by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
The people of Anguilla voted for independence, 1,813 to 5, in 1969. Tired of being ignored by St. Kitts, the seat of government for Britain, as the West Indies Associated States, they badly needed a water pump. Having no government they were at a loss for how to provide this.
First, they declared independence in 1967. No one seemed to notice.
The British Crown and St. Kitts ignored their Declaration of Independence for two years.
St. Kitts and the Crown also refused to recognize Mr. Jeremiah Gumps as the spokesman for their new government, which he was. Mr. Gumbs acted as a spokesman and roving Ambassador for the newly founded government.
Jeremiah Gumbs was also the man with a connection to the United Nations everyone else lacked. Knowing who to call got the ball rolling toward a resolution to the whole problem. Jeremiah called Helen Garland.
Helen had been vacationing in Anguilla with her children each summer for a number of years by then. She lived in New York and was the only person they knew, and trusted, to advise them.
Helen was an early volunteer organizer at the United Nations. Her children loved Anguilla's beaches. There they played with Jeremiah's children during their long summer get-a-ways from the fever of New York.
Walking Jeremiah through the steps needed to access a special United Nations subcommittee on colonialism was easy for Helen. In this way committee met Mr. Gumbs and heard this tiny nation's formal arguments for Anguillan independence.
These moves were noticed by the Crown, who had ignored Anguilla for around 300 years.
In February of 1969 vote took place. On March 19th Britain invaded with 315 Red Devil paratroopers parachuting in, avoiding the goats herded onto the landing strip. 50 Bobbies hit the beaches. The landing force was met by the massive media.
A truce was signed on March 30. The only casualty was one newsman who was hit in the eye by a champagne cork.
Matters were resolved to the satisfaction of most. On July 1971, Anguilla became a dependency of Britain. Two months later Britain ordered the withdrawal of all its troops, who seemed sorry to go. Anguilla left St. Kitts behind, now provided with a separate administration and a government of elected representatives. And in 1982 a new Anguillan constitution took effect.
And today, Anguilla is at peace, hosting tourists from around the world.