If you listen to persons that have never lived in The Bahamas, you’d think The Bahamas was discovered first and foremost by Christopher Columbus. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Lucayans, between 900-1500 AD had settled in The Bahamas with their own systems of governance and religion. Many of their relics still stand and makes for a great historical tourism trip. By the time Columbus stumbled upon the islands of The Bahamas, there were some 40,000 plus Lucayans here. Within the next 20 plus years due to Columbus, the fate of the Lucayans (who had lived in these islands for hundreds of years) was sealed! At one point in Bahamian history, believe it or not, we actually celebrated Columbus Day holiday on October 12th. In an effort to correct a great travesty, that holiday was abolished. Many Bahamians long for the day that the last symbol of Columbus is reduced to rubble. You can’t change your history! But you can teach the full story!
Fast forward to 1649 when the English Puritans sailed to The Bahamas and got ship wrecked at an island they would name, “Eleuthera”. Their Captain had to take a small vessel and sail to America for supplies. There’s an interesting and factual story about how Harvard University’s construction was aided by these English Puritans who would then be called, “The Eleutheran dventureres”.
On the topic of ship wrecks, in the 1600s and 1700s many seafaring individuals enjoyed the bounties passing through or by the islands of The Bahamas. These men and women would become known as pirates. The more famous pirates of The Bahamas were Black Beard, Calico Jack, Anne Bonny and Mary Read.
Piracy grew much to the annoyance of the British, French, Dutch and Spanish and Sir Woodes Rodgers was sent to The Bahamas to expel piracy. Its an interesting tale for the locals to share and take you to the actual site where he hung those famous pirates. One should visit the forts used to defend the island of New Providence. The very same Sir Woodes Rodgers would later establish the Parliament of the Bahama Islands in 1729 which has existed uninterrupted ever since.
After the American Civil War, the islands of The Bahamas saw another influx of persons seeking to take up residence – The Loyalists! In the decades to follow, the ending of the slave trade occupied much of the islands conversations. To this day, much of the slave era is available for a life changing visit and experience. From Pompey’s Museum where slaves were brough to the island to be sold/purchase and the various plantations, communities and relics that still stand.
Then there was the American Civil War that changed the economy of the islands favorably between 1861 and 1865. Between 1919 and 1935 thereabout, the islands again saw a booming economy as a result of the prohibition of alcohol in America. Fast forward to the various unrest in the islands that led to protests, organization of the local majority that was being governed by the minority and voila – majority rule is achieved, then independence and then the formation of institutions like the College of The Bahamas, the National Insurance Board etc.
The Bahamas has a rich, dramatic and colorful history worthy of a movie some day. If you’re going to be the producer, let us know!