Island of the Caribbean Windward Island s, in the E West Indies. Discovered by Columbus in 1502, in 1635 it was settled by the French who promised the Caribs half the island , but instead killed them off to bring in slaves. It passed to the French Crown in 1674 and was attacked by both the Dutch and the English in the 17th century. Captured by Baron George Rodney in 1762, but restored to France, it was occupied by Great Britain from 1794 to 1802 and 1809 to 1814. Slavery was abolished in 1848 but sugar remained a major industry. The island supported the Vichy government at the outset of World War II, but in 1943 a U.S. naval blockade forced it to transfer its allegiance to the Free French. The French constitution of 1946 made it an overseas department of France. It was the birthplace of the Empress Josephine, Napoleon’s consort.