From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 24, 15 June 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
The Duke of Windsor and his “The-Woman-I-Love” were paying a visit to Washington last week. The Duke was relaxing from his strenuous administrative tasks of governing the 65,000 people who inhabit the island group of the Bahamas, off the coast of Florida.
But suddenly – after enjoying an excellent lunch with President Roosevelt – the Duke decided to fly back to his “island kingdom” in the Caribbeans. Wally’s visit – we are so relieved to report – was not disturbed. She is said to be resting comfortably at the Maryland home of her uncle, General Henry Warfield – having a new “hair and face-do,” while a drove of specialists check up on her health.
What caused His Dukeship’s hurried and undignified departure?
According to a heavily censored dispatch from Nassau, capital of the Bahamas and a winter tourist spot for wealthy Americans, “an outbreak of rioting ... which assumed the proportions of a labor revolt,” lay behind the Duke’s unexpected trip. The rioting, according to the same dispatch, “led to pillaging and other acts of violence in which at least two laborers were killed and many wounded.”
By whom it is not said, but that is easy to surmise.
A later dispatch, however, says that “British garrison troops” did the job. “The demonstrators,” says the New York Times dispatch, “were joined by a rabble (he means the people) and swept Bay Street, smashing show windows and looting stores catering to the tourist trade of liquors, expensive English fabrics and rare French perfumes.”
Curfew was declared from 8:00 at night until 6:00 the next morning. Nassau was under police and military control.
What was the so-called rioting and disorder all about?
The matter is comparatively simple if we understand a few facts about what is going on in these islands.
Most of the labor among the 65,000 people is Negro labor, and the Negroes far outnumber the whites, who are the officials, rulers and administrators.
This Negro population lives under conditions, notorious and typical of the British Empire throughout the world. Suffice it to say that the standard wage is two shillings a day (40 cents).
Under the treaty with Britain, by which the United States obtained an air base in Nassau, it was provided that the United States should pay the highest (!) prevailing wage when employing labor to build air fields, etc. Labor leaders in the islands were informed that wages were fixed by agreement between the British and American governments. But this “fixing” could not answer the fact, that increased living costs, made it vital for the Negro laborers to obtain more than the “highest” (40 cents) prevailing wage.
When they were told that the treaty between, the white imperialists said “wages were fixed,” they responded with the only action “that gets the workers anything. Thousands of workers employed on the American military projects struck and marched into the city of Nassau, demanding higher wages. They got British bullets, Duke and Duchess style!
The responsibility for this criminal murder of unarmed workers rests jointly with the British and American authorities. It was they who jointly connived in order to “freeze” wages at incredible lows and perpetuate the virtual slave-labor system that exists in this British colony. What has happened since the Duke flew back is a deep and dark secret, for not a word has come out since. The Duke made a “soothing syrup” speech, but its effect has not been reported.
This is why the Duke’s vacation was spoiled and why Wally is all alone on the sumptuous estate of her uncle, in the equally sumptuous suburb of Timonium.
As for Labor Action – well, we advise the Duke to abdicate before he puts his foot in it again. Our greetings and wishes for victory go to the Negro workers of Nassau in their more than justified strike for the fight to live!
Last updated: 24.6.2013