Stories of the Bahamas

History of the Bahamas

The Bahamas was discovered by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage on October 12, 1492. He found Arawak Indians from the Lucayan tribe and exchanged gifts with them.

Later Spanish slave traders later captured all the native Lucayan Indians and put them to work in gold mines in Hispaniola. Within 25 years, all the Lucayans had died.

During the English Civil War in 1647, religious refugees, called Puritans, founded the first permanent European settlement in the Bahamas. They were known as the Eleutherian Adventurers and gave Eleuthera Island its name.

Other groups of settlers travelled to the Bahamas and tried to form settlements in the islands, but the isolated cays sheltered pirates and wreckers throughout the 17th century as Nassau was the main port used by pirates during that time.

In 1717 the islands of the Bahamas became a British Crown Colony and Woodes Rogers became the first Royal Governor. Woodes Rogers was a former pirate and he brought law and order to the Bahamas. He is best known for capturing the famous pirates Calico Jack, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read.

British settlers, called Loyalists, started plantations in the Bahamas. When the UK outlawed the slave trade in 1807, the Royal Navy took freed slaves to the Bahamas. Today, their descendants make up a large part of the population of the Bahamas.

On July 10, 1973, the Bahamas received independence from the United Kingdom.