Four Prominent Firsts from Saint Kitts and Nevis
These four nationals from the twin-island federation of St.Kitts and Nevis are first achievers in politics and athletics. Their accomplishments are significant both in national and international history. They deserve our attention.
St. Kitts and Nevis
(1) Alexander Hamilton
First US Secretary of the Treasury (1789-1795)
Alexander Hamilton, first United States Secretary of the Treasury was born in Charlestown, Nevis. In 1750 his mother Rachel Faucette Buck, a French woman, left her unhappy marriage in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands and traveled to St. Kitts. There, she met James Hamilton and moved with him to Nevis, her birthplace.
- 1755 or 1757? Alexander Hamilton’s birth date is not certain. He listed it as 1757 when he came to North America but probate papers from St. Croix suggest that he was born in 1755.
- 1772. Hamilton's essay describing a hurricane which wrought havoc on St. Croix in August that year, earned him the opportunity to be educated in the North American colonies.
- 1773. He entered King’s College (now Columbia University) in New York.
- 1775. He began his military career by joining the New York Provincial Artillery Company. After fighting several battles, he caught the attention of General George Washington during the fight for American Independence.
- 1777. He joined Washington's personal staff as Lieutenant Colonel.
- 1789. When Washington became president, Hamilton became the first secretary of the treasury and served until 1795.
His entire political career, and his death in 1804 are recorded in the Alexander Hamilton Biography.
(2) Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw
First Premier of Saint Kitts and Nevis (1967-1978)
Robert LLewelyn Bradshaw (1916-1978) was born in St. Paul’s Village, Saint Kitts where he grew up and completed his primary school education (the British Seventh Standard). His mother Mary Jane Francis was a domestic servant, and his father William Bradshaw was a blacksmith.
- 1932. At age sixteen, Bradshaw became a machine apprentice at the Saint Kitts Sugar Factory where he began to take interest in the labour movement.
- 1940. He joined the Saint Kitts and Nevis Trades and Labour Union as a clerk, advancing to president of the union four years later.
- 1946. He entered politics and won a seat on the Legislative Council. Throughout his political career, he promoted the cause of the sugar workers.
- 1958-1962. Bradshaw served as Minister of Finance for the West Indies Federation and was a member of the Federal House of Representatives. When the Federation dissolved, Bradshaw returned from the Federation Capital in Trinidad to Saint Kitts.
- 1966. He became Chief Minister of Saint Kitts.
- 1967. Saint Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla became an associated state of the United Kingdom, and Bradshaw became the first premier. (Anguilla immediately seceded.) Bradshaw is also credited with leading Saint Kitts and Nevis to independence from Britain.
- 1996. Bradshaw was awarded the title of First National Hero of Saint Kitts and Nevis. He is honored annually on National Heroes Day which is observed on his birthday.
- 1998. Under the leadership of Dr.Denzil Douglas, Prime Minster of St, Kitts and Nevis (1995-2015) the Labour Government posthumously conferred on Mr. Bradshaw the title of Knight Commander of the Order of the National Hero.
- 1998. The Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport was named in his honor.
- 2002. The Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw Memorial Park was dedicated in his birth village, St. Paul’s.
- 2010. The Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw Building was opened on the Saint Kitts Campus of the Windsor University School of Medicine.
(3) Elquemedo Willett
First West Indian Cricketer from the Leewards (1972-1974)
Elquemedo Willet born in 1953 in Charlestown, Nevis was the first cricketer from the Leeward Islands (Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis) selected to play for the West Indies Cricket Team.
- 1972. Elquemedo made his debut on the West Indian team against Australia. Since then, other “small island” players have been selected for the West Indies team.
- 1972-1974. He played in test matches. He was considered the best left-arm spin bowler the New Zealanders faced during their West Indian tour in 1972.
- 1973-1975. He toured England, India and Pakistan. His all-time best test score was 3 wickets for 33 runs. He played his last Test in 1975 against India in Calcutta.
- 2010. The Elquemedo Willet Park in Nevis (formerly Grove Park) was renamed in his honor.
- 2013. The Leeward Islands celebrate 100 years of organized cricket, and honored Elquemedo as a trail blazer alongside administrators, sponsors and other outstanding contributors to the sport over the years.
Dr. Julian Hunte, president of the West Indies Cricket Board commented, “His (Elquemedo’s) selection to the West Indies team exposed the wider region to the immense talents and skills which resided in the islands outside of the so-called ‘big four’ countries – Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago.”
- 2017. The Governor General of St. Kitts , His Excellency Sir Tapley Seaton, bestowed Elquemedo Willett with the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, (MBE) Award for his achievement as first cricketer from the Leeward Islands to play for the West Indies Team.
(4) Kim Collins
First Kittitian Olympian Event Finalist (2000)
Kim Collins, the track and field sprinter born 1976 in Basseterre, Saint Kitts became “the world’s fastest man” when he won the 100m at the 2003 World Championships in Paris, France.
- 1996. Collins first represented his country at the Summer Olympics.
- 2000. At his second try, he became the first athlete from Saint Kitts to qualify for an Olympic Event Final. He also represented Saint Kitts at Commonwealth Games and World Championships.
- 2001. He won the first World Championship Medal for Saint Kitts.
- 2002. Collins was featured on two Kittitian stamps. At age 26, he was the highest ranking (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States) OECS man during his student years at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.
- 2003.. He won the gold medal at World Championships in Paris, France—the biggest track and field achievement both for him and his country.
- 2010. The country observed Kim Collins Day on August 25, 2010 in honor of his gold medal win and the Kim Collins Highway is named in his honor.
- 2012. Kim Collin would have been the first athlete to compete in five Olympic Games for St Kitts and Nevis. Instead, the team's officials withdrew him from the games as punishment for staying overnight in a hotel with his wife.
- 2018 Kim Collins retired from competition. According to Singapore's The Strait Times, when asked "What's next?" he replied, "There's a lot of things I'm working on. One would be coaching. I will start with that because that's my love." Collins suspects that might be a young athlete waiting to continue flying the Olympic flag for Saint Kitts & Nevis.
© 2013 Dora Weithers