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  American HistoryWest Indies and Other Caribbean IslandsGeneral History and Description
map of West Indies Federation member statesflag of the West Indies FederationWest Indies Federation

Founded in 1958, the West Indies Federation comprised the territories of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent, and Trinidad and Tobago. It was established by the British Caribbean Federation Act of 1956 with the aim of establishing a political union among its members. The administrative capital of the Federation was located in Trinidad and Tobago.

Princess Margaret inspects an honor guardPrincess Margaret opens ParliamentThe first session of the West Indies Parliament was opened at Port of Spain, Trinidad, by Princess Margaret of the United Kingdom on April 22, 1958. Governor General Lord Hailes and the Parliament had been sworn in on January 2. The Parliament had 19 Senators, named by the Governor General. The islands in the Federation chose 45 representatives, 24 from the Federal Labor Party and 21 from the Democratic Labor Party. Sir Grantley Adams of Barbados became Prime Minister.

Among the major issues debated during the Federation's existence were direct taxation by the Federal Government, central planning for development, establishment of a regional customs union, and reform of the Federal Constitution. Accomplishments achieved during the Federation's existence included creation of a federal civil service, establishment of the West Indies Shipping Service to operate two multipurpose ships, and establishment of the University College of the West Indies.

Disagreements over policies, an unwillingness of most Territorial Governments to give up power to the Federal Government, and other problems eventually caused discord within the Federation. Jamaica pulled out in 1961, and the Federation collapsed in January 1962.

Caribbean Community

Princess Margaret

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  The Robinson Library > American History > West Indies and Other Caribbean Islands > General History and Description

This page was last updated on 06/27/2016.

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