CARIBBEAN. The Caribbean is generally thought to include the Greater and Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea, as well as the mainland French Guiana, Guyana (formerly colonial British Guiana), and Suriname (formerly Dutch Guiana) in South America, and the Central American nation of Belize (formerly British Honduras). It is a geographic nexus between Old and New Worlds, and as such has been global since its inception as a region. Boasting no distinguishable population of direct pre-Columbian descendants apart from a small Carib community in Dominica, its inhabitants are otherwise composed of a highly diverse ethnic and cultural mix of descendants from the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Asia.
Spain was the initial colonizer of the entire Caribbean, but contiguous Spanish settlement in the Caribbean was limited largely to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba. Still, one should talk of the Caribbean as a region distinct from Latin America. The Spanish Caribbean islands have been shaped by experiences similar to those of their non-Spanish neighbors. While their cultural connections to Latin America are apparent—in language, culture generally, and perhaps in political philosophy—their Caribbean experience of slavery, plantation agriculture, and the rise of peasantries accord more with the Antilles. It is food (sugar in particular, but also coffee, cocoa, citrus, spices, and bananas), and not language that culturally unifies the Caribbean as a region historically.
Caribbean food, like the people who have come to inhabit the region, is not homogeneous, nor can we accurately talk about an indigenous diet without accounting for the effects of the Columbian conquest of the Americas. There were indigenous American food plants and tobacco, but there were also scores of new cultivars, from Africa, Europe, and Asia, as well as domesticated animals, which played a major role in the constitution of the region after 1492. But these two categories were not, however, isomorphic with the categories of domestically consumed and exported categories of post-conquest Caribbean food products. Instead, there are two categories of Caribbean food that better account for its history as a region. One encompasses those products that are responsible for constituting the region through a transatlantic system of trade. These products shape the way in which the region is defined by European and North American tastes. The other includes products grown as a direct response to the rigidities of this global system through culturally elaborated alternative systems of production, exchange, and consumption.
Repopulating the Region: Foundations of Exploration and Imperialism
Before the seventeenth century, the rights of Spain and Portugal to have colonial monopolies were established by several papal decrees issued in the fifteenth century. Inter Coetera of Pope Calixte III in 1456 gave Portugal the right to colonize lands "discovered" while circumnavigating Africa on South Asian exploration. Later bulls, for instance Inter Coetera II of Alexander VI in 1493, affirmed Spanish rights to colonization west of the Azores. Colonization rights, as conveyed by God's earthly representative, were in effect divided hemispherically. The 1493 Tordesillas Treaty, for instance, recognized Portuguese colonization rights up to 270 leagues west of the Azores, thus establishing Brazil as Portuguese but the rest of what is now regarded as the Caribbean and Latin America as Spanish (Mudimbe, 1995).
A common denominator in Spanish and Portuguese colonization should be noted. Rominus Pontifex, a papal bull of Nicolas V in 1454, is explicit that the central mission of colonization was proselytization. Non-Christians could be dispossessed of their lands under the doctrine of terra nullius (no man's land) or even killed for resisting conversion to Christianity. In fact, as Valentin Mudimbe has documented well in his study of these papal instruments, "if [colonial subjects] failed to accept the 'truth' and, politically, to become 'colonized,' it was not only legal but also an act of faith and a religious duty for the colonizers to kill the natives" (Mudimbe, 1995, p. 61). The grounding of New World colonization by the Spanish in such a religious dictum is responsible in part for the violent character of transatlantic contact, both in the Caribbean region and in mainland Latin America. Disease (particularly smallpox), genocide, and enslavement eliminated most of the indigenous populations of the larger settled islands by the end of the sixteenth century. Beginning in the seventeenth century, settlements by other European nations had a similar effect on the smaller islands of the Lesser Antilles. Today, only the small eastern Caribbean island of Dominica boasts any bona fide "Carib" Indian population, amounting to no more than two thousand persons.
Spanish settlements had been established, mainly on the islands of Hispaniola and Cuba. A production system using Amerindian slave labor was attempted, but after subsequent failures, some slaves were imported from Africa. Still, within seventy-five years, these settlements had become largely peasant-oriented and insular. Spain had turned its attention to the mainland of Latin America, pursuing a policy of resource (particularly gold) extraction. In the early seventeenth century, various European nations began to challenge Spain's monopoly on colonization in the Americas on the grounds that many of the islands claimed by Spain were not, nor had they ever been, occupied by Spain. British, French, Dutch, Danish, and Swedish explorers began to settle the smaller islands of the Lesser Antilles. Though the colonizers differed, there was one common trait on these newly settled lands—the plantation.
The Sweet Taste of Colonialism
Columbus's inadvertent happening onto the Americas in 1492 is responsible for a shift of Europe's center from thalassic (focused on the Mediterranean Sea) to oceanic (focused particularly on the Atlantic) (Mintz 1991, p. 112). McNeill has noted the impact of this shift on Europe:
The principal historical impact of the American food crops, I suggest, was that they undergirded Europe's rise to world dominion between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries. No other continent of the Old World profited so greatly. That was because Europe's climate, and especially its comparatively abundant rainfall, fitted the needs of the American food crops better than anywhere else, except China; and in China rice was so productive that the new crops had less to offer than potatoes and maize did in Europe" (McNeill, 1991, p. 52).
The Peruvian potato, for instance, was extraordinarily important to Europe, as it produced four times the caloric intake of rye bread. Potatoes never replaced grain completely: they do not store nearly as well as grain. But the efficient use of acreage is credited with population booms in Germany and Russia and the quick adoption of industry each experienced.
The constitution of an Atlantic epicenter is reflected not merely in the exchange of commodities between the Old and New Worlds. It is defined by the manner in which the demands made by Europe's growing populations were accommodated. Taste is essentially what defined the Caribbean as a region. The Caribbean provided a hospitable climate for the cultivation of sugar cane, particularly on the flatter, drier islands of the Antilles and coastal South America. The Spanish had initially developed sugar cane production in Cuba in the seventeenth century (Ortiz, 1947) but had not taken an interest in the mass production of the product. British colonization in the sixteenth century began to exploit sugar cane production using existing regional techniques, as well as methods learned from the Dutch occupation of Brazilian sugar estates. French interest in sugar production quickly followed and was equally influential by the eighteenth century. What was most significant about sugar was not the growing pancolonial interest in the cultivation of another New World commodity, but its rapid transformation from a luxury item to a sweet, tempting product demanded by a growing European working class: "…as sugar became cheaper and more plentiful, its potency as a symbol of power declined while its potency as a source of profit gradually increased" (Mintz, 1985, p. 95).
Production of sugar in the Caribbean multiplied to keep up with metropolitan demand. The need for a cheap source of physical labor led to the forced relocation of at least five million African slaves to the Caribbean during this same period. Revolts, slave maroonage (flight from plantations followed by the establishment of communities in remote terrains), and other forms of resistance both on the slave ships and in the colonies did little to slow European expansion of the sugar industry. In fact, at the time that Western Europe began to industrialize in the late eighteenth century, the importation of slaves to the Caribbean, particularly to the French colony of Saint-Domingue on the western third of the island of Hispaniola, was at its highest. Saint-Domingue was so valuable a colony to the French that at the Treaty of Paris they ceded their entire claim to Eastern Canada (now Quebec) in exchange for retaining it, Martinique, and Guadeloupe. During a protracted conflict of 1791 to 1803 in this colony, which in 1804 would be declared the republic of Haiti by revolting slaves, France and England both endured enormous military losses. France lost nineteen generals, including Leclerc, the husband of Napoleon's own sister Pauline, in the conflict. The "unthinkability" of losing the Haitian Revolution helps explain the silence on the subject in West European and American historiography (Trouillot, 1995). It was the profitability of Caribbean sugar colonies that had shaped the military and economic might of Europe generally and of France and England in particular.
Following the loss of Saint-Domingue, France retracted its New World interests, selling its remaining North American claims to the newly formed United States under the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Britain's interest in sugar cane production declined along with global prices in the late nineteenth century, as beet sugar production proved more profitable. Prior to its contraction, however, the British employed a number of labor management devices aimed at reducing the costs of labor on their plantations. Between the end of apprenticeship in 1838 and 1917, about 500,000 East Indians were brought, mainly as indentured laborers, into the Caribbean (Williams, 1970, p. 348). The cultural influence is particularly strong where the concentrations of Indians were highest, in Trinidad and Guyana. Chinese laborers were brought, particularly to Cuba. Javanese were brought to Surinam, and African indentured servants to the French West Indies as well.
By the mid-nineteenth century, Cuba emerged as the dominant sugar producer in the Americas. Cuban reintegration into sugar production had begun following the British occupation of Havana in 1762 and the concomitant massive importation of slave labor into Cuba by enterprising merchants. Sugar production in Cuba essentially demonstrates an adaptation of the plantation system to a transition from mercantilist to capitalist interests in the New World. American merchant interests in the Cuban sugar industry developed throughout the nineteenth century and serve to explain, in part, American military intervention in the Cuban-Spanish War in 1898.
American military and financial involvement in Cuba thereafter typifies the manner in which foreign tastes shape the Caribbean's definition as an area in the twenty-first century. Rather than merely serving to satiate the European taste for sugar, the region has been used to satisfy new tastes: for sun, sex, and sin. The elimination of tropical diseases from the Caribbean by the early twentieth century, coupled with the devastation of Europe during World War I, made the Caribbean an attractive tourist destination. Casinos, brothels, and beaches were set up specifically to pander to North American and European interests.
A foreign traveler to the Caribbean is likely to come into contact with a broad range of dishes professing to be authentic in character. Most food produced for tourists reflects the particular tradition of transatlantic shipping from which these contemporary relations emerge: imported goods today compared to the dry provisions of the colonial period; Bacardi, yet another imported rum consumed over locally produced brands. Even the origins of the Daiquirí come from a drink that was consumed on slave ships to prevent scurvy: it was the name of the place where soldiers from the United States first tasted it (Ortiz, 1947, p. 25). As much as Europe's addiction to sugar defined the Caribbean culturally as a region from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, so too does this new addiction affect it today. Even the concept of a Caribbean nation itself must endure the hungers of North American college students on spring breaks, en route to a "Bacardi Nation" that has petitioned for United Nations membership (Cohen, 1998).
Biting Back: Local Food Economies
Perhaps the most contentious debate among contemporary scholars of the Caribbean concerns the origins of the region's cultural influences. Many argue that African cultural influences define the region culturally (Herskovits, 1990; Brathwaite, 1993). Others have suggested the rigidities of the colonial system were so severe as to preclude the survival of any culture (Frazier, 1966). But one thing can be said about the Caribbean over any other region of the world. The Caribbean embodies all of the elements of what we today might call globalization: rapidity and movement of labor and capital; the amalgamation and negotiation of diverse and worldly cultural influences; and integral development of technology and communications. This, however, should not imply that the region is more culturally manufactured than other regions of the world, or that the late establishment of formal national or regional identities (beginning with the failed West Indies Federation from 1958–1962) is reflected in a lack of cultural distinctiveness. A few scholars have correctly noted that the Caribbean is best defined culturally through processes negotiated by its own inhabitants, and not determined by the mere movement of one or another traits from Europe, or Africa or Asia, to the region (Mintz and Price, 1992; Scott, 1991).
Inasmuch as the plantation system sought to define its inserted inhabitants in the Caribbean region as a monolithically defined production matrix, there were responses in the production, exchange, and consumption of food. Plantation owners were required by the late seventeenth century to provide rations to their slaves, but these tended to be inadequate. Slaves responded by establishing their own provision grounds adjacent to the plantations, on which they grew a wide range of products, not only for their own consumption but for sale as well (Mintz, 1978a; Mintz, 1978b; Gaspar, 1991; Mintz,1995). So important were these provision grounds that some even revolted to keep them. The 1831 abolition of the Sunday market for the barter and exchange of slave-produced goods in Antigua sparked uprisings and the burning of several plantations (Gaspar, 1991). During the early years of the Haitian Revolution, "the leaders of the rebellion did not ask for an abstractly couched 'freedom.' Rather, their most sweeping demands included three days a week to work on their own gardens and the elimination of the whip" (Trouillot, 1995, p. 103).
Often the surplus of these gardens was sold in slave markets, some reaching off-island destinations. Though the available historical record seems unwilling to acknowledge the fact, slaves were, in a strict sense internationally mobile. Market women ("hucksters" in the Eastern Caribbean, "higglers" in Jamaica, "Madan Sara" in Haiti) would traffic agricultural products both in local markets and to other islands in the region, either individually or through third parties. An eighteenth-century soldier's diary establishes that nonproduce, even manufactured items—including textiles, "syrup beer and a country drink called mawbey" (Aytoun, 1984, p. 28)—are being exchanged in local markets in the small Eastern Caribbean island of Dominica by these market women, and legitimated through the payment of an often hefty fee to their owners. The ability of the market women to meet this fee (rumored to be as much as a dollar and a half a week—an immense sum by the standards of the day) in cash payments suggests that slave markets were significantly broader than the historical record has typically suggested. Dry goods such as rice, wheat flour, beans, corn, and salted meats we know were imported, both from Europe and the United States, except during interruptions caused by the American Revolution. Similarly, a number of agricultural products were being cultivated on provision grounds: "ground provisions" (tubers, including yams, potatoes, dasheen, tannia, eddoes), citrus, bananas and plantains, breadfruit, cassava (the flour of which is used to make farina), and various herbs, used as a spice, for medicinal purposes, and in Obeah, Voudun, and other Afro-Caribbean religious ceremonies, particularly as a poison against slavemasters and in rebellions.
Until emerging national governments established and enforced customs regulations in the 1960s, the regional circulation of agricultural produce and dry provisions remained primarily a locally constituted economy. Ascendant merchants and entrepreneurs following emancipation began to formalize the importation of dry and canned goods in particular. Local agricultural products continue to have symbolic meanings that reflect the historic articulation of ground provision production with the transatlantic plantation system. In islands where certain agricultural products are abundant, it is not uncommon to see surpluses of certain products—bananas and breadfruit are common in the Eastern Caribbean for instance—given away rather than sold. Land, no matter how small in area, has enormous meaning "as a symbol of person-hood, prestige, security, and freedom for descendants of former slaves in the face of plantation-engendered land scarcity" (Besson, 1987, p.15). The South Asian and Far Eastern contemporary cultural and cuisine influences—for instance in the curry dishes, such as the roti associated with Trinidad, Guyana, and Jamaica but abundant through the Caribbean—are in fact the result of colonial responses to labor shortages on plantations following emancipation. British emancipation implemented a four-year period of apprenticeship designed to reorient slaves to wage labor. Yet freed slaves continued to demonstrate a stronger desire to work provision grounds.
An interesting case in which the attachment to provision grounds and transatlantic production intersect involves the emergence of the Eastern Caribbean banana economies from the 1950s onward. Bananas, produced mainly in Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, and Grenada, were under exclusive license for sale to Britain during this period. Farmers, most of whom were cultivating plots of no more than a few acres, were required to produce exclusively for sale in British supermarkets in exchange for guaranteed markets. Trouillot has noted the reluctance of Dominican banana farmers to diversify their production cycles because of the symbolic qualities that bananas impart: "We can always eat our fig" was the response. While still green, bananas are a starch, and thus an excellent carbohydrate source. Green bananas (or "fig") are frequently used in local Caribbean cooking, as a porridge, used with other ground provisions in a stew (bouyon ), or even used in certain festive cooking dishes, for instance in sankouche (with salted codfish, Creole, and curry seasonings). Bananas require about nine months to come to fruition, and the comparisons to a child's gestation period are sometimes invoked in the care of banana plants.
Gobbling Globalization and Globalization Gobbled
Despite an ideological commitment to local produce, and the proactivity of some small-scale producers, Caribbean tastes are hardly defined by some kind of peasant ethic or veneration of local products. Tubers, once key carbohydrates in the Caribbean diet, are declining in importance. And while even the most prototypical of Caribbean dishes have always to some extent been the product of a Creolization (blending) of locally grown products with imported items such as salted codfish, rice, and flour, imported items, particularly canned items, are gaining as status symbols. Former Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley once lamented: "How can we build agriculture if our middle class believes it will surely rot if it can't buy tin mushrooms from abroad?" (Manley, 1988, p. 37). Monetary remittances from Caribbean persons living and working in more lucrative wage employment in Europe, Canada, and the United States has a long tradition in the Caribbean, and has been responsible for infusing cash into these economies. More recently, the remittance of actual packaged food products is becoming more prevalent (Palacio, 1991).
The retention of land, particularly for agricultural purposes, by small-scale producers and plantations alike, continues to be under threat, not just by hurricanes, agricultural diseases, and declining prices for many agricultural products, but by a growing nonagricultural sector. Plantations have declined in importance through most of the Caribbean during the last century, and, accordingly, many former estates have been sold off. Supplementing one's wages on a plantation with the maintenance of a provision garden has thus become increasingly difficult. Golf courses, mining expeditions, and hotel development not only acquire or degrade land, but draw Caribbeans into low-paying service-sector wage positions, making them "a stranger in we own land" (Pattullo, 1996). As labor has gradually been drawn out of the agricultural sector, and land for gardens is increasingly abandoned, sold, or not maintained, many Caribbean people have become increasingly reliant on wages in a highly volatile and unstable service sector to buy these packaged, imported food items.
Local cuisine in some ways has become increasingly foreignized, not merely by the inclusion of foreign products in Caribbean diets, which has always occurred in varying degrees, but through substantial changes in the ways in which Caribbean fare is internationally recognized. Foreign investment interests increasingly appropriate local cuisine for commercial purposes. Hotels throughout the Caribbean are notorious for hiring European chefs to cook "authentic" Caribbean dishes, which are often flashy reinterpretations or fusions of Caribbean fare—accras (fried codfish) are marked up as much as ten times in price in foreign owned restaurants for the mere addition of tartar sauce. And the local dishes historically consumed by Caribbean people are likewise affected by these changes. Fried chicken is now ubiquitous, so much so that Kentucky Fried Chicken is the only franchise on many of the more sparsely populated islands. The longest lines in any Caribbean capital will be at the fast-food chains. Locally, Ovaltine has far more cachet than the Blue Mountain Coffee of Jamaica sought by upper-class American consumers. And apart from national celebrations in which folk recipes predominate, most celebrations throughout the Caribbean are overcome by, as some complain, "rum and coke and smoke," the smoke being from the barbecue.
Despite the dramatic changes to Caribbean food through the postwar period of modernization and international development, local responses to these changes continue to be informed by an ongoing process of Creolization. Foreign phenomena continue to be incorporated into local dishes. Peleau (a specifically Creole dish, but ostensibly the same rice and beans–based dish found throughout the Caribbean) was once regarded in the Eastern Caribbean as a dish that usually included fish. Declining fishery production and the rapid growth of frozen chicken imports have changed the content but not the underlying Caribbean form. Caribbean food has established its distinctiveness historically by creatively and strategically incorporating diverse elements into a localized answer to the rigidities imposed by foreign consumer demands.
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Cohen, Colleen B. "This is de test': Festival and the Cultural Politics of Nation-Building in the British Virgin Islands." American Ethnologist 25, 2 (May 1998): 189–214.
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Jeffrey W. Mantz
"Caribbean." Encyclopedia of Food and Culture. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 14, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/food/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/caribbean
"Caribbean." Encyclopedia of Food and Culture. . Retrieved November 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/food/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/caribbean
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The British Empire that ended in the twentieth century began at the very end of the sixteenth century with chartered commercial ventures in the East Indies to secure tropical spices and cotton cloth. Peace then allowed further private ventures into the Caribbean (which was called the West Indies) in the early seventeenth century; these expanded into settlements to grow further high-value tropical crops, initially tobacco, later cotton and indigo and then, from the 1640s, sugar cane. With the spread of the plantation economy in the Caribbean after about 1650, the need for cheap labor helped support a booming slave trade. England's new North American colonies then found a ready market for their lumber and foodstuffs.
The Caribbean islands consist primarily of three major groups: the Bahama Islands, including the Turks and Caicos islands, the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico), and, southeast of Puerto Rico, the Lesser Antilles (Leeward Islands, Windward Islands, Barbados, Trinidad, and Tobago). European colonization of the Caribbean islands started after Christopher Columbus landed on several of them in the 1490s and claimed the entire area for Spain. Foreign traders were also excluded. From the mid-sixteenth century, English ships' captains began to participate in the highly profitable smuggling trade that supplied the Spanish-American settlements and continued into the late 1570s. Then, as Europe's Counter-Reformation became increasingly bitter, Caribbean voyages, on which captains threatened local officials with violent attacks before they commenced trading in order to allow the officials to claim overwhelming force, became ventures for both commerce and raiding. These targeted the Spanish plate fleets as they traversed the Caribbean as well as local coasting traffic. English, French, and Dutch all participated. The institution of a grudging peace in the early seventeenth century allowed the resumption of the earlier smuggling trade. England, France, and the Netherlands all began establishing their own colonies in the Caribbean in the 1620s and 1630s.
The first year-round British settlements in the region were in South America; these were established to grow tobacco in the first decade of the seventeenth century in the Amazon delta and later along the coast of Guyana. None lasted long, each one being expelled by Spanish forces. The mixed motives for these early settlements—with planters hoping to grow lucrative tropical crops and ship captains seeking havens for contraband deals with Spanish colonists, as well as courtiers' profit-taking and the conflicting objectives of European policies—would all complicate the region's subsequent development.
The British settlements in the Leeward Islands (Anguilla, Barbuda, Dominica [which became part of the Windward Islands in the nineteenth century], Saint Christopher's, Nevis, Antigua, and Montserrat) and Barbados in the Windward Islands, proved in the 1620s and 1630s more permanent than those earlier footholds on the South American mainland. Colonies were founded in St. Kitts in 1623 and in Barbados in 1627. Settlers from St. Kitts expanded onto Nevis in 1628 and Antigua and Montserrat in 1632. These island colonies got their start in part because they were established when Spain was preoccupied in European wars, although local Spanish forces still staged some successful attacks. Another reason was that these islands were mostly uninhabited, since the indigenous Carib tribes had been enslaved a century before or had fled to the Windward Islands (Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, and the Grenadines) where they defended their independence, and the Spanish had neglected the Leewards and set up colonies primarily in the Greater Antilles.
After the English began settling the islands as plantations, West Indian havens offered operation bases for seamen engaged in smuggling or in raiding Spanish towns and ships. In the early 1660s, some of the buccaneers on Tortuga, off Hispaniola, moved their operations to the recently won English colony of Jamaica (taken from the Spanish in 1655), where, besides bringing in sorely needed cash, their ships helped deter Spanish attacks. In the Bahamas, which were first settled by the English in 1646, pirates operated until the 1720s.
Early colonial populations on the islands were shaped by economic downturns and high death rates. Agricultural colonies such as Barbados began growing tobacco as an export crop, but, after the tobacco boom collapsed Barbados's planters, leaving them with only poor-quality tobacco to sell, they turned to experimenting with cotton, then with indigo. However, during the 1640s these commodities became early casualties of Britain's civil war, with the market for imports collapsing. The planters then welcomed Dutch merchants who gave easier credit, had access to shipments of slaves from West Africa, and helped teach them how to process sugar. The resulting "sugar revolution" transformed Barbados's society. Sugar promised a profitable crop, but setting up a sugar estate demanded sizable initial outlays for labor to gather the crop and for machinery to process the canes. Large estates benefited from economies of scale while small plantations could no longer compete. Large-scale planters then found it cheaper to buy out their neighbors than clear virgin land.
Whatever the crop, labor remained a pressing issue. From the first, planters aimed to control their workforces. They restricted their indentured servants' mobility, punished them for time lost to pregnancies or running away, and limited appeals against even the worst masters. These harsh "customs of the country" underlay the slave codes that were developed to deal with a type of property not discussed in English case law. To secure workers, the planters would grab whomever they could find. These included African slaves purchased from passing ships and some enslaved Native Americans. In the first stages of settlement, narrow profit margins left little room for extensive slave purchases. The early planters used white workers. Unemployment in Britain and Ireland during the 1630s produced a succession of English, Irish, and some Scots willing to mortgage their future labor in exchange for a passage to the West Indies and the hope of a new start at the end of their service. During the 1650s, prisoners of war or survivors from failed uprisings provided more field hands. However, during the late seventeenth century, recruitment shrank as Britain's demographic growth slowed, pushing up the price for individual contracts, while the cost of acquiring slaves from Africa fell. African slaves then comprised increasing proportions of the work gangs. These social transformations took place on different islands at different times. Barbados was generally the path-breaker while the Bahamas were spared the introduction of large-scale sugar estates.
New settlements provided new opportunities. Groups of colonists had leap-frogged out from St. Kitts to the other Leeward Islands in the 1630s. After the Surinam settlement was captured by the Dutch, the planters in Barbados helped promote settlement in South Carolina. In 1647 a religious split in the Bahamas pushed a puritan group to establish a settlement there, while in 1651 proroyalist planters in Barbados established new plantations on the South American mainland along the Surinam River. An expedition sent out from England secured a footing in Jamaica in 1655 and the ousting of Jamaica's last Spanish holdouts in 1661 gave the newly restored king of England an excuse to retain the island. Later, in the 1680s, Jamaican merchants encouraged timber cutters on the coast of Central America (today's Belize). Local initiatives shaped English settlements in the West Indies through to the 1690s.
Natural disasters hampered development across the Caribbean during the late seventeenth century. Hurricanes—a term that English readers did not encounter until the mid-seventeenth century—further harmed the islands' fragile ecosystems, which had already been damaged by various droughts and floods and by erosion due to land clearance. In the 1670s, a blight wiped out Jamaica's cacao plantations. Earthquakes and fires destroyed several towns and plantations. In the 1680s, yellow fever became prevalent, making a region already susceptible to outbreaks of other diseases still more inhospitable. By the 1690s yields were falling in the older settled islands.
Wars compounded the damage. As Britain fought conventional wars in Europe with the Netherlands and France, vicious local campaigns took place where governors allied with Carib warriors or undertook raids to seize slaves and burn plantations. Few major slave uprisings occurred, but all slaveholding societies feared that one such uprising might succeed and spread. The elaborate conspiracies discovered in almost every colony demonstrated how real the threat was. Defenses proved costly: erecting coastal fortifications, building barracks, paying garrisons of European regulars, and requiring frequent militia service from free resident males drained island economies. Some churches were built, but few schools were established. Successful planters who had initially sent their daughters "home" to England for an education now sent their sons back too, and planned to become absentees themselves.
The social structures that were hammered out by 1690 shaped the region for the next century. Although punitive labor laws and slave codes received little revision, a number of other changes occurred. Changes in the islands' populations were the result of the higher than average death rates from yellow fever among European groups, the reduced opportunities faced by European immigrants after planters claimed land reserves and, above all, the increased numbers of slaves imported after the inefficient official monopoly on the British slave trade was ended in 1698. Most new slaves simply replaced the dead, as the region's birth rates did not sustain the population well into the nineteenth century. Because women comprised a large proportion of the field gangs, overwork kept slave reproduction rates low. In most colonies, island-born Creole populations remained a minority. Populations of free people of color also remained small and mostly urban, but their reproduction levels were higher than other groups. Among the white settlers, reproduction rates were very low and population numbers fell. The makeup of this last group altered even more after England's 1707 Act of Union with Scotland, which joined the two kingdoms into the new United Kingdom of Great Britain. This union enabled Scotland to partake of free navigation and trade throughout the entire kingdom, including the British colonies. Thus, Scots from all social levels arrived in the Caribbean during the eighteenth century.
Regional political geographies also changed, as did the priorities of British politicians. Some helped the colonists by removing former local threats. In Jamaica, a 1739 treaty with the groups of free maroons there (fugitive black slaves and their descendants) ended forty years of skirmishing—and constrained slaves' options. In the eastern Caribbean, European colonization began on the Caribs' former island strongholds and grew to dominate each island. Meanwhile, threats from Europe grew. Military expeditions to the West Indies made conquest a real risk. Negotiators sometimes returned captured islands in peace treaties, but islands seized in the West Indies could be traded away for other imperial assets. After the Seven Years' War (1756–1763) Britain still acquired several new territories, securing Dominica, Saint Vincent, and Tobago, besides gaining Grenada in exchange for Saint Lucia. In this treaty Martinique and Guadeloupe were returned to France to end French claims to Canada. Afterward, a sizable proportion of British slave shipments to the West Indies carried slaves to the newly settled islands. Metropolitan schemes then extended further, as proposals to rein in slavery and the slave trade began to gain proponents among some senior colonial bureaucrats.
Whatever was intended, far broader social changes occurred during and after the American War of Independence (1775–1783). Only remarkable good fortune at the naval Battle of the Saints in 1782 allowed Britain to retain its West Indian colonies against the Americans' French and Spanish allies. The 1783 Peace of Paris that ended this war, where the British formally recognized their former American colonists' independence, also allowed the British to regain the eastern Caribbean islands seized by the French, along with the Bahamas, which the Spaniards had captured. Peace changed the British islands in the Caribbean, in part because the subjects of King George III (ruled 1760–1820) were forbidden to do business with their former American trading partners, and Canadian lumber and English and Irish provisions offered poor substitutes. After hurricanes flattened slaves' provision grounds, several islands endured famines. Attempts to introduce new food crops, such as breadfruit in the late eighteenth century, were impressive, but still failed to compensate for the lack of cheap American grain. The process of change continued as North American loyalists resettled across the West Indies after the war. In the Bahamas, they transformed the character of the hitherto sparsely settled archipelago. Several African Americans, free and slave, had, during this migration, encountered the evangelical revivals that had spread across British North America, and the congregations they founded then survived to transform the slaveholding societies.
In 1790 the British West Indies appeared at the height of their prosperity and influence. In the early years of the French Revolutionary Wars (1792–1802), Britain poured half of its total military expenditure into West Indian campaigns. The failure to acquire Saint Domingue (Haiti) and the return of most British gains in the Treaty of Amiens that concluded the French Revolutionary Wars was a watershed in British policy making. The costs of prolonged warfare on the islands' economies and on planters' profit margins further undercut the influence of the West Indies lobby. Retaining slavery no longer appeared a clear asset. At the same time, the spread of humanitarian revulsion toward slavery in Britain increasingly diverged from the West Indian colonists' stridently asserted "English" values. Meanwhile, evangelical missionaries' visits to the islands and the contacts that local evangelicals, black and white, made with their British co-religionists encouraged the circulation of harsher reports of slaveholders' brutality.
The West Indian "sugar islands" would continue to prosper in the early nineteenth century. The West Indian political lobby had sufficient influence to veto proposals that Britain retain Martinique and Guadeloupe after the wars, for fear of the competition that these islands' output would offer to the existing British colonies, although the undeveloped Dutch mainland settlements of Demerara and Esquibo (modern Guyana) were kept. But, after 1783, the defenders of West Indian slavery had lost the support of the North American planters when they argued their case to an increasingly skeptical British public. In the face of competition from "free sugar" from the East Indies and from sugar beet from continental Europe, West Indian profits declined. The debts remained. Profits from the first British empire helped to generate the capital that funded Britain's industrial revolution. Afterward, the claims offered by the West Indian planters that their brutal slave societies were "English" no longer appeared so persuasive in England. The societies that the seventeenth-century "sugar revolution" had produced still took a very long time to pass away.
See also American Independence, War of (1775–1783) ; Colonialism ; Dutch Colonies: The Americas ; French Colonies: The Caribbean ; Mercantilism ; Seven Years' War (1756–1763) ; Shipping ; Slavery and the Slave Trade ; Spanish Colonies: The Caribbean ; Sugar ; Tobacco ; Trading Companies.
Batie, Robert C. "Why Sugar? Economic Cycles and the Changing of Staples in the English and French Antilles, 1624–1654." Journal of Caribbean History 8–9 (1976): 1–42.
Beckles, Hilary McD. A History of Barbados: From Amerindian Settlement to Nation-State. Cambridge, U.K., 1990.
——. "The 'Hub of the Empire': The Caribbean and Britain in the Seventeenth Century." In Oxford History of the British Empire, edited by William Roger Louis. Vol. 1, The Origins of Empire: British Overseas Enterprise to the Close of the Seventeenth Century, edited by Nicholas Patrick Canny and Alaine M. Low, pp. 218–240. Oxford, 1998.
——. White Servitude and Black Slavery in Barbados, 1627–1715. Knoxville, Tenn., 1989.
Braithwaite, Edward Kamau. The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica, 1770–1820. 2nd ed. Oxford, 1978.
Brown, Christopher L. "Empire without Slaves: British Concepts of Emancipation in the Age of the American Revolution." William & Mary Quarterly 3rd ser. 56 (1999): 273–306.
Buisseret, David. "The Process of Creolization in Seventeenth-Century Jamaica." In Historic Jamaica from the Air. 2nd. rev. ed. Kingston, Jamaica, 1996.
Buisseret, David, and Steven G. Reinhardt, eds. Creolization in the Americas. College Station, Tex., 2000.
Cateau, Heather, and S. H. H. Carrington, eds. Capitalism and Slavery Fifty Years Later: Eric Eustace Williams—A Reassessment of the Man and His Work. New York, 2000.
Craton, Michael, and Gail Saunders. Islanders in the Stream: A History of the Bahamian People. Vol. I, From Aboriginal Times to the End of Slavery. Athens, Ga., and London, 1992–1998.
Gaspar, David Barry. "'Rigid and Inclement': Origins of the Jamaican Slave Laws of the Seventeenth Century." In The Many Legalities of Early America, edited by Christopher L. Tomlins and Bruce H. Mann, pp. 78–96. Chapel Hill, N.C., and London, 2001.
Geggus, David Patrick. "The Enigma of Jamaica in the 1790s: New Light on the Causes of Slave Rebellions." William & Mary Quarterly 3rd ser. 44 (1987): 274–299.
Greene, Jack P. "Changing Identity in the British Caribbean: Barbados as a Case Study." In Colonial Identity in the Atlantic World, 1500–1800, edited by Nicholas Canny and Anthony Pagden, pp. 213–266. Princeton, 1987.
Higman, Barry William. Montpelier, Jamaica: A Plantation Community in Slavery and Freedom, 1739–1912. Kingston, Jamaica, 1998.
Pares, Richard. Merchants and Planters. Economic History Review Supplement, no. 4. Cambridge, U.K., 1960.
Pulsipher, Lydia Mihelic. Seventeenth-Century Montserrat: An Environmental Impact Statement. Historical Geography Research Series, no. 17. Norwich, U.K., 1986.
Sheridan, Richard B. "The Formation of Caribbean Plantation Society, 1689–1748." In Oxford History of the British Empire. Edited by William Roger Louis. Vol. II, The Eighteenth Century, edited by P. J. Marshall, pp. 394–414. Oxford, 1998.
——. Sugar and Slavery: An Economic History of the British West Indies, 1623–1775. Barbados, 1994.
Watson, Karl. The Civilised Island: Barbados, A Social History, 1750–1816. St. George, Barbados, 1979.
Watts, Arthur P. Une histoire des colonies Anglaises aux Antilles, de 1649 à 1660. Paris, 1924.
Watts, David. The West Indies: Patterns of Development, Culture and Environmental Change since 1492. Reprint. Cambridge, U.K., 1987.
"The Caribbean." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 14, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/caribbean-1
"The Caribbean." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Retrieved November 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/caribbean-1
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From roughly 1500 to 1800, France was far more important as a Caribbean imperial power than is commonly recognized today. Its economic and military might were effectively lost in 1804, when the most important French Caribbean colony, Saint Domingue, became the independent nation of Haiti. Today France retains a handful of territories from its early modern New World empire, and the largest of these islands became full-fledged French departments after 1948.
PROCESS OF COLONIZATION
Like England, France established no Caribbean colonies until the early seventeenth century. But its importance as a naval power in the region began in 1523, when pirates from Normandy captured Spanish treasure ships. Such attacks were the greatest threat to the Spanish Caribbean in the first half of the sixteenth century, culminating in the sacking of Havana in 1555. Yet Spain's imperial vigilance held off the French for nearly a century, ensuring that the kingdom's first Antillean colony would only be founded in 1625. In that year the Norman nobleman Belain d'Esnambuc formally established a French colony on Saint Kitts. This tiny island served as a seedbed for further settlements until coming under full British control in 1713.
In 1635 French expeditions successfully claimed the larger islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe in the Lesser Antilles, after a delay caused partly by the hostility of resident Carib Indians. Early colonialists produced tobacco, relying on indentured servants for labor. By the middle of the 1640s about half of the five to seven thousand French colonists in these islands were serving out labor contracts. Yet by this time the price of Caribbean-grown tobacco had plummeted. From 1638 colonists were being urged to plant cotton or indigo instead of tobacco. In the early 1640s royal officials sponsored the establishment of the first sugar plantations and mills in Martinique and Guadeloupe. In the 1670s, as sugar became the primary export of these islands, planters increasingly purchased enslaved African workers, and European servants fled.
A number of these Europeans imigrated west to the Greater Antilles territory that would become France's most profitable Caribbean colony, Saint Domingue. In the early 1600s the uninhabited western coast of Spanish Santo Domingo was teeming with wild cattle. The livestock attracted a population of rootless men who sold leather and smoked meat, or boucan, to passing ships. In the 1640s French officials from Saint Kitts managed to establish their authority over these boucaniers, though it was not until 1697 that Spain formally recognized the land as a French colony. With a land area ten times larger than Martinique and Guadeloupe combined, Saint Domingue would become the Caribbean's largest slave plantation colony by the middle of the eighteenth century. Nevertheless, the colony retained a distinct identity as the most violent, as well as the most valuable, of France's New World possessions.
Other early modern French Caribbean colonies, which never attained much economic or demographic weight, include the Lesser Antilles islands of Grenada, Dominica, and Saint Lucia, all three lost permanently to Britain by the early nineteenth century. France did retain other smaller Caribbean islands, including Saint Martin, shared with the Dutch after 1648, and Saint-Barthélemy, traded to Sweden in the late 1700s and repurchased a century later. The territory known as Cayenne (today, French Guiana) on the South American mainland, was important strategically, but never developed the profitable sugar fields or fearsome slave conditions of neighboring Dutch Surinam. In 1788 Cayenne had fewer than two thousand free inhabitants and about ten thousand slaves.
By the end of the eighteenth century, France's Caribbean colonies were its most precious overseas asset, yielding roughly half of Europe's sugar and coffee, as well as large quantities of indigo and cotton. Acre for acre, by the 1750s these territories outproduced Britain's island possessions. By itself Saint Domingue generated some 75 percent of French tropical commodities. The value of these goods was multiplied by the additional commerce they generated. France re-exported half of its sugar and coffee to other European markets, allowing the kingdom to maintain a favorable balance of trade in the eighteenth century. Moreover, Saint Domingue's insatiable demand for labor helped make France the second largest slave-trading nation in the eighteenth century, after Britain. Trade with Africa and the islands fostered a variety of auxiliary industries in France, including the manufacture of cotton textiles.
FORMS OF DOMINATION
France's seventeenth-century island colonies were administered by a series of unsuccessful royal companies. By the eighteenth century the secretary of the navy ruled these territories, selecting nearly all colonial officials from the royal navy and army. The crown did name prominent colonists to the socalled superior councils, which functioned as courts of appeal and legislative bodies on the model of France's regional parlements. Nevertheless, elite planters had little of the control over local taxation that characterized the British islands, with their colonial assemblies.
Established and aspiring planters deeply resented the military priorities of colonial governors, especially mandatory militia service and the trade monopoly that Versailles imposed on Caribbean trade from the 1660s. Colonists argued that militia work distracted them from their plantations. Over time they transferred the most onerous of these duties, such as the search for escaped slaves, to freeborn men of color and ex-slaves. Colonists also maintained that free international trade would greatly increase the islands' economic value to the kingdom. Unable to curb colonial contraband, by the end of the eighteenth century Versailles was beginning to loosen its mercantilist restrictions.
Although the Code Noir of 1685 established the basic legal principles of French Caribbean slave society, the colonial government left control of the slave population to individual masters. Officials ignored royal laws protecting slaves from malnutrition and torture. The Code Noir also proclaimed that ex-slaves were legally equal to other free colonists, but by the early eighteenth century racial prejudice had already become an important means of social control. From the beginning of French Caribbean slavery, colonists commonly freed their slave mistresses and mixed-race children. Such manumissions amounted to no more than 1 percent of all slaves every year. Nevertheless, over time this population of free blacks and mixed-race people grew increasingly large, wealthy, and familiar with French culture. To maintain their own French identity, in the second half of the eighteenth century, colonial judges and planters installed an increasingly rigid set of discriminatory laws, separating "white" from "nonwhite" persons.
The Catholic Church was relatively unimportant as a form of social control over white society in the French Caribbean. Many of the most important religious orders, such as the Jesuits, maintained large and profitable slave plantations in the colonies. The Church's influence over colonists was strongest in the Lesser Antilles, where missionaries played an important role in early colonization. Saint Domingue was notoriously irreligious, however, and its priests were described as the most decadent in the kingdom. Many masters refused to Christianize their newly purchased slaves, citing the expense and threat to plantation discipline. As thousands of new African workers arrived each year, slaves developed new forms of spirituality, the fore-runners of modern Haitian vodou.
NUMBER OF FRENCH COLONISTS
Despite their commercial importance to the kingdom, France's Caribbean territories were never significant population centers for French colonists. In fact, from 1650, as colonial sugar planters imported more and more enslaved Africans, many poorer colonists fled. This was less true in Saint Domingue, where poor whites could still find hillside land for farming and ranching up to the 1760s. Even here, however, cheap land became scarce with the expansion of coffee plantations into the hills after mid-century.
Whether whites had land or not, they were a distinct minority in all of France's Antillean territories. In 1788 the French Caribbean had approximately 56,000 white residents and over 693,000 slaves. A third group, the so-called free population of color, numbered roughly 32,000. By this date, many of these individuals had been born free and owned some property, including slaves. Throughout much of French Caribbean history, the wealthiest and lightest-skinned members of this group were acknowledged to be "French." However, after 1763, new racial laws categorized these individuals as nonwhites, defining them as ex-slaves, despite their birth and wealth.
In the eighteenth century, France's Antillean plantations were the most productive institutions of their kind in the Atlantic world. Because sugarcane requires over twelve months of carefully tended growth to reach maturity, but must be crushed within forty-eight hours of harvest, planters using early modern grinding and refining technology needed their own mills and boiling houses. Such investments were more profitable for larger estates, with more sugarcane to process. Saint Domingue's sugar plantations were the largest in the eighteenth-century Caribbean, employing, on average, between 150 and 200 slaves, with the largest plantations far exceeding this number. Leading Dominguan sugar growers also invested in elaborate irrigation systems, built sugar mills driven by wind and water, and developed complex crop rotations. British planters in Jamaica claimed that the French earned returns of close to 10 percent on their plantation investments. Modern calculations based on plantation records vary from 4 percent to 18 percent annual profit.
In part because of these capital improvements, many of Saint Domingue's great planters were heavily indebted to European merchants. Moreover, despite the high price of buying new Africans, many estates systematically overworked or undernourished their slaves to maximize short-term profits, causing annual mortality rates of 5 percent and higher. The brutality of French Caribbean plantation society and the wealth it generated were among the reasons that the biggest planters often left their properties in the hands of managers and returned to France. Approximately 30 to 40 percent of French colonial plantations were managed in this absentee style.
Sugar plantations were the largest and most influential institutions in Caribbean agriculture. However, the early modern French Caribbean colonies produced a number of other commodities with their own distinct plantation technologies. Coffee was the most important of these, with European demand increasing markedly around the middle of the eighteenth century. In the 1780s Saint Domingue's coffee shipments to France were as valuable as its refined sugar exports. Because this crop required far less processing and labor, it cost about one-sixth as much to establish a coffee estate as to build a sugar plantation in Saint Domingue. Other crops were accessible to planters who did not have the capital to found a sugar estate. Indigo dye was an important product in many parts of Saint Domingue and, by the end of the eighteenth century, so was cotton, though these commodities were frequently smuggled into British or Dutch markets.
The French Revolution (1789–1799) forever altered France's presence in the Caribbean. The issue that first destabilized Saint Domingue in 1789 was citizenship, not slavery. From 1789 to 1791, colonial men of color living in Paris convinced the revolution's National Assembly to recognize them as French citizens. In 1791, when colonial whites refused to accept the racial reforms legislated by Paris, civil war broke out in Saint Domingue, pitting whites against free blacks and mulattoes. Taking advantage of this conflict, in August 1791 slaves planned and executed a revolt that spread throughout the colony. Racial tensions prevented whites and free men of color from forging an effective island-wide army to defeat the uprising. In 1793 exslaves were still in rebellion. By this time, France was at war with Spain and England. As these enemies attacked the French Antilles, conservative colonists joined them to fight the revolution.
By the middle of 1793 the twin threats of counterrevolution and foreign invasion forced French officials to offer Saint Domingue's rebel slaves freedom in exchange for military assistance. On 31 October of that year, the French commissioner to Saint Domingue, Léger-Félicité Sonthonax, declared slave emancipation throughout the colony. On 4 February 1794 legislators in Paris, responding to this fait accompli, declared slavery illegal in all French territories. The British had already captured Martinique, but emancipation transformed Guadeloupe, where ex-slaves served as sailors and soldiers alongside whites and former free men of color, attacking foreign shipping and raiding nearby British colonies from 1794 to 1798. In Saint Domingue free colored and ex-slave officers, most notably Pierre Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture, emerged as the leading figures in the French army.
With Napoléon Bonaparte's ascension to power in 1799, and temporary peace with Britain in 1802, France attempted to restore its Caribbean plantations to profitability. In Guadeloupe a French expeditionary force killed approximately 10 percent of the population in the process of reestablishing slavery. Many of the dead were black and mulatto soldiers who had fought loyally for the republic. In Saint Domingue in 1803, however, approximately forty thousand European troops were unable to defeat the colony's former slaves. Fighting first as guerrillas, and then under the leadership of black and mixed-race generals, the ex-slaves also benefited from an outbreak of yellow fever that severely weakened the expeditionary force. On 1 January 1804, rejecting France while proclaiming their allegiance to the ideals of the French Revolution, the leaders of Saint Domingue's ex-slave armies declared their independence as the new American nation of Haiti.
See also Colonialism ; Slavery and the Slave Trade ; Sugar .
Dessalles, Pierre. Sugar and Slavery, Family and Race: The Letters and Diary of Pierre Dessalles, Planter in Martinique, 1808–1856. Edited and translated by Elborg Forster and Robert Forster. Baltimore, 1996.
Labat, Jean-Baptiste. The Memoirs of Père Labat, 1693–1705. Edited and translated by John Eaden. London, 1970. Abridged translation of Nouveau voyage aux isles de l'Amérique (1742).
Moreau de Saint-Méry, Médéric-Louis-Elie. A Civilization That Perished: The Last Years of White Colonial Rule in Haiti. Edited and translated by Ivor D. Spencer. Lanham, Md., 1985. Abridged translation of Description topographique, physique, civile, politique et historique de la partie française de l'isle Saint-Domingue (1797).
Boucher, Phillip P. Cannibal Encounters: Europeans and Island Caribs, 1492–1763. Baltimore, 1992.
Dubois, Laurent. A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787–1804. Chapel Hill, N.C., 2003.
Fick, Carolyn E. The Making of Haiti: The Saint Domingue Revolution from Below. Knoxville, Tenn., 1990.
Geggus, David P. Haitian Revolutionary Studies. Bloomington, Ind., 2002. An important collection of articles by the foremost scholar of prerevolutionary Saint Domingue.
James, C. L. R. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. 2nd ed. New York, 1963. The classic account of the Haitian Revolution and its preconditions.
King, Stewart R. Blue Coat or Powdered Wig: Free People of Color in Pre-Revolutionary Saint Domingue. Athens, Ga., 2001.
Moitt, Bernard. Women and Slavery in the French Antilles, 1635–1848. Bloomington, Ind., 2001.
Peabody, Sue. "There Are No Slaves in France:" The Political Culture of Race and Slavery in the Ancien Régime. Oxford and New York, 1996.
Rogozi'nski, Jan. A Brief History of the Caribbean: From the Arawak and Carib to the Present. New York, 1992.
Stein, Robert Louis. The French Sugar Business in the Eighteenth Century. Baton Rouge, La., 1988.
John D. Garrigus
"The Caribbean." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 14, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/caribbean
"The Caribbean." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Retrieved November 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/caribbean
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Historiography often renders the Spanish Caribbean islands of the early modern period either as mere backwaters, the initial significance of which was rapidly overtaken by the much larger and more lucrative colonies of New Spain and Peru, or as the "Caribbean experiment," the sites where insular colonialism was first tried before being perfected on the continents. However, from the very first moment of contact the encounters and clashes between Spaniards and native peoples of the Caribbean forged the intellectual and cultural template for Spain's subsequent colonial rule in the rest of the hemisphere. Though the major colonies of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Hispaniola became the imperial periphery after the conquest and colonization of the mainland empire, they remained strategically important as a periphery that Spain nonetheless defended fiercely. Thus Spain's Caribbean colonies must be understood as integral parts of the early modern colonial system.
CONQUEST AND COLONIZATION
When the inhabitants of the Caribbean islands first laid eyes on Christopher Columbus and his men in 1492, they could not have known that they were witnessing the creation of the modern world. Nor could Columbus himself have understood the fundamental difference of the world that lay before him, as evinced in his assertion, in his famous letter of the first voyage, that Cuba was part of mainland Asia, a continent already known to Europe. The Capitulaciones de Santa Fe —the contract between Columbus and the Catholic monarchs of Spain Ferdinand (ruled 1474–1516) and Isabella (ruled 1474–1504) for dividing the imagined spoils of his first voyage, which was typical in form and content to other commercial contracts of its time—also points to the extent to which the monarchs imagined a purely commercial enterprise, not the spiritual and military conquest that New World colonization would become. The necessity of this transformation quickly became apparent with Columbus's return with "Indian" slaves in tow as a gift to the queen. This act, by proving the existence not of the "human monsters" predicted by medieval lore but rather of souls thought ignorant of the word of God, immediately transformed the venture into one of colonization. It also presented a first challenge to the ways in which the world was understood, especially through the Bible, as a known, closed system. Notable among early attempts to recuperate the newly found peoples into received understandings of history include that of Hernán Pérez de Oliva. Despite having never seen the new possessions himself, he wrote a florid account of the meeting of Columbus with the Arawak cacique, 'chief', Guarionex in Hispaniola, in which both protagonists deliver stately speeches in the rhetorical style of classical Roman history writing, as exemplified by Cicero. Pérez de Oliva followed classical rhetorical style because it defined historical truth in late antiquity; eyewitness accounts from the New World would fundamentally alter this definition of historiographic authority.
The realities of cultural clash and adaptation on the new colonial ground were far more complex than anything Pérez de Oliva could imagine, and constructing eyewitness accounts of them was a much more compelling exercise for Europeans actually present in the Caribbean. The Caribbean gave rise to the first ethnographic treatise of the modern world, in Fray Ramón Pané's An Account of the Antiquities of the Indians. Pané, a friar who accompanied Columbus on his second voyage, was charged by the admiral with learning the religious practices of the inhabitants of Hispaniola. His account, in a form as garbled as Pérez de Oliva's was logical, highlights his constant struggle with cultural understanding, particularly his failed attempts to grasp the structure and function of Arawak narrative style.
These problems of cross-cultural communication were not benign; rather, they directly contributed to the enormity of violence inflicted on the native inhabitants of the new colonies. The link between the pretense of linguistic comprehension and violent conquest is present in the ritual, unique toSpanishcolonialism, of the requerimiento, 'requirement'. Conquistadores were legally bound to read this document aloud, in the original Castilian, to natives to announce the act of colonization. Once the native peoples were thus conquered, native territories would be subject to the repartimiento, the "allocation" of a cacique and his people to a particular conquistador, the abuses of which were one of the key factors in the demographic collapse of the native population. In addition, the first systems of anthropological classification of Caribbean peoples, aseitherCaribsorTaínos (known today to ethnologists as Arawaks), also set the stage for violence. While Taínos were thought docile, Caribs—said to be ethnologically distinct from Taínos—were considered fierce, wild, and subject to conquest. Peter Hulme's textual analysis of contemporary Spanish documents, however, shows that this distinction was highly fluid and selectively applied to meet the political and strategic needs of a particular moment. Indeed, one of the key traits meant to distinguish one group from the other was its reaction to conquest: those whose response was deemed peaceful could be designated Taíno, while those who showed signs of resistance risked being classified as Carib.
The combined effects of the repartimiento— forced labor, population dislocation, and epidemics (particularly of smallpox in 1518–1519)—led to the demographic collapse of the native populations of the Caribbean. Natives on Hispaniola alone, of whom Massimo Livi-Bacci estimates there were up to 300,000 before the arrival of Columbus—numbered only 60,000 by 1508; by 1520 they were well on the road to extinction. Yet while the Caribbean saw the birth of genocide and violent conquest in the Americas, it also was the source of the first colonial critiques. Bartolomé de las Casas (1474–1566), who would become the most passionate defender of Indians throughout the Americas, witnessed the conquest of Cuba firsthand as a colonizer before a religious conversion left him a fierce opponent of colonial abuse. While he later catalogued (and some say exaggerated) maltreatment from many colonies, it was his initial witness in the Antilles that served as the template for the moral outrage and rhetorical power that made his most famous work, Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies, so influential in its day.
OUTPOSTS OF EMPIRE
After the conquest of New Spain (1521) and Peru (1532), the importance of the Caribbean islands shifted: no longer the principal site of Spanish colonization, they became a colonial periphery. Although the islands had been "granted" to Spain by papal bull, rival imperial powers fiercely contested Spain's initial dominance in the New World. Although Columbus had in theory claimed all the islands he laid eyes on for the Spanish crown, in practice, significant settlement was limited to Cuba, Puerto Rico, and eastern Hispaniola, leaving many islands underdefended and open to being claimed by rival powers in the early modern period. Thus Jamaica, initially settled by Spaniards in 1509, was captured by the British in 1655, while in 1697 the western portion of Hispaniola, the island that had seen Spain's first settlement in the Americas, was ceded to France for what would become its most lucrative colony, Saint Domingue. The remaining major colonies—Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Santo Domingo—became the gateway to an empire and were of enormous strategic importance to Spain as it continually fought off the English, French, and Dutch. Havana and San Juan became highly fortified cities, particularly in response to the presence in the Caribbean of British corsairs (Sir Francis Drake was defeated outside San Juan in 1595).
Though now a periphery with the shift of the center of empire to New Spain, the Caribbean colonies were still a part of the colonial system. Havana, because of its role as an entrepôt in the fleet system that lay at the heart of Spanish mercantilism, became a bustling port by the end of the sixteenth century. Because the fleets departed only twice a year, and because the Caribbean colonies were not as self-sufficient as New Spain and Peru, the islands necessarily depended on illegal trade with foreigners. The Bourbon reforms of the eighteenth century, which liberalized colonial trade within Spain and reorganized the empire's bureaucratic structure, meant a political and economic restructuring for the whole of the empire. For the Caribbean islands the Bourbon reforms marked economic growth and demographic change—the latter due to peninsular immigration and the slave trade—that would not be complete until the full flowering of the plantation societies of the nineteenth century and the return of these colonies to the center of a greatly reduced empire.
See also British Colonies: The Caribbean ; Colonialism ; Columbus, Christopher ; Dutch Colonies: The Americas ; French Colonies: The Caribbean ; Las Casas, Bartolomé de ; Slavery and the Slave Trade .
"Las Capitulaciones de Santa Fé." In 1492–1992: Re/discovering Colonial Writing, edited by René Jara and Nicholas Spadaccin. Minneapolis, Minn., 1989.
Casas, Bartolomé de las. Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies. Translated by Nigel Griffin. New York, 1999.
Pané, Fray Ramón. An Account of the Antiquities of the Indians. Edited by José Juan Arrom. Translated by Susan C. Griswold. Durham, N.C., and London, 1999.
Pérez de Oliva, Hernán. Historia de la invención de las Yndias. Edited by José Juan Arrom. Bogota, 1965.
"The Requirement." In History of Latin American Civilization: Sources and Interpretation, edited by Lewis Hanke, vol. 1, pp. 93–95. Boston, 1973.
Burkholder, Mark A., and Lyman L. Johnson. Colonial Latin America. 3rd ed. Oxford, 1998.
Dussell, Enrique. The Invention of the Americas: Eclipse of "the Other" and the Myth of Modernity. Translated by Michael D. Barber. New York, 1995.
Fuente, Alejandro de la, César García del Pino, and Bernardo Iglesias Delgado. "Havana and the Fleet System: Trade and Growth in the Perhiphery of the Spanish Empire, 1550–1610." Colonial Latin American Review 5, no. 1 (1996): 95–115.
Hulme, Peter. Colonial Encounters: Europe and the Native Caribbean, 1492–1797. London and New York, 1986.
Kicza, John E. "Patterns in Early Spanish Overseas Expansion." The William and Mary Quarterly 49, no. 2 (1992): 229–253.
Knight, Franklin W. The Caribbean: The Genesis of a Fragmented Nationalism. 2nd ed. Oxford and New York, 1990.
Livi-Bacci, Massimo. "Return to Hispaniola: Reassessing a Demographic Catastrophe." Hispanic American Historical Review 83, no. 1 (2003): 3–51.
Phillips, William D., Jr., and Carla Rahn Phillips. The Worlds of Christopher Columbus. New York, 1992.
Rabasa, José. Inventing A-M-E-R-I-C-A: Spanish Historiography and the Formation of Eurocentrism. Norman, Okla., and London, 1993.
Seed, Patricia. Ceremonies of Possession in Europe's Conquest of the New World, 1492–1640. Cambridge, U.K., 1995.
Wagenheim, Olga Jiménez de. Puerto Rico: An Interpretive History from Pre-Columbian Times to 1900. Princeton, 1998.
"The Caribbean." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 14, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/caribbean-0
"The Caribbean." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Retrieved November 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/caribbean-0
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The Caribbean lies at the heart of the Western hemisphere and was pivotal in Europe’s rise to world predominance. Yet the islands that once marked the horizon of the West’s self-perception, as well as the source of its wealth, have been spatially and temporally eviscerated from the imaginary geography of Western modernity. The physical incorporation and symbolic exclusion of the Caribbean from the imagined time-space of “modernity” has made certain ideas of “the West” viable, and they must therefore inform any effort to describe the Caribbean within the social sciences. Since their inception, the social sciences have used non-Western places as counterfoils for Western modernity—they have been viewed as “backward” or “traditional” places against which processes of modern progress, urbanization, industrialization, democratization, rationalization, individualization and so on could be gauged. Yet the Caribbean has never fit easily into such dichotomous visions of the world, for it was always a product of modernity and was in many ways postmodern avant la lettre (before it existed). The anthropologist Sidney Mintz has argued that the Caribbean was “the first part of the non-Western world to endure an era of intensive Westernizing activity.” Thus, “the Caribbean oikumenê became ‘modern’ in some ways even before Europe itself; while the history of the region has lent to it a coherence not so much cultural as sociological” (Mintz 1996, p. 289).
Mintz supports a processual definition of the Caribbean as an oikumenê (ecumene, or “inhabited land”), a historic unit that is “an interwoven set of happenings and products” (Mintz 1996, p. 293). Franklin Knight likewise argues that “the sum of the common experiences and understandings of the Caribbean outweigh the territorial differences or peculiarities” (Knight 1990, p. xiv). The geographical region includes the islands of the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles, and the Bahamas, as well as the coastal areas of Central and South America that have been politically and culturally linked to the Caribbean by processes of colonization, plantation development, and migration. It is also sometimes extended to include far-flung diasporas, especially in Europe and North America. While there are quite distinct traditions of study linked to areas such as the British West Indies, the French West Indies, or the Spanish Antilles, there has also been an increasing amount of comparative and cross-regional research. And while there are differences in the study of dependencies or colonies versus independent states, the Caribbean as a whole can be understood as being marked by complex and uneven processes of imperial decline, postcolonial nation-building, and regional integration.
Above all, the Caribbean was constituted by the global mobilities of colonization, slavery, and the transatlantic plantation system. With the rise of the sugar “plantation complex” the region was marked by the displacement of indigenous peoples by those arriving from northern and southern Europe, eastern and western Africa, and, later, the Indian subcontinent, China, and the Levant. Being more deeply and continuously affected by migration than any other world region, the essence of Caribbean life has always been movement. The very idea of this dispersed and fragmented region as a single place—and its naming and contemporary material existence—are constituted by mobilities of many different kinds, including flows of people, commodities, texts, images, capital, and knowledge. Thus, the Caribbean exists at the crossroads of multifaceted networks of mobility formed by the travels of both people and things, as well as by those people and things that do not move. Alongside the work of capitalist expansion and contraction associated with commodities such as tobacco, sugar, coffee, rum, salt, cotton, indigo, and, later, bananas and tropical fruit, the Caribbean has also been indelibly shaped by the work of imagination and culture-building over the past five hundred years.
Creolization is one of the crucial elements of Caribbean culture building, conceived as a process of indigenization, hybridization, and contested “creation and construction of culture out of fragmented, violent and disjunct pasts” (Mintz 1996, p. 302). Later, the arrival of Caribbean migrants in the metropoles such as London, New York, Toronto, and Miami allowed for the emergence of new kinds of pan-Caribbean identifications, arts movements, musical amalgams, and cultural events like Carnival. This region, more than any other, has long been at the forefront of transnational processes through its uprooted people, Creole cultures, and diasporas traveling across the world. It thus became central to the theorization of transnationality, diaspora, and postmodernity in the 1980s, and to the subsequent emergence of Black Atlantic studies and world history in the 1990s. Social scientists studying globalization turned to Caribbean theoretical concepts such as transculturation, creolization, and marronage to describe contemporary global cultural processes, even while they ignored some of the historical specificity and nuances of these concepts within Caribbean studies.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the region is enmeshed in complex mobilities, including circuitous migrations of people and diverse cultures; transnational flows of capital investment and financial services; technologically mediated flows of information, communication, and intellectual property; and unpredictable global risks and threats to security (e.g., drugs, diseases, criminals, hurricanes). These new mobilities and immobilities, both intra- and extra-Caribbean, are transforming the nature, scale, and temporalities of families, local communities, public spaces, governance structures, and individuals’ commitments to a specific nation. Caribbean mobilities and moorings are paradigmatic of the complex rescaling of urban, national, and regional space. Daily practices of commuting, accessing goods for consumption, moving through public spaces, and communicating with the diaspora help to perform the presences and absences, the proximities and distances, that inform the lived experience of spatiality in the Caribbean and its transnational diasporas.
Global risks associated with criminal activities, terrorism, environmental disasters, and other security issues are also producing new modes of surveillance and the governance of local mobilities within and outside of the region, with significant impact on forms of belonging and exclusion, of connection and disconnection. Thus, Caribbean societies—and the idea of the region as a whole—are being rescaled and respatialized by changes in the infrastructure of transportational and informational mobility, and cultural practices of travel and migration. Understanding exactly how the contemporary Caribbean is being both “demobilized” and “remobilized,” and both deregulated and re-regulated, within the processes of urban, state, regional, and global restructuring can enable social scientists to move beyond the imagery of states as spatially fixed geographical containers for social processes, and to question scalar logics such as local-global. Thus, a rethinking of the processes that are remaking the Caribbean in the twenty-first century will be crucial to advancing the social sciences’ approach to area studies and global studies in ways that finally move beyond its Eurocentric origins and assumed forms of territoriality.
SEE ALSO Colonialism; Creolization; Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean; Rastafari; Sociology, Latin American
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Mintz, Sidney. 1996. Enduring Substances, Trying Theories: The Caribbean Region as Oikumenê. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 2 (2): 289–310.
Sheller, Mimi. 2003. Consuming the Caribbean: From Arawaks to Zombies. London: Routledge.
"Caribbean, The." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 14, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/caribbean
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"Caribbean." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 14, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/caribbean
"Caribbean." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved November 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/caribbean
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The Caribbean islands lie on the northern and eastern sides of the Caribbean Sea, stretching in an elongated S shape from the Bahamas and Cuba in the north and west to Trinidad in the south. The islands are divided into two main groups: the large islands of the Greater Antilles and the smaller islands of the Lesser Antilles. Strong historical connections with the islands mean that the mainland territories of Guyana and Belize are frequently categorized as part of the Caribbean.
THE FIRST INHABITANTS
The Caribbean islands were probably first settled from the South American mainland. When Europeans arrived in the region there were three main groups of people living there. The Ciboney people were found in parts of Hispaniola and Cuba. The Arawak people occupied most of the Greater Antilles, while the Caribs lived throughout the Lesser Antilles. The Caribs were the latest to arrive in the region, migrating northward. As a result of this movement, the peoples of the Caribbean were experiencing change before the arrival of Europeans. However, the arrival of people from the Old World set in motion transformations on a previously unimaginable scale.
THE ARRIVAL OF EUROPEANS
In 1492 the three ships of Christopher Columbus's Spanish expedition made landfall in the Bahamas, before heading south to Cuba and Hispaniola. Columbus famously thought that he had reached the East Indies and clung to this belief until his death in 1506. On his second voyage to the New World, Columbus brought seventeen ships, over a thousand soldiers, and European plants, horses, and livestock. This expedition explored and named many of the Caribbean islands, landing on Dominica, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Antigua, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica.
The first Spanish settlements were in the Greater Antilles, the largest being on Hispaniola. The principal aim of Spanish colonization was to find and extract silver and gold, and Spanish settlers established mines as well as breeding horses and livestock. By the early sixteenth century, large deposits of gold and silver had been discovered in the mainland areas of Mexico and Peru. Thereafter, Spanish Caribbean settlements operated as staging posts and recruitment areas for expeditions to these regions.
The Spanish sought to convert the original inhabitants of the region to Christianity, but these efforts met with little success, and relations between the two groups were generally violent and exploitative. The Spaniards conquered the islands by force and gave no quarter when faced with resistance. They coerced native people into working in the mines, and disturbed local patterns of food production, causing many to starve. Furthermore, natives of the islands lacked immunities to European diseases. It is unclear exactly what proportion of them died as a result of illnesses imported from the Old World, but the arrival of Europeans in the region was certainly a social and demographic disaster, and native people were either destroyed or integrated into the Spanish society. The vast majority were wiped out within a few generations, certainly on the larger islands.
THE END OF SPANISH HEGEMONY
Prior to the end of the sixteenth century, Spain was the only colonial power in the Caribbean. However, Spain's power and influence was declining in Europe and it was increasingly difficult to exclude the English, Dutch, and French from the Caribbean. Initially, the only challenge to Spanish hegemony came from the increasingly common raids on ships and ports by pirates, such as John Hawkins and Francis Drake, who came in search of Spanish gold and silver. Buccaneers (raiders operating from bases in the Caribbean) continued to harass and plunder ships and ports in the region until the eighteenth century.
By the seventeenth century the period of Spanish hegemony was over, and the English, French, and Dutch began to trade and form colonies in the Caribbean. European powers fought to expand their empires and gain dominance of the sea, and because the financial value of Caribbean products and trade was high, competition between the main powers was particularly fierce in the region. The Caribbean became a focal point in the increasingly globalized conflicts between Britain and France during the eighteenth century. At times of war, sea battles were fought and islands were captured and recaptured. Between 1762 and 1814 control of the island of St. Lucia alternated between Britain and France seven times.
SUGAR AND SLAVERY
The expansion of sugar production and slavery helped to ensure that Caribbean colonies were economically and strategically vital to European governments. During the seventeenth century, having experimented with other crops, notably tobacco, northern European settlers began planting sugar, which grew well in tropical conditions and fetched a high price in Europe. Until the mid-eighteenth century, the wealthiest English plantation colony was Barbados, which was then superseded by the larger island of Jamaica, conquered from the Spanish in 1655. The most lucrative sugar colony in the Caribbean was French Saint-Domingue, in the western third of Hispaniola.
Effective sugar production required large holdings of land. This resulted in the creation of plantations that often covered thousands of acres. The cultivation and processing of this crop was also extremely labor-intensive, and, having experimented with indigenous slaves and indentured European labor, Caribbean planters turned to African slaves to meet their labor needs. Slaves imported from the west coast of Africa proved hardier than the indigenous islanders and a more reliable source of labor than European workers. Existing slaving networks in Africa ensured that there was a steady supply of slaves to meet European demand, and because they were treated as items of personal property, enslaved people could be easily bought and sold. The transatlantic slave trade therefore solved the planters' labor problems and permanently altered all aspects of life in the Caribbean colonies. Over five million Africans arrived in the Caribbean, having endured the horrors of the Middle Passage across the Atlantic.
Sugar plantations and the institution of slavery expanded together and had reached the height of their growth and profitability by the end of the eighteenth century. The precise demographic structure of slave societies differed from place to place, but everywhere in the Caribbean they were characterized by large black majorities, as slaves came to heavily outnumber the white inhabitants of the islands. For example, in 1800 there were about twenty slaves to every white person on the island of Jamaica. Across the region, a class of free colored people also emerged, occupying a social and legal position in between the islands' enslaved majorities and privileged white minorities.
Several factors discouraged whites from permanently settling in the region. A plethora of highly contagious diseases and the threat of slave uprisings rendered life in the Caribbean uncomfortable and dangerous. Many larger proprietors lived in Europe as absentees, and those whites who remained in the region did not consider the islands to be a permanent home and maintained a close affinity with the colonial metropole. Caribbean slaveholders also relied upon European military support to control their slaves. Such ties of dependency helped to ensure that Caribbean colonists did not follow their mainland Spanish and North American counterparts in demanding independence from European colonial systems.
In all colonies, slaves were worked hard and faced harsh treatment. In spite of this, enslaved people across the region created viable cultures that allowed them to resist the effects of slavery. Afro-Caribbean cultures emerged that reconfigured African beliefs, practices, and traditions in a New World setting. These cultures often merged with European traditions, especially because many slaves were converted to Christianity and most were forced to learn the language of their masters.
Resistance to slavery was a constant feature of life in the colonies. This ranged from day-to-day forms of resistance, such as working slowly, all the way to large-scale rebellions. Many slaves attempted to run away, and on larger islands, such as Jamaica and Hispaniola, some formed semiautonomous "Maroon" communities. While slave rebellions were common in the Caribbean, most ended in failure. In Saint-Domingue, however, unrest caused by the French Revolution resulted in a successful slave uprising—led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, a former slave—which culminated in the creation of the independent state of Haiti in 1804.
THE ENDING OF CARIBBEAN SLAVERY
In 1807 the British abolished the transatlantic slave trade after a popular campaign led mainly by wealthy evangelicals. This came at a time when slave-produced sugar was still profitable. In the British Caribbean, an economic slump followed the ending of the trade, partly as a result of the demographic impact of abolition. In the British Caribbean, slaves eventually gained emancipation in 1838 as the result of continued pressure in Britain and ongoing slave resistance in the Caribbean. In the remaining French territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe, slavery ended in 1848, while slaves in the Dutch Caribbean were freed in 1863.
The abolition of slavery did not end the tensions that characterized societies long based on racialized social and economic divisions. Emancipated slaves sought independence from the sugar estates. Former slaveholders used a range of tactics to try to retain the freed people's labor, limit their access to land, and prevent their involvement in political life, causing tensions that resulted in protests and riots in British Caribbean territories throughout the postemancipation period. Some planters, especially those in Trinidad and Guyana, responded to their labor problems by importing South and East Asian indentured workers. Many of these laborers settled permanently, contributing to the social and cultural composition of those colonies.
Even as the sugar industry in the British and French Caribbean declined during the nineteenth century, Cuban production rose rapidly. Abundant fertile land, the removal of Spanish trade restrictions, and technological advances meant that the island experienced an economic boom that lasted until the late nineteenth century. Black slaves were used on Cuban plantations along with free workers from Europe, Asia, and Mexico, making the social structure and labor relations in the colony distinct from those in the British and French islands. Slavery survived in Cuba until the 1880s, when the institution was gradually phased out before a complete abolition in 1886.
Beckles, Hilary, and Verene Shepherd, eds. Caribbean Freedom: Society and Economy from Emancipation to the Present. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle, 1993.
Rogoziński, Jan. A Brief History of the Caribbean: From the Arawak and the Carib to the Present, rev. ed. London: Penguin, 2000.
Shepherd, Verene, and Hilary Beckles, eds. Caribbean Slavery in the Atlantic World. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle, 2000.
"Caribbean." Encyclopedia of Western Colonialism since 1450. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 14, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/caribbean-2
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Tobacco was the first American product to conquer Europe. Its rapid acceptance throughout the world made it a profitable commodity in a very short time. Before European contact, indigenous populations' consumption of tobacco had been restricted to the plant's magical and religious purposes, and so it lacked a large market. Thus it was its European commercialization that brought about the expansion of tobacco into new production areas. From those early days until the twentieth century, at least, the Caribbean has been one of the preferred zones of tobacco production.
Small farmers, often of Spanish origin, turned to growing tobacco before the end of the sixteenth century in colonies such as Cuba, Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico, Caracas, and Veracruz, among others. The English, French, and Dutch soon imitated them, as they too began winning territories in America.
At the beginning of the seventeenth century, several European powers took possession of the Caribbean islands which not been effectively settled by Spain. All experimented with tobacco cultivation in their new territories, because it was a product with growing European demand and high value in the international market of the time. Tobacco production provided rival European powers a way to increase their participation in the Atlantic trade.
The Non-Hispanic Caribbean
At the end of the sixteenth century, the Spanish possessions in the region—especially Cuba, Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico, and Caracas—had built up important tobacco growing regions. Encouraged by tobacco's economic potential, the first settlers of the British and French colonies in the Caribbean also began cultivating it on small parcels of land. Thus, the new Caribbean colonies and also those in North America (especially Virginia) began to grow tobacco in significant quantities. As a result an overproduction crisis ensued in 1638, precipitating a drop in prices that undermined the enthusiasm and commercial potential for tobacco in the non-Hispanic Caribbean colonies. These last were most affected by the crisis because they had encountered problems with the quality of their products, which never reached a level acceptable to European consumers. Their tobacco suffered from problems related to the preparation, wrapping and packing of the leaves; it was said that the merchandise arrived at its destination without any aroma, dry, worm eaten, and sandy.
The decline in tobacco prices, together with the low quality that failed to satisfy the tastes of increasingly demanding European consumers, led to the abandonment of tobacco growing on the non-Spanish islands of the Caribbean. By the mid-seventeenth century, tobacco farms were displaced by large sugar cane plantations in these areas, with the exception of Haiti where this crop change took place a bit later. From then on, it was the Spanish Caribbean colonies that competed with Virginia for the benefits to be gained from exporting tobacco to Europe.
By this time, the Dutch, followed by the English and French, had demonstrated that the trade in tropical products, most notably sugar, could bring spectacular profits, and the weakness of the Spanish economy in this sector was evident. To counteract that tendency and become competitive in Atlantic commerce, Spain bet on Caribbean tobacco—especially the Cuban product—viewed as the world's best and sold for the highest prices as a result.
Spanish and Cuban Tobacco
The only significant rival to Cuban tobacco was that grown in Virginia. But Virginia tobacco did not measure up to the Cuban tobacco, which was characterized by rich flavor and aroma, as well as excellent burning qualities. Its fame spread rapidly, and consumers were willing to pay its higher price, even though at times it was triple that of tobacco from other areas. Because Cuban tobacco had the cachet of a connoisseur item, it was relatively invulnerable to foreign competition. Cuban tobacco enjoyed steady demand that guaranteed good prices.
In sum, the non-Spanish islands of the Caribbean mounted an early effort in the tobacco trade, but their product did not achieve a level of quality acceptable to the European market. Spain, on the other hand, had Cuban tobacco, which enjoyed prestige and acceptance among consumers.
Spain sought to benefit from the exclusive cachet of Cuban tobacco. Accordingly, it adopted measures to stimulate Cuban production and preserve tobacco's privileged state in the market. During the eighteenth century, the Cuban tobacco trade received innumerable official stimuli and became the pride and joy of the Spanish monarchy, which elevated it at the expense of tobacco production and commerce in other regions of the empire.
From the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Crown sent Cuba annually large sums of Mexican silver with which to purchase tobacco for shipment to Spain. To protect Cuban production from competition from other Spanish colonies and the effects of contraband, the government restricted the tobacco trade in the rest of its possessions. Such policies benefited the Cuban tobacco business but were prejudicial to other colonies, especially Caribbean ones, which from the beginning of the conquest had invested significantly in this crop.
The Case of Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo, for example, on more than one occasion requested privileges comparable to those granted Cuba. The island colony saw an opportunity in 1762, when the English invaded Cuba. The English maintained control of Havana for a year, halting Cuban tobacco shipments destined for the metropolis. Dominican authorities responded by immediately sending a shipment of Hispaniola tobacco to demonstrate its quality that, they claimed, did not in any way lag behind the Cuban product. Although not to the extent they hoped, the Dominicans did receive a response that fed their hopes. Several royal officials were dispatched to Santo Domingo with the charge of buying all the tobacco harvested in the city and its environs, and of stimulating more planting. The viceroy of New Spain received orders to send money to Santo Domingo to finance that mission. Nonetheless, this effort dissolved when the situation in Havana was normalized.
In Santo Domingo, tobacco planting had achieved some importance since at least 1680, but the bulk of the harvest was illegally sold to the French in the neighboring colony of Saint Domingue (now Haiti). In response, the government in 1770 established a Factoría (tobacco agency) in its colony of Hispaniola, based in the city of Santiago. The purpose of this establishment was to buy the tobacco produced in the region and ship it to the peninsula. As in Cuba, the purchases were financed with silver from New Spain. The Dominican Factoría lasted for twenty-six years, but its function as a provider of tobacco for the metropolis never compared with that of Cuba. Still, the Factoría guaranteed Dominican growers a secure market. This was a strategy to combat the contraband trade with the neighboring French by offering the growers a sure and attractive buyer. At the same time, it provided work and income for the population of this first Spanish colony, which had become one of the poorest.
During the nineteenth century, Santo Domingo went through long periods of political instability that affected and inhibited its economy, in particular tobacco production. As a result, it was not until the beginning of the twentieth century that the Dominicans managed to develop a more solid tobacco industry, characterized by the preeminence of peasant-based production.
The Cases of Caracas and Puerto Rico
Caracas and Puerto Rico were two other colonies that began to export tobacco in the seventeenth century and suffered from Spanish policies that favored the Cuban product. The tobacco of the Venezuelan region of Barinas, especially, had in early times enjoyed a level of prestige comparable to that of Cuba. In both colonies, smuggling of all types of goods—including tobacco—was intense and intolerable to the Spanish government. Good-quality tobacco arriving in Europe by way of illegal commerce threatened the competitiveness of the Cuban product and damaged the Spanish export trade.
In the case of Caracas, the Spanish government established a monopoly in 1779 in spite of opposition from colonial society. Under the monopoly, the state became not only the sole authorized buyer of tobacco produced in the colony, but also the exclusive seller, whether for internal or external consumption. The most distinctive feature of the Caracas monopoly was its Dutch export trade. Prior to the monopoly, the merchants of the Guipuzcoana Company controlled this trade, but with the implementation of the monopoly, several officials were dispatched to Amsterdam, Holland, to take charge of the trade in the name of the king. The Dutch government supported this arrangement and halved the duties charged on importation of Caracas tobacco if it arrived in Amsterdam through the offices of the Spanish government.
The Spanish representatives then received instructions to seek such privileges for Puerto Rican tobacco as well. From 1765 on, as part of the reform efforts that followed the invasion of Havana, the Spanish government tried to stimulate the Puerto Rican economy. It was generally accepted that one of the island's most serious problems was smuggling. The Spanish representatives in Holland reported that, according to Amsterdam merchants, around 1.5 million pounds of Puerto Rican tobacco had entered that port since 1775, suggesting that almost the entire Puerto Rican crop ended up in Holland. This helps explain why the Spanish monarchy authorized direct trade in tobacco between its Caracas and Puerto Rican colonies and Holland, channeling a longstanding practice into legal and official form. To carry out the purchases in Puerto Rico, the monarchy set up a Factoría that began functioning in 1784 and was active until the king suspended sales to Holland in 1792.
The Crisis of the Late Eighteenth Century
The end of tobacco exports to Holland coincided with a general crisis that afflicted the Spanish Empire's tobacco trade. Factors leading to this crisis include the outbreak of war with France in 1792 and the stimulus that sugar production in the Antilles received as a result of the Haitian Revolution. Tempted by the promising panorama of sugar, large planters sought to acquire as much land as possible to devote to that crop, displacing the tobacco growers onto marginal lands. Moreover, in these years the Cuban tobacco industry was in decline, despite the fact that Cuba had distinguished itself as the greatest and most prestigious tobacco producer. If that was the case in Cuba, the outlook in the other Spanish colonies was worse still.
The wars of independence of the early nineteenth century damaged the economies of the newborn nations, such as Venezuela and Santo Domingo, and they were slow to recover and to reinsert themselves into the flows of international commerce. Puerto Rico and Cuba did witness an improvement in tobacco production beginning with the 1840s, but it was always overshadowed by sugar.
The first decades of the twentieth century saw the unfolding of a new history for tobacco in the Hispanic Caribbean, under different political conditions and with different markets. The characteristics and problems of these industries have changed with the times, but the fame and prestige of their products continue to be recognized worldwide.
▌ LAURA NÁTER
Arcila Farías, Eduardo. Historia de un monopolio: El estanco del tabaco en Venezuela, 1779–1833. Caracas: Instituto de Estudios Hispanoamericanos, 1977.
Céspedes del Castillo, Guillermo. El tabaco en Nueva España. Madrid: Real Academia de la Historia, 1992.
Náter, Laura. Integración imperial: El sistema de monopolios de tabaco en el Imperio español. Cuba y América en el siglo XVIII. Ph.D. diss., El Colegio de México, 2000.
Price, Jacob M. France and the Chesapeake: A History of the French Tobacco Monopoly, 1674–1791, and of Its Relationship to the British and American Tobacco Trades. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1973.
plantation historically, a large agricultural estate dedicated to producing a cash crop worked by laborers living on the property. Before 1865, plantations in the American South were usually worked by slaves.
contraband trade traffic in a banned or outlawed commodity. Smuggling.
"Caribbean." Tobacco in History and Culture: An Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 14, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/caribbean-3
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CARIBBEANspanish, british, and french colonization
the situation in the late eighteenth century
revolution in the french caribbean
reshaping of the british caribbean
Modern Europe, it might be said, was born in the Caribbean. From Christopher Columbus's landing in the region in 1492 through the nineteenth century, the economic productivity, political revolutions, and cultural dynamics generated by the Caribbean profoundly shaped the evolution of European empires, most notably those of Spain, Britain, and France. The Caribbean was the first zone of European colonization in the Americas, and it attracted the attention of successive waves of colonists and merchants whose actions decimated the indigenous populations and created a new population of enslaved individuals brought across the Atlantic from Africa. European economic systems, administrative models, philosophical ideas, music, and language had a profound influence in the Caribbean. But the imperial projects carried out there also led to a massive and unprecedented movement of population into the region that created economic, cultural, and political dynamics that indelibly shaped the colonizing nations who sought (often unsuccessfully) to control their colonies.
The Caribbean can be understood most fruitfully through the lens of what the Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz called "transculturation," as a zone of both violent and productive encounter between a bewildering series of cultures: the indigenous civilizations who, though brutally decimated by Europeans, nevertheless survived in important numbers well into the eighteenth century in the eastern Caribbean; the Gascons, Scots, Provençals, Castilians, and members of other European tribes who nominally served various states but also often served themselves much more successfully; the East Indian and Chinese contract laborers who were brought to work in the region during the nineteenth century; the Middle Eastern merchants who came voluntarily to the region; and of course, most importantly, the multiple and diverse groups of Africans who were brought on slave ships from the early sixteenth century through the late nineteenth century and who, as laborers but also as survivors, revolutionaries, and eventually citizens have made the Caribbean what it is today.
The period from 1789 to 1914 was an era of profound transformation in the Caribbean. At the end of the eighteenth century, the region was booming, as was the slavery and the slave trade that made its plantations prosperous. By the early twentieth century there was no slavery anywhere in the Caribbean, though the inheritances of the institution remained quite powerful and shaped the economic and political crises that were to come in the ensuing decades. In addition to witnessing emancipation in the region, the period saw the emergence of three independent nations there: Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba. But they were surrounded by islands that remained under the control of France, Britain, Holland, and (though not for much longer) the Danes. If, in 1789, it was the French and British who dominated the colonies of the Caribbean, by the early twentieth century it was clear that its future would evolve under the shadow of another empire: that of the United States.
The island of Española (known as Hispaniola in the Anglophone world) was colonized by the Spanish in the early fifteenth century, but after a brief boom in Santo Domingo that included the construction of sugar plantations on the island, the Spanish empire turned most of its energies to mainland Latin America. Cuba became the site of well-fortified stopping points for convoys of silver and other goods, and, like Santo Domingo, was populated mainly by small farmers, though both societies included slaves. During the sixteenth century, the British and French began colonizing the eastern Caribbean, an area neglected by the Spanish, founding colonies first (jointly) in Saint Christopher (Saint Kitts) and then (separately) in Barbados and Antigua and Martinique and Guadeloupe. Within a few decades new ventures were launched on the larger islands near Cuba. The British took Jamaica, which became their most important colony, and the French squatted and then gained official title to the west of Santo Domingo, which became the thriving colony of Saint Domingue.
Despite the relatively small size of its territory, the Caribbean was at the center of the Atlantic economy in the eighteenth century because its climate was very well suited for the cultivation of sugar, which became a staple of European diets. Coffee, indigo, cotton, and cacao supplemented this important crop. The success of these commodities did not assure the success of planters in the Caribbean. Especially once the best land in the colonies had been settled, new arrivals there often ended up bankrupt. Yet many did make important fortunes from producing and selling sugar and other commodities. Some planter families grew extremely wealthy, and merchants in the metropole profited handsomely from importing and selling their goods. Whereas Britain consumed most of its colonial sugar domestically, France exported much of what its colonies produced to the rest of Europe, and those involved in this trade did very well. The port towns of Britain and France boomed thanks to the Caribbean colonies. Indeed, the economic and accompanying social changes that resulted from the Atlantic economy were one of the forces that helped set up, and then drive the twists and turns of, the French Revolution.
While in the early days of colonization the population included many European indentured laborers, who often worked alongside African slaves, as soon as the sugar boom hit in the various islands the population generally became heavily Africanized. By the late eighteenth century the populations of the major sugar islands were dominated by a vast majority of slaves. Resistance was constant, and some communities of enslaved individuals who escaped to the mountains (called Maroons) won their freedom from the British and Dutch in the 1730s. Then, in the 1790s, the most profitable colony in the region, and in the world—French Saint Domingue—exploded in a revolt that became a revolution.
In August 1789, before news of the fall of the Bastille had reached the region from France, slaves in Martinique began to gather, stirred by an exciting rumor: the king of France had abolished slavery. Unfortunately, however, local leaders and planters were conspiring to repress the decision. It was therefore necessary to force them, with violence if necessary, to apply the abolition decree. The small revolt that began in Martinique in 1789 was quickly repressed, but the idea that emancipation was imminent helped drive a remarkable series of insurrections through the French Caribbean during the next years. The most important of these took place in August 1791 in the northern plain of Saint Domingue, where a coalition of plantation workers launched the only successful slave revolt in history. Transforming themselves into an unbeatable military force, they positioned themselves strategically in the volatile situation of revolution and imperial war, and in 1793 administrators in Saint Domingue decreed the abolition of slavery there as a way of avoiding the loss of the most valuable colony in the world to the British and Spanish. The National Convention in Paris ratified the decision in 1794, and so the French Empire ended an institution that had brought wealth pouring into its coffers for a century. It was a remarkable political triumph, the most radical of the Age of Revolution: from being chattel, the men and women of the French Caribbean had gained not only liberty but also citizenship and equality, in the process expanding the meaning and possibilities of republican universalism in dramatic ways.
Emancipation took root in the midst of war and embodied many contradictions. Administrators, the most famous of them Toussaint Louverture, remained committed to maintaining plantation production with liberty, developing a variety of coercive mechanisms for doing so. The ex-slaves, meanwhile, did what they could to secure autonomy, notably by seeking to gain control over land for themselves. It was a struggle that would be replayed in every other postemancipation context in the Americas, notably in the British Caribbean after the abolition of slavery there in 1833, and in Cuba in the 1870s. Despite the efforts of Toussaint to maintain and rebuild plantation production, however, the French government under Napoleon Bonaparte turned against him in late 1801. Attempting to regain direct control over the colony, and to reverse the transformations brought about by emancipation, they incited a large-scale war in the colony that culminated, in 1804, with a French defeat and the creation of a new nation called Haiti.
The Haitian Revolution had a profound impact on the Caribbean region. Refugees fanned out from the colony to neighboring islands, particularly Cuba. The vast opening in the sugar market was filled, in the early nineteenth century, by a plantation boom on Cuba, which experienced the rapid proliferation of sugar production and the massive importation of African slaves that Saint Domingue had in the eighteenth century. As Spain lost its mainland colonies in the first decades of the nineteenth century, Cuba, long a marginal zone in its American empire, became its center.
The British Caribbean was also reshaped in the wake of the Haitian Revolution. The precise impact of the dramatic revolution has been a subject of some controversy among historians. Some have argued that the abolitionist movement was actually stalled by the violent uprising in Haiti, because critics of slavery were saddled with the accusation that they had abetted the killing of white masters. Others have argued that the example of successful slave revolution in fact spurred on the abolitionist campaign in various ways. Whatever the case, by 1807 the abolitionists had succeeded in abolishing the British slave trade, a decision that had a profound impact on the Caribbean colonies. During the next decades a series of revolts took place in the British Caribbean, notably in 1816 in Barbados, often directly inspired by abolitionist advances. Popular and parliamentary pressure for an abolition of slavery increased during the next decade, and in 1831 an uprising in Jamaica, called the "Baptist War" because of the large number of Baptist slaves involved, helped spur on the final push to end the institution.
Slavery was abolished in 1833 but replaced in all the British colonies—with the exception of Antigua—with a system of "apprenticeship" that kept the former slaves tied to plantation labor. Many former slaves intensely disliked the limited freedom granted to them by apprenticeship, and their resistance helped assure that it was ended earlier than planned. During the next decades former slaves struggled to establish some form of economic autonomy and independence, often by settling on available land in the interior of the colonies. Planters, meanwhile, struggled to maintain their power, finding ways to limit access to land and diminish the economic options of the former slaves. Tensions exploded in Jamaica with the Morant Bay uprising of 1865, to which the administration responded by dismantling many of the democratic reforms augured in with emancipation and by making the island a crown colony.
Slavery was abolished in Martinique and Guadeloupe in 1848, and there a similar dynamic took shape during the rest of the nineteenth century. Citizenship was granted to former slaves in 1848 and then retracted in 1851, and finally only firmly established with the advent of the Third Republic in 1870. The colonies elected representatives in the National Assembly, but their local administration was nevertheless controlled by governors appointed from Paris, and planters found many ways to protect their traditional power in the society.
Cuba was the last Caribbean society in which slavery was abolished. As in Haiti, emancipation and independence were intertwined in Cuba. The end of slavery began in 1868 when Carlos Manuel de Céspedes began an uprising against Spanish rule by freeing his own slaves and calling on them to fight with him for both freedom and independence. The insurgent policy of freeing slaves who joined the uprising against Spain did not assure victory: after ten years, the uprising was effectively defeated. But the Spanish accepted the freedom of those slaves who had fought in the insurrection. Soon afterward, in 1880, they passed a "Free Womb" law, which meant that all children of slaves would henceforth be free, and put in place a process of gradual emancipation similar to the apprenticeship system in the British Caribbean. Once again, this gradual process was accelerated by the resistance and sophisticated legal maneuverings of slaves, and by 1886 slavery was abolished outright in Cuba with many slaves having already secured their full freedom. Many former slaves would take part in the second war of independence in Cuba from 1895 to 1898, and some of the great leaders of this struggle, most famously Antonio Maceo, were men of African descent. Through their participation, they helped craft a political discourse of raceless citizenship that, for all its ambiguities, continues to shape Cuban culture. The end of Spanish empire in Cuba in 1898, however, was combined with the assertion of power over Cuba by the United States, which during the twentieth century ultimately replaced the European empires as the most significant external force shaping Caribbean political and economic realities.
Blackburn, Robin. The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, 1776–1848. London, 1988.
Dubois, Laurent. Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution. Cambridge, Mass., 2004.
Ferrer, Ada. Insurgent Cuba: Race, Nation, and Revolution, 1868–1898. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1999.
Holt, Thomas C. The Problem of Freedom: Race, Labor, and Politics in Jamaica and Britain, 1832–1938. Baltimore, Md., 1992.
Knight, Franklin W. The Caribbean: The Genesis of a Fragmented Nationalism. 2nd ed. New York, 1990.
Knight, Franklin W., ed. General History of the Caribbean. Vol. 3: The Slave Societies of the Caribbean. London, 1997.
Scott, Rebecca J. Slave Emancipation in Cuba: The Transition to Free Labor, 1860–1899. Princeton, N.J., 1985.
Sheller, Mimi. Democracy after Slavery: Black Publics and Peasant Radicalism in Haiti and Jamaica. Gainesville, Fla., 2000.
"Caribbean." Encyclopedia of Modern Europe: Europe 1789-1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of Industry and Empire. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 14, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/caribbean-4
"Caribbean." Encyclopedia of Modern Europe: Europe 1789-1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of Industry and Empire. . Retrieved November 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/caribbean-4
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Fig Tree Hill
Monks Hill and Fort George
Nelson's Dockyard National Park at English Harbour
The Morgan Lewis Mill
St. Ann's Fort
St. George's Parish Church
Speightstown, St. Peter
Washington House (Bush Hill House)
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
Santiago de Cuba
Trinidad de Cuba
The Valle de Los Ingenios
Plantations (landhuis) and Great Houses
DOMINICA (THE COMMONWEALTH OF DOMINICA)
The Cabrits National Park
Fort Cashacrou, Scotts Head
Old Mill Cultural Centre at Canefield
Prince Rupert's Bay, Portsmouth
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (SANTO DOMINGO)
Santo Domingo de Guzmán
HAITI (ST. DOMINGUE)
Môle St. Nicholas
Port au Prince
Port Henderson (New Brighton)
Plantations and Plantation Houses
Pointe du Diamant
The Nelson Museum
St. John's Fig Tree Church
Fort San Cristobal
Fort de San Gerónimo del Boquerón
ST. BARTHÉLÉMEW (ST. BARTHOLOMEW, ST. BARTS, OR ST. BARTH)
ST. EUSTATIUS (STATIA)
Fort Oranje (Fort Orange)
Forts and Batteries
Lynch Plantation Museum
Synagogue "Honen Dalim"
ST. KITTS (ALSO KNOWN AS ST. CHRISTOPHER)
Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park
Charles Fort, Sandy Point
Castries (Petit Carenage)
Grand Cul-du-Sac Bay
Gros Islet (Rodney Bay)
Moule à Chique
Pigeon Island National Park
ST. MARTIN/ST. MAARTEN
New Herrnhut Moravian Church
Mount St. George
The Caribbean was a major theater of the American Revolutionary War. This was because the islands were economically important as the principal market for the slave trade in the Americas and as the primary source of sugar and rum consumed in Europe and America. Furthermore, they were divided among the colonial powers of Britain, France, Spain, and the Netherlands, which were all belligerents at some stage of the Revolutionary War. The French, Spanish, and Dutch islands were vital sources of the military supplies and gunpowder that sustained the Continental army. The American flag was first saluted in the Danish and Dutch islands of the Caribbean. American privateers swarmed these seas and were likened to an infestation of fleas by the British.
The Caribbean was also the location of critical naval battles that had major implications for the war in North America, and the defense of the British colonies in the Caribbean deflected military resources from the British commanders in America. The islands were all variously affected by the war, with large-scale military preparations and economic disruption. However, the small islands of the eastern Caribbean were the scenes of the most dramatic military events, and are therefore given particular consideration here. American Loyalists from Georgia and South Carolina settled in the Bahamas, Jamaica, Dominica, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Belize. Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Crispus Attucks, and John Paul Jones all spent time in the Caribbean before 1776. The war's surviving relics in the Caribbean convey the interconnection between the history of the islands and the revolutionary history of the United States.
Antigua was a British colony between 1632 and 1981. The 108-square-mile island had close ties with America before the Revolutionary War. Benjamin Franklin sent his nephew, Benjamin Meacom, to set up a printing press in Antigua. The captain of one of the ships whose cargo was destroyed in the Boston Tea Party was involved in a bar fight in Antigua after leaving Boston. The island had relied on food imports from North America before 1775, and the war caused severe shortages that led to the deaths of an estimated one-fifth of the slave population. Antigua led the other Caribbean islands, together with Tortola, in fitting out privateers against the Americans, beginning with the sloop Reprisal, which had captured three American vessels by January 1777, and whose owners declared that they were "zealously disposed to assist in reducing his Majesty's rebellious colonies in America to lawfull obedience." Antigua alone among the British Leeward Islands escaped conquest by the French. Its defense was a high priority owing to the presence of English Harbour, which was the main British naval base in the eastern Caribbean. Like Virginia, Antigua had strong royalist ties during the English Civil War, and the local rum is called "Cavalier."
Clarence House, overlooking English Habour, was built for Prince William Henry, a younger son of George III who later became duke of Clarence and King William IV. He had served in the Caribbean and visited New York during the American Revolution. He was captain of the Pegasus when he visited Antigua in 1787. Clarence House is now the official residence of the governor-general of Antigua, and it is open to visitors when he is not in residence.
Falmouth is at the foot of Monk's Hill. St. Paul's Church has a graveyard with the tomb of the Honorable James Charles Pitt, son of the earl of Chatham and commander of H.M.S Hornet, who died at the age of twenty at English Harbour on 13 November 1780. The epitaph reads: "The genius that inspired / and the virtues that adorned the parent / were revived in the son / whose dawning merit / bespoke a meridian splendor / worthy of the name Pitt." St. Paul's, originally fortified in 1676, was the first church building on the island. It doubled as a courthouse.
Fig Tree Hill commands views of Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Nevis, and St. Kitts.
Fort Barrington on Goat Hill is on the promontory at the northern beach side of Deep Bay. It was named after Admiral Sir Samuel Barrington and was completed on the site of an earlier structure in 1779. It was a signal station which reported movements of ships by flag and light signals to Rat Island. It has views of St. John's Harbour, St. Kitts, and Nevis. It is accessible via Five Islands near the Royal Antiguan Resort.
Fort James is on a promontory at the northern end of St. John's, and was first fortified in 1704 to 1705. It contained barracks for about seventy-five men for the regiment of British troops stationed on the island since the 1730s. The walls are in good condition and there is a kitchen building with a seventeenth-century open-fire range. Ten of the original cannon with 5.5-inch bores remain. They weigh 2.5 tons, have a range of 100 yards, and fired 4-pound shot. They were manned by a team of twelve. The fort commands an extensive view of the harbor of St. John's. It can be reached from Fort Road.
Monks Hill and Fort George overlook English Harbour and Falmouth. The fortress was erected on the 669-foot summit of the hill between 1689 and 1705. The outer walls surrounded an area of about 7 acres which were intended as a refuge for the inhabitants in the event of an invasion. They are largely intact, together with the ruins of powder magazines, including the west magazine built in 1731, the original gun sites for thirty-two cannon, a water cistern, and a stone inscription to King George II. It was too large and exposed to be defended as a regular fort. It is accessible by car by following signs from Liberta off the main road through the village of Table Hill Gordon. It can also be reached by foot from Cobbs Cross at Falmouth Harbour. Further west is the fort on Johnstone Point.
Nelson's Dockyard National Park at English Harbour was perfectly situated—in landlocked basins formed from a volcano cone—to afford ships protection. It was used by the Royal Navy to refit, careen, and shelter warships between 1725 and 1889. It was expanded during the American Revolution to become the primary British base in the eastern Caribbean, and occasionally it repaired ships from the British fleet in North America during the Revolutionary War. It was more important than Port Royal at Jamaica because of the location and the prevailing wind directions from east to west. It is today a wonderfully preserved Georgian dockyard built principally between 1778 and 1792 that includes the Copper and Lumber Store (1789); the Capstan House; the Boat and Joiner's Loft (1778); the Cordage and Canvas Store (1778–1784); the Seaman's Galley (1778); and the Saw Pit and Saw Pit Cabin (1769). Among the many artisans who worked at the dockyard was a caulker called John Baxter who arrived from Chatham in 1778 and opened the first Methodist Chapel in Antigua in 1783. Horatio Nelson spent time here while he commanded H.M.S. Boreas on the Leeward Island Station between 1784 and 1787. There is a museum with an emphasis on naval history at the Admiral's House at Nelson's Dockyard and an interpretation center at Dow's Hill which also offers a panoramic view of Nelson's Dockyard. The ruins of Fort Berkley are located on the long spit at the other end of the harbor which it protected. Fort Charlotte was built to the north of Fort Berkeley in 1745.
Plantation Houses. Betty's Hope, south of the village of Pares in the parish of St. Peter, was established in about 1674 and was owned for three hundred years by the Codrington family of Gloucestershire in England. The word "hope" meant an enclosed piece of land, and Betty's Hope was named after the daughter of the founder, Sir Christopher Codrington. It is a restored plantation which includes a working seventeenth-century windmill together with exhibits and demonstrations of the manufacture of sugar and rum. The Codrington family also owned the neighboring island of Barbuda, where their slaves grew provisions for their plantations in Antigua. Parham Hill Plantation's great house dates from 1722.
Rat Island in St. John's Harbour is joined to the mainland by an isthmus. It was first fortified in 1741 and contained barracks for the regular British army regiment stationed on the island from the 1730s.
St. John's, Antigua's capital, is situated in the north of the leeward coast at the head of a harbor with the same name. It was defended on the south by Fort Barrington and the north by Fort James, and also by the fortifications on Rat Island. The walls are in good condition and some guns remain. The Old Court House on Long and Market Streets was built in 1747 and was designed by the English-born American architect Peter Harrison. It was extensively rebuilt, with the addition of the cast-iron pillars, after the earthquake of 1843. The law courts met on the ground floor and the legislature on the floor above. The building now houses the Historical and Archaeological Society of Antigua and Barbuda (HAS), which has a specialist library, and the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda. It used to contain the historical records of the island but these are now stored, about a third of a mile to the east, in a purpose-built National Archives Building opposite the sport field called the Antigua Recreation Ground. The Police Station (1750s) and guardhouse (1754) in Newgate Street were formerly an arsenal, now surrounded by railings composed of firelocks and bayonets. St. John's Anglican Cathedral between Long and Newgate Streets has many interesting eighteenth-century memorial tablets and graves. It was built in 1683 and rebuilt in 1745 and 1847. Government House was once frequented by great admirals such as Lord Hood and Lord Nelson. It was the private home of the merchant Thomas Kerby in 1750, and is now the residence of the governor-general. The barracks building was erected in 1735. The Historic Redcliffe Quay, also known as Pickett's Wharf, is on the waterfront of St. John's. It was a trading center with warehouses, taverns, and docks, which are now converted into restaurants and shops. At the time of the American Revolution it was owned by Charles Kerr, a merchant of Scottish descent who had many commercial interests including a shipyard; he was chief supplier to the navy in 1781. The district was extensively damaged by the fire of 1841.
Shirley Heights is part of national park which comprises Nelson's Dockyard. It was built during the governorship of Sir Thomas Shirley. The fortifications mostly postdate the American Revolution, although they were begun in 1781. The postwar years were a major period for the construction of fortifications throughout the British Caribbean. The investment was largely a response to the experiences of the American Revolution in which an island might hold out for several weeks with a small garrison and strong fortifications, as did St. Kitts in January 1781. There are today the ruins of barracks, batteries, cisterns, and powder magazines. The ordnance building is now used as a restaurant. A weathered stone on the front of the main building at the west end records that the First West India Regiment was stationed there more than thirty years after the barracks were built. This regiment originated in the South Carolina Black Corps, which was created during the American Revolution, drawing upon slaves who were given their freedom in return for serving in the British army, and then sent to the West Indies. Shirley Heights has a magnificent view of English Harbour, Montserrat, and Redonda.
For further information contact the following: the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Tourism, 610 Fifth Avenue, Suite 311, New York, N.Y. 10020; phone: (888) 268-4227 (toll-free) or (212) 541-4117; fax: (212) 541-4789; email: [email protected]; the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Tourism, Government Complex, Queen Elizabeth Highway, St. John's, Antigua, West Indies; phone: (268) 462-0408; fax: (268) 462-2483; email: [email protected]; the Antigua and Barbuda Historical and Archaeological Society, Church Street, P.O. Box 103, English Harbour, Antigua; phone: (268) 463-1060; the Historical and Archaeological Society, Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, Box 2103, St. John's, Antigua, West Indies; phone: (268) 462-4930; fax (268) 462-1469; email: [email protected]; website: www.antiguanice.com. At Nelson's Dockyard National Park contact the chairperson of the NPA, Ms. Valerie Hodge, the parks commissioner, Mrs. A. Martin, and the onsite archaeologist, Dr. Reg A. Murphy, at P.O. Box 1283, St. John's, Antigua, West Indies; phone: (268) 460-1379; fax: (268) 460-1516; email: [email protected] Christopher Codrington has created a website, "Historic Antigua and Barbuda," with information relating to the history, archaeology, and genealogy of the island at idt.net/∼coopcod, or email him at [email protected] The National Archives are located at Rappaport Centre, Factory Road, St. Johns; phone: (268) 462-3946.
The Bahamas were a British colony included in a grant by Charles I to Sir Robert Heath, then attorney general of England, on 30 October 1629. During the American Revolution the islands were the scene of the first deployment of marines from North America. On 3 March 1776 an American fleet commanded by Esek Hopkins attacked Nassau. They remained on the island for two weeks, during which time they dismantled the forts to obtain the ammunition and guns. During the war the Bahamas fitted out privateers which captured 124 American ships, together with 15 Spanish and 31 French ships, between 1777 and 1782. In January 1778 another party of American marines attacked and held the island for two days while they spiked the remaining guns at Nassau. The Spanish retook Nassau in 1782 with the help of the South Carolina, the largest and most powerful American ship to serve in the war, under the command of Commodore Alexander Gillon. The French seized the Turks Islands and defended them against a counterattack by Captain Horatio Nelson of the H.M.S. Albermarle in 1783. It was a group of American Loyalists led by Andrew Deveaux, a lieutenant colonel of the South Carolina militia, who retook the Bahamas from the Spanish on 18 September 1783. The Bahamas were transformed by the Revolutionary War when their population doubled with the arrival of Loyalist refugees and their slaves from Georgia and the Carolinas.
Cat Island contains the ruins of the American Loyalist Andrew Deveaux's mansion, built in 1783 in Port Howe. He led the expedition that reconquered the island from the Spanish.
Nassau, the capital of New Providence, dates from 1729. Fort Charlotte commands the western entrance to the harbor. It was named after Queen Charlotte, the wife of George III, and was built between 1787 and 1794 on the orders of John Murray, the fourth earl of Dunmore, who had been governor of Virginia at the outbreak of the American Revolution and was also a former governor of New York. Fort Montagu, built in 1742, commanded the eastern end of the harbor overlooking the narrows between Hog and Athol Islands. It was briefly captured by the Americans in 1776. The fort is named after the duke of Montagu of the Royal Foresters of South Carolina, who launched a bold attack to repossess the island from the Spanish on 14 April 1783. Montagu financed the expedition, despite having lost much of his fortune in the war, assembling 220 men with only 150 muskets. He cleverly deceived his opponents regarding his actual numbers. The Deanery is a private residence dating from 1710. The kitchen and former slave quarters are in a one-story building to the west of the house. The Priory (1787) was the official residence of Governor Dunmore. The Vendue House is now the Pompey Museum. It was a slave auction house built some time before 1769. Blackbeard's Tower, northeast of Nassau, allegedly dates from the late 1600s. Also in New Providence there is a late-seventeenth-century fort at Northwest Point and the ruins of a fort at South Ocean Beach.
For further information contact: the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, P.O. Box N-3701, Nassau, Bahamas; phone: (242) 322-7500; fax: (242) 328-0945; email: [email protected]; the Department of Archives, P.O. Box SS-6341, Nassau, N. P., Bahamas; phone: (242) 393-2175, 393-2855; fax: (242) 393-2855; email: [email protected]; website: www.bahamasnationalarchives.bs; the Bahamas Public Library, Rawson Square, Nassau, Bahamas. At the College of the Bahamas Library you may contact Ms. Williamae Johnson at Oakes Field, P.O. Box N1645, Nassau, Bahamas; phone: (242) 323-7930 ext. 227; fax: 242 323 7834; email: [email protected] Also helpful are the Bahamas National Trust, The Retreat, Village Road, P.O. Box N-4105, Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas; phone: (242) 393-1317; fax: (242) 393-4978; and the Bahamas Historical Society, Elizabeth Avenue/Shirley Street, P.O. Box 55-6833, Nassau, Bahamas; phone: (242) 322-4231.
Barbados was a British colony between 1627 and 1966. The 166-square-mile island had close links with British North America before 1775. A group of adventurers from the island led the settlement of South Carolina, whose original slave code was closely modeled on that of Barbados. Benjamin Franklin was first apprenticed in Philadelphia to Samuel Keimer, who later became a printer in Barbados. George Washington made his only trip abroad in 1751 to Barbados when he visited the island in the hope of finding a remedy for his ill half-brother Lawrence Washington, from whom he later inherited Mount Vernon. He kept a diary during his visit to the island between 28 September and 3 November. He became ill himself during the trip, and very nearly died of smallpox. His brother was related through marriage to Gedney Clarke, a local merchant, who was a member of the council, collector of customs, and owner of the Bell Plantation. Clarke greeted the Washingtons on their arrival in Barbados. Crispus Attucks, one of the victims of the Boston Massacre in 1770, and Prince Hall, a member of a British Army Lodge of Freemasons in Boston in 1775 and the founder of the first African Grand Lodge in Boston, were both from Barbados. During the American Revolution the island suffered severe food shortages in the early stages of the war, having previously relied upon imports of fish, corn, and rice from North America. General Sir John Vaughan made the island his command headquarters when he arrived with the Eighty-ninth Regiment in February 1780. The island was devastated by a hurricane the following October. Benjamin Franklin gave American privateers orders for ships to be allowed to pass without molestation to relieve the island.
Bridgetown is the capital of Barbados. Few buildings survived the destruction of the hurricanes of 1780 and 1831, and the fire of 1860. The Law Courts are housed in a building completed between 1730 and 1732, which was the place where the assembly met between 1729 and 1784. It was the oldest assembly in the British Caribbean, having been founded in 1639, twenty years after the assembly in Virginia, which was the first in North America. During the American Revolution the building also doubled as a jail for confining prisoners of war, including Captain John Manley and his crew of the American privateer Cumberland who escaped, clearly with inside help, in 1779. The Nichols Building (now the law offices of Harford Chambers), on the corner of Lucas and James, with its curvilinear gables, is Bridgetown's oldest surviving building, thought to predate 1700. The Government House, approached from Trafalgar Square by Constitution Road and Government Hill, was leased as the residence of the governors of the island in 1703 and purchased in 1736. It was known as Pilgrim after the first resident, the Quaker John Pilgrim, and was rebuilt in 1755. It is not open to the public because it is now the official residence of the governor-general. Literary Row, connecting Lake's Folly with Cheapside, is named after the Literary Society, founded in August 1777. Queen's Park contains the King's (now Queen's) House, which became the residence of General Sir John Vaughan in 1780. It was destroyed by a hurricane the same year. Major General Gabriel Christie demolished the remnants of the original structure to build the present one, ordered the purchase of the land, and added some barracks on the west side of the house. The current structure was built in 1783 to be the residence of the commanding officer of the British army in the eastern Caribbean (Barbados and the Windward and Leeward Islands). Today the main building is used as a theater and gallery.
Carlisle Bay was named after the earl of Carlisle, to whom Charles I granted the island in 1627. Barbados lacks a natural harbor, and the British fleet was therefore stationed at Antigua. Nevertheless, the navy frequently moored in Carlisle Bay during the American Revolution. The British expedition against St. Lucia sailed from Barbados on 12 December 1778. It included five thousand troops who had served under Sir Henry Clinton in North America. The Careenage, a harbor of modest dimensions, is a basin on the lower reaches of the old Constitution River, which terminates in the Molehead. In December 1772 work commenced on dredging the water and rebuilding the wharves, necessitating the removal of 5,760 tons of rubbish. It was sufficiently successful to enable vessels of a draught of 9 or 10 feet to enter the channel by April 1773, but the achievement was reversed by the effects of the hurricane of October 1780. The Careenage was defended by Charles Fort on Needham's Point, which dated from 1650, but was completely rebuilt in 1811 to 1812, and is now located in the grounds of the Hilton Hotel.
Codrington College was a school at the time of the American Revolution and a plantation owned by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG). It is a very impressive building with its avenue of tall cabbage-palm trees lining the drive of the approach and its view of the Atlantic Ocean. It was founded by Christopher Codrington, the governor-general of the Leeward Islands, who bequeathed two sugar plantations for the education of scholars and for the religious instruction of the slaves to the SPG by his will of 1710. It opened as a grammar school in 1745 and a theological college in 1830. The Principal's Lodge, or Consett's House, was the original great house of the plantation where Christopher Codrington lived; it predates 1700 but was gutted by fire in 1926. The college buildings were completed in 1743. They feature a triple-arched open portico through which the visitor glimpses the sea. There are 5 acres of woodland and a large lily pond which dominates the garden in front of the college. It is indicative of the poverty of the educational infrastructure of the islands in this period that the school was closed between 1775 and 1796.
Fort George was a redoubt about 2.5 miles east of Bridgetown which was under construction in 1779. It was never completed, but a few traces remain.
The Morgan Lewis Mill was originally built by Dutch Jews from Brazil. It is still functional and is now preserved by the Barbados National Trust. As on St. Kitts and Antigua, there are towers of eighteenth-century sugar mills throughout Barbados. There are additional displays of the operation of the sugar industry at St. Nicholas Abbey and the Sir Frank Hutson Sugar Machinery Museum.
Plantation Houses. Drax Hall, together with St. Nicholas Abbey, is one of two remaining Jacobean houses in Barbados. It is not open to the public, but the exterior is sufficient testimony of the immense prosperity of the island in the late seventeenth century. Sunbury Plantation House and Museum in St. Philip was built in the 1660s and much expanded around 1770. It was severely damaged in a fire in 1995. It is the only plantation house that can be toured throughout, with period furnishings and estate tools. There still survive a large number of houses which either predate or were contemporaneous with the American Revolution: Aberdare in Christ Church; Alleyndale Hall in St. Peter (c. 1720); Bagatelle (Parham House); Bath in St. John; the Bay Mansion in St. Michael (pre-1784); Brighton in St. George (1652); Clifton Hall in St. John; Halton in St. Philip; Harmony Hall in St. Michael (pre-1700); Holders House in St. James (pre-1700); Malvern in St. John; Newcastle in St. John; Hopfield in Christ Church; Porters in St. James (pre-1700, and owned for more than two hundred years by the Alleyne family); Warrens in St. Thomas (1683); and Wildey House in St. Michael (1760s).
St. Ann's Fort in Bridgetown was established during the reign of Queen Anne and contains some seventy buildings of historical and architectural interest which were all part of the former military garrison. The buildings mostly postdate the American Revolution, although the expansion of the site began with the arrival of a British garrison under the command of General Sir John Vaughan in 1780. The early-eighteenth-century shot tower in the center of the fort still exists; it is a sexagonal building which was used for making lead shot. The Savannah was a military parade ground which is used for sporting and ceremonial events. It is surrounded by the largest collection of seventeenth-century English artillery in existence, including one of only two surviving cannon of Oliver Cromwell's army. The Barbados Museum and Historical Society has been housed in the Military Prison (1817–1818) since 1933. It contains a large collection of artifacts and paintings from the eighteenth century, as well as a reference library above the ground floor.
St. George's Parish Church contains a painting of the Resurrection by the Pennsylvanian painter Benjamin West, who became president of the Royal Academy and was the favorite artist of George III. It was commissioned for the church by the president of the council, the Honorable Henry Frere of Lower Estate, and it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1786, labeled "Not For Sale." However, it was another thirty years before it was placed in the church because of a disagreement between the rector and Frere. During the period of opposition to the Townshend Duties in America in 1768, Frere had written a pamphlet to show that "Barbados hath always preserved a uniform and steady attachment to great Britain." St. Nicholas Abbey, St. Peter was one of the finest homes in seventeenth-century English America, built around 1650 to 1660. Sir John Yeamans, the second owner of the house, led a pioneer expedition to South Carolina, where he became governor in 1672. During the American Revolution it was the home of Sir John Gay Alleyne, who acquired the house through his wife in 1746 and who for thirty years was the speaker of the House of Assembly. Mount Gay, one of the best and oldest brands of rum in the Caribbean, was named after Alleyne. He likely added the triple-arcaded portico at the entrance, together with the interior moldings and sash windows. The house is remarkably well preserved.
Speightstown, St. Peter is 12 miles from Bridgetown. It was a port defended by five batteries and forts. There are still visible ruins of Denmark Fort, Orange Fort, Dover Fort, Coconut Fort, and the Heywood Battery. There are also fortress ruins near Maycock's Bay. On 12 June 1777 American privateers took fishing boats and slaves off the coast, with losses estimated at £2,000. The town contains today many fine examples of early colonial architecture, such as the three-story, late-seventeenth-century Arlington House.
Washington House (Bush Hill House), situated at the top of Bush Hill to the north of the Garrison Savannah and Main Guard, was the residence where the nineteen-year-old George Washington stayed during his seven-week visit in 1751. It was purchased by the British Ordnance Department in 1789 and became the quarters of the commanding engineer and/or commanding officer of St. Ann's Garrison.
A reference library is available for research on the island's history and genealogy at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, St. Ann's Garrison, St. Michael; phone: (246) 427-0201; fax: (246) 429-5946; email: [email protected]; website: http://www.Barbmuse.org.bb. Also useful is the Barbados National Trust, Wildey House, Widley, St. Michael, Barbados; phone: (246) 426-2421 / 436-9033; fax: (246) 429-9055; website: http://www.sunbeach.net.trust. You can reach the National Archives via phone: (246) 425-1380 or fax: (246) 425-5911. For a guide to historic places visit http://www.barbados.org/historic.htm. Also contact the Barbados Tourism Authority, Harbour Road, Bridgetown, Barbados; phone: (246) 427-2623; fax (246) 426-4080; email: [email protected]; website: http://barbados.org/; and the Barbados Tourism Authority, USA/New York Office, 800 Second Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017; phone: (212) 986-6516 / (800) 221-9831; fax: (212) 573-9850; email: [email protected]; website: http://barbados.org/usa.
The Virgin Islands were part of the British federal colony of the Leeward Islands after 1672 and are still a British colony. They comprise a group of twenty islands including Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, Jost van Dyke, Peter's Island, and Salt Islands.
Tortola is the largest of this group of islands. In response to the threat of American privateers, the local merchants fitted out pirateers, or "pickaroons," which carried anywhere between 4 to 68 guns with crews of between 20 and 309 men. They were sufficiently successful to incur the wrath of the United States. As late as 1782, Congress made plans for a retaliatory raid against Tortola. There are still the remains of the home of Dr. William Thornton, who was born in the Virgin Islands and who designed the Capitol in Washington, D.C., and who was chosen by Thomas Jefferson to design some of the buildings at the University of Virginia. The ruins of Fort George, Fort Charlotte, and Fort Shirley mostly date from the 1790s. Fort Recovery in the west of the island was built by the Dutch between 1648 and 1660.
For further information contact: Library Services Department, Flemming Street, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands; phone: (284) 494-3428; the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board, 3390 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta, Ga. 30326; phone: (404) 240-8018; fax: (404) 233-2318; or the British Virgin Islands National Parks Trust, c/o Ministry of Natural Resources Road Town, Tortola, BVI.
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean with a total area of 42,860 square miles, and it was a Spanish colony between 1492 and 1898. It was the assembly point for the silver fleets to Spain. Charles III initiated a major expansion of the navy and of the fortifications of the islands in the decade before the American Revolution. The impetus for strengthening the defenses of the Spanish islands was partly a response to British successes during the Seven Years' War, when the British had conquered Havana (1762) and the Floridas. Spain consequently built the formidable fortress of Fortaleza in Havana between 1763 and 1774. The British never attempted to attack the island following the entry of Spain into the Revolutionary War in 1779. The Spanish were cautious in their support of the American Revolution. They allied themselves with France but never formally with the United States. They opened the ports of Cuba to American trade in 1780. The highest-ranking prisoner in Havana during the war was Major General John Campbell, the former commander of British forces at Pensacola.
Havana. There are almost 350 surving buildings in the city which date from between 1512 and 1800. El Castillo de la Real Fuerza (the Castle of Royal Force), commanding the harbor mouth, was commissioned by Philip II and built in 1558 to 1577 on a site of an earlier fortress of Hernando de Soto. The bell tower was added in 1630 to 1634. The fortress was the residence of the captain general between 1577 and 1762 and was used as a barracks during the American Revolution. The Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro, at the mouth of the harbor, was built in 1579 and overwhelmed after a forty-four-day siege by the British in 1762. There are still sixty cannon pointing out to sea. The polygon structure is at the center of the UNESCO World Heritage program for the restoration of Old Havana. It faces, across the harbor, the Castillo de la Punta on the Malecón promenade, which was completed in 1600. The Fortaleza San Carlos de la Cabaña was begun in 1763 and completed in 1774, and occupies about a tenth of the surface area of Old Havana. It could accommodate five thousand troops. It was the largest fort built on the Spanish Main and, together with the rebuilding of El Morro, it illustrates the major improvements to the defenses of the Spanish islands which were undertaken in the decade before the American Revolution. The Cabaña is now a historical study center and a museum of military history, and part of the Morro-Cabaña Historic Park. The Plaza Carlos Manuel de Céspedes (Plaza de la Iglesia), the oldest square in the city, was expanded to its present size in 1776. The government buildings are particularly impressive, especially the Captain General's Palace, with its façade of ten grand columns, which was built between 1776 and 1791. It was the residence of the colonial governors and is now the Municipal Museum. The palaces include the Palacio del Segundo Cob, built between 1772 and 1776; the Mateo Pedroso y Florencia House, which dates from 1780; the Palacio del Conde Lombillo, built as the home of the royal treasurer in 1737 and reconstructed in 1762; and the Palacio de los Condes de Casa-Bayona (1720). There are numerous former private residences, such as the Zambrana House at 117-19 Calle Obispo, which is the oldest house in Havana, dating from 1570; the Hostal Valencia on Calle Officios, south of the Plaza de Armas, a mansion dating from the mid-eighteenth century, and now a hotel; and El Patio, opposite the cathedral, built in 1775. Like Santo Domingo and Puerto Rico, Cuba has many early religious buildings, including the Santa Clara of Assisi Convent, which was built between 1636 and 1643; the San Cristóbal Cathedral, built between 1748 and 1777; the Seminario de San Carlos and San Ambrosio, behind the cathedral, which dates from 1772; the Church and Convent of Nuestra Senor de Belén (1718); La Merced (1755–1792); and the San Francisco de Paula Church (1745). The boundary of Old Havana is marked by a shaded boulevard, the Paseo, or Prado, built in 1772.
Santiago de Cuba is Cuba's second major city after Havana. The Castillo del Morr was built about 1663 and expanded in 1710. It retains its moat, drawbridge, ramparts, cannon, dungeons, barracks, and chapel. It was built on the site of an earlier fort which was destroyed in 1662 by the English pirate and later governor of Jamaica, Henry Morgan. The home of Diego Velázquez is the oldest villa in Cuba, built between 1516 and 1530.
For further information contact: the Canadian Board of Cuban Tourism, 1200 Bay Street, Suite 305, Toronto, Ontario M5R 2A5; phone: (416) 362-0700; fax: (416) 362-6799; email: [email protected] An alternate address is 2075, rue University, Bureau 460, Montréal, Québec H3A 2L1; phone: (514) 875-8004; fax: (514) 875-8006; email: [email protected] Other useful contacts are: Archivo Nacional (National Archive), Compostela esq. San Isidro, La Habana 1, Cuba; Biblioteca Nacional (National Library), Plaza de la Revolución José Martí, Apartado Oficial 3, La Habana, Cuba; Cuban Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 2650, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110-2650; Cuban Index, c/o Peter E. Carr, P.O. Box 15839, San Luis Obispo, Calif. 93406-5839; Oficina del Historiador Ciudad de La Habana, Tacon No. 1, La Habana Vieja, Ciudad de la Habana 10100, Republica de Cuba; phone: (53-7) 2876 / 5062 / 5001; fax: 33 8183.
Trinidad de Cuba was founded in 1514 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Plaza Mayor (Antigua Plaza de Trinidad) was laid out in 1522. The Inquisitor's House (Lara House) was the home of the head of the Spanish Inquisition and dates from 1732. The Guamuhaya Archaeological Museum is in a house built in 1732, and the Museum of Colonial Architecture is in a house built in 1735.
The Valle de Los Ingenios is a valley with the remains of numerous plantations, slave burial sites, mills, and great houses. It is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It includes the San Alejo de Manaca Iznaga Villa, a hacienda and plantation great house, built in 1750. Cuba's sugar industry developed later than that of the British and French islands in the Caribbean, so most of the island's sugar plantations date from the nineteenth century.
The Dutch captured Curaçao from the Spanish in 1634. The 171-square-mile island was a center for the slave trade and illicit commerce with the Spanish Main. The island possesses the earliest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere and seventeenth-century tombstones of Jewish settlers.
Plantations (landhuis) and Great Houses. There are several historically interesting buildings on Curaçao: the Civil Service Registration Office, a pre-1740 mansion; Jan Kock, a great house on a salt mining estate built around 1750 to 1764; Brievengat Landhuis (1750) and Ascension (1700), which were restored by the Curaçao Foundation for Preserving Ancient Monuments; Casa Venezolana (1750); Daniel Lanhuis (1750); Groot Santa Marta House, which has late-seventeenth-century features; Hato Landhuis, the home of an eighteenth-century director of the Dutch West Indies Company; Klein Santa Maria (1700); Knip Landhuis (late 1600s); Savonet (1662 and rebuilt 1806), which houses a museum; and Stroomzigt (1780).
Willemstad, the capital and chief port of Curaçao, is really two cities, Punda and Otrabanda, surrounding the narrows of St. Anna Bay. On the Punda side is the Herrenstraat, which predates 1700. St. Anna's Catholic Church was built in 1751, and the Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue around 1730 to 1732. There is a ceremonial bath in the 1780 courtyard museum. The Beth Haim Cemetery was established by Sephardic Jews, with more than 2,500 tombs dating from 1668. The Penha House, on the corner of Handelskade and Heerenstraat, dates from 1708. The Fortkerk, the old Dutch Reformed Church which faces into Wilhelminaplein, was constructed in 1763 and rebuilt in 1796. Fort Amsterdam was constructed between 1642 and 1675. It was built according to a seventeenth-century design and retains the arched entrance to the original governor's residence (1642). Rif Fort, or Riffort, south of Brionplein, dates from 1768, and protected the harbor with Water Fort, built in 1634. The Curaçao Museum is further west of Bironplein in a nineteenth-century great house in Otrabanda.
For further information contact: Curaçao Tourist Board, Pietermaai 19, P.O. Box 3266, Curaçao Netherlands Antilles; phone: 599 9 434 82 00; fax: 599 9 461 50 17/ 461 23 05; email: [email protected]; Curaçao Monument Council, Inter regional Committee Action, Willemstad (ICAW), Monument Bureau, Scharlooweg 51, Willemstad, Curaçao; phone: 599 9 465 46 88; fax: 599 9 465 45 91; Corporation for Urban Revitalization, Monument Conservation Foundation Belvederestraat 43/45, P.O. Box 2042, Willemstat, Curaçao; phone: 599 9 462 86 80; fax: 599 9 462 72 75. In the United States contact Joel Grossman at Tourism Solutions, 7951 Sixth Street S.W., Suite 216, Plantation, Fla. 33145; phone: (954) 370-5887 / (800) 328-7222; fax: (954) 723-7949; email: [email protected]
Dominica was one of the last islands to be formally colonized by Europeans. With its very mountainous and richly forested terrain, the 290-square-mile island has some of the best natural features in the Caribbean. In 1607 Captain John Smith and a group of colonists stopped at the island on their way to settle Jamestown. French settlers began arriving during the eighteenth century, but the island remained independent until its conquest by the British in 1761 and formal cession in 1763. During the American Revolution the French seized the initiative in the Caribbean when the marquis de Bouillé captured Dominica from the British on 7 September 1778. Admiral Sir Samuel Barrington had secret orders not to leave Barbados, but to await an expedition from North America which was destined for St. Lucia. The French retained the island for the rest of the war, but it was returned to the British in the peace treaty of 1783. Maroons (runaway slaves) waged an internal guerrilla war against the British which began during the American Revolution in 1780 and lasted until 1814. They were assisted by the forested, mountainous, and rugged terrain of the island, together with the small size of the army garrison. The island was nevertheless a popular destination for American Loyalists. Dominica became an independent republic in 1978.
The Cabrits National Park contains Prince Rupert's Garrison, where some fifty different military structures were constructed between 1770 and 1815. These included Fort Shirley, overlooking Prince Rupert's Bay, with its seven-gun batteries, seven cisterns, powder magazines, storehouses, a guardhouse, a parade ground, engineers' quarters, officers' quarters, two hospitals, a commandant's house, and barracks for six hundred men. The structures were mostly built by the British, although there were some additions made by the French during their occupation in 1778 to 1783. They were abandoned as a military post in 1854. There is a museum in the old powder magazine. The site was formed by the twin peaks of volcanoes overlooking Prince Rupert's Bay and Portsmouth, and is surrounded on three sides by water. The park has views of the French islands of Les Saintes, where Rodney won his victory in 1782, and Guadeloupe.
Carib Territory. Dominica is unusual in that some of the indigenous people who predated Columbus and who were decimated elsewhere in the Caribbean survived here. The British surveyed and divided the island into lots in 1763, reserving only 23 acres of mountainous land and rocky shoreline at Salybia for the Caribs. Their descendants continue to live in the region.
Fort Cashacrou, Scotts Head. Overlooking Soufriere Bay, this was the site where the invading French fought the British en route to Pointe Michel on 7 September 1778. It was the first fort captured by the marquis de Bouillé. The ruins of the fort remain, although much of it was destroyed by erosion and fell into the sea. It has a view of Martinique.
Old Mill Cultural Centre at Canefield has a small museum with displays of pre-Columbian artifacts, as well as exhibits of local art and handicrafts.
Prince Rupert's Bay, Portsmouth is a fine natural harbor protected by two hills, the Cabrits. Nelson frequently visited the harbor for wood and water while commanding the H.M.S. Boreas.
Rodney's Rock, on the leeward side of the island, was named after Admiral Sir George Rodney and is associated with many legends connected with him. It was supposedly the site where one of the French ships was wrecked following the Battle of the Saintes.
Roseau, the capital. The original town of Roseau was largely destroyed by fire during the occupation of the French in 1778 and 1781, and again in 1795 and 1805. The streets were named after the royal family and contemporary statesmen, including Lord Hillsborough, who held the newly created position of British secretary of state for America after 1768; Great George, after George III; and Hanover, after the house of Hanover. Fort Young Hotel, which defended the harbor, began construction in 1770 on the orders of the first governor Sir William Young and was completed during the French occupation in 1783. It was much damaged in the hurricane of 1979. The House of Assembly stands on the site of the original assembly created in 1765. Fort Morene Bruce was fortified during the eighteenth century with batteries, barracks, and blockhouses. It is accessible via a path called Jack's Walk, named after James Bruce, the British army engineer who designed the fort. The barracks continue to be used for government residences and police training. The fort has good views of the town and Botanical Gardens.
For further information contact: the Dominica Tourist Board, National Development Corporation, P.O. Box 293, Roseau, Commonwealth of Dominica; phone: (767) 448-2045; fax: (767) 448-5840. In the United States contact Steve Johnson at the United States Post Office, 110-64 Queens Boulevard, P.O. Box 42, Forest Hills, N.Y. 11375-6347; phone: (718) 261-9615 / (888) 645-5637; fax: (718) 261-0702; email: [email protected]; website: http://www.dominica.dm.
The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti (formerly St. Domingue). The 18,816-square-mile country was a Spanish colony until 1822 and, following a period of occupation by Haiti, became independent in 1844. It was sacked by Sir Francis Drake in 1586. It was after a failed attack on the island in 1655 that William Penn chose instead to conquer Jamaica. Admiral José de Solano was governor of the island between 1771 and 1778 before becoming commander of the Spanish navy stationed at Havana.
Puerto Plata contains the oldest fort in the New World, the Fortaleza de San Felipe, built between 1520 and 1585. The central keep is now a museum.
For further information contact: Archivo General de la Nación (National Archive), Calle M. East Daz, Santo Domingo, La República Dominicana; Biblioteca Nacional (National Library), César Nicolás Penson 91, Plaza de la Cultura, Santo Domingo, La República Dominicana; Instituto Dominicano de Genealogía, Inc. (Dominican Genealogy Institute, Inc.) P.O. Box 3350, Calle Mercedes, #204, Santo Domingo, República Dominicana; phone: (809) 687-3992; fax: (809) 687-0027; Secretaría de Estado de Turismo, Av. Mèxico esq. C/ 30 de Marzo, Oficinas Gubernamentales Bloque D, Santo Domingo, República Dominicana; phone: (809) 221-4660; fax: (809) 682-3806.
Santo Domingo de Guzmán. The old city was founded by the brother of Christopher Columbus in 1498 and is now a UNESCO Site of World Heritage. The city plan became the blueprint for cities throughout Spanish America. The Cathedral de Santa María de Menor was built in 1523 to 1540 and is located in the center of the Old Town. The Las Mercedes Church dates from 1555. There is a museum in the sixteenth-century Casa de Tostado that includes displays of furnishings and militaria. There are similar displays in the Casa del Cordón, built in 1503 by a patron of the Franciscan Order. The Universidad da San Tomas de Aquina is the oldest university in the Americas (1538). The old city wall contains the remains of the Fort San Felipe and the city gate, the Puerta de San Diego (1540–1555). The Forteleza Ozama dates from 1507. It includes the Casa Batidas (1512) and the Torre del Homenaje (Tower of Homage), built between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, where Columbus's son Diego stayed on his arrival in Santo Domingo. The town contains a rich array of palaces and official buildings, including the House of Cord, where Diego Columbus lived while awaiting the building of the Alcázar de Cólon. The Alcázar (1510–1514), sometimes called Columbus Palace, was the home of the Columbus family until 1577 and is now the Viceroyalty Museum. It is adjacent to a group of eight buildings known as Ataranzana, which was the warehouse district, with a sixteenth-century chandlery, a royal armory, and custom-houses, and now the home of the Naval Underwater Archaeology Museum. The Calle de las Damas is the oldest street in the city, where there are several noteworthy buildings, including the Casa Francia, which was the home of the conquistador Hernán Cortés, and the Ovando House (1510–1515). The Casas Reales, built in the early sixteenth century, was the headquarters of the governor, the captains general, the Audiencia, the Treasury, and the Supreme Court. It now contains a museum.
Grenada was a British colony from its capture from the French in 1762 until 1974 (except for the brief interval of French occupation between 1779 and 1784). On 4 July 1779 Admiral d'Estaing seized the 120-square-mile island, which was then the largest sugar producer after Jamaica in the British West Indies. Governor Lord Macartney attempted to defend the island with a force of only 150 regulars and 300 militia against 3,000 French troops. The free blacks and free coloreds who were French hastened his surrender by deserting the garrison. The French captured thirty richly laden merchant ships in the port, and d'Estaing sacked the town of St. George because the governor refused to surrender. The British admiral John Byron did not reach the island until 6 July, and his inferior fleet fought an indecisive sea battle against d'Estaing's fleet off the coast of Grenada. Byron then returned to St. Kitts with 183 killed and 340 wounded, as well as considerable damage to the masts and rigging, and six ships disabled. Hurricane Ivan leveled most of the buildings on the island in 2004.
Hospital Hill, overlooking St. George, was stormed and captured by a force of some 3,000 men under the command of Count Dillon and Admiral d'Estaing during the conquest in July 1779. Lord Macartney made a final attempt to resist the invasion with a total force of no more than 500 men, who entrenched themselves at the summit of the hill. The French sustained heavy losses during their successful attack, with some 300 killed and another 200 wounded.
Richmond Hill was the site of four forts. It was the scene of much construction during the American Revolution, including that of Fort Frederick, which was built by the French in 1779 to 1780 and completed by the British in 1784 to 1791, and Fort Mathew, which dates from between 1779 and 1783.
St. George's is the capital town, which was established by the French in 1705 and originally called Fort Royal, but renamed after George III by Governor Robert Melville (1764–1771). The town surrounds a landlocked bay known as the Carenage, or inner harbor, which was used by the British and French fleets during the American Revolution. Many of the original buildings were lost in the fires of 1771 and 1775. Fort St. George was established in about the 1680s and rebuilt in 1705 to 1706. It commands a particularly attractive view of the town. In 1779 Lord Macartney withdrew to the fort and finally surrendered after a bombardment by the guns from Hospital Hill. Until recently the fort contained one of the earliest barracks in the Caribbean, which were built before 1762. It has subterranean passages, one redoubt of the original three, and a small military museum. The hospital (Morne de l'Hopital) was built in the early eighteenth century. Fort Mathew, at the top of Richmond Heights, was once the officers' quarters and mess hall. It had an elaborate kitchen which was still in use in the 1970s. Fort Frederick, above the citadel, survived as a partial ruin.
For further information contact: Grenada Board of Tourism, Burns Point, P.O. Box 293, St. George's, Grenada, West Indies; phone: (473) 440-2279 / 2001 / 3377; fax: (473) 440-6637; email: [email protected]; Grenada Board of Tourism, 317 Madison Avenue, Suite 1704, New York, N.Y. 10017; phone: (212) 687-9554 / (800) 927-9554; fax: (212) 573-9731; email: [email protected]; Public Library / National Archives, 2 Carenage, St. George's, Grenada; phone: (473) 440-2506.
Guadeloupe is composed of two islands, Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre, which have a combined surface area of 582 square miles. It was settled by the French in 1635 and, apart from two interludes of British occupation in 1759 to 1763 and in 1810, it has remained French.
Basse-Terre, capital of the two islands, contains Fort St. Charles (Fort Louis) and dates from 1643. It is the site of a museum and is well preserved. There are the ruins of batteries at Pointe Allègre and at Deshaies. Vieux Habitants is one of the earliest settlements on Basse-Terre. The stone church was consecrated in 1666. The churchyard has some early tombstones.
Grande-Terre has the eighteenth-century fortress Fort Fleur d'Epée, built on a hillside with a moat and draw-bridge. There are many ruins of eighteenth-century sugar mills on both islands.
For further information contact: Office du Tourisme, Syndicat d'Initiative du Moule, Boulevard maritime Damencourt, 97160 Le Moule; phone: 590 (0)5 90 23 89 03; fax: 590 (0)5 90 23 03 58 ;email: [email protected]; Archives Départementales de la Guadeloupe (Guadeloupe Departmental Archive), P.O. Box 74, 97102 Basse-Terre Cedex; Archives Départementales de la Guadeloupe, B.P. 74, 97120 Basse Terre, Cedex, Guadeloupe; French Government Tourist Office, 444 Madison Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10022; phone: (410) 286-8310; fax: (202) 331-1528; website: http://www.guadeloupe-info.com/index-gb.htm; Archives Départementales de la Guyane, Place Leopold Heder, 97302 Cayenne, Cedex, Guadeloupe.
The colony Haiti was ceded to France by the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697, thus splitting the island of Hispaniola with the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo (now the Dominican Republic). On the eve of the American Revolution the island was producing more sugar than the entire produce of all the British islands. It was a major conduit of illicit trade to America during the Revolutionary War. St. Domingue exploited its neutral status before France formally entered the war in 1778, and as early as September 1775, it was the source of large quantities of gunpowder to the rebellion, providing a conduit between France and America. Caron de Beaumarchais, better known as the playwright who wrote The Marriage of Figaro, used the guise of a merchant firm called Roderigue Hortalez and Company to establish a regular trade between Europe and America via St. Domingue. The first shipment sailed towards the end of 1776. Beaumarchais kept an agent on the island to oversee the operations of the company called Carabas. Congress also had agents on the island, Richard Harrison at Cap Français and Nicholas Rogers at Port-au-Prince. In addition, there were purchasing agents from America, including Stephen Ceronio at Cap Français and John Dupuy at the Môle St. Nicholas. The island was the base of operations for Admiral D' Estaing's expedition against Savannah, Georgia in 1779. The free colored people and black troops who participated in the campaign included some future leaders of the Haitian Revolution. The island was the intended rendezvous for the combined operation of the French and Spanish fleets against Jamaica in 1782. Admiral de Grasse was on his way from Martinique to St. Domingue when he was intercepted and captured by Admiral Rodney at the Battle of the Saintes. St. Domingue was the scene of the second major revolution in the Americas. After thirteen years of war and a successful slave revolt, it became an independent black republic in 1804. There are few remaining buildings dating from the colonial period.
Cap Hatïen, known in the eighteenth century as Cap Français, La Cap, or by the English as the Cape, is the oldest city in Haiti. In 1781 Admiral de Grasse sailed from here for the Chesapeake, where he played a critical role in preventing the British fleet from relieving the army of Lord Cornwallis. The façade of the city's cathedral dates from the eighteenth century. Fort Picolet, possibly built by Louis XIV's great military architect, Vauban, commands the only navigable channel to the harbor of Cap Hatïen. Fort Magny and Fort St. Joseph are eighteenth century in origin.
Fort Liberté, a town on the north coast, was the location of five forts that guarded the bay, including Fort Dauphin, which dates from 1730. The blockhouse and ruins of the barracks are still visible.
Môle St. Nicholas, in the northeast of the island, was the great naval stronghold commanding the Windward Passage. The harbor, fort, and town are located in a landlocked bay.
Port au Prince. The Ancienne Cathédral Catholique, now very dilapidated, dates from 1720. Fort Nationale, northeast of St. Trinité, dates from the late seventeenth century.
For further information contact: Rehabiliter le Patrimoine Naturel et Historique, 26 Rue Ducoste, Port-au-Prince, République d'Haiti, phone: 509 22 1219; Haitian American Historical Society, Daniel Fils-Aimé, Sr., Chairman, 8340 Northeast Second Avenue, Suite 222, Miami, Fla. 33138; phone: (786) 621-0035; email: [email protected]; Haitian American Historical Society, P.O. Box 531033, Miami, Fla. 33153; Consulate General of Haiti Tourist Office, 271 Madison Avenue, 17th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10016; phone: (212) 697-9767; fax: (212) 681-6991; website: www.haiti.org. You may also search the database of the civil registers of the Archives Nationales d'Haïti.
Conquered by the British from the Spanish in 1655 in an expedition led by Admiral Penn and General Venables, the 4,411-square-mile island was the largest and most valuable colony in the British Caribbean until it became independent in 1962. Admiral Penn's son was rewarded with the patent for Pennsylvania by Charles II, largely in gratitude for his father's capture of Jamaica. In 1776 a slave rebellion broke out in Hanover Parish and quickly spread to other parts of the island before being suppressed by British troops on their way to serve in North America. It resulted in the trial of 135 slaves, of whom 17 were executed, 45 transported, and 11 subjected to corporal punishment. The defense of the island was a major priority of the British government during the Revolutionary War. American privateers launched raids such as the one repelled by the fort at St. Ann's Bay in 1777. After their entry into the war, France and Spain planned combined operations against Jamaica. There was a frenzy of military construction following the French invasion threat in late 1778. A series of redoubts were built at intervals up the Cane River Valley, with the first at Drummond's Hill, just south of Newsted, across the track joining the two roads on either side of the Mammee River. In the summer of 1779, when the island was gripped by an invasion scare, Sir Henry Clinton embarked Lord Cornwallis and 4,000 British troops for Jamaica. The crisis illustrated the willingness of Britain to defend the island at all costs, even at the risk of sacrificing the war for America. The economic problems caused by the war were aggravated by one of the worst recorded series of hurricanes (six) in the history of the island, in which an estimated 15,000 slaves perished. Jamaica was the most popular destination in the Caribbean for American Loyalists. As many as 400 white families, together with 5,000 slaves, arrived following the British evacuation of Savannah, Georgia, in July 1782; and another 1,278 whites and 2,613 blacks arrived following the British departure from Charleston, South Carolina the following December.
Apostles' Battery, to the west of Port Royal, was built in the 1740s to protect the south channel into Kingston Harbour. It was a heavily fortified line of twelve guns known as the Twelve Apostles, including nine 42-pounders and three 32-pounders. A stone parapet and paved platform, together with a cistern for 3,000 gallons of water, were added before 1757. There remains the outline of the platform, the northern retaining wall, the cistern, and the magazine. The other buildings were largely removed for a nineteenth-century gun emplacement.
Bath, in the parish of St. Thomas contains hot and cold springs discovered in the 1690s. The buildings are gone except for the foundation plaque, which is set in the wall of the modern bathhouse. The Botanic Garden was established during the American Revolution in 1779. The first breadfruit seedling from the Pacific was transplanted by the H.M.S. Bounty to Bath in 1793.
Cockpit Country is an area which stretches across the parishes of Trelawany, St. Elizabeth, and St. James. It was the sanctuary of the maroons, the runaway slaves who fought two major wars with the British, in the 1690s to the 1730s and again in the 1790s. It was ideal territory for maroons because of its rugged terrain, which was difficult to traverse. The white limestone formation produces a series of irregular circular arenas that look like inverted cones from the air, and terminate in most cases in a sinkhole in the apex. The British feared that the maroons might support a foreign enemy, and this made them the subject of much suspicion among the whites during the American Revolution. Their main historic towns are Trelawny Town (now Maroon Town) in St. James and Accompong in St. Elizabeth. Trelawny Town still contains barracks built by the British during the Maroon Wars of the 1690s to 1730s.
Falmouth in the parish of Trelawny was laid out in the 1770s following the creation of the new parish in 1770, which was named after Governor Sir William Trelawny, who died in office in 1772. It is a remarkable survival of a Georgian town in the Caribbean, although most of the buildings are now dilapidated. They date from between 1790 and 1830.
Fort Augusta guarded the narrows into Kingston Harbour and faces across the bay opposite Port Royal. It can be reached by the Portmore Causeway. The construction began in 1740 with the outbreak of war with Spain. It was named in honor of the mother of George III and completed in the mid-1750s. Three hundred people died from an explosion in the powder magazine when lightning struck three thousand barrels of powder in 1763. There remain important features of the fort, including the curtain and redan guarding the western approach. The magazine is now used as a chapel. The rest is used as a prison.
Fort Haldane has a commanding view of the town and harbor of Port Maria in the parish of St. Mary. It was named after General Haldane, the governor in 1759. It originally contained an officers' house, barracks, and kitchen. A battery and brick pitched-roof powder magazine are all that survive.
Kingston, with its harbor and backdrop of the Blue Mountains, was the largest town in the British West Indies in the eighteenth century and the commercial center of Jamaica. It was at Kingston that the Bostonborn Eliphalet Fitch obtained the military supplies for Francisco Miranda that were used by the Spanish in the invasion of the Bahamas in 1782. Miranda was then a visiting Spanish official arranging a prisoner exchange under a flag of truce, but was later to become a revolutionary leader in Venezuela. Kingston was severely damaged by fire and an earthquake in 1907. Headquarters House, built by a merchant in 1750, is now the offices of the Jamaica National Trust. The Institute of Jamaica is at East Street. It houses the National Library, which possesses the finest collection of manuscripts and books pertaining to Jamaica and, more generally, to the West Indies. The Kingston Synagogue has some very early gravestones. The approaches to Kingston and its harbor were protected by Port Royal, Fort Augusta, Fort Johnston, Fort Small (Fort Clarence), and Rockfort.
Lucea is a port town in the parish of Hanover on the northwest coast of Jamaica. Fort Charlotte was one of the larger fortresses in the island, mounting twenty-two to twenty-five guns, of which three survive on rotary carriages. It is situated on a peninsula overlooking the harbor of the town. It was probably built around 1752. The walls were 6 feet thick and were built in 1761. The north of the island was particularly vulnerable to attacks by pirates and privateers. The admiral commanding the Jamaica station at Port Royal sent two ships to Lucea to help quell the slave rebellion that broke out in Hanover in 1776.
Montego Bay, in the parish of St. James, was the chief north-coast port for much of the eighteenth century. It was protected by Fort Montego (Fort Frederick), which had a regular garrison of British troops and was built in 1750. It had gun embrasures, barracks, and a hospital. It mounted two 24-pounders and eight 18-pounders in 1764. A cannon exploded in the face of a gunner during a gun salute to celebrate the surrender of Havana in 1760. The foundation stone of the parish church of St. James was laid the year of the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775, and the building was completed in 1782. Today there are remains of a large powder magazine.
Ocho Rios has the remains of a fort dating from about 1777 to 1780 and restored in the 1970s. It still has four cannon.
Plantation Houses. There are number of plantation houses of the period. Rose Hall, constructed between 1770 and 1780 near Montego Bay, is one of the grandest great houses in the Caribbean. It is open to the public. Although it is very impressive, only the original pavilion of the house remains. It had 12 bedrooms, 52 doors, and 365 windows. Greenwood Plantation House was built between 1780 and 1800 and is associated with the family of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It houses the largest plantation library on the island and has one of the finest museum and antique collections. Other great houses include Bellfied, near Montego Bay, which is a restored 1735 great house on the Barnett estate open to the public and still a functioning plantation; Cardiff Hall (c. 1765); Colbeck Castle near Old Harbour, St. Catherine, which was built as a fortified house in the late 1660s; Drax Hall in St. Ann (established 1690); Good Hope in Trelawny (c. 1755), which contains furniture original to the house; Green Park in Trelawny; Hampstead and Retreat estates, which belonged to a colored woman, Jane Stone, who died at the age of eighty in 1774; Halse Hall, a seventeenth-century fortified home in the Rio Minho Valley; Minard in St. Ann; Seville in St. Ann (1745); Fairfield in St. James, built in 1776; Stewart Castle, near Falmouth, a fortified home dating from the early eighteenth century; and Stokes Hall in St. Thomas, which was one of the earliest seventeenth-century plantations and is now a ruin maintained by the National Trust. There are examples of slave hospitals at Orange Valley in Trelawny and Kenilworth in Hanover.
Port Antonio in Portland is one of the finest ports in Jamaica, with a backdrop of the Blue Mountains. Fort George is located on a peninsula called Upper Titchfield. It was designed by Charles Lilly, who was for many years the chief military engineer in Jamaica. He began the fort when he was nearly seventy, following his return to the island in 1728. It contained embrasures for twenty-two guns in a 10-foot-thick wall, which remains together with the original parade ground, bastion, and old barracks. It is now Titchfield High School. The courthouse dates from the eighteenth century.
Port Henderson (New Brighton), St. Catherine, is a seaside village about 4 miles from Passage Fort and 6 miles from Spanish Town. It became the sea link to the capital, Spanish Town, with the silting up of the Rio Cobre, and provided much of the stone for the fortifications of the island. It contains the Long House, a hotel erected about 1780 by the entrepreneur John Henderson. A small redoubt was constructed during the frenzy of the invasion scare of 1778. The semicircular platform can still be seen about 20 feet up the hillside near the junction of the Fort Augusta Road. It probably contained about half a dozen guns to prevent landings by small boats. Rodney's Lookout, a signal station, was built on the crest of Port Henderson in response to invasion scares in the early 1780s and was damaged by the earthquake of 1782. The ruins are on the top of a flight of steps near the Apostle's Battery. It was probably renamed following Rodney's victory at the Saintes. The British feared that an invasion might be accomplished by a landing in the Hellshire Hills, where the enemy might evade the guns of Kingston Harbour and enter Spanish Town. The British built two forts with semicircular platforms, both of which survive. Fort Small (renamed Fort Clarence in 1799) was built on the end of Port Henderson Hill. It was heavily armed, to prevent ships supporting an enemy landing, with eight 24-pounders and one 10-inch mortar. Five of the 24-pounders remain, on their original platform with the carriages rotted away, together with the magazine and platform. Fort Johnston was built on the plain that separates Port Henderson Hill from the Hellshire Hump ridge. It was more lightly armed than the other forts, with the intention of resisting infantry troops rather than ships. The magazine is lost, but the barracks and platform remain with all the original cannon, four 12-pounders and five 6-pounders.
Port Morant is a port town 7 miles from Morant Bay that was protected by Fort Lindsay. The fort is on the opposite side of the bay from the town. It was fortified in the mid-eighteenth century, replacing an earlier fort, Fort William, that was abandoned due to erosion. There are remnants, but the battery is gone.
Port Royal was a British naval base for the Jamaican squadron located in Kingston Harbour on a 7-mile peninsula known as the Palisadoes. The dockyard is next to the site of a sunken city that was once the second-largest town in English America after Boston, until two-thirds of the original town was destroyed by an earthquake and a tidal wave on 7 June 1692. The dockyard supplied, refitted, and watered ships of the Royal Navy between 1735 and 1905. Admiral Sir George Rodney did much to develop the facility when he was the resident commander between 1771 and 1774. Sir Peter Parker, who had collaborated with Sir Henry Clinton in the ill-fated attempt on Charleston, South Carolina, in 1776, commanded the Jamaican fleet at Port Royal between 1778 and 1782. Horatio Nelson first visited the dockyard in May 1777 at the age of nineteen, and he commanded the batteries at Fort Charles in 1779. He shared quarters with Captain William Cornwallis, the brother of the general Lord Charles Cornwallis, who surrendered at Yorktown. After returning to Jamaica from an expedition to Nicaragua in 1780, Nelson was nursed back to life by the colored proprietress of his lodging house, who was called Cubah, or Couba Cornwallis. The dockyard was defended by a group of fortresses that included Fort Charles, renamed after Charles II, which was built between 1660 and 1696. It alone among the fortresses encircling the harbor survived the hurricane of 1692. It was rebuilt in its present form in 1722 to 1724. The wooden walkway in Fort Charles is now called Nelson's Quarterdeck. The batteries on the sea front had a double tier of guns that numbered 104 in 1767. The fort now contains a maritime museum. St. Peter's Church, built in 1725 to 1726, contains many naval and military monuments. There are some remains of a fort erected at the eastern end of Port Royal which was called "Prince William Henry's Polygon" when it was completed in 1783, and which was much damaged by the hurricane of 1787. The northern bastion is located outside the eastern wall enclosing Morgan's Harbour beach club. There is a museum with archaeological artifacts of the sunken city of Port Royal in the Royal Naval Hospital (1818–1819).
Rio Bueno contains the deepest harbor in the island. Columbus anchored his ships for three days here on his first visit to Jamaica in 1494. Fort Dundas was built during the American Revolution and dates from 1778.
Rockfort dates from 1729. It was designed to protect the eastern routes to Kingston. It is largely intact with its large bastion to the south, its entrance gate, its magazine, and its northern curtain dug into the Long Mountain. It was capable of mounting seventeen guns. The sites of the guardhouse and barracks are visible. There is a track to a redoubt, about 100 feet high and 200 yards east of the fort, on Long Mountain.
St. Andrew. The Parish Church dates from 1700, although there were earlier structures, and the parish registers date back to 1666. It contains many impressive monuments of the eighteenth century. Stony Hill had a garrison and barracks. There is a small magazine that survives. It was to be a last refuge in the hills in the event of an invasion in which the enemy seized the Liguanea plain. Three redoubts were constructed in 1778. The first, with a 24-pounder and four 6-pounder cannon, was on the site of the present Fort Belle, just to the north of the bridge and over the gully on the main road out of Kingston. A smaller, second battery was constructed a few hundred yards northward on the site of the present location of 34 Stilwell Road. The third battery, designed for four guns, remains intact at Bridgemont Heights.
Spanish Town, also known as St. Jago de la Vega, was capital of Jamaica until 1870. The impressive buildings around the main square indicate the economic importance of Jamaica to Britain. The King's House, the residence of the governor, was begun during the administration of Lieutenant Governor Henry Moore in 1759 to 1762; he later became governor of New York during the Stamp Act crisis. The house was completed in 1762 to 1765 following the arrival of Governor William Henry Lyttleton, who was a former governor of South Carolina. The dimensions are much larger than those of the governor's palace at Williamsburg, the capital of the largest colony in North America (Virginia). Unfortunately, only the façade survives today following a fire that gutted the building in 1925. There is an archaeological museum next to the house and the Jamaican People's Museum of Craft and Technology. The House of the Assembly on the east side of the square took some twenty years to complete from the time it was started around 1762. In December 1774 the assembly members composed a petition to George III sympathetic to the Americans that elicited the thanks of Congress and the Connecticut House of Representatives. The Rodney Memorial on the north side of the square was commissioned by the island assembly to celebrate the victory of Admiral Sir George Rodney against de Grasse at the battle of the Saintes in 1782. The statue was designed by John Bacon, the leading contemporary English sculptor, who portrayed Rodney in classical garb. The Anglican Cathedral of St. James was built as the parish church of St. Catherine in 1714. It contains numerous monuments, including one by Bacon and a memorial to Sir Basil Keith, who died during his tenure as governor in 1777. Spanish Town contained a barracks for one of the two peacetime regiments of the British army, but the current structure dates from 1791. The Jamaica Archives are housed in the building behind the Rodney Memorial.
For further information contact: Jamaica Tourist Board, 3530 Ashford Dunwoody Road N.E., Box 304, Atlanta, Ga. 30319; phone: (770) 452-7799; fax: (770) 452-0220; and Jamaica Historical Society, c/o Department of History, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Kingston 7, Jamaica. At the National Library Institute of Jamaica, advance permission to use the library's resources is recommended. You can find the library at 12 East Street, 6 Kingston, Jamaica, or via telephone at (809) 922-0620. The Jamaica Archives are located in Spanish Town, Jamaica and can be contacted at (809) 984-2581. At the Registrar General records of births, baptisms, deaths, burials, and marriages are available. The registrar is located at Vital Records Information, Twickenham Park, Spanish Town, St. Catherine, Jamaica, and can also be reached at (876) 984-3041 / 5, http://www.rgd.gov.jm, or [email protected]
Martinique was the headquarters of the French navy in the Caribbean. It was the base of the French admirals associated with key events in the Revolutionary War—d'Estaing and de Grasse. The 425-square-mile island was settled by the French in 1635 and it remains under French government as an overseas department. In 1776 Congress sent the twenty-four-year-old William Bingham as an agent to the island with instructions to procure munitions for the Continental army and to encourage a French alliance against the British. He held court with the captains of American privateers and issued blank commissions for privateers in the American Coffee House in Fort-de-France. The protection given by the island to American privateers became a major issue between the British government and the court of France. In January 1779 Admiral John Byron blockaded d'Estaing's French fleet for five months at Fort Royal. In 1781 Sir Samuel Hood unsuccessfully attempted to prevent the entry of de Grasse into Martinique before his junction with additional ships in the harbor and his departure for Yorktown.
Fort-de France, formerly known as Fort Royal, has been the capital of Martinique since 1680. Fort St. Louis gave shelter to the fleet and dates from 1638. It is still used by the army, and it has its original ramparts and dungeons. Jacques Dyel du Parquet began construction on the rocky peninsula in the bay in 1640. It was attacked by the Dutch in 1674 and captured by the English in 1673 (as well as in 1794 and 1809). It was much strengthened in the early eighteenth century according to the classic system of Vauban. It had a moat, which was filled in to become the Boulevard of the Chevalier de Ste.-Marthe. The town was nearly destroyed by a fire in 1890.
La Pagerie is a sugar plantation near Trois-Islets on the southern shore of Fort de France Bay. It was associated with the future Empress Marie Joséphine Rose Tasher de la Pagerie, who was born in 1766 and married Napoleon in 1796. The kitchen, a single stone building, remains from her time; it is now a museum. Joséphine was baptized at Trois Ilets in an eighteenth-century church which still exists, but she lived most of her first eight years on St. Lucia.
Plantations and Plantation Houses. Leyritz Plantation dates from the early 1700s, when it was built for a cavalry officer, Michel de Leryritz, who was a native of Bordeaux. The 250-acre sugar plantation borders the Altantic Coast and has a backdrop to the west of Mount Pelée. It contains a great house, granary, chapel, sugar factory, and original slave huts. Other plantation houses on Martinique include the Dominican Fond Saint-Jacques Estate, built in 1658 and rebuilt in 1769; Pécoul (1760); La Frégate, a seventeenth-century house; and La Gaoulé, located at La Diament on the south coast, which dates from 1740. The St. James plantation house is now a museum of the history and production of rum.
Pointe du Diamant (Diamond Rock) is off the southern tip of the western coast and had a fortress. It is visible from Pigeon Island on St. Lucia.
La Poterie, a large clay factory, was established in 1694 at Trois Ilets. It includes the manager's house, slave cottages, kilns, stores, administration, and ancillary building.
St. Pierre was leveled and thirty thousand people killed by the eruption of Mont Pelé in 1902.
For further information contact: Bureau du Patrimoine, 43 bis rue Jacques Cazotte, 97200 Fort-de-France, Martinique; phone: 596 63 85 55; French Government Tourist Office, Martinique, 444 Madison Ave, 16th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10022; phone: (900) 990-0040 / (202) 659-7779 / (800) 391-4909; website: www.martinique.org; Saba Tourist Bureau, phone: 011 599 416 2231; Archives Départinentales de la Martinique, B.P. 720 Boulevard du Chevalier de Sainte-Marie, 97262 Fort de France, Martinique; Université des Antilles et de la Guyane, Bibliotheque Universitaire, Campus Universitaire, BP7210 Schoelcher, Martinique; Archives Départementales de la Martinique (Martinique Departmental Archive), P.O. Box 649, 97262 Fort-de-France Cedex.
Montserrat was one of the four principal islands in the colony of the British Leeward Islands at the time of the American Revolution. Following French entry into the American Revolution in 1778, it constantly faced the peril of a French attack, especially during the voyages of Admiral d'Estaing in the spring of 1779. On 28 and 29 April of that year the governor expected an imminent invasion by five French ships of the line off the island. In July the French fleet was in sight for three days, during which time the ships exchanged fire with the batteries around Plymouth. Their aim was the surrender of the island. Following the surrender of St. Kitts in 1782, Montserrat also submitted to the French, but was restored to Britain by the peace in 1783. The island was severely damaged by a volcanic eruption of the Soufriere Hills on 18 July 1995 which destroyed the capital town of Plymouth. The island is beginning to attract tourists back, but a large area affected by the volcano is prohibited to both visitors and residents in an exclusion zone. The boundary for the exclusion zone is from Plymouth and southwards to St. Patrick's through Windy Hill and Harris, and down to the east coast at the site of W. H. Bramble Airport.
Nevis was a British colony that was first settled by the English in 1628 and that became independent, in a federation with St. Kitts, in 1983. It is separated by a strait of 2 miles from St. Kitts. Alexander Hamilton, the aide-de-camp to George Washington during the Revolutionary War and the secretary of the treasury in the first administration of Washington, was born on Nevis. There were riots in Nevis against the Stamp Act in 1765. Following the entry of France into the American Revolution, this 35-square-mile island was constantly threatened with invasion, especially by Admiral d'Estaing in 1779. On 27 April of that year, five of his ships came down in a direct line of battle off Charlestown. The headmost ship, of 84 guns, came within reach of cannon fire. The inhabitants expected an attack at every minute, but the ships tacked and stood to windward. On 3 May, Admiral Byron was off Nevis looking for de Grasse with 20 ships of the line and 2 frigates. On 22 July the French fleet again passed very near to the forts. In February 1782 the island submitted to the French following the surrender of St. Kitts, but was restored to the British by the peace of 1783.
Bath House was built by John Huggins in 1778. It is located near sulphur springs which were believed to have medicinal qualities. As early as 1625, the waters were recommended in an account by Robert Harcourt of Stanton Harcourt near Oxford. The bathhouse continues to function, but the hotel, which once had a ballroom and was intended to accommodate fifty guests, is in ruins. It commands a pleasant view of St. Kitts and St. Eustatius.
Charlestown became the capital after an earthquake damaged Jamestown in 1660. Many of the original buildings, including the Court House, were destroyed in the earthquake of 1843. It was the scene of Stamp Act riots on 1 November 1765 after the collector of stamps fled from St. Kitts following riots on the night of 31 October. In Charlestown the "Sons of Liberty" burnt two houses and loaded the stamps on to a navy longboat which they then set on fire. The Museum of Nevis History is located in Hamilton House, which is built on the foundations of the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton. He was born out of wedlock some time between 1755 and 1757 (most probably in January of the latter year). His origins were always a cause of embarrassment to him, and the jest of his political opponents in the United States. He lived on the island until the age of nine, then moved to St. Croix with his mother. The two-story building was constructed around 1680, destroyed in an earthquake in 1840, and then restored in 1983. Prince William Street commemorates the 1787 royal visit of Prince William, a younger son of George III. He served in the Royal Navy in the Caribbean during the later years of the American Revolution. There is a Jewish cemetery in Government Road with nineteen tombstones dating from 1654 to 1768.
Fort Charles guarded the southern entrance to Charlestown and was built in 1680. It once enclosed six acres, with thirteen cannon, two bastions facing out to sea, two ramparts, and moats on the leeward side. The perimeter wall, the cistern, and the powder magazine survive, together with dismounted guns with "G.R." on the barrel, for "Georgius Rex" (King George), and "W.C." on the other other side, for the makers Walder & Co. of Rotherham, England. This was the site where the Nevis Council and President John Herbert met to sign the capitulation terms to the French in February 1782. There are also some remains of fortifications at Mosquito Point and a battery at Saddle Hill (1740).
Montpelier was the location of the marriage of Horatio Nelson and Frances Nisbet on 11 March 1787. She was the widow of a local doctor, and he was captain of the H.M.S. Boreas. Prince William Henry, the future King William IV, gave the bride away. The plantation belonged to her uncle, John Herbert, the president of the council of Nevis. It was the largest house on the island at the time. Nelson was in Nevis enforcing the Navigation Acts against illicit trade between the island and the United States. He was virtually prisoner at one time on board his own ship, facing suits from planters who opposed restrictions on the trade with the newly independent United States.
Mount Nevis, or Nevis Peak (3,596 feet), has views from the summit of Barbuda, Redonda, St. Kitts, St. Eustatius, and Saba.
The Nelson Museum is located near Government House. Originally, the collection belonged to Robert Abrahams, a lawyer and author from Philadelphia, who exhibited it at his residence at Morning Star. It includes memorabilia from the life of Admiral Horatio Nelson, including parts of the set of the Royal Worcester china plates commissioned for Nelson's wedding in Nevis. Nelson spent much of his career in the Caribbean during the American Revolutionary War.
Plantation Houses. The Eden Brown Estate was built in 1740. It was never occupied, but is an impressive ruin. Other estate houses include Mount Pleasant, which dates from the 1770s; Mountravers, which has a slave prison, and dates from the 1770s; the Nisbet Plantation House, which has a mill dating to about 1778; and the Old Manor estate house, near Clay Ghaut, which dates from the late seventeenth century.
St. John's Fig Tree Church. The parish register contains an entry for the marriage of Horatio Nelson to Frances Nisbet in 1787. There are tombstones in the graveyard dating from 1682.
For further contact information see st. kitts.
The 3,340-square-mile island was a Spanish colony between 1508 and 1898, when it was ceded to the United States. During the American Revolution there was much discussion among the British about invading Puerto Rico. It was an object advocated by the governor of the Leeward Islands, William Mathew Burt. Major General John Vaughan drew up plans for such an expedition in December 1779, but the British had too few troops and were largely on the defensive in the Caribbean. Furthermore, like Cuba and the Dominican Republic, the defenses of Puerto Rico were greatly strengthened in the decade before the American Revolution as part of the naval and colonial defense program initiated by Charles III. The reform of the garrison and improvement in the defenses was implemented by Alejandro O'Reilly and Tomas O'Daly, who were both descendants of "Wild Geese" Irishmen who served with the Spanish army after fleeing the British in Ireland. O'Reilly later presided over the transfer of New Orleans from France to Spain in 1769 and became governor of Louisiana (1766–1770).
Fort San Cristobal is half a mile east of El Morro on Avenida Muñoz Rivera leading into the Plaza de Colon. The original batteries were greatly strengthened between 1765 and 1772 by an engineer named Tomas O'Daly.
Fort de San Gerónimo del Boquerón in the Condado Lagoon was begun in the sixteenth century. It contains a museum relating to the military history of Puerto Rico.
San Juan was named by the conquistador Juan Ponce de León. It has some eight hundred historic structures and six monuments designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was primarily a military town because the port served the ships sailing between Spain and its colonies in the Americas. La Fortaleza is the city's oldest fortress, built about 1520, with a tower and gate that date from 1540. It became a storehouse for bullion and the residence of governors, and it has remained so for four hundred years. The major fortress, the San Felipe del Morro, dates from 1539 but it was redesigned during the American Revolution and completed in 1783. The six fortified levels rise 140 feet above sea level. It protected the entrances to the bay and repelled an attack of Drake and Hawkins in 1595. The castle has a panoramic view of San Juan. El Canuelo is a small fort in the harbor. The old city is surrounded by the original wall, which dates from 1630. The Castillo San Cristóbal was built in the decade before the American Revolution, between 1766 and 1772, and was modified in 1783. There is a military museum in the Fort San Jerónimo (1788–1797). The Dominican Convent, El Convento Dominicano, was begun in 1523 on land donated by Ponce de León. The seventeenth-century Carmelite convent is now a hotel called El Convento. The Casa del Callejón is an eighteenth-century mansion on Calle Fortaleza. It is now a museum which has exhibits on colonial architecture in the old city. The Cathedral of San Juan de Bautista is at Cristo and Luna. It was founded by the Dominicans in 1523 and contains the tomb of Ponce de León. Casa Blanca (1523) was the fortified mansion overlooking Juan Bay which was occupied by the family of Ponce de León. It is now a museum.
For further information contact: Archivo General de Puerto Rico, Instituto de Cultura, P.O. Box 9024184, San Juan, PR 00902-4184; phone: (787) 722-2113; Archivo Historico de Caguas, Departamento de Desarrollo Cultural Municipio de Caguas, P.O. Box 907, Caguas, PR 00726; phone: (787) 258-0070; Archivo Historico de Mayaguez, Municipio de Mayaguez, P.O. Box 447, Mayaguez, PR 00681; phone: (787) 833-5195; Archivo Historico Municipal, Municipio de San German, P.O. Box 85, San German, PR 00683; phone: (787) 892-7979; Biblioteca Regional del Caribe (Caribbean Regional Library) y de Estudios Latinoamericanos, P.O. Box 21927, San Juan, P.R. 00931-1927; phone: (787) 764-0000; email: [email protected] or [email protected]; Archivo General de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico General Archive), Apartado 4184, San Juan, PR 00905-4184; Registro de Propiédad (Property Registrar), Sección 2, Apartado 2551, Ponce, PR 00733-2551; Sociédad Puertorriqueña de Genealogía (Puerto Rican Genealogical Society), 103 Avenida Universidad, Ste. 239, Río Piedras, PR 00925; Puerto Rico Institute of Culture, Museums, and Parks; phone: (787) 724-5477.
St. Bartholomew is an island of only 8 square miles which was occupied by France in 1648. It was briefly captured by the British in January 1779 and recaptured by the French on 28 February 1779. The French ceded the island in 1784 to Sweden in exchange for trading rights at Gothenburg. It was restored to France in 1877.
For further information contact: St. Barthelemy (St. Barts), French Government Tourist Office, 444 Madison Avenue, 16th Floor; New York, N.Y. 10022; phone: (212) 838-7800; fax: (212) 838-7855; website: www.st-barths.com; www.caribbean-direct.com.
St. Croix was the largest Danish colony in the Virgin Islands from 1733 until its sale to the United States in 1917. At the age of nine Alexander Hamilton moved to the 82-square-mile island with his mother, and there, years later, published his first article, in the Royal Danish American Gazette. A native of St. Croix, Abram Markoe, organized the first troop of Light Horse in Philadelphia. The flag he commissioned for them was a forerunner of the Stars and Stripes. (He later gave his property for the site of the first presidential house in the United States.) On 25 October 1776 Frederiksted in St. Croix became the first foreign port to salute the American flag, but it was unofficial, occurring when the ship was leaving the port with a small cargo of gunpowder. The first official salute is therefore usually attributed to St. Eustatius, in the following November.
Christiansted was founded in 1734 by the Danish West India and Guinea Company. Alexander Hamilton, together with his mother and brother, lived in a two-story house at 34 Company Street next to the Anglican church after they were abandoned by James Hamilton in 1766. His mother ran a shop on the ground floor. She bought some of her merchandise from the New York merchants David Beekman and Nicholas Cruger, who were to become the patrons of the young Alexander Hamilton. She suddenly died on 19 Feburary 1768, and her small inheritance was claimed by the son by her first marriage, which meant that there was nothing for her two boys by James Hamilton. The boys were then placed under the guardianship of their first cousin, Peter Lytton. On 16 July he committed suicide. His father arrived to adopt the boys but died shortly afterwards, leaving them again orphaned and alone. Alexander then began to clerk for Beekman and Cruger. He became conversant in several languages and in dealing with different currencies, and traded throughout the Leeward Islands. He moved to the home of Thomas Stevens, a well-respected merchant, in King Street, and also found a mentor in the pastor of the Scottish Presbyterian church, Hugh Knox, who had moved to the island from Saba. It was through this connection that Hamilton left to study at the Elizabethtown Academy in New Jersey. The Alexander Hamilton House at 55 King Street was built in the 1750s, then rebuilt following a fire in the 1970s. On the same street, 52 King Street is an early-eighteenth-century residence. The old West India and Guinea Company warehouse was built in 1749 and is now the post office. The Steeple Building (1753) was the first Lutheran church. Fort Christiansvaern (1734 and partly rebuilt in 1772) and Government House (built between 1747 and 1830) are located on the waterfront of Christiansted; they are a National Historic Site. The fort is well preserved, with barracks, dungeon, powder magazine, officers, kitchen, battery, battlements, a double entrance staircase, and sally port.
Frederiksted lost many of its original buildings owing to a tidal wave in 1867 and a fire in 1878. Along the waterfront was the warehouse of Nicholas Cruger, the New York employer of Alexander Hamilton. Fort Frederik, begun in 1752, was the site of the (unofficial) first foreign salute of the American flag. The fort retains its garrison, barracks, arsenal, canteen, stables, courtyard, and commandants' quarters (1760).
The Grange was the plantation of the maternal aunt of Alexander Hamilton, Ann Faucette, and her husband James Lytton, located outside the capital Christiansted. The couple had left Nevis for St. Croix. They hosted Hamilton's mother, Rachel Faucette, and grandmother, Mary Faucette, who also left Nevis for St. Croix. Hamilton's mother had her ill-fated wedding at the age of sixteen to Johann Michael Lavien in St. Croix. Her husband later had her imprisoned for adultery in the fort, Christiansvaern. Following her release after three to five months in prison she fled the island, leaving behind a son by her marriage, and sought refuge in St. Kitts in 1750. Lavien succeeded in obtaining a formal divorce in 1759 when Rachel moved to Nevis, where she gave birth to Alexander, whose father was James Hamilton. Lavien referred in the divorce papers to her "whore-children" born after her departure from St. Croix. In April 1765 Rachel returned to St. Croix when James Hamilton was representing Archibald Ingram of St. Kitts in a debt-collection case against Alexander Moir in Christiansted. James Hamilton absconded upon the completion of the case, abandoning his wife and children in St. Croix. Her sister and brother-in-law, who owned the Grange, had already left the island, sold the plantation, and returned to Nevis. There is a monument erected in her memory by Gertrude Atherton.
For further information contact: United States Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, P.O. Box 4538, Christiansted, St. Croix, Virgin Islands 00822; phone: (340) 773-0495; fax: (340) 773-5074.
ST. DOMINGUE. Seehaiti.
An island of only 9 square miles, St. Eustatius was settled by the Dutch in 1635. During the American Revolution it was able to exploit the neutrality of the Netherlands (until 1781) to become the leading source of supplies and gunpowder to the Patriots in North America. The island was so wealthy that it was known as the "Golden Rock." On 16 November 1776 Fort Oranje fired what is often regarded as the first official salute of the American flag at the Andrew Doria, a ship of the Continental navy which was carrying a copy of the Declaration of Independence. The British observed the scene from 8 miles away at Brimstone Hill in St. Kitts. The date of the event is now a national holiday. Sir George Rodney and General John Vaughan captured the island on 3 February 1781. They carried out the attack before the inhabitants were even aware of the outbreak of war between Britain and the Netherlands. Rodney ordered that the Dutch flag remain flying and surprised many ships. Rodney proceeded to plunder the island and auction the proceeds. But the capture proved a fiasco: Rodney failed to intercept de Grasse's fleet en route from France to Yorktown, where it played a critical role in the defeat of the British. Rodney sailed home rather than follow de Grasse, pleading ill health, but his first priority on returning to Britain was to defend his behavior at St. Eustatius against his critics in Parliament. The fleet carrying the prizes from St. Eustatius back to England was captured by the French. On 26 November the marquis de Bouillé, the French governor of Martinique, surprised the garrison and retook the island from the British. The British officer in command was later court-martialed and found guilty of neglect. The French seized 2 million livres, including the pay for the British troops in North America.
Fort Amsterdam, more correctly named Concordia, was located at the northeast of the island facing the Atlantic Ocean, near a cliff overlooking the Bargine Bay and Great Bay. It is marked on a French map of 1781.
Fort Oranje (Fort Orange) in Oranjestad was built in 1629 by the French. It was rebuilt, enlarged, and named by the Zeelanders in 1636. It was constructed around a plaza facing the sea, and had sixteen cannon. Abraham Revené lived in the commander's house when he performed the salute in reply to the thirteen-gun salute by Isaiah Robinson, the commander of the Andrew Doria. There is a plaque in the courtyard commemorating the salute of the American flag on 16 November 1776, presented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on 12 December 1939.
Forts and Batteries. In addition to Fort Oranje and Fort Amsterdam, there are numerous remnants of former military installations dating from the period of the American Revolution. These include Fort de Windt, which is believed to date from the governorship of Jan de Windt, between September 1753 and January 1775; Bourbon's Battery, or Four Gun Battery (1780s); Fort Amsterdam, or Waterfort, from the late seventeenth century; Royal Battery (1780s); Tumble Down Dick Battery (early eighteenth century); Jenkin's Bay Battery (1780s); Stronghold at Venus Bay (1780s); Jussac's Battery (1780s); Fort Panga, or Signal Hill (1780s); Battery St. Louis (1780s); Battery Corre (1780s); Battery de Windt, or Lisbourne's Battery (third quarter of the eighteenth century); Frederick's Battery; Nassau's Battery (third quarter of the eighteenth century); Fort Dolijn, also called a Have's Batter (early eighteenth century); and Bouillé's Battery (1780s).
Lynch Plantation Museum is a museum dedicated to domestic life on the island, with a collection of household artifacts and antiques. It is located on the northeastern side of the island.
Oranjestad contains ruins and evidence of the commercial vitality of the town during the period of the American Revolution, especially in Lower Town around the bay where building began in the 1750s. The St. Eustatius Historical Foundation Museum is located in one of the oldest and most attractive houses in the Upper Town, the Simon Doncker House Museum. Sir George Rodney made it his headquarters after he captured the island in 1781. The date of the building is not known, but the house is marked on a plantation map of 1775. The Government Guesthouse is an eighteenth-century building which was restored and officially opened by Queen Beatrix on 16 November 1992. The Dutch Reformed Church in Oranjestad was built in 1755. It was in ruins until the tower was restored in 1981 and subsequent work was performed in 2000.
Synagogue "Honen Dalim" in Oranjestad, built in 1739 but now in ruins, is the second-oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. The cemetery has graves dating back to 1742. Rodney selected the Jews for particularly harsh punishment, accusing them of aiding the American Revolution, when he sacked the island in 1781. The graves of several traders from New England, particularly Rhode Island, are located near the cemetery, where the names are mostly Portuguese, being primarily Sephardic Jews from Brazil.
For more information contact: St. Eustatius Historical Foundation, P.O. Box 71, Oranjestad A25, St. Eustatius, Netherland Antilles; St. Eustatius Tourism Development Foundation, Fort Oranje, Oranjestad, St. Eustatius, Netherlands Antilles, Dutch Caribbean; phone: (599-3) 182433; fax (599-3) 182433; email: [email protected]; website: www.statiatourism.com.
St. John was a Danish colony from 1718 until its sale to the United States in 1917. About two-thirds of the 20-square-mile island was designated a National Park in 1956. Annaberg Estate dates from the 1780s. The U.S. National Park Service here gives demonstrations of the operations of a plantation. Frederik's Fort, at the east end of the island at Coral Bay, was built on the site of an earlier fortress on Fortsberg Hill in 1736, partly in response to the slave rebellion of 1733. It therefore contained defenses directed inland as well as towards the sea, such as the battery at Cruz Bay. There is also a coastal battery facing the entrance to Coral Bay lower down on Fortsberg Hill. Reef Bay plantation has a great house dating from before 1780.
For further information contact: United States Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, P.O. Box 200, Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI 00831; phone: (340) 776-6450; fax: (340) 779-4097; Virgin Islands National Park, Cruz Bay Visitor Center, phone: (340) 776-6201 ext. 238.
St. Kitts was the oldest British colony in the Caribbean from the time of the first English settlement in 1623; it became independent in 1983. The 68-square-mile island was divided with the French for much of the time between 1627 and 1713. Alexander Hamilton's parents met in St. Kitts in the 1750s. His father, James Hamilton, the younger son of a prominent Scottish family, had left Scotland to seek his fortune in the West Indies. He evidently had little success, because he was listed in the council minutes in 1748 as a watchman for the port of Basseterre. The two were unable to marry because Rachel was technically still married to a failed planter in St. Croix. St. Kitts was the scene of the most ferocious Stamp Act riots in the British Caribbean in 1765. During the Revolutionary War the island was under constant threat of attack by the French. Throughout much of the month of February 1779, Admiral d'Estaing hovered menacingly off the island with five ships of the line. On 3 February, Fig Tree Fort fired on the ships and hit the deck of the Iphegenic. On 6 March the Governor Trumbull, one of the most successful American privateers in the Caribbean, was taken off St. Kitts after a pursuit of several hours. In May d'Estaing was able to take St. Vincent after Admiral Byron hurriedly left St. Lucia, fearing for the safety of St. Kitts. On 15 July, Byron returned to St. Kitts with his badly damaged, blood-drenched ships following a naval battle off Grenada with d'Estaing. The French again appeared off Basseterre with twenty-six sail of the line, one large frigate, and five thousand men. A battle seemed imminent, with the two fleets almost in gunshot range. D'Estaing instead sailed to Cap François and then prepared to cooperate with American land forces at Savannah, Georgia. On 11 January 1782, accompanied by the same victorious French army and commanders who fought at Yorktown, Admiral de Grasse landed unopposed in St. Kitts with eight thousand troops commanded by the governor of Martinique, the marquis de Bouillé, who immediately captured the capital city of Basseterre. He then proceeded to besiege Brimstone Hill. Almost two weeks after the start of the siege, Admiral Hood arrived with a relief expedition of twenty-two ships from Barbados against the superior fleet of twenty-nine ships under de Grasse. In a brilliant maneuver, Hood managed to lure the French fleet from its moorings and to displace it with his own fleet, but apart from an exchange of messages on the first day, he was unable to communicate with the besieged garrison. He succeeded in landing troops off Frigate Bay under General Robert Prescott, who engaged in an intense action for which both sides claimed victory. On 12 February, after almost five weeks of resistance, the sick and exhausted garrison on Brimstone Hill, depleted of ammunition and provisions, with only five hundred men left in defense, finally submitted to the French, giving them full possession of St. Kitts and the neighboring island of Nevis. St. Kitts was returned to Britain by the peace terms of 1783.
Basseterre was the capital of St. Kitts. The area around Independence Square with its central gardens was laid out on land purchased in 1750. The town suffered major fires in 1776 (and again in 1867). There are few of the original buildings from the time of the American Revolution. The town was the scene of Stamp Act riots in 1765 contemporaneous with those of Boston. On the evening of 31 October a crowd of three to four hundred people assembled at Noland's Tavern. They seized the stamp official and paraded him through the public market. They knocked him down, and he claimed that they were ready to murder him but for the intervention of "some negroes" who knew him. The crowd continued on the rampage, forcing the collector to flee to Nevis. On 5 November the crowd assembled again, burning effigies of the stamp master and his deputy. They finished the evening with a dinner and toasts to "Liberty, Property and no Stamps." During the American Revolutionary War, Basseterre was the port where the convoys gathered from the British colonies in the eastern Caribbean for the "homeward" voyage to Britain. The bay was protected by Fort Smith, of which nothing now remains, and Fort Thomas, named after Governor George Thomas, which stands in the grounds of a hotel of the same name. Fort Street was the site of a third fort, which stood in the center of the waterfront. The Anglican church of St. George, like most ecclesiastical buildings in the islands, has been repeatedly rebuilt since its construction in 1670. The churchyard, also in common with the churches throughout the islands, has gravestones from the early eighteenth century.
Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dubbed the Gibraltar of the West Indies, Brimstone Hill (779 feet high) was first fortified in 1690 by Sir Timothy Thornhill, and it remained in regular use until the withdrawal of the last garrison in 1853. The site consists of bastions, barracks, offices, storerooms, and magazines, spread across 30 acres. There is a museum relating the history of the island which is housed in some of the barrack rooms in the citadel. The citadel on the summit and the large bastion just below were added in the late eighteenth century. The fortress has views of the western side of the island, as well as of Nevis, St. Eustatius, Saba, St. Martin, and St. Barthélémy. The landing of the French at Basseterre in January 1781 forced the twelve thousand British military regulars and militia to retreat to a defensive position 9 miles away in the formidable fortifications at Brimstone Hill, against which the French began siege operations. The garrison submitted after almost five weeks of resistance.
Charles Fort, Sandy Point, situated on Cleverly's Hill under Brimstone Hill and named after King Charles II, was a military post from 1670 until it was abandoned in 1854. Some forty years later, in 1890, it was used as a Hansen home (leper asylum). The home was closed in 1996. The point was a suitable site to protect and deflect ships making for Sandy Point Road.
Frigate Bay. Fort Tyson overlooks the bay where British troops landed from Hood's ships on 18 February 1782, commanded by General Robert Prescott.
Plantation Houses. St. Kitts' plantations include Belmont Estate Yard; Fairview Inn (1698–1701); Lodge Great House; and Shadwell Great House, built in the second quarter of the eighteenth century.
For more information contact: St. Kitts-Nevis Tourist Board, Church Street, P.O. Box 132, Basseterre, phone: (809) 465-2620; National Archives, Government Headquarters, Church Street, Box 186, Basseterre, St. Kitts; phone: (869) 465-2521. Researchers should contact the archivist before visiting because research space is limited. Also useful are: St. Christopher Heritage Society, Bank Street, P.O. Box 338, Basseterre, St. Kitts; phone: (869) 465-5584; St. Kitts and Nevis Department of Tourism, 414 East 75th Street, 5th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10021; phone: (800) 582-6208; fax: (212) 734-6511; website: www.stkitts-nevis.com.
The 238-square-mile island was a French colony at the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. It was captured by the British in an expedition commanded by Admiral Samuel Barrington and Major General James Grant on 13 December 1778. Britain gave up Philadelphia partly to free five thousand troops for the conquest of St. Lucia. Sir Henry Clinton, the British commander in chief in North America, attributed his failure to wage a more aggressive war to the loss of these troops and the failure of the government to replace them with additional reinforcements. Sir George Rodney had persuaded the government of the necessity of taking the island in order to provide a base for the British navy to shadow the French navy at Martinique. The British gave the island priority second only to Antigua and Jamaica. The French made several unsuccessful attempts to recapture St. Lucia, which was restored to France by the peace of 1783. The high quality local rum is appropriately called Admiral Rodney and is sold in boxes commemorating the battle of the Saintes.
Castries (Petit Carenage). During the British occupation it was called Carenage Town, and only acquired its present name after the French reoccupation in 1784. It possessed one of the finest harbors in the Caribbean. The town has few original buildings from the period of the American Revolution owing to the damage caused by the hurricane of 1780, together with the fires of 1796, 1812, 1948, and 1951.
Grand Cul-du-Sac Bay was the landing place of the British invasion under the command of General Meadows and Brigadier General Prescott on 13 December 1778 with five thousand men. It was also the scene of an ensuing engagement between Admiral Sir Samuel Barrington and Count d'Estaing. The latter had arrived too late from North America to deflect the British.
Gros Islet (Rodney Bay), in the northeast, was regarded by Rodney as the finest bay in the Caribbean. It was the place where the French landed their forces in 1778. Rodney sailed from the bay to his victory over de Grasse at the Battle of the Saintes.
Marigot Bay is one of the most beautiful coves in the Caribbean. In 1778 Admiral Samuel Barrington sailed into the harbor and camouflaged his ships by tying large palm fronds to the mast to escape the pursuit of Admiral d'Estaing.
Morne Fortuné (Good Luck Hill), 850 feet above sea level, was the site of fortifications overlooking Castries. The ruins of a guardroom, three cells, and stables are located near the entrance to Radio St. Lucia Studios, and date from the late 1770s. Some of the rings for tethering horses can still be seen in the walls. The Halfmoon Battery was built in 1752 and renamed in about 1797. It was at one time a gun emplacement for three 18-pounders and two 24-pounders. A short-oven, built about 1780, was moved from another location in the recent past. The Prevost's Redoubt is among the best-preserved gun emplacements, and was built in 1782. The military cemetery has graves of French and British soldiers dating from 1782. The site has excellent views of the Pitons, the interior of the island, and Martinique.
Moule à Chique, a mountain peak on the southern peninsula, has a view of the neighboring island of St. Vincent, located 20 miles away.
Paix Bouche, in the northeast of the island, was associated with Joséphine Tascher de la Pagerie, future wife of Napoleon and empress of France. The family lived on the island from 1763 until 1771. The ruins of the estate are still visible.
Pigeon Island National Park, overlooking Gros Islet Bay, has two hills north of Castries which were fortified by the British in 1778. The fortifications were strengthened under the personal supervision of Rodney between 1780 and 1782. Fort Rodney was on the lower hill (221 feet). There remains a two-gun battery, guns slides, barracks, garrisons and a powder magazine, hospital, cooperage, kitchen, bakery, officers' quarters, and a signal station, built between 1778 and 1780. The signal station was of great importance for relaying information regarding the movements of the French ships around Fort-de-France (Fort Royal), Martinique. The highest hill (334 feet) is called the Vigie (Lookout). It was the scene of intense fighting when d'Estaing attempted to recapture the island in 1778. With five thousand men, jointly commanded by Lowendahl and de Bouillé, he attempted to storm the lines of General Meadows. He lost some seventy men in the first attack when the British used their bayonets to resist. Two further attempts were repulsed by the British. There is a former military cemetery which dates from 1781. Pigeon Island is now joined to the mainland by a causeway and is a national park with a museum and restaurant. The museum is located in the old officers' quarters and run by the St. Lucia Archaeological and Historical Society.
The Pitons, or peaks, were for generations landmarks for mariners. Gros Piton is 2,619 feet and Petit Piton is 2,481 feet.
Plantation Houses. Most of St. Lucia's plantation homes were destroyed in the French Revolution. There are the remains of six estates in the area of Soufrière: Malmaison, which was the home of the future empress Joséphine, thewifeof Napoleon; Diamond, whichhas a pre-1745 windmill; Anse Mamin; Palmiste; and Rabot and Union Vale. In the area of Micoud, there are the plantations of Beauchamps, Fond, and Trouassee. To the south of Vieux Fort, there is Giraudy House and Savannes. Near Dauphin is the Morne Paix Bouche estate and Marquis, which was the home of the governors of St. Lucia. The Mamicou estate on the midwestern coast was the home of the chevalier de Micoud, who defended the island against the British in 1778. Around the southwest coast, there is Choiseul, Laborie, and River Doree. Between Castries and Gros Islet Bay are Cap House and Grand Rivière.
Rat Island in Choc Bay was fortified by the British during the American Revolution.
Vieux Fort, situated on the south coast of a peninsula called Moule-a-Chique, was the first part of the island to be settled by Europeans. It was the district where the British first introduced sugar in 1765, and it became the center of the sugar estates in the eighteenth century. It is now an industrial area, near the main airport, which has a museum about the history and culture of St. Lucia.
For further information contact: National Archives, P.O. Box 3060, Clarke Street, Vigie, Castries, St. Lucia; phone: (758) 452-1654; email: [email protected]; website: http://www.geocities.com/sluarchives/index.html; St. Lucia National Trust, P.O. Box 525, Castries, St. Lucia; phone: (758) 452-5005; fax: (758) 453-2791; St. Lucia Tourist Board; phone: (800) 456-3984; website: www.stlucia.org.
The 36-square-mile island was divided between France and the Netherlands after 1648. It was named after Sieur St. Martin, who claimed the island for Louis XIII. The two colonial powers continued to contest the island and to drive one another out. On 5 January 1779 a British expedition from Anguilla took the French northern half of the island, which had a good harbor and the potential for sugar crops. In March 1780 it was recaptured by the French. Rodney did much damage to the Dutch half of the island following his capture of St. Eustatius in 1781.
Marigot is the capital and a port in the French half of the island (St. Martin), where the main fortress was Point Blanche, St. Louis (Fort St. Louis), built on the edges of the town in 1760. It is in ruins, with several cannons and decaying walls and ramparts.
Philipsburg is the capital of the Dutch half of the island (St. Maarten), where the main fortress was Fort Amsterdam, founded in 1631 and substantially rebuilt and modified in 1633 and 1648; it was used as a signal station until the 1950s. It is now in ruins. The town contains seventeenth- and eighteenth-century remains of a synagogue.
For further information contact: Dutch St. Maarten Tourist Office, 675 Third Ave, Suite 1806, New York, N.Y. 10017; phone: (800) 786-2278; fax: (212) 953-2145; Cultural Centre of Philipsburg, Back Street, Philipsburg, St. Maarten; phone: 5995 22056; French St. Martin Tourism; phone: (877) 956-1234; website: www.st-martin.org; Office du Tourisme, Route de Sandy Ground, 97150 Marigot, St. Martin; phone: 590 875721; fax: 590 875643; email: [email protected]; St. Martin Tourist Office, 675 Third Avenue, Suite 1807, New York, N.Y. 10017; phone: (212) 475-8970 / (877) 956-1234; email: [email protected]
The 30-square-mile island was a Danish colony in the Virgin Islands between 1672 and 1917. The inhabitants colonized St. Croix and St. John, which were sold by Denmark to the United States to become the American Virgin Islands. After Rodney's capture of St. Eustatius in January 1781, St. Thomas became a major source of supplies to the Americans.
Charlotte Amalie, the capital and a port town, suffered six fires between 1804 and 1832. The fortifications are the most impressive structures remaining. Fort Christian, although much altered since its erection in the 1670s, retains parts of the original structure and early-eighteenth-century additions. It houses the Virgin Islands Museum. The facing hills also needed to be fortified because they could be used by an invading enemy to attack the fort. There are two round towers, known as Bluebeard's Castle (Frederik's Fort) on Smithberg, a hill east of the harbor, which was completed in 1689, and Blackbeard's Castle (Trygborg), built in the early 1680s by the Danish West India Company. Prince Frederik's Battery was built to protect the west side of the harbor entrance in 1780. The Virgin Islands legislature meets in the former eighteenth-century military barracks south of Fort Christian. The military ward of a hospital dating from the last quarter of the eighteenth century is now a private residence called the Adams House. Crown House dates from 1750. It has eighteenth-century furnishings and interiors. The Frederick Lutheran Church claims to be the second-oldest Lutheran Church in the Americas, and has a parsonage that dates from about 1776. The town was a refuge for large numbers of Jews escaping St. Eustatius following the attack by Rodney in 1782.
New Herrnhut Moravian Church was the original church established in the Caribbean by the Moravians, who began their mission at St. Thomas in 1732 and purchased the plantation on which the church is located in 1738. The Moravians originated among the followers of John Hus, the Bohemian priest who was burnt for heresy in 1415. In the eighteenth century Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf of Saxony first granted Moravians asylum and then played a key role in revitalizing the denomination. They were notable for their preaching among the slave population. They became active throughout the Caribbean, including in Jamaica (1754), Antigua (1756), Barbados (1765), and St. Kitts (1774), and in North America, where they were particularly active in North Carolina and Pennsylvania before the American Revolution. Count von Zinzendorf visited St. Thomas in support of the Moravians' earliest mission to the Caribbean. Augustus Gottlieb Spangenberg of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, preached his first sermons under the ceiba at the Moravian Mission at Nisky near Crown Bay. The seminary and school next to the ruins of the church were built in 1777.
Sail Rock was supposedly mistaken by a French frigate for a British ship during the American Revolution. The French ship fired a broadside at the rock, whose ricochet gave the impression of return fire. The cannonade continued throughout the night.
For further information contact: United States Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, P.O. Box 6400, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands 00804; phone: (340) 774-8784; fax: (340) 774-4390.
St. Vincent was a British colony following its conquest by General Robert Monckton in 1762; it became independent in 1969. The 239-square-mile island was inhabited principally by Caribs, who were descendants of the original peoples of the Caribbean at the time of Columbus. They mostly intermarried with runaway slaves and are therefore often called the Black Caribs. They resisted British expansion and fought a war with British troops in 1772 to 1773 which necessitated the removal of troops from Boston and was widely condemned among the opposition parties in Britain. The war did not result in a clear victory, which some Patriot newspapers in North America interpreted as evidence of the weakness of Britain. During the American Revolution the Black Caribs remained a constant source of anxiety to the British, and were believed to be in league with the French. On 16 June 1779 the island was captured by Admiral d'Estaing and 400 men under the command of the chevalier du Romain. Valentine Morris, British governor of the island, managed to assemble in opposition only 44 regulars and 35 militia. The island was returned to the British by the terms of the peace of 1783. James Hamilton, the indebted father of Alexander Hamilton who had abandoned his wife and family in St. Croix, died in St. Vincent on 3 June 1799. He had lived for nine years on the island, and previously on the nearby island of Bequia. He and his son exchanged some correspondence, but never met in thirty-five years.
Botanic Gardens. Reputed to be the oldest in the Western Hemisphere, they occupy 20 acres of land 1 mile outside of Kingstown. The collection includes tropical trees, palms, lilies, hibiscus, and bougainvillea, as well as preserved rare species. It was here that the notorious Captain Bligh planted a Tahitian breadfruit tree in 1797 in hopes that it would prove a useful food source for the Caribbean islands. (His first attempt to collect breadfruit trees from Tahiti in 1787 was thwarted by the mutiny aboard his ship, the Bounty.) The gardens contain the Archaeological Museum (for which visitors should check opening times in advance).
Dorsetshire Hill used to have barracks and was the scene of intense fighting between the British, French, and Caribs. The fortifications, which only consisted of earthworks, no longer exist.
Kingstown is the capital. It was protected by batteries, with Can Garden Point to the south and to the northwest by Fort Charlotte (the current building dates from 1796–1806), named after George III's wife, Queen Charlotte. The former soldiers' quarters are now a museum. St. George's Anglican Church graveyard contains the tomb of Governor William Leyborne, who died in office in 1775, and men from the Seventieth Regiment stationed at Fort Charlotte.
Young Island, off Calliaqua Bay in the south of the island, has the adjacent Fort Duvernette, or Fort Rock, at 260 feet above sea level. It dates from 1800 but has guns from the reign of George II. It protected the entrance to Kingstown.
For further information contact: St. Vincent and the Grenadines Archives Department, Cotton Ginnery Compound, Frenches, Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; phone: (784) 456-1689; email: [email protected]: Director of Libraries, Kingstown, St. Vincent, phone: (784) 457-2292; Kingstown Public Library, Lower Middle Street, Kingstown, St. Vincent; phone: (784) 457-2022; the National Trust (St. Vincent and the Grenadines), c/o CARIPEDA, P.O. Box 1132, Arnos Vale, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Registrar General, Government Buildings, Kingstown, St. Vincent; phone: (784) 457-1424; Yulu Griffith, Chief Archivist, Archives Department, Cotton Ginnery Compound, Frenches, Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, West Indies.
The Saintes are group of eight islands located 7 miles to the south of Guadeloupe, which were the scene of Sir George Rodney's victory against the French on 12 April 1782. For further contact information see guadeloupe.
Tobago was a British colony between 1762 and 1962. The 116-square-mile island was part of the government of Grenada during the American Revolution. Patrick Ferguson, the British commander killed at King's Mountain (1780) who invented the first repeating rifle used in the British army (1776), had joined the Seventieth Regiment in 1768 in Tobago, where he was involved in the suppression of slave revolts in 1770 to 1771. John Paul Jones, the Scottish-born American naval hero, was master of the Betsy when he fled Tobago for America after killing a sailor in 1773. During the Revolutionary War, Tobago was twice raided by the crews of American privateers, first after a landing at Bloody Spike on 30 December 1777 and second (in an attack by fifty men) on 17 January 1779. Before leaving the Caribbean for his decisive intervention in the British defeat at Yorktown, Admiral de Grasse captured the island in 1781. It was the only British colony in the Caribbean to be ceded to France in the Peace of Paris in 1783. It returned to British rule in 1793.
Caldedonia, "the Retreat," is the country house where Lieutenant Governor George Ferguson surrendered to the French in 1781. It was formerly the property of a soldier, James Clark, whose grave is at Fort Granby guarding Georgetown.
Concordia, on the north side of the island, is a plateau with a good view of Scarborough. Lieutenant Governor Ferguson made his last stand against the French at this point in 1781.
Crown Point is in the low-lying region of Tobago. Fort Milford, close to the shore, was built by the British between 1771 and 1781. It has one French and five British cannon, and fine seaward views.
Mount St. George was originally known by the British as George Town. Studley Park House was formerly the courthouse, built around 1788. Fort Granby at Granby Point was erected by the Sixty-second Regiment in 1765 to guard Barbados Bay—the harbor of Mount St. George. The ruins of the barracks and two tombstones are still visible.
Plymouth, also called Soldier's Barrack, was the major port of entry to Tobago and regarded as a safe harbor. It is the site of Fort James, built by the British in 1768 to 1777, which overlooks Great Courland Bay and today is maintained by the Tobago House of Assembly Tourism Division. The barracks and four mounted cannon are all that remain. Nearby is the mysterious tombstone of Betty Stiven (Stevens), dated 25 November 1783 with the inscription, "She was a mother without knowing it, and a Wife without letting her Husband know it, except by her kind indulgences to him." The town was the site where the French captured the island from the British in 1781.
Scarborough is the capital and principal town in Tobago. Its Fort King George was built between 1770 and 1786. There are still pieces of cannon, a powder magazine, a bell, and a fresh-water tank. It guarded the harbor and today offers a panoramic view. The Tobago Museum is in the Barrack Guard House.
For further information contact: Trinidad and Tobago Tourism Office, Keating Communications, 350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 6316, New York, N.Y. 10118; phone: (800) 748-4224 / (868) 623-6022; fax: (212) 760-6402; website: www.tidco.co.tt; National Archives, 105 St. Vincent Street, P.O. Box 763, Port of Spain, Trinidad; phone: (868) 625-2689; Tobago Heritage Committee, Tobago, West Indies; Head Librarian, National Heritage Library, 8 Knox Street, Port of Spain, Trinidad, West Indies; phone: (868) 623-6124; email: [email protected]; website: http://www.nalis.gov.tt/Heritage.html; University Libraries, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago; phone: (868) 662-2002; fax: (868) 662-9238; email: [email protected]
VIRGIN ISLANDS (U.S.)
VIRGIN ISLANDS (U.S.). See ST. CROIX, ST. JOHN, and ST. THOMAS.
"Caribbean." Landmarks of the American Revolution: Library of Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 14, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/defense/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/caribbean
"Caribbean." Landmarks of the American Revolution: Library of Military History. . Retrieved November 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/defense/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/caribbean