters overwhelmingly supporting independence from the British. One month later, the British granted independence to St. Edward. In the March 1938 elections, King was elected President as a member of the fledgling Island Labour Party.
The King Administration, 1938-1955[edit | edit source]
After independence, King instituted aggressive new programs to maintain his power base. He nationalized the nation’s educational and health care systems, and began comprehensive public works projects to bring paved roads, electricity, and telephone service to the rural areas of the island. To fund these projects, the government began to require licensing fees and higher taxes from the now-legal casinos and bordellos. Berman went along with the plan at first, but then rebelled against the plan when he felt the government was eclipsing his own power. Sensing that Berman was unwilling to cooperate, officials in the King administration plotted with an underling, Angelo “Cakes” Saviano, to oust Berman. On 17 June 1939, Berman was on the balcony of his mansion with a prostitute when she excused herself. Suddenly, four gunmen confronted the now-naked Berman and opened fire, striking him with no fewer than 60 bullets. A sheet was then draped over his corpse before the assassins left. Saviano was now in charge of the syndicate on the island; however, the mob would now have to answer to the government in order to stay in business.
Berman’s death created bitter divisions within the Syndicate. Saviano’s supporters continued to side with the government, while a faction led by Adam “The Madam” Domenico felt the Syndicate was becoming too subservient to the King administration. In 1941, Saviano was walking out of a casino when a gunman fatally shot him. Domenico now assumed control of the Syndicate, bragging about making the government answer to him. After King told Domenico that he had no intentions of letting the Syndicate run the country, Domenico began a campaign of intimidation against the government. In 1943, MacDougal was killed outside a tavern by assassins acting on Domenico’s orders. Later that year, Commissioner Alphonse Allen was assassinated while working on his farm. Both murders resulted in a public backlash against the Syndicate. King announced a crackdown against the Syndicate; however, before he could carry out his plans, former Saviano supporters led by Alberto “The Thinker” Crocetti began to purge the Syndicate of their opponents.
Red Saturday began in the early morning hours of 4 December 1943, when Domenico and a lieutenant were killed when his homosexual bordello was firebombed. During the day, 42 more known or alleged Domenico sympathizers were killed. With Domenico out of the way, the Syndicate was now under Crocetti’s command. Two of the young toughs who participated in Red Saturday on behalf of Crocetti were Joseph “Grandfather” Giannini and Alfred “Big Chicago” Caldicott, the latter just 18 years old.
After the violence died down, the country enjoyed relative tranquility. The nation fought alongside the Allied forces during World War II, and quietly suppressed Axis activity on the home front. In the 1950’s, new allegations of corruption began to surface over the government’s protection of black market operations run by the Syndicate. Further allegations of vote fraud during the 1950 and 1954 elections were exposed. In 1955, King suffered a heart attack, dying a few days later. Jameson, who was now the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, was appointed the nation’s President.
The Jameson Adminstration, 1955-1979[edit | edit source]
Jameson began his presidency by promising to clean up the corruption that carried over from the King administration. However, it was revealed that Jameson only went after small, independent black market operators, freeing the Syndicate of competition. In 1962, a small band of revolutionaries inspired by Cuban leader Fidel Castro tried to stage a coup. However, a member of the cell with ties to the Syndicate leaked their plans to a friend, a Defence Ministry employee. The revolt was suppressed so quickly and efficiently that many citizens were unaware of the aborted coup until they read about it in the newspaper two days later. The survivors were tried, with the leaders sentenced to death by hanging and the rest either sent to prison or deported to Cuba.
In the late 1960’s, the Syndicate was starting to experience friction within its ranks after Crocetti’s sudden death in 1968. The battling factions were led by Crocetti’s two top lieutenants, Giannini and Caldicott. On 24 May 1971, seven members of a third, rogue faction robbed the Caribbean Crown Hotel of over $8,000,000 in money and jewelry. On 5 Jun 1971, one of the ringleaders of the heist was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered. This began what was known as the Summer of Blood. Between that date and 6 September 1971, St. Edward recorded an astonishing 145 homicides, with all but one day (5 August) during that period having at least one murder. On 15 September 1971, the Wastelands Oasis Incident occurred. In a small club near Tinsmith’s Hill, gunmen broke in, targeting Caldicott. Caldicott escaped injury, but two men were killed and two others wounded in the shooting. During the shooting, mobster David “Blarney Stone” Kerry unmasked one of the gunmen before he was killed. Fearful of witnesses coming forth, the gunmen tried to kidnap a cocktail waitress from the club a few days later. However, her cries for help attracted attention, thwarting the abduction. Meanwhile, Jameson and Board Chairman Harry Klein began secret negotiations with the warring factions. Since Caldicott had fled the country, his men would have to acknowledge Giannini as the new Syndicate boss in exchange for amnesty. A handful of Caldicott loyalists who refused the offer were tried and served minor prison sentences. One of them, James Sweeney, was released from prison in 1976. A few months after his release, he went to Giannini’s home and fatally shot him before turning his gun on himself.
After Giannini’s death, a series of ineffective leaders took over the Syndicate. By this time, however, the Syndicate’s former activities were now under the government’s control.
The Klein Adminstration, 1979-1995[edit | edit source]
In 1978, Jameson requested that he not be re-appointed President due to failing health. At the beginning of the following year, the Commissioners named Klein as the new President. However, the Klein administration did little to curb government corruption. In 1982, Commissioner Peter West and 3 other officials were convicted of embezzling money from the National Port Authority, where West acted as legislative liaison. During Klein’s tenure as President, 16 Councilmen were convicted of various corruption charges.
In 1981, inspired by the political success of Christian evangelicals in the United States, Rev. Tom Parks founded the People’s Revival Party, a party which pledged to clean up government corruption, drive out the rackets, and get rid of the casinos and bordellos on the island. A young attorney named Bob Rawlings helped found the party and became its first elected Councilman in 1985. In 1987, Billy Keith was elected as the party’s first Commissioner (the first opposition Commissioner in 36 years). The party also made its presence felt by publicly protesting against corruption and vice, sometimes blocking the entrances to casinos, taverns, and bordellos.
The Rawlings Administration, 1995-1996[edit | edit source]
In the 1994 elections, Matthew Berry defeated incumbent Board Chairman Ralph Doud to give the PRP a 5-4 advantage on the Board of Commissioners, along with 15 of the 33 Council seats. The Commissioners removed President Klein from office, replacing him with Rawlings by a 5-4 vote along party lines.
While Rawlings enjoyed popular support among PRP members, his plans to implement his reforms were thwarted by government bureaucrats and the Legislative Council, where the PRP were still in the minority. When Rawlings declared prostitution illegal on the island, brothel owners and employees began filing lawsuits against the closure of their businesses. The judges, many of them ILP loyalists, ruled against Rawlings. The Council, led by its Speaker Gerry Melanson and Councilmen Arthur Hadley and Trevor Hume, also passed resolutions pledging to block Rawlings’ reforms and withhold government funds.
Rawlings spent 1996 battling with the Council and government workers over implementing his reforms. On New Year’s Eve of that year, Rawlings was leaving a church service with other PRP leaders when a former Army officer opened fire on them. Rawlings, Parks, Berry, and PRP Youth organizer Brian Tepley were killed in the attack. The assassinations started the New Year’s Eve Coup and triggered rioting on the island, with PRP members and participating churches targeted. As the rioting continued into the next day, Hadley quietly stepped into the Executive Mansion and assumed the Presidency.
The Hadley Administration, 1997-present[edit | edit source]
Immediately after assuming office, Hadley placed the nation under martial law and dissolved both the Legislative Council and the Board of Commissioners, calling for new elections in late January. He had several PRP members arrested and imprisoned. The January elections were tainted by allegations of vote fraud and intimidation, with the ILP winning all 9 Commissioners’ seats (including all 4 ILP incumbents) and all but one Council seat (the exception being an independent who often voted with the ILP). After the elections, Hadley banned all opposition parties.
The reprisals against the PRP were swift and brutal. Three party leaders (Commissioner Martin Cress, Presidential aide Aaron Corey, and organizer Rev. Jeffrey Corbin) were convicted of treason and quietly hanged. Others were given long prison terms. Most of those who escaped prosecution fled to the United States. Hadley then signed legislation requiring churches to register with the government, as well as prohibiting churches from participating in politics. He also made blocking businesses a Federal felony offense. Despite his suppression of opposition forces, Hadley has been credited with running a government that has been less corrupt than that of his predecessors (although critics allege that he has merely kept graft under the radar). In 2004, Hadley lifted the ban on opposition parties.
Although Hadley has been able to maintain stability on the island, there have been signs of extreme opposition. On 29 January 2009, a disgruntled former PRP member named Edward Carmichael tried to assassinate Hadley as he was leaving a Port Morgan restaurant. An alert police officer struck his arm, throwing off his aim and causing him to miss Hadley with his shot. When he pointed his weapon at police, Carmichael was fatally shot.
Government And Politics of St. Edward[edit | edit source]
St. Edward is a Republic with a President and a bicameral legislature. The President is appointed every 4 years by a 9-member Board of Commissioners. However, the President enjoys broad powers, including the right to appoint Cabinet members, dissolve the legislature, and issue executive orders. In the nation’s early years, the President also doubled as the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners; however, in 1947, President King approved a constitutional amendment separating the two offices.
The Board of Commissioners are democratically elected every 4 years. The board consists of a Chairman, two at-large members and six members representing their respective districts. The Chairman is also elected at-large and is considered the nation’s second in command. The Board acts as a legislative body, but has historically maintained close ties to the President’s office.
The Legislative Council consists of 33 members representing different districts on the island. They are also democratically elected every 4 years. The Speaker, who presides over the Council, is selected by the majority party. The Council is the lawmaking arm of the government, approving legislation before handing it to the Commissioners (who hand the legislation to the President upon its passage).
The nation has largely been controlled by the Island Labour Party since its founding. The party has historically been center-left with social democratic traditions. The nation’s first opposition party was the center-right Island Tory Party, but their political significance waned over the years, finally dissolving in 1962.
The next opposition party was the right-populist People’s Revival Party, which took control of the government in the 1994 elections. However, the party has remained outlawed since the New Year’s Eve Coup.
Since the ban on opposition parties was reversed in 2004, two parties have emerged: the moderate pro-business Liberal Action Party, and the center-right National Reform Party. Both have enjoyed early success, holding a combined 7 of 33 Council seats (4 seats for the LAP, 3 seats for the NRP). In 2007, LAP candidate Graham Loeffler was elected to the Board of Commissioners, the first opposition party Commissioner since the New Year’s Eve Coup.
St. Edward joined the United Nations in 1955; that same year, they were admitted into the Commonwealth of Nations. They are also a charter member of the Caribbean Community and the Association of Caribbean States.
Economy[edit | edit source]
The economy of St. Edward relies heavily on tourism. With its year-round warm weather, it has been a popular attraction for winter vacationers. The island also has several casinos, which produce considerable revenue for the government. The island is also notorious for its legal bordellos.
Lesser industries include agriculture (primarily coffee and sugar) and fishing.
Demographics[edit | edit source]
As a result of the violent backlash against the 1828 slave rebellion, St. Edward is the only former British Caribbean colony with a predominantly white population. 79% of the population are classified as “white” (which includes those of Middle Eastern descent). 8% are Afro-Caribbean, 4% are Bronze, and 4% are East Indian. The remainder of the population belong to miscellaneous racial groups (mainly Chinese and Latin American).
With regard to religion, 40% of the population were listed as Protestant (mostly Anglican or Lutheran), with 22% listed as Roman Catholic. 27% described themselves as “non-religious”. Other religions with substantial adherents in St. Edward include Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism.
Major Cities And Towns[edit | edit source]
The largest city in St. Edward is Port Morgan, which also serves as the nation’s capitol. The next largest cities are (in descending order) Queen’s Shore, Gardiner-Morgan, Allenville, and Williamtown. Other towns on the island include New Bremen, Royville, Prussiatown, Spanish Beach, and Bronzetown.