Bryan Edwards (1743-1800) was a wealthy West Indian planter, politician and historian. He vigorously opposed the abolition of the slave trade, since the sugar industry relied heavily on it. His most important work was The History, Civil and Commercial, of the British Colonies in the West Indies, originally published in two volumes in 1793, and subsequently expanded (this fifth edition of 1819 reaching five volumes) with many plates and maps. In this wide-ranging work, he described his aim as 'to describe the manners and dispositions of the present inhabitants, as influenced by climate, situation, and other local causes . . . an account of the African slave trade, some observations on the negro character and genius, and reflections on the system of slavery established in our colonies'. Volume 2 includes a description of the present inhabitants of the islands, the practice of slavery, government and commercial activity.