From the Introduction
In intellectual, as in political matters the Caribbean is a geographical expression. There is no history of the Caribbean area as a whole. Indeed, histories worthy of the name exist for only a few of the Caribbean territories. After more than four and a half centuries of metropolitan control, shared among several countries of Europe and America, all that we can boast of is a few monographs, the product of a metropolitan scholarship that has been fragmented, irregular, sporadic, and often pathetically inaccurate and prejudiced. Few “colonials” have to date extended their nationalism to the cultural field and dedicated themselves to the task of writing – or rewriting, where necessary – their own history. The present publication is designed to fill this gap and to correct this deficiency. Its scope is the entire West Indian area, including the Guianas – whether their connections have been or are British or French, Spanish or American, Dutch or Danish, or whether they have discarded or are about to discard the alien rule of previous centuries.
Foreword to Volume I:
This, the first volume of the series of Documents of West Indian History, covers the period from the discovery of the West Indies by Columbus in 1492 down to the British conquest of Jamaica in 1655. Britain’s conquest represented the first successful breach in the Spanish claim to monopoly, the first permanent conquest of a territory occupied by the Spaniards as distinct from settlement of islands like Barbados or St. Kitts which were not physically occupied by the Spaniards. It constituted therefore the first practical repudiation of the Papal Donation of the New World to Spain. The period covered by this volume is therefore the period of the Spanish monopoly and the international competition thereby engendered. In this period the foundations were laid of West Indian political development, of the West Indian social structure, and of the West Indian character and psychology.