West Indian independence

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A movement towards independence among the British West Indian colonies in the Caribbean. Pressure towards greater participation in the government of British West Indian colonies developed in the 19th century. A Black uprising in Jamaica had been ruthlessly suppressed in 1865, but following a Jamaican deputation to London in 1884, elected legislatures, on a limited franchise to advise governors, were steadily introduced throughout the islands. After World War I there were further moves towards more representative government, for example, in Trinidad in 1923. By 1940 the British government, aware of the strategic importance of the area, established a Commission for Development and Welfare in the West Indies, substantial financial aid was given and the principle of self‐government was accepted. This policy did not, however, prevent large‐scale unrest after World War II. Britain believed that individual islands could never be viable as independent states, hence the concept of federation and the attempt to form the West Indies Federation (1958–62). When this failed, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago were granted full independence in 1962 and Barbados in 1966. New attempts to create a Federation of the East Caribbean also failed (1967), when many smaller islands temporarily became “associated states of the United Kingdom”. Since then six new member states of the Commonwealth of Nations have emerged: Grenada 1974; Dominica 1978; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1979; Saint Lucia 1979; Antigua and Barbuda 1981; and Saint Kitts and Nevis 1983. The island of Anguilla was first associated with Saint Kitts and Nevis, but unilaterally seceded from the association in 1967. The UK intervened and Anguilla was obliged to resume the status of an independent territory of the UK in 1969; it became a separate British dependency in 1980.

Subjects: World History.

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