Washington DC: Associates in Negro Folk Education, 1942. First edition. Original publisher's binding with printed pictorial boards. Some bumping to corners and extremities of spine; toning to spine and rear board. Small ink correction to page 1, else internally fresh and unmarked. Inscribed on the front endpaper: "To Marguerite Steen from a great admirer. Eric Williams." Presented by the author and Howard University professor to Steen, a popular biographer and novelist of the time, whose critical epic of the slave trade, The Sun is my Undoing, had been released only one year before and by this time had become a best-seller in the UK and US. Williams would go on to become the first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago (1962-1981).
Williams began his academic career at Oxford University, where he earned his PhD with a doctoral thesis titled The Economic Aspects of the Abolition of the Slave Trade and West Indian Slavery (later published as a book Capitalism and Slavery in 1944). Like the recipient of this copy, he spent much of his career making historical arguments for the inhumanity of slavery; yet his work also drew attention to the economic (rather than humanistic) factors that led to abolition. "In 1939, he went to the United States and joined the faculty of social and political science at the noted HBCU Howard University. While he was at Howard, Williams became associated with the Caribbean Commission that was established by the US, Great Britain, France, and the Netherlands in an effort to coordinate the economic development of the Caribbean" (Britannica). This work directly contributed both to the present book and to his future role as Prime Minister. Here, Williams encourages a stronger cultural bond between those of African and West Indian descent whose current geographical, economic, political, and personal situations were shaped by the slave trade. An important work with a key association. (Item #3015)