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In the British West Indies this goal coincided with the political aims of the nationalist movements which had emerged in all the colonies of the region during the 1930s.The Montego Bay conference of 1948 had declared the common aim to be the achievement by the West Indies of "Dominion Status" (which meant constitutional independence from Britain) as a Federation.
In 1935, he received first-class honours for his B.
A in history, and was ranked in first place among University of Oxford students graduating in History in 1935. In 1938 he went on to obtain his doctorate (see section below).
In Inward Hunger, his autobiography, he described his experience of racism in Great Britain, and the impact on him of his travels in Germany after the Nazi seizure of power. However, in 1936, thanks to a recommendation made by Sir Alfred Claud Hollis (Governor of Trinidad and Tobago, 1930–36), the Leathersellers' Company awarded him a £50 grant to continue his advanced research in history at Oxford. Phil in 1938 under the supervision of Vincent Harlow.
In a famous speech, Williams declared that "one from ten leaves nought".
Following the adoption of a resolution to that effect by the PNM General Council on 15 January 1962, Williams withdrew Trinidad and Tobago from the West Indies Federation.
The PNM affiliated with the former, while several opposition parties (the People's Democratic Party, the Trinidad Labour Party and the Party of Political Progress Groups) aligned themselves with the DLP, and soon merged to form the Democratic Labour Party of Trinidad and Tobago.
The DLP victory in the 1958 Federal Elections and subsequent poor showing by the PNM in the 1959 County Council Elections soured Williams on the Federation.
Williams's argument owed much to the influence of C. Gad Heuman states: In Capitalism and Slavery, Eric Williams argued that the declining economies of the British West Indies led to the abolition of the slave trade and of slavery.
More recent research has rejected this conclusion; it is now clear that the colonies of the British Caribbean profited considerably during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Williams was appointed to the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission.
Lord Hailes (Governor-General of the Federation) also overruled two PNM nominations to the Federal Senate in order to balance a disproportionately WIFLP-dominated Senate.
When Bustamante withdrew Jamaica from the Federation, this left Trinidad and Tobago in the untenable position of having to provide 75% of the Federal budget while having less than half the seats in the Federal government.
In Inward Hunger, Williams recounts that in the period following his graduation: "I was severely handicapped in my research by my lack of money.... His doctoral thesis was titled The Economic Aspects of the Abolition of the Slave Trade and West Indian Slavery, and was published as Capitalism and Slavery in 1944.