Get Our Extension

Vere Bird

From Wikipedia, in a visual modern way
Sir Vere Cornwall Bird
Vere Bird 1986 (cropped).jpg
Bird in 1986
1st Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
In office
1 November 1981 – 9 March 1994
MonarchElizabeth II
Governors-GeneralSir Wilfred Jacobs
Sir James Carlisle
Preceded byHimself (as Premier)
Succeeded byLester Bird
1st Premier of Antigua
In office
1 February 1976 – 1 November 1981
MonarchElizabeth II
GovernorSir Wilfred Jacobs
Preceded byGeorge Walter
Succeeded byGeorge Walter
In office
27 February 1967 – 14 February 1971
MonarchElizabeth II
GovernorSir Wilfred Jacobs
Preceded byHimself (as Chief minister)
Succeeded byGeorge Walter
1st Chief minister of Antigua
In office
1 January 1960 – 27 February 1967
MonarchElizabeth II
GovernorIan Turbott
Sir David Rose
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byHimself (as Premier)
Personal details
Born9 December 1910[1]
St. John's, British Leeward Islands
Died28 June 1999(1999-06-28) (aged 88)[2]
St. John's, Antigua and Barbuda
Political partyLabour

Sir Vere Cornwall Bird, KNH (9 December 1910 – 28 June 1999) was the first Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda. His son, Lester Bryant Bird, succeeded him as Prime Minister. In 1994, he was declared a "National Hero".

He was an officer in the Salvation Army for 2 years. In 1943, he became the president of the Antigua Trades and Labour Union. He achieved national acclaim politically for the first time when he was elected to the colonial legislature in 1945. He formed the Antigua Labour Party and became the first and only chief minister, first and last premier, and first prime minister from 1981 to 1994. His resignation was due to failing health and internal issues within the government.

In 1985 Antigua's international airport, which was first named Coolidge, was renamed V.C. Bird International Airport in his honour.

Discover more about Vere Bird related topics

Early life and education

Bird was born in a poor area of St John's, the capital. Unlike most of his giant political contemporaries – such as Norman Manley of Jamaica and Sir Grantley Herbert Adams of Barbados, who were distinguished lawyers, and Trinidadian Eric Williams, a scholar – Bird had little formal education except primary schooling. He attended St John's Boys School, now known as the T.N. Kirnon Primary School.

Discover more about Early life and education related topics

Norman Manley

Norman Manley

Norman Washington Manley was a Jamaican statesman who served as the first and only Premier of Jamaica. A Rhodes Scholar, Manley became one of Jamaica's leading lawyers in the 1920s. Manley was an advocate of universal suffrage, which was granted by the British colonial government to the colony in 1944.

Jamaica

Jamaica

Jamaica is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning 10,990 square kilometres (4,240 sq mi) in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the Caribbean. Jamaica lies about 145 kilometres (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometres (119 mi) west of Hispaniola ; the British Overseas Territory of the Cayman Islands lies some 215 kilometres (134 mi) to the north-west.

Grantley Herbert Adams

Grantley Herbert Adams

Sir Grantley Herbert Adams, CMG, QC was a Barbadian politician. He served as the inaugural premier of Barbados from 1953 to 1958 and then became the first and only prime minister of the West Indies Federation from 1958 to 1962. He was a founder of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), and he was named in 1998 as one of the National Heroes of Barbados.

Barbados

Barbados

Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies, in the Caribbean region of the Americas, and the most easterly of the Caribbean Islands. It occupies an area of 432 km2 (167 sq mi) and has a population of about 287,000. Its capital and largest city is Bridgetown.

Eric Williams

Eric Williams

Eric Eustace Williams was a Trinidad and Tobago politician who is regarded by some as the "Father of the Nation", having led the then British Colony of Trinidad and Tobago to majority rule on 28 October 1956, to independence on 31 August 1962, and republic status on 1 August 1976, leading an unbroken string of general elections victories with his political party, the People's National Movement, until his death in 1981. He was the first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and also a noted Caribbean historian, especially for his book entitled Capitalism and Slavery.

Political career

Positions in Antigua

Bird was an officer in the Salvation Army for two years interspersing his interests in trade unionism and politics. He gave up the Salvation Army because he saw the way the landowners were treating the local black Antiguans and Barbudans, so he decided to leave his post to fight for the freedom of his people.

When the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (ATLU) was formed in 1939, Bird was an executive member. By 1943 he had become president of the union and was leading a battle for better working conditions and increased pay against the white sugar barons. The union entered electoral politics for the first time in 1946 and Bird won, in a by-election, a seat in the legislature and was appointed a member of the Executive Council.

When universal adult suffrage was introduced here in 1951, the ATLU, under the banner of the Antigua Labour Party, won all seats in the legislature, a feat it repeated until 1967, making Antigua a country with a multi-party system but with freely voted one-party control. The ministerial system was introduced in 1956 and the Governor gave Bird the trade and production portfolio, and when further constitutional advancement came in 1960, he was named Chief Minister.

In 1967, Antigua became the first Eastern Caribbean island to receive the associated statehood constitution from Britain that gave internal self-government but with London remaining responsible for foreign policy and defence.

Bird, radical in his younger days, had been shifting to the right, and in the face of severe social unrest that forced a split in the ATLU in 1967 and rioting in 1968, the ATLU lost its tight hold of Antigua and Barbuda politics. Out of the split, the Antigua Workers Union was formed and later the Progressive Labour Movement (PLM), and Bird decided to resign because he felt it was not right to hold both positions.

In 1968 the PLM won four seats in a by-election and by 1971 Bird was out of power, having not only lost the government to the PLM but also the parliamentary seat he had held for 25 years. A former Lieutenant, the PLM's George Walter, became the island's new premier.

Bird's political exile was to last for only five years and by 1976, he regained the government, having campaigned against independence on the grounds that Antigua was not yet psychologically ready. He won the election again in 1980, this time with independence being a major campaign plank. With his powerful family, he ruled Antigua and Barbuda up to 1994, when he quit politics, having paved the way for one of his sons, Lester, to take over as Prime Minister.

Bird in later life
Bird in later life
  • Chief Minister of Antigua from 1 January 1960 to 27 February 1967
  • Premier of Antigua from 27 February 1967 to 14 February 1971
  • Premier of Antigua from 1 February 1976 to 1 November 1981
  • Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda from 1 November 1981 to 9 March 1994.

Criticism and praise

A common criticism from the Antiguan public is the corruption and cronyism within the Labour Party, with many claiming the government is essentially a "family business" with the continuance of the Bird dynasty in control of political power as unquestioned.

Bird's supporters reject these accusations and say that his actions were justified to throw off the institution of colonial sugar planters and the British colonial overlords. The Antiguan author Jamaica Kincaid compared the Bird government to the François Duvalier dictatorship in Haiti in her politically charged narrative A Small Place.

Bird was a member of an elite group of militant trade unionists who blazed a trail through colonial times up to or near the political independence of the Caribbean countries. The group included Alexander Bustamante and Norman Manley of Jamaica, Robert Bradshaw of St Kitts and Nevis, Grantley Adams of Barbados, Cheddi Jagan of Guyana, Ebenezer Joshua of St Vincent and the Grenadines and Eric Gairy of Grenada. Bird was among the early organizers of labour in colonial Antigua and Barbuda of the 1930s and 1940s. His biggest battles were fought in the sugar industry, where he achieved better wages for workers and recognition of the right of workers to have annual holidays with pay.

Bird, an imposing figure (standing at 7 feet tall) even in his last years, was astute enough to recognise that those benefits would be limited as long as the big landowners held control of the government. Therefore, he actively encouraged the top executive of his union – the Antigua Trades and Labour Union – to run for legislative office. He agitated for a change in the qualification of candidates for the parliamentary elections since up to that time, only property owners could run for election.

Bird won a seat to parliament in the late 1940s and his party went on to dominate electoral politics in Antigua and Barbuda for several years. He was eventually to lead the islands into political independence from Britain. Bird left his mark on the labour movement, education and the Caribbean integration movement. One of Bird's dreams was a Caribbean that was united politically and economically. Bird ardently supported the West Indies Federation and when that collapsed in 1962, negotiated hard for a federation of the "Little Eight" countries.

In 1965, together with premiers Errol Barrow of Barbados and Forbes Burnham of Guyana, Bird brought the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) into being. That Association later led to the Caribbean Community and Common Market (Caricom), comprising 12 of the English-speaking Caribbean countries, two more than were members of the West Indies Federation.

On 1 November 1981, he became the first Prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda. Since then, in a rare case in modern-day Caribbean politics, he led his party to an election victory in 1984 in which the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) won all the Antiguan seats in the Legislature.

Discover more about Political career related topics

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda is a sovereign country in the West Indies. It lies at the juncture of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean in the Leeward Islands part of the Lesser Antilles, at 17°N latitude. The country consists of two major islands, Antigua and Barbuda, approximately 40 km (20 mi) apart, and several smaller islands, including Great Bird, Green, Guiana, Long, Maiden, Prickly Pear, York, and Redonda. The permanent population is approximately 97,120, 97% residing in Antigua. St. John's, Antigua, is the country's capital, major city, and largest port. Codrington is Barbuda's largest town.

Jamaica Kincaid

Jamaica Kincaid

Jamaica Kincaid is an Antiguan-American novelist, essayist, gardener, and gardening writer. She was born in St. John's, Antigua. She lives in North Bennington, Vermont and is Professor of African and African American Studies in Residence at Harvard University during the academic year.

François Duvalier

François Duvalier

François Duvalier, also known as Papa Doc, was a Haitian politician of French Martiniquan descent who served as the President of Haiti from 1957 to 1971. He was elected president in the 1957 general election on a populist and black nationalist platform. After thwarting a military coup d'état in 1958, his regime rapidly became more autocratic and despotic. An undercover government death squad, the Tonton Macoute, indiscriminately killed Duvalier's opponents; the Tonton Macoute was thought to be so pervasive that Haitians became highly fearful of expressing any form of dissent, even in private. Duvalier further sought to solidify his rule by incorporating elements of Haitian mythology into a personality cult.

A Small Place

A Small Place

A Small Place is a work of creative nonfiction published in 1988 by Jamaica Kincaid. A book-length essay drawing on Kincaid's experiences growing up in Antigua, it can be read as an indictment of the Antiguan government, the tourist industry and Antigua's British colonial legacy.

Alexander Bustamante

Alexander Bustamante

Sir William Alexander Clarke Bustamante was a Jamaican politician and labour leader, who, in 1962, became the first prime minister of Jamaica.

Jamaica

Jamaica

Jamaica is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning 10,990 square kilometres (4,240 sq mi) in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the Caribbean. Jamaica lies about 145 kilometres (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometres (119 mi) west of Hispaniola ; the British Overseas Territory of the Cayman Islands lies some 215 kilometres (134 mi) to the north-west.

Barbados

Barbados

Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies, in the Caribbean region of the Americas, and the most easterly of the Caribbean Islands. It occupies an area of 432 km2 (167 sq mi) and has a population of about 287,000. Its capital and largest city is Bridgetown.

Cheddi Jagan

Cheddi Jagan

Cheddi Berret Jagan was a Guyanese politician and dentist who was first elected Chief Minister in 1953 and later Premier of British Guiana from 1961 to 1964. He later served as President of Guyana from 1992 to his death in 1997. Jagan is widely regarded in Guyana as the Father of the Nation. In 1953, he became the first Hindu and person of Indian descent to be a head of government outside of the Indian subcontinent.

Guyana

Guyana

Guyana, officially the Co‑operative Republic of Guyana, is a country on the northern mainland of South America. Guyana is an indigenous word which means "Land of Many Waters". The capital city is Georgetown. Guyana is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, Brazil to the south and southwest, Venezuela to the west, and Suriname to the east. With 215,000 km2 (83,000 sq mi), Guyana is the third-smallest sovereign state by area in mainland South America after Uruguay and Suriname, and is the second-least populous sovereign state in South America after Suriname; it is also one of the least densely populated countries on Earth. It has a wide variety of natural habitats and very high biodiversity.

Ebenezer Joshua

Ebenezer Joshua

Ebenezer Theodore Joshua was a Vincentian politician and the first chief minister of Saint Vincent from 1960 to 1967. He was the Leader of the Legislative Council from 1956 to 1961.

Eric Gairy

Eric Gairy

Sir Eric Matthew Gairy PC was the first Prime Minister of Grenada, serving from his country's independence in 1974 until his overthrow in a coup by Maurice Bishop in 1979. Gairy also served as head of government in pre-independence Grenada as Chief Minister from 1961 to 1962, and as Premier from 1967 to 1974.

Grenada

Grenada

Grenada is an island country in the West Indies in the Caribbean Sea at the southern end of the Grenadines island chain. Grenada consists of the island of Grenada itself, two smaller islands, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, and several small islands which lie to the north of the main island and are a part of the Grenadines. It is located northwest of Trinidad and Tobago, northeast of Venezuela and southwest of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Its size is 348.5 square kilometres (134.6 sq mi), and it had an estimated population of 112,523 in July 2020. Its capital is St. George's. Grenada is also known as the "Island of Spice" due to its production of nutmeg and mace crops.

Awards and death

In 1994, Bird was made a Knight of the Order of the National Hero (KNH) by his native country Antigua and Barbuda.[3]

Death

Bird died in St. John's on 28 June 1999, aged 88.

V. C. Bird Monument in Saint John's
V. C. Bird Monument in Saint John's

Source: "Vere Bird", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vere_Bird.

Enjoying Wikiz?

Enjoying Wikiz?

Get our FREE extension now!

References
  1. ^ "Caribbean Elections Biography | Vere Cornwall Bird Sr".
  2. ^ "Caribbean Elections Biography | Vere Cornwall Bird".
  3. ^ "Sir Lester Bird receives A&B's highest national honour". The Daily Observer. 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
External links
Political offices
Preceded by
Position created
Chief Minister of Antigua,
Premier of Antigua

1960–1971
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Position created
Finance Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
1960-1971
Succeeded by
Preceded by Premier of Antigua,
Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda

1976–1994
Succeeded by
Preceded by Finance Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
1982
Succeeded by
Preceded by Foreign Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
1991
Succeeded by


The content of this page is based on the Wikipedia article written by contributors..
The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike Licence & the media files are available under their respective licenses; additional terms may apply.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use & Privacy Policy.
Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization & is not affiliated to WikiZ.com.