By Riva Berleant-Schiller, Susan Lowes, Milton Benjamin
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Additional resources for Antigua and Barbuda
A British company, whose Antigua Sugar Factory, at Gunthorpes, began grinding cane in December 1904. Within a few years, Henckell DuBuisson had monopolized sugar production. The remaining resident proprietors, stymied by the Antigua Sugar Factory monopoly, continued to leave: the white population was down to 914 by 1924, and had by then become increasingly aged and female. This dismal economic situation provided an unprecedented opportunity for the non-white population. Although the pace was so slow that Antiguans called any advancement 'walking in a dead man's shoes', racial barriers to educational and occupational advance began to fall, and a new non-white middle class began to ascend the economic ladder.
In 1926, a visitor reported that 'Poverty stalks over the island, such abject poverty, it seemed to me, as I did not encounter among any of the larger islands of the whole West Indies .. '. The Antigua Sugar Factory and its associated estates extended their hold on the economy. The new middle class began to agitate for the return of an elected Legislative Council. The West Indian Unofficial Conference, held in Dominica in 1932, passed resolutions urging fully elected councils, and the British sent out a commission to look into the issue.
The planters' decision on cane payment was reversed. This was an important moment in Antigua's history because it signalled that the balance of power between management and labour had begun to shift toward labour, although it would take another twenty years for the shift to become clear and another forty for it to become consolidated. The economy continued its decline through the 1920s and 1930s. In 1926, a visitor reported that 'Poverty stalks over the island, such abject poverty, it seemed to me, as I did not encounter among any of the larger islands of the whole West Indies ..