The 1949 Great March and Restoration Day in the British Virgin Islands Date in the current year: November 28, 2022

The 1949 Great March and Restoration Day in the British Virgin Islands The 1949 Great March and Restoration Day is a public holiday in the British Virgin Islands. It is celebrated on the fourth Monday of November to commemorate a protest march that eventually led to the restoration of the Legislative Council.

The British Virgin Islands are a British overseas territory in the Caribbean. They occupy the northeastern part of the Virgin Islands archipelago that also includes the United States Virgin Islands (an unincorporated U. S. territory) and the Spanish Virgin Islands that are part of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Great Britain began to colonize the British Virgin Islands in 1672. The British began to grow sugar cane and forcibly brought African slaves to work on plantations. The colony prospered economically until the mid-19th century, when the abolition of slavery and a number of other factors led to its economic decline.

The British Virgin Islands were first granted a Legislative Council in 1774, although it took some time to actually establish the organs of government and a court. Sadly, the Legislative Council was dissolved in 1901, leaving the colony to be administered through the Governor of the Leeward Islands who appointed an executive council an a commissioner.

Since the islands were not economically prosperous, the change in administration led to the deterioration of social services and an extremely high rate of emigration, especially to the Dominican Republic and St. Thomas. Britain was not particularly concerned about its colonies at the time, primarily due to the two World Wars which left it unable to provide assistance to is overseas possessions.

In 1949, the people of the British Virgin Islands finally decided to fight for the restoration of their right to self-government. It all started when the pregnant wife of Theodolph H. Faulkner, a fisherman who had recently moved to Tortola, couldn’t receive the medical attention she needed. After a disagreement with the medical officer, Faulkner went to the marketplace and publicly criticized the government for several days.

His speeches inspired other islanders, and on November 24, 1949, around 1,500 people led by community leaders such as Carlton de Castro and Isaac Fonseca march to the commissioner’s office and presented a petition with a list of demands, which included the restoration of the Legislative Council. Today, this event is referred to as the Great March.

The British government decided to meet the protesters’ demands in order to prevent even larger unrest. As a result, a new constitution of the British Virgin Islands was adopted in 1950, allowing to reinstate the Legislative Council. It was the first step towards the formation of a full-fledged territorial government in 1967.

The 1949 Great March and Restoration Day was officially instituted in 2021, when the government of the British Virgin Islands revised the list of public holidays in order for it to better reflect the history and culture of the territory. It was originally planed to celebrate it on the second Monday of November, but the first celebration actually took place on November 22, 2021 (the fourth Monday of the month).

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Public Holidays

Country

British Virgin Island

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The 1949 Great March and Restoration Day in the British Virgin Islands, holidays in the British Virgin Islands, public holidays