Holiday facts and information about Bahamas
Country and People
Slavery as an institution was doomed in the British Empire, so in 1772 its practice was considered against the law in the home country and in 1807 the slave trade was prohibited throughout all British possessions. By 1834 all Blacks had been emancipated. The beginning of the 19th century marked the end of the romantic period and by the middle of this century, especially in the period 1861-1865, the Bahamas enjoyed a boom that would not be equalled for some sixty years. The American civil war led to unparalleled growth, it gave rise to a building boom of warehouses, piers, houses, and stores in the streets along the harbour. Out islanders crowded into Nassau. When the American civil war came to an end at Appomatox in 1865, the effect was quickly felt in the Bahamas where it left a country with a great deal of manpower controlled by a powerful few. As the century wore on, many Bahamians became immigrant labourers by moving to the United States. When the First World War broke out in 1914, the Bahamians volunteered for both the Canadian and the British West Indies forces thus strengthening even further their ties with the British.
The Bahamas then came under the proprietary rights of Sir Robert Heath; but to claim the 600 mile wide island group as one’s own was one thing, to prove it was another; and so 4 years later France gathered several of the already granted islands in a grant to King Charles I’s favourite, who was caught in a Puritan revolt and lost his head. As a result of this dispute the Bahamas gained its first permanent settlement at Eleuthera when a ship called “The William” struck a reef off the north coast of the island; this group of Puritans were led by William Sayle, a former Governor of Bermuda. This attempt at settlement at first made little progress, as life on Eleuthera was very hard, and despite the support of other Puritans, by 1657 Sayle himself had returned to Bermuda. The colony kept growing nevertheless, attracting new Puritans and freed slaves. It was during this period that Sayle, on one of his tireless voyages on behalf of the colony, sought refuge from a fierce storm in a particularly fine harbour. The island which residents named in his honour is today known as New Providence. Its main city is of course Nassau, the economical and political capital of the Bahamas.