Black Bermudian slaves praised as 'early capitalists' by Bermudan historian

Historians in the News

Enslaved black Bermudians were the New World’s “early adventure capitalists” as commerce began to displace feudalism.

The contradictory experiences of slaves during the 17th and 18th centuries were discussed during a seminar by Bermudian historian Dr. Clarence Maxwell yesterday.

The talk to more than 70 people at Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, was given to celebrate Black History Month and organized by Business Bermuda....

African slaves began to arrive in Bermuda from 1619. As the diaspora spread through the Caribbean, Dr. Maxwell said the region’s maritime commercial revolution was powered through trading activities of these enslaved merchants.

Both men and women were involved, selling goods to sailors from the shore or sailing to other island communities.

In 1623 an Act “to restrayne the insolencies of the Negroes” was passed in Bermuda, preventing blacks from engaging in business activities without permission from their masters.

Dr. Maxwell said: “The owners of property were realizing slaves were actually working on the tobacco farms and selling tobacco to the ships.

“The law aimed to prevent this type of activity from happening.”...

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