Economic and political developments in the British West Indies during the period of the American Revolution
The years after 1763 were vital to the special position of the West Indian islands within the British Empire. Yet no integrated study has been made of the economic and political issues raised in the West Indies during the period of the confrontation between the American colonies and Britain. This thesis is intended to fill this gap. The first chapter, which outlines West Indian commercial connections from 1770 to 1775, shows that during these years the production of West Indian staples was increasing in most islands, especially in Jamaica and the ceded islands where new plantations were being developed. The War of American Independence therefore raised the question of the future of the islands as profitable commodity producing areas, given their dependence on the American colonies for lumber and provisions, as well as a market for their excess products. Chapters II to V look at the War's effect on the islands' economy, and examine the various measures adopted by Parliament and the local legislatures to avert any lasting recession. The other aspect of the Revolution was the political impact on the Caribbean colonists. In the islands, as in America, many constitutional questions were raised. The idea, held by the Americans, that Parliament was not sovereign, and could not legislate for the colonies in internal affairs, or when British interests conflicted with theirs, was also widely discussed. Chapters VI to VII assess politics in the colonies, showing that there was widespread opposition to individual governors in most of the islands, and an erosion of much of the executive power.
AuthorsCarrington, Selwyn Hawthorne Hamilton
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