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Untold history of Bermuda revealed

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Revolutionary times: Bermuda in the first half of the 1800s

A new history book written to highlight ignored Bermudian stories is to be distributed to public and private schools and libraries.

Prudent Rebels: Bermudians and the First Age of Revolution (1774-1849) by Bermudian historian Clarence Maxwell, with contributions from Bermudian Theodore Francis II and Alexandra Mairs-Kessler, has been launched by the Government’s Department of Community and Cultural Affairs and the National Museum of Bermuda Press.

A spokeswoman for the national museum said: “Prudent Rebels contextualises previously ignored Bermudian narratives and examines the ways in which different groups of Bermudian mariners and merchants, enslaved and freed, black and white, used the events taking place during the Age of Revolution to further their own prospects by growing their personal networks, purchasing their freedom, and increasing their social status through financial gain and land ownership.”

The book depicts aspects of the last decades of the 1700s to the first half of the 1800s, when the Atlantic World experienced a period of intense revolutionary activity.

The spokeswoman explained that a Humanitarian Revolution grew out of the unrest, inspired by the Haitian Revolution and decades of anti-slavery campaigns in Europe.

This resulted in an attack on slavery and the commerce of human trafficking that fed it, and the legislation that abolished both in the first half of the 1800s.

It also placed on the agenda civil rights for all men and women, regardless of race.

The book, which took more than ten years to produce, explores the role and response of Bermudians during the Age of Revolution.

It is the first book to be launched under the National Museum’s new education strategy, which was designed to make history accessible, relevant to the public and reflect the diversity of Bermuda’s cultural heritage.

The National Museum spokeswoman said there was a genuine Bermudian contribution to the changes, which were a self-interested rebellion whose consequences would shape the island long after 1834.

The authors gave a free lecture at Bermuda College on Thursday night.

A teacher’s guide to the book is expected to be available in the near future.

The book is available from the National Museum of Bermuda Press at 234-1333, info@nmb.bm, the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs at 292-1681, and from bookstores island-wide.

The publication and its accompanying resources were backed by Bank of Bermuda Foundation, the American Friends of the National Museum of Bermuda and private donors.

Clarence Maxwell (File photograph)