Dr. E. F. Gordon and the Bermuda Workers Association petition
In 1946, Dr. E. F. Gordon, president of the Bermuda Workers’ Association (BWA), launched a petition calling on the British government to establish a Royal Commission to investigate social, economic and political conditions in Bermuda. The document was a landmark in the campaign for a more just society.
A copy of the petition, with the handwritten notes of Governor Leatham, who had little sympathy for the BWA cause, can be viewed in the Bermuda Archives.
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The long battle by Dr. E. F. Gordon for a more just society reached its zenith with this landmark 1946 petition.
The formidable Gordon had been elected president of the Bermuda Workers Association in 1944. Over the next two years, he boosted the membership of the fledgling BWA to 5000. Riding high, Gordon then turned his energy and intellect into launching a campaign for public support of a BWA petition. The petition called on the British government to establish a Royal Commission to investigate social, economic and political conditions in Bermuda.
Gordon personally took the petition to London in November 1946 because he was not confident Governor Ralph Leatham would forward it to the Secretary of State for Colonies.
The petition has the signatures of 18 people, who were either BWA trustees or executive members, who demonstrated true courage for their actions. They included men like W. E. R. Joell, Hosay Smith, Robert A. Wilson and Dudley Seaton and two women, Doris Cholmondeley and Aletha De Pina.
The Secretary of State for Colonies gave Gordon an audience during his stay in London, but held off on putting a Commission in place. The British government told Bermuda’s white leaders that the petition called for “serious and early attention by those responsible for the conduct of affairs in Bermuda”, but that’s where things were left.
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Read Dr. Gordon’s full biography
Sources: Dr. E. F. Gordon—Hero of Bermuda’s Working Class by Dale Butler; The History of the Bermuda Industrial Union by Ira Philip