For the 170 Bahama slaves who left the colony sometime in early 1822, (100 to Haiti and 70 to Cuba), only known history can whisper to us as to their fate, and more importantly, the fate of their descendants.
As confusing to the intellect as it may be, The Bahamas, for all intents and purposes was, in the 18th and 19th centuries, one of the less horrendous places to be a slave. After emancipation, especially on the islands outside of New Providence, many white settlers left, leaving the islands to the mercy of former slaves, and vice versa. It was a double freedom for thousands of negroes, who, for the first time were captains of their fates and fortunes with entire islands to themselves.
For negroes and mulattoes attempting to escape servitude during slavery, their primary concern was to get as far away as possible from their masters. History asks us however, to pause to consider the fate of the descendants of runaway Bahamas slaves, in foreign lands. For many slaves, who escaped or were transported to places, where unknown to them, the future held much economic turmoil, civil war, abject poverty and disease, far worse conditions that would ever be found in the Bahamas for their descendants.
How did the 170 Bahama Islands slaves and their descendants fare in a future Haiti and Cuba?
HAITI 1822 – The island of Hispaniola or Santo Domingo or Saint Dominique as it was called, depended largely on who controlled it at whatever point in history. By 1809, Touissant L’Overture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines were both long dead. The island was called Santo Domingo, because it was again, under Spanish rule.
By 1822, Haitian President Jean-Pierre Boyer invaded the Spanish Santo Domingo for the third time, in his attempt to unify the island under one leader, and one Haitian regime. The Haitian occupation of the Spanish half of island lasted some 22 years.
By February 27, 1844, the Santo Domingans under the leadership of Juan Pablo Duarte defeated their Haitian occupiers. The last of occupiers were driven out of the capital city.
This was the Haiti that 100 Stubbs slaves from Grand Caicos fled to in 1822.
CUBA 1822 – By 1822, Cuba was a flourishing slave colony due in large part to a thriving sugar industry. Slavery in Cuba would not be officially abolished until October 7, 1886. This also made Cuba’s indentured servitude system called “patranato” illegal as well. The brutality of the slave trade continued as many Portuguese and Spanish ships were caught at sea with cargoes starving Africans bound for the plantations of Cuba.
This was the Cuba that 70 Exuma slaves were illegally transported to by their owner.
The Bristol Mercury, Saturday July 27, 1822
A private letter from the Bahama Islands, of the 4th of June, states that upwards of 100 Negroes, belonging to Mr Stubbs, of the island of Grand Caicos had risen upon their drivers, and seized all of the vessels in the harbour, afterwards embarking with their wives and children, for the neighbouring island of Haiti, of Saint Domingo, from whence they were not likely to be recovered; upwards of 70 Negroes belonging to a plantation in the island of Exuma, had in consequence of their owner having purchased a plantation near Mantanzas, in the island of Cuba, gone on board and American vessel, and were carried to the new plantation of their owner, whose care they were extremely rejoiced to be again under.
An examination of the circumstances had been taken place at Nassau, and the owner of the slaves had been prosecuted by a bill of indictment preferred to the Grand Jury by the Attorney General of the Bahama Islands, but it was not supposed the owner would make his appearance again in that Government.