The proximity of The Bahamas to the USA. A blessing or a curse?
Table of Contents
Export of Various Products
Being close to the United States of America has had its benefits and fall backs in and to the Bahamas. The Bahamas experienced many changes between 1870 and 1940. Such changes were the migration period, the Prohibition period and the exportation of various products to the United States. The migration period started in the 1840’s when Bahamians were migrating to the United States of America. In 1865 the first phase in the migration period took place in Key West in Florida and lasted until the 1900’s. In 1905, second phase in the migration period took place in Miami and lasted until 1924.
Prohibition came into the picture in the 1920’s which brought a great economic boom to The Bahamas. But like all things, this too came to an end in 1933.
After The Bahamas got itself together after the prohibition, exportation of fruits and other products were taking place and being shipped to the United States of America. Such items were sisal, tomatoes, pineapple, salt, sponges, and citrus fruits. With the Bahamas being so close to the United States of America, the items also had their benefits and drawbacks.
After 1865, many black Bahamians moved to Key West from Cat Island, Long Island, Ragged Island and Eleuthera to Key West Florida. Between 1905 and 1924, many Bahamians moved to Miami. By 1892, one third of the Key West population was Bahamian. Many of the Bahamians left the Out Islands to find a better way of living in Key West. With the States being so close, they had easier means of getting there and they realized that they had more and better opportunities in Key West, as they wanted to be paid in cash instead of a labour system back at home. By 1920, Bahamians made up 52 percent of the Miami blacks. The Bahamians heard some news about some job openings in Miami and went over as soon as possible. The railroad was bringing in the Bahamians in by the thousands, all who were anxious of getting jobs. Many Bahamians left the Out Islands to go to Nassau to find a way to go to Florida (Albury, 1975). Many factors played in the role of the Bahamians moving to the United States such as poverty, lack of job opportunities in The Bahamas, racial prejudice towards the blacks and lack of cash coming in. Many Bahamians saw an opportunity in the United States of America where jobs were concerned. With the American men away to war, they needed some able bodied men to help build the railroads and to work the farms. The Bahamians who stayed in Miami during the craze opened small business and settled down in small communities in Miami along the railroad. Others got skilled and professional jobs and developed a sense of community by introducing Bahamian customs such as churches, friendly societies and lodges, music and dance, ring-play, housing plans and Junkanoo. Those who came back to the Bahamas saw a different way of life and some were able to send some money back home for them. Others spent it all, many of the men did not want to come back and work on the farms for a small paycheck and many of them belittled their fellow Bahamians. The positive aspect of the migration period was that while the men were away, money was saved and sent home to the families to help bring up the Bahamian economy and it helped prevent any social and economic protest by both groups. While the men and some women were working, the Out Islands were suffering. With the men gone, no one was able to look after their own farms, young children and the older generation was left behind to care for themselves. The young boys had no father figure to look up to and idolize, affairs were committed because the men were never there and...
References: Albury, Paul (1975) – The Story of The Bahamas. London: Macamillion
Cash, P., Gordon, S., & Saunders, G. (1991) – Sources of Bahamian
History. London and Oxford: Macamillion Education
Michael Craton, Saunders, G. (1998) – Islanders in the Stream: A History
of the Bahamain People (Vols. Two: from the Ending of Slavery to the
Twenty-First Century). Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia
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