18th July 1913 – 18thMay 1979
Born in Dominica on the 18th July 1913 to Joseph and Amelia Southwell. He attended elementary school and became a teacher at the age of thirteen years then he went on to obtain the Leeward Islands Teachers Certificate. In 1938 he joined the Leeward Islands Police Force, a job that took him to Antigua, Montserrat, St.Kitts and Nevis. He stayed with the Force for six years.
In 1944 Southwell found employment as time-keeper and assistant stock clerk at the St.Kitts (Basseterre) Sugar Factory. It was at this time he was recruited into the Labour Movement by France and Bradshaw and for the next ten years he assisted as part-time organiser of the St.Kitts-Nevis Trade Union becoming its Vice President in 1947. During that same year, Southwell attempted to obtain a pay raise but only succeeded in getting himself fired. In 1948 he was in the forefront with other Union leaders organising the Thirteen Week Strike. During the Arbitration that followed, Southwell lead the team that argued the case of the workers in the Union. Following his dismissal from the Factory, Southwell spent a year representing workers free of cost to the Union. Eventually he was appointed the first sole organiser with a wage of $15 a week. During that time he also functioned as associate editor of The Union Messenger.
His talent for writing and his political awareness came together in the publication of two pamphlets – The truth about Operation Blackburn and The Union – What it is, What it does. “the latter co-authored with Robert Bradshaw.
Paul Southwell was elected to the Legislature in 1952 and appointed to the Executive Council in 1955. The following year, when a ministerial system was introduced, Southwell took the portfolio of Communications and Works. Hoping for even more extensive constitutional changes, Southwell lead a delegation to London in 1959 and this resulted in the introduction of a constitution granting a full ministerial system in 1960. The post of Chief Minister was created and the subject of Finance which was previously under the jurisdiction of an overseas official, passed into ministerial hands. With Bradshaw in the Federal House in Trinidad, Southwell became Chief Minister, a post he held until 1966.
In 1965, the sugar industry employers, refused to grant an increase in wages and refused to request the Sugar Industry Price Stabilization Funds which were available to pay for increase. In his role as Chief Minister, Southwell ensured that legislation was enacted to draw money from the Sugar Cess Funds to pay for the increases. This step, which was subsequently emulated by Barbados and Trinidad, drew considerable resistance from the employers and led to the Campbell Commission of Inquiry into the Sugar Industry before which both Bradshaw and Southwell conducted themselves with distinction.
St.Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla assumed the status of Statehood in association with Great Britain in 1967 and Southwell became Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance, Trade, Development, Industry and Tourism. Over the years he found himself very much involved in regional organisations. He was Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Association and Chairman of the West Indies Associated States Council of Ministers. Following the death of Bradshaw in 1978, he was appointed Premier.
Southwell was keenly interested in the arts and in sports. He was President of the Mutual Improvement Society, and a devotee of the works of William Shakepeare. The State’s Art Festival of 1964 was his brainchild. In sports he was the founder of the Chief Minister’s Cricket XI in 1960 and later President of the St.Kitts Cricket Association. He was also an enthusiastic golf player. Southwell pioneered the economic diversification in St.Kitts and Nevis. The industrial site is named in his honour and is called the C.A. Paul Southwell Industrial Park.
Paul Southwell died suddenly on thee 18th May 1979 while chairing a meeting of the West Indies Associated States Council of Ministers in Castries, St. Lucia. He and his wife, Gladys, had six daughters and five sons.
In 2004 on the eve of celebrations to mark the 21st Anniversary of Independence, Mr Southwell was given the title of Knight Commander of the National Hero posthumously. Sir Paul Southwell.