I’m reading a book called Wind from the Carolinas. It’s fiction, but people seem to agree that it can be considered an accurate portrayal of a very significant time in Bahamian history. I have to say that it’s a good read either way. I’m no historian and can’t really speak to its accuracy, but author Robert Wilder enjoyably captures an attitude of Bahamians that I can see today. The history goes that after America became independent …*ahem* declared in 1776, fought for until 1783 … the Loyalist plantation owners did not want to participate in the new democracy. Quoth Wilder from the forward to his novel:
At the close of the War for Independence they found life all but unedurable. They were hated and reviled…subjected to taunts and violence. At their request the Royal Navy took entire families, their slaves, livestock, furnishings … to the Bahamas. There they attempted to recreate the Colonial magnificence they had known.
The crown (as it was called) paid to move these families and their slaves to the Bahamas, where they were given land grants to recreate the plantation lifestyle and continue to export cotton to Britain. This is in itself is interesting to me because this is a totally underrepresented viewpoint! I mean, I know I’m not alone when I admit that I did not hear about this in history class. Photo of plantation ruins on Little Exuma island by Bruno Yasoni under Creative Commons
It took less than half a generation for this endeavor to totally fail. Let me put it this way: the compost that John and I are making is the only dirt in the yard aside from the stuff we intentionally bought. These islands are solid rock and any dirt here has too little nutrition to support a plantation. It’s kind of a sad story, because there wasn’t (isn’t) enough profit to be made to go around. So what does this have to do with salt? Not a ton, but it sure beefed up this post. It’s a segway. Something that had been turning a small profit even before the failure of the plantations was salt. The island of Little Exuma (attached by a one-lane bridge to Great Exuma) had a salt harvest/export operation starting in the 1790s at the latest, and continuing until the 1860s. A huge pillar was put up to indicate where ships should come and get it.
It’s an impressive monument, but now you see the need for the beefing up. I don’t know if there is more to say about it. Nearby is a beach-front restaurant that’s actually open during the slow season. We sat down and got some free entertainment! These kids weren’t practicing for anything….they probably just don’t have iPhones. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghkptHhWBY4