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West 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.

map of West Indies Federation members (in green)
map of West Indies Federation member states

flag of the West Indies Federation
flag of the West Indies Federation

The 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.

Princess Margaret reviews an honor guard prior to addressing the first session of the West Indies Parliament
Princess Margaret inspects an honor guard

Princess Margaret prepares to open the West Indies Parliament
Princess Margaret opens Parliament

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.

WEB SOURCE
Caribbean Community www.caricom.org/jsp/community/west_indies_federation.jsp?menu=community

SEE ALSO
Princess Margaret

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The Robinson Library >> American History >> Caribbean Islands >> General History and Description

This page was last updated on 04/18/2017.