3d ser., 72, no. 2 April 2015
Colonial transitions to new regimes wrought unpredictable outcomes. In 1667 Dutch forces conquered the English colony of Suriname, and in an ensuing treaty, the English and Dutch agreed to “cohabit” the colony. This article draws on Dutch and English sources to investigate this little-known experiment in cohabitation during an era when colonies changed hands frequently and inhabitants often found themselves forced to adapt to new rulers. Cohabitation, Suriname-style, was an uneasy and protracted negotiation, in which some English found prosperity and community, while others pined for a new home. It was an experiment in Anglo-Dutch relations in a century when the two nations met as rivals around the world and devised a variety of strategies to live together. In Suriname thirteen years of conflict ensued over whether the English might stay or go. Cohabitation succeeded in some respects as a daily practice but ultimately failed as a formal colonial policy because most of the English voted with their feet and left for other destinations. The unsuccessful strategy transformed Suriname and had implications for the Caribbean region and for Anglo-Dutch relations in a vital period of transition.
By Nicholas Radburn
In 1783 Scottish native John Tailyour arrived in Jamaica, where he hoped to make his fortune after a string of failed business ventures in North America. Fifteen years later he retired as a rich man. His newfound wealth came in large part from his career as a “Guinea factor,” a merchant who sold captive Africans from newly arrived slave ships. During his years as a Guinea factor, Tailyour sold 17,295 Africans into slavery through a traumatizing process that channeled captives to different buyers according to their age, sex, and health. Tailyour’s history reveals the important ways that Guinea factors shaped the transatlantic slave trade within the Americas and, in doing so, powerfully conditioned the lives of the Africans they sold into slavery. The rapidity with which Tailyour built his fortune also suggests that the fabled profits of the slave trade were available for men who sold slaves in the Americas rather than investing directly in slave ships. Tailyour’s case thus encourages future historians to look beyond the notorious Middle Passage and focus on the slave trade within the Americas.
By Zachary Dorner
The career of Silvester Gardiner, a colonial surgeon, druggist, and land speculator, provides a view of the interpersonal dynamics at work within the eighteenth-century Atlantic commercial system. His business records emphasize the role of expertise (knowing something rather than someone) in the processes of network formation and maintenance underlying the system’s day-to-day business transactions. Gardiner began his career in Boston as a surgeon in the 1730s, leveraged his surgical practice into a successful pharmaceutical trade, and then by 1760 began to speculate in land along the Maine frontier. All the while he retained close ties to London as he expanded his businesses across New England. Expertise played a central role throughout Gardiner’s professional life, and the form of expertise he exhibited evolved as he developed commercial experience beyond his surgical training. The concept of expertise thus emerges as a key explanatory variable for how and why Gardiner and others like him positioned themselves at the intersections of several colonial trades in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world. Examining such individuals provides insight into the versatile networks that facilitated the movement of goods, ideas, money, and people in the service of British overseas expansion
Sources and Interpretations
By Joseph Hall
In 1588 a Spanish expedition set out from Havana, Cuba, to find and destroy the English colony on Roanoke Island. Twenty-three years later, Gerónimo de la Cruz wrote a memoir of his experiences as a soldier on the expedition. The translation of this newly discovered memoir offers new details about the Lost Colony and the American Indian peoples the Spaniards met while exploring the Chesapeake Bay. It reveals more, though, about the Spanish Empire. Cruz, a native of central Spain and resident of Puebla, New Spain, addressed his account to Juan de Oñate, the first governor of New Mexico, because he thought that Indians in the Chesapeake Bay possessed gold that could save Oñate’s struggling colony. Officials in New Mexico and Spain read the account because they, like Cruz, believed that New Mexico’s rivers flowed directly into the Chesapeake. The journeys of both Cruz and his memoir reveal how one common man participated in the larger Spanish Empire as a soldier and writer. They also demonstrate that Cruz and his more illustrious readers believed that the Atlantic world linked Spain not only to Havana and the Chesapeake Bay but also to central Mexico and New Mexico.