The Present State of the West-Indies: Containing an Accurate Description of What Parts Are Possessed by the Several Powers in Europe


This book, published in London in 1778, is a succinct compilation of information about the West Indies, containing, as indicated by the lengthy subtitle, “an authentick account of the first discoverers of those islands, and the parts adjacent, their situation, extent, boundaries, soil, product, trade, commerce, inhabitants, strength, government, and religion: also their principal bays and harbours, the materials for which were collected on the spot during the last war by some of the officers of his Majesty's forces, and diligently compared with all authentick narrators.” Even though the American Revolution was raging at the time the book was published, the “last war” referred to in the subtitle is the Seven Years War (1756–63; known in America as the French and Indian War), which resulted in major territorial changes in the Americas. As the book explains, as a consequence of the war and the ensuing Treaty of Paris (1763), the French “have no longer any settlement on the Continent of the West-Indies, and their possessions are reduced to the West part of the Island of St. Domingo [present-day Haiti], the Island of Guadeloupe with the adjacent isles, the Island of Martinico [Martinique], and the Island of St. Lucia.” Spain also ceded to Britain territories that became the colonies of East Florida and West Florida, comprising the present-day U.S. state of Florida and parts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The book describes the mainland and island possessions of Britain, France, and Spain, with a few pages devoted to the colonies of the Dutch and the Danes.

Last updated: February 22, 2016