Froudacity by J J Thomas


Froudacity (1889) is Trinidad-born J J Thomas’ scathing rebuttal to J A Froude’s book The English in The West Indies (1888) that argued Afro and Indo Caribbean peoples were incapable of self-government. The work is considered a seminal text in the intellectual history and radical tradition of the Caribbean. Through his detailed critique of Froude, Thomas undermines the very premises of European superiority and colonialism. Thomas is also known for his ground-breaking scholarship on Caribbean patois. In the words of historian C L R James, ‘It was the Caribbean human condition which produced Jacob Thomas. To know him well is to know ourselves better.’

Shown here are extracts from:

  • The Introduction, where Thomas lays out his challenge to the ‘intrinsic value and trustworthiness of [Froude’s] opinions and teachings’. Thomas observes that Froude ‘manages to see much that is, and always has been, invisible to mortal eye, and fail to hear what is audible to and remarked upon by every other observer’ (p. 30). 
  • ‘Voyage Out’: Thomas critiques Froude’s prejudices, specifically relating to his attitudes towards educated black people and interracial relationships in the Caribbean. 
  • ‘Trinidad’: Thomas points out flaws and errors in Froude’s observations of Trinidad. 
  • ‘Negro Felicity in the West Indies’: Thomas highlights the absurdity of Froude’s claim that the ‘“best”’ way to learn ‘what people “were doing, how they were living, and what they were thinking about”’ was by ‘“drives about the town and neighbourhood”’ (p. 81). Secondly, Thomas critiques Froude’s statements about English colonial rule as a system that “‘knows no difference of colour and permits no oppression”’. Thomas provides accounts of injustice at the hands of magistrates and the law.

Full title:
Froudacity. West India fables by J. A. Froude explained by J. J. Thomas. [A reply to “The English in the West Indies,” by J. A. Froude.]
1889, London
London: T. Fisher Unwin
Book / Essay
John Jacob Thomas, James Anthony Froude
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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