In 1687 the Spanish sent numerous missionaries into
Trinidad & Tobago. While some of these missionaries were quite successful,
others failed and only created distrust and hostility between the Spanish and the
local people. In 1699 the local people murdered a number of these missionaries.
The Spanish settlement in Trinidad
& Tobago were slow to grow and by the late 1700s population numbers
were still significantly low, encouraging the Spanish government to give potential
settlers motivation for arriving on the islands. They granted any Roman Catholic
land there, along with additional land for bringing in slaves. This offer was extended
to Spaniards as well as former slaves of all ethnicities. This led to numerous settlers
arriving, including a large number of freed slaves.
In 1797 the islands were surrendered to the British,
whose major changes came just years later as the empire outlawed the slave trade
in 1807 and illegalized slavery entirely in 1834. This led to an attempt to extend
the term of slavery so instead of ending in 1834, it would end in 1840, however
this was fought by the local slaves and supported by the British government, freeing
the slaves in 1838.
These changes led to large labor shortages and soon the British
were giving away free land. After numerous former
American slaves settled, Chinese, Africans,
Portuguese, and Indians settled on
the islands. However, these new labor sources were more expensive than slaves so
the production of sugarcane slowly declined as the growth of cocoa increased throughout
the 1800s. Also, in the 1860s oil was discovered on the islands, providing another
potential revenue stream.