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A purely analytical perception...


BAHAMAS

Continued from page 2

Pirates of all shapes and sizes gravitated to the Islands, hoping to find fame and fortune. Almost all of the buccaneers whose stories appear in the history books made their presence felt in the Bahamas. All of the Pirate Captains had a favorite spot to hole up in when their working day was over. Elizabeth Harbor beckoned Captain Kidd who named his refuge Kidd Cove. Where else would Pirate Captain William Catt bury his treasure but Cat Island. The British buccaneer Captain George Watling strong-armed his way into San Salvador and named it Watling Island, which was particularly upsetting to Anne Bonney, who was already entrenched there. Andros and its ever treacherous seas beckoned Captain Henry Morgan, who believed that no one had the courage to follow him into his home away from home because of its dangerous shoals.

In 1718 the British decided to eliminate piracy, and determined that Woodes Rogers, a pirate himself, would know how to handle his own kind. He was appointed Royal Governor, and made a good start by pardoning those that would give up the good life and join him in putting down the pirates. Many succumbed to the offer. Blackbeard and an accomplice, Roger Vane, and their friends had to be engaged. Ultimately they were killed in a battle off the coast of Virginia. The Captain of the British ship the Pearl, Lieutenant Robert Maynard, beheaded Blackbeard and displayed his glowering head on the tip of the Pearl's bowsprit.

The Bahamian economy got another much needed lift when the British abolished the slave trade. Just as it had housed the pirates before them, the Bahamas invited illegal dealers in human flesh to the island to ply their wares. The Bahamas were convenient to slave markets in the Southern United States; blockade running and contraband dealing got better when the Civil War began. The Port of Nassau, in particular, prospered and the propensity of the island's inhabitants to create ships that could fly with the wind aided the delivery of supplies to ports blockaded by Union Forces. Many of these men became folk-heroes. But the Civil War was far to short for the Bahamians; before the Islands recovered, the War ended, putting a dent in the local economy. Worse yet, navigational aids such as lighthouses and beacons were installed and cartography was raised to a higher level, resulting in a level of shipping safety unseen in the history of the region. Without the occasional grounding or sinking, an economy that had literally nothing else going for it sank into its worst doldrums ever.

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