The Journal of Caribbean History: Volume 49, Issue 1

Article 4
Beyond the Great Depression: Business Practices and the Barbados Revolt of 1937

Henderson Carter


The article analyses the business practices of the merchants and planters in Barbados in the period leading up to the 1937 revolt. Using evidence from the local investigative Deane Commission and the Royal Commission, it is argued that the low-wage regime and price-setting by Bridgetown merchants, among other practices, were a constant source of irritation and were major contributory factors in the revolt. Such policies caused increased hardship when the Depression struck. Furthermore, the merchants’ insistence in pointing to the Great Depression was merely to deflect the blame away from their practices. Prior to the revolt, workers identified unfair business practices as a major grievance and as the revolt unfolded, they targeted sections of the business community, while sparing others who were thought to be more conciliatory.