Bahamas -History -Political Change

Bahamas - Island Intital Histroy

We recently took a Bahamas cruise and had a day of touring on Nassau which piqued my interest in Bahamian history and their lifestyle today. The Bahamas are an archipelago of approximately 700 islands and 2,400 uninhabited islet and cays with a population of 305,655.

They lie about 50 miles off the east coast of Miami. Only 30 islands are inhabited, with the most important being New Providence, where the capital, Nassau is located, and Grand Bahama, Abaco, Eleuthera Andros, CatIsland and San Salvador (also know as Watling’s Island).

The Siboney Indians, the first known residents of the Bahamas, survived here about 7,000 years ago on conch and fishing. Sometime after the Siboneys disappeared, the Arawak Indians, also called Lucayans, migrated to the islands from the Amazon region of South America. Christopher Columbus’s first encounter of the area was on October 12, 1492. He landed on the island of San Salvador. Columbus encountered the Arawak people (also called Lucayan Indians) and initially exchanged gifts them. However, Spanish slave traders captured these people to work in the gold mines in Hispanola, and in the course of 25 years the people were all destroyed.

They did the same thing with some of the Indians in the Dominican Republic. According to our guide in Nassau, Columbus was a part of this plan and I heard the same thing when I was in the Dominican Republic on two occasions. They hate Columbus in both places and I was told several times that he raped women and men, stole and murdered people. I have no way to know if that is true but the folk legend passed down through the ages is identical on both islands. The Spanish did not colonize the Bahamas.

Bahamas Islands

source nationsonline
source nationsonline

Bahama Flag

source flagpictures
source flagpictures

Fort Charlotte Provided Safety

Building Fort Charlotte Stopped all attacks from pirates
Building Fort Charlotte Stopped all attacks from pirates

The Evolution of Political Change

The Bahamas system of electing members to the House of Assembly after 1729, had requirements that a voter had to be a legal owner of land and only the men had the right to vote. June 1, 1942, marked the beginning of modern day politics. That is when the Burma Road Riots happened as a result of the Agitation by laborers for equal pay for equal work, regardless of color or race. At this time there was an airfield being constructed in the Western New Providence for the use of American forces, which was also part of the labor dispute, and today it is the Lynden Pindling International Airport.

The birth of the Progressive Liberal Party was born out of this labor movement. This party wanted equal work, majority rule and freedom to pursue their hopes and dreams. William Cartwright, a publisher, real estate broker and a member of the House of the Assembly is accredited with conceiving this party. He invited a black judge and other dignitaries to a meeting, and he also invited several black business men and lawyers, who refused to join the party. Everything changed after the general strike of 1958. There was a 16 day peaceful protest strike that brought Nassau to an abrupt halt. Men protested and did not leave their posts for 16 straight days. The result was the Trade Union and Industrial Conciliation Act and the setting up of a Labor Department. Woman did not get the right to vote until 1962. The most significant day for all Bahamians was Black Tuesday, January 10, 1967. This is the day where Majority Rule began, representing the transition from the old Bahamas to a New Bahamas, the end of minority government to Majority Rule, which began the new democracy. It gave the Bahamian people economic empowerment, equality, more opportunity, and social justice. This was a long awaited event for the black people that represent 85% of the Bahamian population. The democracy has continued to evolve in peace and with more prosperity for their people.

Nassau - Parliament Square and Rawson Square

Parliament Buildings House of Assembly (thank you flickr)
Parliament Buildings House of Assembly (thank you flickr)

How the Bahamas Became an Independent Nation

The British started building settlements on the island in the 17th century. When the British colonized the islands they reported the Bahamas had lush forests which were chopped down for the plantations and have never grown back. During the Revolutionary War, the Bahamas fell to Spanish forces under General Galvez in 1782. A British-loyalist expedition later recaptured the islands. After the war Britain granted land grants to the American Loyalist and the sparse population tripled within three years. They wanted to grow cotton but the soil wasn’t suitable and the plantations failed. Many of the inhabitants today are descended from slaves brought to work on the plantations or from the liberated Africans set free by the British navy after the abolition of slave trade.

In the 18th century Fort Charlotte was built, actually 3 forts together. Once it was built Nassau was never attacked again. The Bahamas sheltered cays became one of the favorite haunts for the pirates in the early 18th century.

The Bahamas were a crown colony of England from 1717 until they were granted internal self government in 1964. The islands moved toward greater autonomy by 1968, with the Progressive Liberal Party winning an overwhelming victory, led by Minister Lynden O. Pindling against the white United Bahamians Party. The black population (85% of Bahamians) was in power for the first time. With their new mandate they negotiated with Britain to become an independent nation on July 10, 1773. The British emancipated the slaves in 1834.

A Look at the Bahamas

Long Battle for Freedom

The people of the Bahamas fought a long battle to finally get independence and freedom. They are a flourishing community and their tourism industry is now booming. Part 2 of this hub will review the current lifestyle of today's Bahamians, which includes their housing costs, their tax situation, their tourist attractions and their government. There are certainly major differences between the Bahamas and the United States.

© 2010 Pamela Oglesby

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Comments 46 comments

Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV

Pamela,

It sounds like The Bahamas had a lot of history in common with Hispanola, but The Bahamas have done much better.


RevLady profile image

RevLady 6 years ago from Lantana, Florida

Interesting historical information. Thanks!

Forever His,


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Tom and Rev Lady, Thank you for your comments. The Bahamas have done better and I think that is partially due to the nepotism in Dominican politics. Quite often they seem to put their relatives in positions where they have no knowledge, so the jobs are not done well. At least that is one of the problems.


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

Pamela, I am SO jealous, this is a beautiful description of a wonderous place. WELL I did get to dive into this amazing hub and the end video was a delight. It will do for the moment. Thanks for the vacation escape I love this hub. Peace :)


"Quill" 6 years ago

Love it...that is me in the hammock, just swaying to the sounds of the sea...Traveling wit you Pam on these adventures is the next best thing to being there...

Blessings and Hugs


rpalulis profile image

rpalulis 6 years ago from NY

I always appreciate a little history. This video is very inviting as well. I think I definitely need to plan a trip, very soon to the Bahamas!


carolina muscle profile image

carolina muscle 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

A fun post, and very interesting! I could use a nice month or so just lounging around Bimini.. it'd fix me right up!!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Katiem, Quill, Rpalios and Caroling, I am glad you all enjoyed the hub and I thank you for your comments. The Bahamas are a nice place to visit and just have a relaxing vacation.


katyzzz profile image

katyzzz 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Great hub, Pamela, keep them rolling


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Katzz, Thanks so much for the comment and that's the plan.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Thank you, Pamela, for your great research and comprehensive history lesson. I enjoyed it.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Hello, Thank your for your comment. I'm glad you enjoyed my hub.


coffeesnob 6 years ago

I've been to the Bahamas - it's soooo beautiful. Nice hub. Up you go, Quill, it's my turn on the hammock


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Coffeesnob, Thanks for your comment. The hammock sounds like a great way to just enjoy peace and nature.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

I really enjoyed the hub, Pamela. I felt like I was on vacation..


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Pop, It feels good to be on vacation, so I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. Thanks.


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY

oh how I love the islands! I have not been to Bermuda in many years and so this Hub brought back so many good memories. Reading it just now I just have to get back there and soon! Beautifully done . .thanks for sharing ;)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Wavegirl, Thank your for your comments and I am glad you enjoyed my hub.


Support Med. profile image

Support Med. 6 years ago from Michigan

Pamela99, very well written article. One of the reasons why writing on hubpages is a good idea. We can find out things that we did not know about. The Parliament Building is very pretty in pink.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Support Med, Thanks for your comment. I agree. I have learned many things on HubPages.


lctodd1947 profile image

lctodd1947 6 years ago from USA

Me Too...jealous that is...sounds wonderful but I am so glad you had a wonderful time. Your post is excellent and well explained. Thank you for sharing.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

IcTodd, Thank you for the comment and I'm glad you enjoyed the post.


nancy_30 profile image

nancy_30 6 years ago from Georgia

Thank you for all this wonderful information on the Bahamas. My mother-in-law goes every year. I haven't been yet, but maybe one day I'll get to visit. I love all the wonderful pictures.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

I love the Bahamas! Enjoyed the read.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Nancy & Habee, Thanks for your comments.


Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

I do love this hub and the islands, I spent some time there and it was wonderful...a delightful and educational hub, thanks for sharing thumbs up my friend...


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Darlene, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and thank you for your nice comments.


JannyC profile image

JannyC 6 years ago

rated up!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Janny, Thank you for the much appreciated rating.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin

Wow, when one thinks about the Bahamas, you tend to just think about a tropical island that you vacation to. I didn't realize that there was so much history there. I look forward to reading the 2nd part.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Springboard, That's true. The guide told us much of the history so when I got home I did a little research to make sure the facts were accurate. Thanks for your comment.


Roberta 6 years ago

I have been there twice and it is a wonderful vacation spot.

Very knowledgable hub. Great work.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Roberta, Thank you for your comment.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

I am enjoying this one, one day I will also go there and thank you for the share history, and I learned a lot Pam, Maita


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Miata, I am glad you enjoyed the hub and thank you for your comment.


AEvans profile image

AEvans 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

I did not realize there was so much history when it came to the Bahamas thank you so much for sharing this information. :)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

AEvans, Thank your for your comment.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

Add this to the Hubtrail!! Read the forum post to find out how.


2besure profile image

2besure 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

Thanks so much for writing this article. My father was Bahamian and I did not know a lot of this. I will send this hub to my son and sisters.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Habee and 2besure, Thank you so much for your comments.


freelancewriterva profile image

freelancewriterva 6 years ago

This hubpage was researched very well. Thank you, I enjoyed the historical perspective


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Freelance, Thank you for your comment and I am glad you enjoyed the hub.


Chris Fletcher profile image

Chris Fletcher 6 years ago

Beam me there, Scotty!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Chris, It sounds like a plan!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

Let me know if you're writing the Bahamas capstone. I have a couple of articles that need to be included. Thanks!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Habee, I did enter the two Bahama articles last night.

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