Principality of Trinidad

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Not to be confused with Trinidad, an entirely different island.
Principality of Trinidad
Unrecognized state
Flag Coat of arms
Map of Trinidad from the book, The Cruise of the Alerte
Capital Not specified
Languages English, French, Portuguese
Government Monarchy/ Military dictatorship
 •  1893-1895 James Harden-Hickey
 •  Established 1893
 •  Disestablished 1895
Preceded by
Succeeded by
History of Brazil (1889–1930)
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
History of Brazil (1889–1930)

The Principality of Trinidad was declared in 1893,[1] when the American James Harden-Hickey claimed the uninhabited island Trindade and Martim Vaz in the South Atlantic and declared himself as James I, Prince of Trinidad.[2][3] According to Harden-Hickey's plans the island would, after being recognized as an independent country, become a military dictatorship under his leadership.[2] He designed postage stamps, a national flag, and a coat of arms; he established a chivalric order, the "Cross of Trinidad;" he bought a schooner to transport colonists; he appointed M. le Comte de la Boissiere as Secretary of State and opened a consular office at 217 West 36th Street in New York, and even issued government bonds to finance construction of infrastructure in the island. [4][5][6] [7][8][9][10]

In July 1895, the British tried to take possession of this strategic position in the Atlantic, basing their claim on the 1700 visit by English astronomer Edmund Halley.[2] The British planned to use the island as a telegraph cable station.[2] However, Brazilian diplomatic efforts, along with Portuguese support,[citation needed] pressed a successful claim to Brazilian sovereignty, based on the island's discovery in 1502 by Portuguese navigators.

In order to clearly demonstrate sovereignty over the island, now part of the State of Espírito Santo, a landmark was built on January 24, 1897. Nowadays, Brazilian presence is marked by a permanent Brazilian Navy base on the main island.


  1. ^ "To Be Prince of Trinidad: He Is Baron Harden-Hickey," New York Tribune, Nov 5, 1893, p 1
  2. ^ a b c d Bryk, William, News & Columns, New York Press, v 15 no 50 (Dec 10, 2002)
  3. ^ "Principality of Trinidad: John H. Flagler's Son-in-Law Is Its Sovereign, Self-Proclaimed as James I," New York Times, June 10, 1894, p 23
  4. ^ "Mr. Hickey's Trinidad Invaded: Great Britain's Warship Barracouta Takes Possession of the Land While the Prince Is in California," New York Times, Jun 18, 1895, p 3
  5. ^ "Trinidad's Prince Awake: An Appeal to Washington Against Brazil and Great Britain," New York Times, Aug 1, 1895, p 1
  6. ^ "Grand Chancellor of Trinidad: Significant Phases in the Ascent of Male Comte de la Boissiere to His Elevated Diplomatic Post," New York Times, Aug 2, 1895, p 9
  7. ^ "Trinidad's Case in Washington: Courteously, the Chancellor Would Permit Britain's Cable Station and Use It, but There Is Graver Trouble," New York Times, Aug 7, 1895, p 1
  8. ^ "Trinidad's Diplomat in Action: M. de la Boissiere Asks that His Sovereign's Land Be Recognized as a Neutral Principality," New York Times, Aug 9, 1895, p 5
  9. ^ "Trinidad's Prince at Work: Grand Chancellor de la Boissiere Tells How the War Between Great Britain and Brazil Will Be Averted," New York Times, Jan 24, 1896, p 9
  10. ^ Flags of the World - Trindade and Martins Vaz Islands (Brazil)