“Brilliant. Puts the Bahamas on the map with Jamaica, Antigua, Nova Scotia, and Sierra Leone as sites where black refugees who fled the American victory in the War of Independence added mightily to the economy and religious life in their new homes.”—John Saillant, author of Black Puritan, Black Republican: The Life and Thought of Lemuel Haynes, 1753-1833
“A rich social history that recognizes both the unique nature of Bahamian society and the ways in which it fit into an Atlantic context.”—Carla Gardina Pestana, author of Protestant Empire: Religion and the Making of the British Atlantic World
“Adds a critical dimension to our understanding of the African diaspora experience in the Age of Revolution.”—Renée Soulodre-La France, coeditor of Africa and the Americas: Interconnections during the Slave Trade
After the American Revolution, enslaved and free blacks who had been loyal to the British cause arrived in the Bahamas, drawn by British promises of liberty and land. Freedom and Resistance shows how Black Loyalists struggled to find freedom, clashing with white loyalists who tried either to bind them to illegal indentured contracts or to enslave them.
Despite these challenges, Black Loyalists made significant contributions to Bahamian society. They advanced ideas of civil liberty through political activism and armed resistance, built churches and schools that became the foundations of self-reliant black communities, and participated in the emerging market economy.
Christopher Curry highlights the complex ways in which Black Loyalists transplanted and re-inscribed traditions from colonial America into new host societies and in doing so dynamically refashioned their identities and institutions. By comparing the experiences of these Bahamians to those of other Black Loyalist communities in Jamaica and Nova Scotia, he adds a new global dimension to the freedom struggle that spread from the American Revolution.
Christopher Curry is assistant professor of history at the University of The Bahamas.