A History of the Bahamas

A History of the Bahamas

A History of the Bahamas

A History of the Bahamas

Excerpt

This book was begun with a secret fear that the chief problem would be the scarcity of material. Now, four busy years later, it can truthfully be said that the reverse has been the case. Not that the exploration of the shelves of books and mounds of documents has been an easy task. Bahamian historiography is beset by peculiar hazards. The chief papers, in London and Nassau, are separated by 4,000 miles of ocean, and those in the Bahamian capital have not been calendared or arranged. There is neither an archive department nor an adequate museum in the Bahamas; the excellent collection of Bahamiana in the Nassau Public Library is inadequately catalogued and difficult of access; the Bahamas Historical Society has not fulfilled the high hopes of those who launched it in 1959. Moreover, in the Bahamas it is difficult to be impartial. The islands are not innocent of factions, each with its favourite myths.

Perhaps, then, it is not surprising that this is the first general history to be published. Brief synopses, of varying degrees of inaccuracy, have appeared in several guide-books; but longer works seem to have been doomed in embryo. In 1903, James Wright found himself bogged down in the records and his projected history became an indigestible study of the brief emancipation period. Mary Moseley was said for years to be preparing a definitive history, but she died with it unwritten and the 1926 guide-book is her only monument. In the 1950s, the House of Assembly engaged the distinguished historian Hilary St. George Saunders to write an Official History. After two research assistants had worked in London for two years, he came to Nassau to compose the book and died six weeks later.

In writing this book I have tried to be as independent as possible. I would, however, like to offer sincere thanks to the Speaker of the Honourable House of Assembly, Asa H. Pritchard, for permission to use the library of the House, and to the Secre-

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