What was the appearance of early America like from a ship’s deck? This compilation brings perspective to the history of the Atlantic world, colonial America, and maritime history to consider a world set in motion before the American Revolution.
The Island of Bermuda is located in the North Atlantic Ocean. Currently, the Island of Bermuda is a British colony under the Crown and has the English language as its official language. It is the second largest Island in the North Atlantic, with a size of 54 km. According to the 2016 census, it houses a population of 63,779 persons making it one of the most populated islands in the region.
The Island was discovered in 1505 and since then has become one of the major settlements of the English. However, it was not until 1609 that people began to inhabit the archipelago. Even before Bermuda (formerly Somer Isles), it has been a recreational port for sailors. Right from the onset, many mythical stories have been scorned from the Island. It was once believed to be home to devils and spirits and, therefore, insecure for humans. However, advancements in biology have proven otherwise.
Nothing was known of Bermuda before the 16th century except for mentions in certain places. The Spanish historian Pedro Martir de Angleria mentioned the Island in his book Legatio Babylonica, published in 1511. Apart from that, this is the only significant mention yet to be discovered.
However, another Spanish explorer, Juan de Bermudez, is credited with discovering the Bermuda archipelago in the early 16th century. However, it is widely known that Bermuda and its environs have been used as a recreational port by generations of Portuguese and Spanish sailors. Notably, many unsuccessful attempts were made before humans settled on the Island around 1609. It is on record that Portuguese sailors might have paid for a brief time on the Island, as evidenced by multiple inscriptions on rocks (see Portuguese Rock).
Known as the Isle of Devils due to its unwelcoming nature, the British were the first to settle on this Island, albeit ‘accidentally wholly.’ Consequently, in line with the New World conquest, the British added Bermuda to their colonies in 1612. However, at that point, the official name of Bermuda was still the Island of Virginia. It is also noteworthy that the English civil war in 1649 played a vital role in the composition of government on Bermuda Island.
Bermuda is one of the most notable isles in the north Atlantic ocean. It is located on one of the busiest sea routes in the world. Historically, it has served as one of the most significant archipelagos for traders and sailors, and this is not far-fetched.
Consequently, present-day Bermuda is still one of the busiest ports for seafarers, standing as the owner of the ninth-biggest registry of ships in the world. The Bermuda maritime authority operates heavily under British regulations and enjoys a prosperous relationship with the UK.
Bermuda Slave Trade
Slavery was rife in the 16th century, and the Atlantic Ocean was a major route. This was the inception of the golden age of slavery. Many ports and Islands were used as temporary detours and storehouses by the Spanish slave traders. This was how Bermuda became of the several ephemeral ports for the slave trade.
Majorly, enslaved people were captured from Africa and neighboring islands to be sold mainly to the European market. It is noted that the slave trade started in Bermuda almost immediately after the settlement of the British. The British colony provided the security and market for Spanish and Portuguese sailors to trade or keep their slaves.
Slave trade at this point is mainly instigated by the British government in Bermuda headed by a governor, Governor Daniel Tucker. Widely, it is known that the British settlers in Bermuda severely lacked labor and actively sought enslaved people to make up. This is evidenced by the record of policies made for promulgating and tendering enslaved people in 16th and 17th century Bermuda.
Before Discovery – Isle of Devils
At first, the enslaved people were accorded some rights and benefits and allowed some fundamental human liberties; however, the negroes grew rapidly in population, thereby drawing the attention and ire of the English Government. Subsequently, an act called ‘An Act to restrain the influences of Negroes was promulgated therefore constraining the enslaved people from buying, selling, or owning any property.
“1515 – Juande Bermudez discovered Bermuda
1612 – British Settlement
1616 – Slave trade began
1617 – Enslaved people outnumber the white inhabitants
1620 – House of Assembly was formed
1649 – The British Civil War and the revolt of the Royalists in Bermuda
1684 – Bermuda is an English crown colony
1815 – Hamilton becomes the capital city
1833 – Abolition of Slavery.”
True to the mandate, prominent companies and establishments at that time made prolifically acquired and converted enslaved people in their business operations. The slave trade waned in the 19th century due to fluctuating tide in the British parliament, which caused massive sales of enslaved people to southern states in the USA. Finally, the slave trade was abolished in Bermuda in 1833, marking the end of an exciting era.
“1944 – Women’s rights were recognized
1963 – the first political party.
1963 – First general election takes place following the new constitution.
1995 – The people of Bermuda reject Independence through a referendum
1995 – Bermuda gains Independence
1997 – Pamela Gordon becomes the first woman to be elected premier“
Fig 3. The first flag design of the Bermuda colony, 16th century
The inhabitation and colonization of Bermuda are two very co-related events in its history. Before its settlement, Bermuda has been one of the many archipelagos in the Caribbean where sailors stop to rest their oars.
It has been known as a predominantly wide area full of wildlife. However, it quickly became a British colony following the dumping of many Englishmen due to a shipwreck caused by a hurricane on the ship of Sir George Somers, who was with hundreds of Britishmen who initially sought to settle on the Virgin Islands. Thus, the Bermuda archipelago, Island, and country were discovered, inhabited, and had their fair share of tussles.