The World at War

MARTINIQUE 1502 - 1947


1502June 15 Martinique is discovered by Christopher Columbus during his 4th voyage to America.
1635June 25 La Compagnie des Iles d’Amerique takes possession of Martinique for France.
July French settlement begins under the direction of Pierre Belain, Sieur d’Esnambuc and Captain General of Saint Christopher who establishes Fort Saint Pierre at the mouth of the Roxelane River. The settlers devote themselves to the cultivation of cotton and tobacco.
1636Louis XIII authorizes the introduction of slavery in the French Antilles.
1637Dyel Duparquet, nephew of la Sieur d’Esnambuc, becomes captain-general of the colony, which now numbers seven hundred men.
1645The High Council is established with several powers including the right to grant titles of nobility to families in the islands.
1648La Compagnie des Isles d’Amérique fails and the islands are sold to Jacques Dyel du Parquet.
1650Father Jacques du Tertre fabricates a still for processing sugar mill waste into rum molasses. Du Tertre’s distilling process transforms Martinique’s heretofore unprofitable sugar industry.
1654Three hundred Jews are allowed to settle on Martinique following their expulsion from Brazil.
1658The French government purchases Martinique from the heirs of Dyel Duparquet for £120,000 and assigns its governance to the West India Company.
Martinique’s population numbers some 5,000 settlers and a few surviving native Carib Indians whose extermination is completed a short while later.
1664Jean-Baptiste Colbert establishes the West Indies Company. Martinique reverts to the possession of the French crown.
1665April During the Second Anglo-Dutch War, a Dutch fleet under Admiral Michel de Ruyter retires to Martinique for repairs following an indecisive encounter with the English off Barbados.
1666August 14 – 15 A hurricane hits Martinique & Guadeloupe killing 2,000 people.
1672Louis XIV orders construction of a citadel at Fort Royal Bay to defend Martinique from Dutch attacks.
1673The West Indies Company decides to establish a town at Fort Royal against the advice of many who consider the site and unhealthy malarial swamp.
1674The West Indies Company is dissolved in bankruptcy. Martinique reverts to the royal domain which maintains the trade monopoly.
July 19 During the Third Anglo-Dutch War, Admiral Michel de Ruyter arrives off Martinique aboard his flagship The Seven Provinces at the head a squadron of 30 warships, 9 supply ships, and 15 transports carrying 3,400 soldiers.
July 20 Calm winds and French booms prevent Admiral de Ruyter’s fleet from entering the harbor at Fort Royal. The French repulse an attempted landing by Dutch troops in bloody two hour battle that claims 143 Dutchmen and 15 French soldiers. The victory opens the way for development of Fort de France.
1685Colbert establishes the Black Code which regulates the life of slaves in 60 articles and orders the expulsion of the Jews from all the French islands. The Jews of Martinique leave for the Dutch island of Curaçao.
1692The Governor and Lieutenant General of French Colonies in America, the Count de Blénac, names Fort Royal as capital city of Martinique.
1693The British attack Martinique.
1723Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu, a French naval officer, steals a coffee plant seedling from the Royal Botanical Garden in Paris and transports it to Martinique where it is replanted at Preebear.
1726Coffeebeans are harvested in Martinique for the first time.
1736Martinique’s African slaves number 60,000.
1762January 8 A British fleet under Admiral George Rodney anchors at Saint Anne’s Bay where the bulk of General Robert Monckton’s 18 regiments are landed.
January 16 The British depart Saint Anne’s for Cas des Naieres Bay where General Monckton’s entire army lands for an assault on Morne Tartenson and Morne Garnier (two peaks overlooking Fort Royal).
January 24 The British capture Morne Tartenson.
January 27 French troops attack the British who are preparing for an assault on Morne Garnier. The French are driven off and chased from their commanding position on the heights.
February 4 Fort Royal surrenders to the British.
February 16 The whole of Martinique submits to the British.
1763June 23 Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de la Pagerie, the future Empress Josephine, is born, the oldest of three daughters, to a noble family living on Trois Ilets across the bay from Fort Royal.
July Martinique is restored to the French.
1766August 4 An ordinance decrees that all owners of vessels, buildings, schooners and boats depending on the Government of Martinique & Saint Lucia will provide their Buildings with a blue flag with a white cross which will divide the aforementioned flag into four: in each blue square and in the middle of the square, there will be four snakes in white, in the aforementioned flag which will be recognized henceforth for that of Martinique and Saint Lucia.
During the Year Work is completed on a drainage canal to divert the Levassor River around the town of Fort Royal.
1767August 1,300 persons perished in a hurricane. Monsieur de la Pagerie, father of the future Empress Josephine, is practically ruined.
During the Year There are 450 sugar mills in Martinique. Molasses becomes the international currency exchange.
1774September 10 A decree abolishes the practice of bringing indentured white labor to Martinique.
1777There are between 18 and 19 million coffee trees on Martinique.
1779Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de la Pagerie, age 16, departs for France for an arranged marriage with Vicomte Alexandre de Beauharnais.
1782April 8 Admiral de Grasse departs Martinique with his entire fleet bound for a rendezvous with the Spanish with whom they intend to join in an attack on the British colony of Jamaica. The expedition ends in a disastrous battle with the Royal Navy off the Saintes (Guadeloupe) four days later.
1789August 30 A slave rebellion in Saint Pierre is suppressed. Thirty six rebels are tried and 6 are condemned to death.
1794February 4 The French Convention abolishes slavery.
February 5 A British force under Admiral Sir John Jervis and Lieutenant General Sir Charles Grey arrives at Martinique.
March 20 The whole of Martinique, with the exception of Forts Bourbon and Royal, is in British hands. Jervis orders the 64 gun ship Asia and the sloop Zebra to storm Fort Louis, the chief defense of Port Royal. The Asia is unable to reach her position, and so Commander Faulknor of the 'Zebra' volunteers to capture it alone. He runs his sloop close under the walls despite a very heavy fire, jumps overboard and followed by ship's company, storms and captures the fort. Meanwhile the boats capture Fort Royal.
March 22 Fort Bourbon surrenders to the British. The decree of the French Convention abolishing slavery is not applied in Martinique during the British occupation.
1795October 30 A police ordinance prohibits all gatherings of Blacks or meetings by slaves. The carnival is banned.
1800October 04 Jean Kina, a slave from Dominica serving as an aide de camp to a British officer, and some men establish a camp on Morne Lemaître above La Démarche near Cas Navire. Kina’s position provides and unobstructed view of the entrance to Fort Royal Bay and could in the event of total rallying of the slaves permit him to cut overland communications between Saint Pierre and Fort Royal. Kina and his men hold the position for over a year and call on the free blacks and slaves of the island to join him in rebellion.
1801December 4 Rebellious slaves under Jean Kina make a tentative move on Fort Royal. British troops under Colonel Miatland take advantage of their absence to occupy the strategic heights on Morne Lemaître before Kina returns. The Colonel negotiates surrender in return for a promise of amnesty. Kina is transported to England and held in Newgate Prison.
1802March 25 The Treaty of Amiens ends the war with Britain. Martinique is returned to France.
May 20 Napoleon reestablishes slavery in the colonies returned to France by the Treaty of Amiens.
1804Martinican Joséphine de Beauharnais is married to Napoléon Bonaparte and crowned Empress of France.
1807Great Britain prohibits the Slave Trade. France does not follow suit.
1809February 24 Martinique is captured by the British and is not surrendered till 1814.
1813August A hurricane kills 3,000 people on Martinique.
1815Napoléon prohibits the Slave Trade during his 100 day return. His successor Louis XVIII is obliged to honor the decree under pressure from the British. However, the prohibition is not practically applied until 1831.
1839January 11 An earthquake estimated at 6.5 Richter scale, kills between 400 & 700 people, causes severe damage in Saint Pierre and the almost total destruction of Fort de France. The capital is rebuilt entirely in wood resting slightly on the ground in an effort to avoid similar catastrophes which only makes it prone to fire.
1844-45 The first large sugar factories are established. Industrial production accelerates.
1848February 26 François Auguste Perrinon is named head of the Committee of Colonist of Martinique and a member of the Commission for the abolition of slavery under the presidency of Victor Schoelcher.
April 27 François Auguste Perrinon is appointed Commissioner General of Martinique charged with application of abolitionist policy.
April 27 Victor Schoelcher obtains a decree abolishing slavery in the French Empire.
May 20 The imprisonment of a slave at Le Précheur leads to rebellion.
May 22 Governor Claude Rostoland moves to quell the rebellion by announcing the abolition of slavery on Martinique although he has not yet received notice of the Schoelcher decree which ends slavery throughout the French Empire.
June 3 François Auguste Perrinon arrives in Martinique bearing a copy of the decree abolishing slavery.
During the Year Fort Royal is renamed Fort de France following the establishment of the Second Republic.
1851July A law authorizes the establishment of the Colonial Bank, a forerunner of the present day Bank of the French Antilles.
1853Indian labor is recruited to work in Martinique to compensate for the loss of slave labor. One thousand Chinese also land on the island at the end of the century.
1857-1858 The flood canal encircling Fort de France, having become an open sewer and health hazard, is cleared out and filled in to create La Levée which marks the northern boundary of the center city and and the district of the Terres-Sainville also known as the, "district of the poor wretches".
1858A statue of the Empress Joséphine by Vital Dubray is erected in La Savane Park in Fort de France.
1863Martinique’s second financial house Crédit Foncier Colonial opens.
1868May 6 The Radoub Basin port facilities at Fort de France are completed after 10 years under construction. Fort de France, long dominant in the island’s military and administrative affairs, is in an improved position to compete with Saint Pierre in the sphere of trade and commerce.
1870Cane fields cover 57% of Martinique’s arable land. The sugar market collapse forces many small sugar works to merge. The rum industry emerges when they decide to distill fresh, fermented cane juice into Agricultural or Habitant Rum.
1871The Third Republic is established. The colonies are granted representation in the National Assembly.
1878The population is 162,861
1882Louis-Joseph Ernest Deproge is elected Deputy for Martinique as a member of the Radical Left.
1887June - October Paul Gauguin settles in the company of his friend the painter Charles Laval in a cabin built on a property two kilometers south of Saint-Pierre. Gauguin produces a dozen works during his sojourn in Martinique including; Au bord d'un lac en Martinique (At the Pond), Sous les manguiers en Martinique (Beneath the Mangotrees in Martinique) and Paysage de Martinique (Martinican Countryside).
October Author and translator Lafcadio Hearn sails from New York to Martinique, where he fell under the spell of the island and its people. Intending to stay only a few months, he remains for two years.
1888The population increases from 162,861 in 1878 to 175,863
1889The Schoelcher Library, an iron and glass structure is built by the Paris architect Pierre-Henri Picq and exhibited in the Tuileries Gardens, in Paris, before it is disassembled and ship to Fort de France.
1890Lafcadio Hearn publishes Two Years in the French West Indies, a detailed and poetic account of day to day life in Martinique.
June 22 Fire breaks out in drought stricken Fort de France at 8:30 in the morning and rages through the night destroying most of the city.
1891August 18 A hurricane devastates the island. Barometric pressure drops to 26.85 inches. Wind speeds reach 127 mph. An estimated 400 people are killed.
1896Doctor Osman Duquesnay, Mayor of Fort de France, establishes the Progressive Republican Party.
1898May 12 Two ships from a Spanish squadron under Admiral Cervera arrive at Fort de France, Martinique from Cape Verde hoping to gain information on American movements and check on the availability of coal. Cervera learns that Admiral Sampson’s American fleet is at San Juan, Puerto Rico and also finds the French unwilling to sell him coal. Cervera leaves for the Dutch island of Curacao leaving behind the disabled torpedo-boat Terror.
May 22 Martinique’s Radical Left Deputy Louis-Joseph Ernest Deproge is defeated in his bid for reelection by Fort de France mayor Osman Duquesnay.
1901Marie Samuel Joseph Lagrosillière, aka “Lagro”, forms the Socialist Party.
1902February Strong sulfurous odors are smelled in the highlands near the village of Le Prêcheur, then in the center of Saint Pierre.
April 22 The telegraph cable linking Fort de France with Guadeloupe is broken.
April 24 A column of black smoke rises from l'Etang Sec reaching a height of 500 – 600 meters.
April 25 The village of Le Prêcheur is covered with volcanic ash.
April 25 Mont Pelée spews ash over the island.
April 28 A loud roar is heard, a column of steam rises and the Rivière Blanche rises quickly.
May 2 A heavy ash falls on Le Prêcheur, Sainte Philomène and Les Abymes. There is a persistent roar. Columns of black vapors flash. Ash falls on Saint Pierre for the first time and fine soot covers all Martinique.
May 2-3 A strong eruption of Mont Pelée destroys extensive sugar plantations north of Saint Pierre and causes a loss of some 150 lives. A few days later news of the eruption of Souffrire volcano on Saint Vincent reassures Saint Pierrais who presume that this might relieve the pressure on Mont Pelée.
May 3 Darkness covers Le Prêcheur and the springs go dry.
May 5 L'Etang Sec dam ruptures causing formation of a Lahar which destroys the Guérin factory.
May 6 Rivers in the north of Martinique rise. The cable linking Saint Pierre and Sainte Lucia is severed. Flashes are observed within the crater.
May 7 The houses and trees of Le Prêcheur collapse under the weight of the ashes.
May 8 0300 Hours - Lahars destroy the villages of Grand Rivière, Macouba and Basse Pointe.
0500 Hours – A wall of mud carries away part of the village of Le Prêcheur, claiming 800 victims.
0802 Hours – Saint Pierre is destroyed by a volcanic cloud which devastates an area of 58 km² and kills some 28,000 inhabitants. The final catastrophe comes without warning; a mass of fire, compared to a flaming whirlwind, sweeps over the capital, destroying the ships in the harbor. One, the Roddam of Scrutton, escapes. A fall of molten lava and ashes follows the flames, accompanied by dense gases which asphyxiate those who have thus far escaped. The material losses were estimated at £4,000,000; but, beyond Saint Pierre, only one-tenth of the island had been devastated.
May 20 A new paroxysm sends a cloud of ash flying over Fort de France.
May 26 & 28 Mont Pelée produces new and especially violent eruptions.
June 6 A cloud of volcanic ash sweeps over the valley of La Rivière Blanche covering a large part of the island.
July 9 A volcanic cloud forms and moves southwest. A series of vertical explosions follow.
August 30 A volcanic cloud moving east southeast cover an area of 114 Km², destroys the village of Morne Rouge, a part of Ajoupa Bouillon and reaches the community of Lorraine and claims a thousand victims.
After August 30 Volcanic activity continues with the formation of a lava dome and pinnacles. Volcanic gas clouds continue to develop but with less damaging effect. The eruption cycle continues for another 3 years.
During the Year An international conference at Brussels brings relative stability to world sugar markets.
1903August 9 A hurricane strikes Martinique with winds reaching 104 mph. The storm kills 31 people and damages the sugar crop.
1905The population drops to 182,024 over 5,000 Martinicans leave to take jobs on the construction of the Panama Canal.
The total value of the exports, consisting mainly of sugar, rum and cocoa, is £725,460 while imports are valued at £596,294 of which slightly more than 50% come from France.
1906A strong earthquake centered off Saint Lucia causes severe damage in Martinique but no deaths.
1907The General Council collects tax revenues of 4,799,970 francs.
1908April 29 Fort de France mayor Antoine Siger is assassinated by political opponents.
During the Year The first tentative resettlement of Saint Pierre begins progressing from south to north and centering on La Place Bertin.
1909Victor Severe describes Martinican society as, “a landed aristocracy (with a few exceptions composed of the descendents of white colonists), masters of vast agricultural estates opposed by a young democracy (recruited among the mixed bloods and the blacks) who comprise the bourgeoisie of the liberal professions, the civil service, of the small and middle property owners, of small business at the same time the conscience of the proletariat.
1910February 15 The City of Saint Pierre is officially removed from the map of France. Jurisdiction over the ruins is transferred to the neighboring community of Carbet.
1913August 7 France enacts compulsory military service in the colonies. The act calls on Martinique to send 1,100 men per year to France for training.
1914June 8 A cable from the Minister of Colonies calls on the administration to take measures to supply the population with food which local agribusiness has ignored to devote itself to production of sugar and rum. The government will devote 50,000 francs to correcting the situation.
August 2 The First World War begins. The first Martinican conscripts depart for Metropolitan France where 18,000 will take part in the First World War.
During the Year Martinique’s many influential newspapers include Joseph Lagrosilliere’s Le Bloc and La Démocratie Coloniale, Victor Severe’s La France Coloniale, Osman Duquesnay’s L'Union Sociale, A. Sainte-Luce Joseph’s Le Républicain Socialiste, La Paix “journal of the bishop”, La Tribune Libre, L'Echo, Le Républicain, La Vie, Les Nouvelles… .
1915Martinique’s deputies, Henry Lemery and Joseph Lagrosilliere introduce a bill in the National Assembly to change the status of the colonies to departments.
1916December 12 The rum supply is requisitioned for the use of the Army. Agricultural rum distilleries flourish in the countryside. Sugarmills are converted into distilleries. Martinique’s economy revives. Production doubles.
1917The General Council collects tax revenues of 9,985,540 francs.
1918November 11 World War I ends. The names of 1,306 Martinicans who died for France are inscribed on the island’s 22 monuments to the fallen.
1919February 10 The Minister for Colonies denies rumors that France will offer Martinique to the United States as thanks for the sacrifices of America during the war.
1921Martinican René Maran publishes Batouala in which he describes the excesses of colonialism and his experiences in Equatorial Africa. The book is awarded the Goncourt Prize.
1922December 31 A quota act limits importation of colonial rum into Metropolitan France.
1923Saint Pierre is reestablished as a municipality.
1924Léon Gontian Damas leaves Cayenne for Martinique to attend the Lycée Victor Schoelcher where meets his future collaborator in the negritude movement, Aimé Césaire.
1925May 13 The Fort de France municipal council approves Mayor Victor Severe’s proposal to redevelop the slum district of Terres Sainvilles as a “workers city” were newly built housing will be resold to the residents for 20 year semi-annual interest free payments.
1928The banana is introduced in an attempt to wean the island’s economy from dependence on sugar, the market for which has collapsed in the post war era.
1929Mont Pelée becomes active. Saint Pierre is evacuted.
1931Aimé Césaire goes to Paris where he attends the Lycée Louis-le Grand, the École Normale Supérieure, and ultimately the Sorbonne, where he studies Latin, Greek, and French literature. During these years he meets Léopold Senghor, a poet and later the first president of independent Senegal. Césaire along with Senghor and Léon Gontian Damas formulates the concept and movement of négritude, defined as "affirmation that one is black and proud of it".
1932The Mont Pelée Volcanological Observatory installs its first seismometer.
1933July 11 André Aliker, editor of the Communist newpaper Justice, begins reporting on the Aubéry Affair. Aliker publishes a dossier proving that Aubéry, wealthy white owner of the Lareinty Company, has bribed the judges of the Court of Appeal to dismiss charges of tax fraud against him.
July 24 Félix Eboué is appointed acting Governor of Martinique.
During the Year American Frank Perret establishes Martinique’s first museum, Le Musée Volcanologique, at Saint Pierre.
1934January 1 André Aliker, is kidnapped, bound and thrown into the sea by persons unknown. It is presumed by many that Aubéry had put a price on the reporter’s head and indeed had written to his brother in Paris announcing his intentions.
January 12 The body of André Aliker, arms tied behind the back, washes up on the beach at Fond Bourlet in the town of Schoelcher.
During the Year Aimé Césaire founds L'Etudiant, a Black student review, along with Senghor, Damas, Sainville and Maugée.
1939September 1 Governor Georges Spitz announces the imminent outbreak of war. A proclamation is posted across the island, “Martiniquais, in response to the German threat, France will mobilize all her forces and prepare to fight anew for right and liberty. In the grave circumstances which we will face, a total discipline and abnegation are essential on each of you. The Union of all Martinicans is more necessary than ever to answer the call for sacrifice which the motherland will ask of us. I am sure that all of you will respond to my call. Your ardent patriotism is always reassuring to me. Forever upright for the defense and victory of la PATRIE! Vive la France! Vive la Martinique!"
September 1 – 2 Admiral Georges Robert, newly appointed High Commissioner of the Republic to the Antilles and Guiana and Naval Commander in Chief for the Western Atlantic, departs Brest for the Antilles aboard the cruiser Jeanne d’Arc.
September 19 The cruiser Jeanne d’Arc docks in Fort de France. Its most prominent passenger, Admiral Georges Robert, High Commissioner of the Republic to the Antilles and Guiana, is welcomed with great fanfare.
During the Year Aimé Césaire returns to Martinique, where he finds work as a teacher at the Lycee Schoelcher in Fort de France. Among his students are Frantz Fanon and Édouard Glissant.
Aimé Césaire completes his work Cahier d'un retour au pays natal (Return to My Native Land), a mixture of poetry and poetic prose in which he first fully expresses his thoughts on restoring the cultural identity of black Africans. The book goes unpublished until 1947.
1940June 24 The General Council of Martinique adopts a resolution calling for continuing the war at the side of the Allies. “The Mayors and Councilors General of Martinique, meeting a Fort de France on 24 June 1940, proclaim in the name of the population of the island its inalienable attachment to France, its will to accept the final sacrifices to achieve the final victory by continuing the fight at the side of allies of the French Overseas Empire, call upon all citizens to assure the continuity of the economic and administrative life of the country in order, by work, by the spirit of solidarity and sacrifice.”
Admiral Robert undertakes the full exercise of his powers as High Commissioner. Robert hastens to placard the walls of Fort de France with a proclamation declaring that, “The armistice will come into effect. This is the situation. Because of it and more than ever we want to remain French. We want it and will remain it to support the motherland in its terrible test." The cruiser Émile Bertin arrives in Martinique carrying 286 tons of gold from the Bank of France. The gold reserve, originally destined for Canada, is stored at Fort Desaix.
June 26 Admiral Robert launches Vichy’s National Revolution. The self-proclaimed, “Pétain of the Antilles” will promulgate the laws of Vichy with the greatest zeal. Measures are taken to prevent the Martinicans from rallying to the Allies by fleeing to nearby Saint Lucia; radio broadcasts and newspapers are censored, criticism of Pétain is not tolerated. The new official press of Vichy, Le Journal Officiel de la Martinique and Le Bulletin Hebdomadaire, is established. Listening, “in public or private to the radio broadcasts of British or other foreign staions or delivering anti-national propaganda” is prohibited.
June 28 Admiral Robert begins negotiations with the still neutral United States for supplies.
Governor Sir Hubert Winthrop Young of Trinidad & Tobago visits Admiral Robert in Fort de France in a futile attempt to rally the Antillies to the Free French cause.
July 4 The British cruisers HMS Fiji and Dunedin are stationed off Martinique but limit their action against the island to regular seizures of the French mails.
July The French military on Martinique numbers 2,500 men.
Louis Bressolles replaces Georges Spitz as Governor of Martinique.
July 10 Martinique’s Senator Henry Lémery and Deputy Joseph Lagrosillière vote in favor a resolution granting full power to Marshal Pétain.
July 8 The Joint Planning Committee finalizes plans to dispatch an American expeditionary force to Martinique. The Americans fear that the three French warships anchored there, including the aircraft carrier Bearn (loaded with 107 American-manufactured fighter planes destined for pre-Vichy France), maybe taken over by the Germans and threaten the security of British and American shipping in the Atlantic.
August 5 Rear Admiral John W. Greenslade arrives in Fort de France for negotiations with Admiral Robert. The talks end in accord which provides certain guarantees regarding the movement of French vessels in American waters and commits the French to prior notification regarding any shipments of gold. It further permits the Americans to station a naval observer in Fort de France and to conduct a daily patrol by vessel and by plane of the Islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe to check its observance. The United States agrees to release on a monthly basis a restricted amount from French funds blocked in this country to permit the Islands to make purchases of foodstuffs and essential supplies.
August Secret societies are outlawed and the properties of the Masonic lodges are seized.
September Great Britain abandons plans for Project Asterisk which envisaged the seizure of power in Guadeloupe and Martinique and the hand-over of the territories to the Gaullist authority.
October The Royal Navy begins a blockade of all shipping between Martinique and France and French North Africa. Imports of food are cutoff along with exports of sugar and bananas. Technicians develop a mixture of gasoline and agricultural rum to stretch supplies of fuel for the electric generating plant and automobiles.
President Roosevelt asks the Navy to draft plans for an emergency operation calling for an assault on Martinique, by a naval force including a landing party of Marines supported by the Army.
November 3 Admiral Greenslade returns to Martinique with instructions to negotiate a new agreement that will guarantee the maintenance of the status quo. Faced with the alternative of an American bombardment and occupation, Admiral Robert accepts a "gentleman's agreement": the governor promised not to move any of the French naval vessels at Martinique except on two days notice to the consul and the naval observer of the United States at Fort de France and then only for purposes of maintenance or administrative contact with the other French colonies in the Antilles.
November Vichy law regulating access to employment in the civil service is applied in Martinique.
The British cruisers HMS Fiji and Dunedin abandon the station maintained off Martinique since July.
December The general and municipal councils of Martinique are dissolved.
1941March André Breton meets anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss on a cruise to Martinique and discusses artistic creation with him. Lévi-Strauss criticizes Breton's definition of a work of art as the spontaneous activity of the mind and opens the question of the aesthetic value of the work. Breton answered that he is "hardly interested in establishing a hierarchy of surrealist works.
André Breton visits Martinique where he encourages Aimé Césaire to use surrealism as a political weapon.
Yves Nicol replaces Governor Louis Bressoles.
April Aimé Césaire and Aristide Maugée begin publishing La Revue Tropiques.
May Colonel Jean Vassip alias Perrel is appointed director of Free French reception officees for dissidents from the French Antilles in Saint Lucia and Dominica.
August Senator Walter F. George of Georgia, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, remarks that it may be necessary for the United States to quickly occupy Martinique.
December 12 - 17 President Roosevelt’s envoy, Admiral Frederick Horne, meets with Admiral Georges Robert the Vichy High Commissioner for the Antilles, Guiana and Saint Pierre & Miquelon, to discuss terms for neutralization of French possessions in the western hemisphere.
December 18 The U.S. State Department announces that Admirals Horne and Robert have reached an agreement neutralizing French Caribbean possessions.
During the Year Admiral Robert responds to BBC broadcasts indignation labeling him a, “Black King” and “Dictator” by by tightening already Draconian measures prohibiting listening to foreign stations.
1942January 21 Monsignor Varin de la Brunelière is consecrated bishop of Fort de France & Saint Pierre.
February 16 A German U boat lands a wounded sailor on Martinique after shelling an oil refinery on Aruba. The United States demands closure of French Antilles ports to Axis shipping.
February A brawl erupts when a representative of Admiral Robert, accompanied by the archbishop, Monsignor Varin of Brunelière, lands at Grand Rivière, a well known resistance stronghold, with the intention of replacing republican flags in the town hall with a crucifix. Grand Rivière remains a center for black marketers, smugglers and departure point for dissidents escaping to the Allies throughout the war despite the establishment of a customs house by Admiral Robert.
May 9 Admiral John Hoover meets with Admiral Robert to inform him that the Greenslade Accords were no longer operative and to demand immobilization of French ships in the Antilles.
September 25 A Local Council is established.
October 11 A convoy of dissident Martinicans departs for the United States.
November Admiral Robert rejects entreaties from Admiral Darlan to rally the Antilles to the Allies in the wake of the invasion of French North Africa and disobeys Premier Laval’s orders to scuttle the Caribbean fleet.
1943January 1 A second convoy of Martinican dissidents leaves for the United States.
March The accords between Admiral Robert and the United States are abrogated and the island is blockaded.
Admiral Robert deplores the increased clandestine departures for the British colonies. Measures are planned to stop the hemorrhage of the labor force threatening the sugarcane and coffee harvests. The regime condemns the theft of boats which deprive the colony of invaluable means of transportation and undertakes increased surveillance of the coasts and removal during the night of the tackle, nets, etc.
April General de Gaulle’s representative Surgeon General LeDantec arrives in Martinique to negotiate with Admiral Robert for the surrender of the colony. Robert makes no response.
Two more convoys of Martinican dissidents depart for the United States.
April 26 The American Consul to Martinique is recalled in response to violent repression of Gaullist demonstrations in Guadeloupe. A joint Army-Marine Corps task force is organized to prepare for the occupation of Martinique.
May The foodstuffs development program fails.
La Revue Tropiques is censored.
The Communist Party holds a clandestine congress.
June 10 A final convoy of Martinican dissidents departs for the United States.
June 18 The Liberation Committee headed by Fort de France mayor Victor Severe places a Cross of Lorraine on the local war memorial and calls for public demonstrations of protest against Admiral Robert’s Vichy administration.
June 24 The Martinican Committee of National Liberation organizes a demonstration in La Savane Park in Fort de France which gains support of local garrison and naval squadron.
June 27 The soldiers of the 3rd Company at Camp Balata mutinies, refusing to communicate with Admiral Robert they turn to Commander Henri Tourtet for leadership. Tourtet accepts the leadership of the coup, barricades himself inside Fort Desaix to safeguard the gold reserves of the Bank of France and announces the rally of Martinique to Free France over the radio. Admiral Robert’s troops give up without fighting.
June 28 A Gaullist demonstration is staged in Saint Pierre.
June 30 Admiral Robert, sensing that republican pressure is winning over the population, precipatiously requests permission from the Committee of National Liberation to deliver his powers into the hands of another man, announces his intention to retire and asks the United States to send an emissary to arrange for the change of administration.
July 2 Admiral Robert surrenders his command to American Vice Admiral John S. Hoover.
Victor Sévère, Deputy and Mayor of Fort de France, sends a message of rally to Free France.
July 14 Ambassador Henri Hoppenot arrives in Fort de France to assume control of the Antilles for the Committee of National Liberation. Admiral Robert leaves for Vichy by way of Puerto Rico. The Free French take control of the Bank of France gold reserves held in Martinique and the Caribbean fleet.
July 15 Admiral Robert leaves Martinique and slips into a contrived retirement in Puerto Rico from where makes his way to Lisbon.
July 22 The Council General Council of Martinique is reestablished.
August The Allied blockade of Martinique is lifted.
December 31 Admiral Robert is received by Marshal Pétain at Vichy.
1944September Admiral Robert is arrested by the Free French and held for trial as a collaborator.
During the Year Howard Hawks directs Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Walter Brennan & Hoagy Carmichael in To Have and Have Not, a film loosely based on a 1937 novel by Ernest Hemingway. The screenplay set in Vichy ruled Fort de France of 1940 focus on the conversion of neutrality minded American fishing boat captain to the Gaullist cause.
1945Aimé Césaire is elected Mayor of Fort de France, a post he holds for the next 56 years and Deputy from Martinique to the French National Assembly as a Communist (a party is leaves in 1956).
1946March 19 Martinique becomes a French department, represented in the National Assembly by 4 deputies and 2 senators.
1947March 11 The trial of Admiral Robert begins before the High Court of Justice in Versailles.
March 14 Admiral Georges Robert, High Commissioner for the Antilles, is sentenced to 10 years at hard labor (released 6 month later at the request of the High Court) and national degradation for life (pardoned 1957).

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