When people think about the history of the Bahamas, they think of Christopher Columbus landing there and claiming it for Spain in the late 1400s. This is entirely true. But the Bahamas also had an ancient civilization that dates back as early as 300-400 AD, which may have come from Cuba and counted on the ocean for their food. This has been discovered by recent archaeological digs on the islands. Later an advanced civilization for their time settled on the Bahama Islands. They were the Lucayan Indians.
In the 10th century the Lucayans left their home in the Lesser Antilles to escape their enemies. The Carib Indians were fierce warriors and were also cannibals but the Lucayans were peaceful people and were farmers. Lucayans were very advanced in politics and religion.
They used tools and lived in thatched homes. The Lucayans were a thriving colony of 40,000 when Christopher Columbus landed. It was then decided that these gentle people would be enslaved to work in mines and it only took 25 years for the entire Lucayan people to be wiped out completely.
The tribe suffered from foreign diseases, slavery and hardship.Eleutheran Adventurers helped give the island its name: Eleuthera. Eleutheran Adventurers were a group of English Puritans seeking religious freedom. What they found was hardship and the fact that they were not prepared to survive successfully on the island. They later separated into other communities at what now are Governor's Harbour and Preacher's Cave.
After their leader Captain William Sayles returned from the American colonies with supplies they were better able to defend their outpost from the Spanish.The Bahamas continues with their exciting history. After a while the pirates came along.
This was called the Age of Piracy. It was during the late 1600s to early 1700s. Lots of famous pirates that just about everyone has heard of used the Bahamas to live, store or bury their "booty" or treasure. Pirates like Blackbeard, Calico Jack and Sir Henry Morgan. There were even two famous women who dressed as men and were pirates.
They were Anne Bonny and Mary Read. They both sailed under Calico Jack. At the end of the piracy era Mary died in a prison cell and after Anne gave birth to a son, she disappeared never to be seen again.Nassau was the perfect place for the pirates and privateers to settle.
It was a commercial port been was overran by lawless, pirates and privateers. "Wreckers", were also in Nassau. Wreckers would build false lighthouses to lure in ships just so that they would sink and the treasure would be raided. Nassau was run by pirates for almost 40 years. They love to raid the Spanish galleons. It had gotten so bad that Spanish troops destroyed Nassau in hopes of ending the piracy in 1695.
It didn't work, after a couple of years it was rebuilt. It was the pirates and privateers goal to make it the privateering capitol, but because the pirates kept raiding the French and Spanish ships the two navies collaborated and wiped out Nassau for a second time in 1703. However, the pirates were like a bad penny. They kept turning up. It was too easy for them to loot passing cargo ships and it wasn't long before Nassau was again rebuilt.In 1718 the King of England, tired of complaints of piracy, appointed Woodes Rogers as Royal Governor of the islands and asked him to restore order.
He offered amnesty to those who surrendered. The ones who didn't would be sentenced to death. There was a very brief battle with his four battleships and about 300 pirates gave in and the rest fled.
After more than 100 years, a fresh stream of colonists arrived from America. With them they brought skills for farming and shipbuilding. They also brought their slaves.
In 1783 the people, along with South Carolina militia, forced Spanish troops back without a single shot being fired. This in turned gave them their independence.During the U.S. Civil War there was another boost in economy. The British favored the south because it needed the cotton for their textile industry.
However it couldn't get through the port because of the Union blockade. Then came the blockade runners. With their fast ships they would take the southern cotton and meet up with British ship and trade goods. They in turn would return to the U.S. and sell their goods for huge profits.
After the war though the economy sank again.Then came 1919 when the U.S.
passed the 14th amendment prohibiting alcohol. That's when smuggling started happening and again another boost in the economy. Then prohibition was lifted in 1934 and with that and the collapse of sponge harvesting, the Bahamas got a double whammy and the economy plummeted. Things really turned around for them when in 1961 Cuba closed its doors to the United States. In turn tourism picked up there.
Especially because they were so close to the U.S. and they had beautiful beaches to offer.
Now the Bahamas are thriving and they became their own nation on July 10th 1973..Michael Russell.
Your Independent guide to The Bahamas.
By: Michael Russell