Federation of the West Indies

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Gerry Adams (b. 1948)


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An attempt to create a self‐governing federal state consisting of the ten British colonies of the West Indies. Under the assumption that each of these islands or group of islands was too small to become independent on its own, plans and campaigns for the creation of a federation emerged in the 1920s and were discussed with greater urgency after World War II. After eleven years of extensive negotiations, the Federation finally came into being. It consisted of the larger colonies of Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, as well as the colonies of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Christopher (Kitts), Nevis, Anguilla, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Led by the former Prime Minister of Barbados, Adams, the Federation enjoyed considerable support amongst popular and intellectual circles. However, it was wrecked by the ambitions of the oppositional movements in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, which successfully sought to increase their own popularity through appeals to patriotism. The two island states were released into independence in 1962, which wrecked the Federation. The other eight territories resumed closer ties with Britain as semi‐colonial ‘associated states’. All of them (except Anguilla and Montserrat) gained full independence by 1980.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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