Cipriani, Arthur Andrew (1878–1945)

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Cipriani, Arthur Andrew (1878–1945)

Arthur Andrew Cipriani was born in 1878 to Corsican immigrants in the British colony of Trinidad. Upon completing his secondary education he entered the family's successful cocoa business. His interests, however, were mainly political and reformist. His political career can be said to have begun in World War I when he led a one-man campaign for the creation of a regiment of nonwhite West Indian soldiers. The regiment was formed in 1916 as the British West Indian Regiment, and Cipriani rose to the rank of captain and commander. He was thereafter known as Captain Cipriani, Champion of the Barefoot Man. In 1919 he became president of the Trinidad Workingmen's Association (TWA) which led to the formation of the Trinidad Labour Party (TLP), allied with the Fabian socialist British Labour Party. He fought for the eight-hour work day, minimum wage, workers' compensation, old-age pensions, representative government, legalization of trade unions, universal suffrage, and equal rights for women. He was elected mayor of Port-of-Spain on eight separate occasions and between 1925 and 1945 and repeatedly elected to the Legislative Council. Trinidadian author C. L. R. James called him the most important pre-independence figure in the struggle for social justice and political rights in Trinidad and in much of the eastern Caribbean.

See alsoTrinidad and Tobagoxml .


James, C. L. R. The Life of Captain Cipriani: An Account of British Government in the West Indies. Nelson, U.K.: Coulton, 1932.

                                   Anthony P. Maingot