No Tears For Bermuda

No tears for Bermuda in 2019 and no tears for Haiti in 2021… Reprint from Hill1News September 8, 2019

As I watched the death toll put out by the “official government statement,” as 43 as of the time of this writing, I wondered how could they even believe the world would think that of the tens of thousands affected by a Category 5 storm,blowing 185 mph winds sustained over three days, that only 43 souls have been claimed. I rather they say that we don’t have an estimate of the lives lost, but it could be in the hundreds and probably is in the thousands, as surely as it will be. When you say that there are 43 lives lost, than it’s not a high priority for the world. I watched the initial rescue efforts today and a major television network reported there were a couple of Coast Guard ships and about 25 coast guard personnel searching the rubble. I blinked twice when they mentioned there were two firefighters there from San Diego. Twenty seven people from the US searching a community of over 70,000 people impacted.

Bermuda was discovered in 1503 by the islands namesake, Juan de Bermúdez. Now I hope I’m not the only one that thought Bermuda was a slave colony, because it wasn’t.. well not sorta kinda and not a first. Bermuda was settled by the Catholic Spaniards. In 1609, the English Virginia Company, which had established Jamestown in Virginia  Jamestown in Virginia two years earlier, permanently settled Bermuda in the aftermath of a hurricane, when the crew and passengers of Sea Venture steered the ship onto the surrounding reef to prevent it from sinking, then landed ashore. Bermuda’s first capital, St. George’s, was established in 1612. Okay, I said it was founded in 1503, not settled. Anywho, In 1707 when Scotland and England merged to become the the Kingdom of Great Britain, the islands of Bermuda became a British Crown Colony.

Now the real history began when the British took over in the 1600’s. So let’s talks about it. It seems when the English Virginia Company was heading for Jamestown, a coupe of it ships got bogged down in a storm and had to make land on Bermuda. The ships carried about 150 people. They stayed for almost a year to repair the ships and then continued on to Jamestown. By the time the ships from Bermuda reached Jamestown the population which had been a few hundred, only had around sixty people left. The provisions the ships from Bermuda brought save their very azz. After dropping off the supplies to Jamestown some of the ships crew returned to Bermuda. Two years later, in 1612, the Virginia Company’s Royal Charter was officially extended to include the island, and a party of sixty settlers was sent on Plough, under the command of Sir Richard Moore, the island’s first governor. Joining the three men left behind by Deliverence and Patience (the two ships that had been forced to make landfall,) they founded and commenced construction of the town of St. George, designated as Bermuda’s first capital, the oldest continually inhabited English town in the New World.

Bermuda struggled throughout the following seven decades to develop a viable economy. The Virginia Company, finding the colony unprofitable, briefly handed its administration to the Crown in 1614. The following year, 1615, King James I granted a charter to a new company, the Somers Isles Company, formed by the same shareholders, which ran the colony. Representative government was introduced to Bermuda in 1620, when its House of Assembly held its first session, and it became a self-governing colony. Three years earlier in 1617,the colony had imprisoned it first “two slaves,” a Negro and and Indian. By 1619, Bermuda had between fifty and a hundred black enslaved persons. Now because the land that the English had inhabited at that time was finite, European immigration to the island had stopped. Yep, the greedy #@@!! had claimed all the land and didn’t want to share it with anyone. So let’s put it in perspective, Grand Bermuda is only 19 square miles. Yes there are 700 islands, but they aint that big and in the 1600’s they might as well not existed.

Now during the next 50 or so years, a lot of stuff went down. One being that King Charles I was beheaded. You got to give it to the English, if they caught you with your pants down, your head was sure to follow. In this case Charles took the divine right thing to the next level and started taxing people without the consent of his parliament. In addition he curbed the religious rights of his kingdom. His actions lead to the English Civil War. He was replaced by his son, Charles II, but the monarchy as it had been known or the last 500 years was forever gone and it was replaced with the Commonwealth Of England, which included England and Wales, and later with Ireland and Scotland. Remember that Mel Gibson joint Braveheart and the betrayal of William Wallace? Well that happened around 400 years before the Commonwealth. I’m bringing it up because that’s only the story of Scotland and I know you don’t want me to go into the whole nine yards about the other three countries. Anyway the the Commonwealth only lasted 12 years and it was right around the time that it ended that the story of how the large black population came to be in Bermuda.

children near sea shore

Now as I said earlier Charles the first was beheaded partly due to the fact that he imposed sanctions against all non Catholic religions. During the English Civil War tensions also spilled over into Bermuda and hostilities broke out between those loyal to the crown and the religious colonist. The hostilities were ended by militias loyal to the crown. After Charles II was made King of the Commonwealth, the Earl of Dorset, a royalist, was replaced by the Earl of Warwick, a Puritan, as governor of the Somers Island Company. During the peak era of colonization and especially during times of economic hardships, such as those cause by war, the monarchs of Europe would hire companies to do their exploration. Companies such as Somers Island or the more well known British Dutch India Company would finance the expedition and with the Kings blessing would set up camp and name every river, mountain and settlement in the country after them. In addition the monarchs would send their representatives to govern the whole thing and take a portion of the profit to boot. Now you might ask, where they do that at? Well you got to figure that although these companies often represented great wealth and power, the didn’t have armies or navy’s. France would think twice before bouncing down to the Caribbean to jack a city named Port Charles II .

Anywho, like I said there was a civil war being fought in England. It was during this time that immigrants wanting to leave to pursue their religious freedom were push to settle in Bermuda. They were led by a man named William Sayles. Sayles would later go on to become the governor of South Carolina in 1670. Now if you wanted to go to Bermuda and didn’t have the money, you could put up your labor for a specified number of years. They called this indentured servitude. Although indentured servants served a term of five to seven years, it was the immigrants that worked the land for four to five years and paid their debt by providing the landlord with half of their tobacco crops, which made the colony profitable. So although Bermuda was a slave society, slavery was not essential to the agriculture economy, and Bermuda did not actively import slaves, instead relying on those black and Indian adults captured by privateers, then sold as slaves in Bermuda. This non-dependence on slavery changed however, when the island moved to a maritime economy in the 1690s, and incorporated slave sailors, carpenters, coopers, blacksmiths, masons, and shipwrights. Hiring out of these skilled slaves became commonplace for their owners, with slaves retaining only a third of the wages they earned. By 1710, slaves were doing most of the vital work and constituted 3,517 of the total population of 8,366 in 1721.

Slaves could be obtained by sale or purchase, auction debt, legal seizure or by gift. The price of a slave depended on demand. Throughout the 17th century Black children sold for $9, women from $12 to $24, and Black and Indian men for around $31. Now o course with all these black folks on the island be harrassed by the slaves owners, there was bound to be some revolts. As a matter of fact the Orders Of 1674 mandated that slaves straying from their premises, wandering at night without permission, or the gathering of two or three slaves from different tribes, be whipped. Any blacks deemed free were required to become slaves again or leave the island and bringing any new slaves to the island was also banned. After the collapse of the Somers Isle Company in 1684, and because Bermuda’s economy did not depend on slave labor, free blacks, most presumably Spanish-speaking Catholics, chose to immigrate to the Bermuda from former Spanish West Indian colonies that were captured by England and incorporated into its growing empire. Remember there was a war that was fought over religious freedoms in England and their colonies.

Now although these black and brown people were immigrating to Bermuda, you still had a lot of that “Seven Years A Slave” thing going on. Privateers using the colony as a base of operations often captured black and brown sailors aboard enemy ships who were then made slaves and considered property. They would then be returned to Bermuda for sale along with everything else they stole. In addition Bermuda was also used as a dumping ground for peoples ethnically-cleansed from their homelands by the expanse of the English Empire. These people were primarily Indians. All of them were shipped to Bermuda and sold. Now up until the end of the 17th century the island remained mostly white. So what I am about to tell you about what happened at the beginning of the 18th century should not surprise you. You on a beautiful Caribbean island, it summer all year around, the island ain’t no bigger than a couple of large high schools, and there are thousands of people crowded on it .. and for real we don’t need no slaves… well yep, sh!t happens.

Blacks, Native Americans, and some part of the white Anglos merged into a single demographic during the course of the Eighteenth Century which was known as coloured (anyone who was not entirely white). Intermarriage and extramarital relationships between the coloured and white populations continued to shift the ratio of coloured to white Bermudians as a child of a coloured and a white parent was generally considered coloured. By the 19th century the coloured population surpassed the white population and became Bermuda’s largest ethnic group. With considerable black immigration from the West Indies during the course of the 20th Century, blacks have remained in the majority since the 19th Century and currently, the majority of Bermuda’s ethnic make-up is black, accounting for 54% of the territory’s population.

I entitled this article ” No Tears For Bermuda.” Whenever a country that has a majority of black citizens suffer from some catastrophe there are no tears. When 130 souls lost their lives at the hands of a deranged terrorist in Paris, every other post in my facebook feed was “Let’s Pray For Paris.” Hell they even adorned some building in the colors of French flag. But where is the world when potentially thousands of blacks have been killed in one of the most horrific acts of mother nature in recent memory.

For those of us who care, please join Hill1news and “Let’s Pray For Bermuda.”



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