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A purely analytical perception...


BAHAMAS

Continued from page 1

There was a great deal of difference between the Spanish and English colonial efforts. While neither of the two seemed to have much interest in making friends of those that they colonized, the Spanish seemed only intent only draining the territory of whatever precious metals it contained, pulling up stakes only when they were convinced that the natives could produce no more. However, the English liked these trinkets as well, but along with their greed they had a plan. By controlling the sea-routes, they could effectively let the Spanish and Portuguese break their backs by working the land while once at sea, the English pluck the little dainties from their clutches in a more civilized manner. Effectively this was called piracy and the English, whether it was their navy or their privateers were the best at this pastime

While the Spanish showed little interest in the Bahamas, the English, who had already colonized both Bermuda and Virginia, realized the strategic trade route of value of the islands. They sent of a group of settlers from Bermuda who were not happy with the way Charles 1 was telling them how to conduct themselves. Led by William Sayle, the former Governor of Bermuda, a small band of 70 settlers and 28 slaves set their sights on Eleuthera. In spite of a tragic accident in which the band almost drowned, they ultimately made it to shore, however, their supplies were hung up on the reefs surrounding the island and the group barely survived. Once ashore they found to their amazement that King Charles I had already claimed the Bahamas for England.

The "New: Bahamians were not exactly the kind of people you would want at a Church social. Slave trade, piracy and other forms of illicit commerce were the highlight of that drove the economics of the Bahamas for the next two centuries and such luminaries as Edward Teach, "Blackbeard", called this land of shallows, reefs and headlands home after he determined that there would be sufficient prey to support his voracious appetite for treasure and torture. The Government made things easier to get into piracy by calling it privatering and giving those engaged in the profession legitimacy by issuing "Letters of Marque" for a small fee and a large share of the plunder.

This could be called the age of piracy in the Caribbean because the English just loved to see the Spanish Galleons attacked on a regular basis by the cutthroat inhabitants of the Bahamas. In order to further facilitate this avocation, the British Government created an authority that began  legitimately licensing the Bahamian pirates to kill and plunder. (And here we thought 007 was the first) During this period, the pirates fared reasonably well, but the people were not sharing in the spoils of one of Bahamas few "legitimate" enterprises. However, there were occasions when everyone could enjoy the spoils. 

The landlubbers got theirs only when large Spanish fleets ran aground and the landlubbers  could pillage the carcass of a sunken ship. To increase the number of ships that could be salvaged even before their time, the resourceful natives would erect portable beacons that captains thought would guide them to a safe harbor, only to have their ships ground on a waiting reef. Over 500 Spanish ships alone met their end in the waters of the Bahamas. On the other hand, most of the law abiding citizens had already fled to Great Exuma, as they could no longer handle the pillaging, rape and debauchery of the pirates who had turned downtown Nassau into a massive drunken brothel. 

Occasionally, the pirates that couldn't find any boats to plunder went after their comrades. Whether plundering the Spanish, or doing in their own kind, the islands' many limestone caverns provided the plunderers with convenient treasure caches. However, this only worked for a while.  The pirates also took over the management of the Islands, installing their own puppet regime to enhance their status. On the other hand, word quickly spread that anyone venturing within a hundred miles of Nassau would probably wind up as shark meat. This did not improve public relations, and resourceful ship captains learned to avoid the area like the plague. This caused an economic downturn and soon the people became unruly.

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