History & Culture
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St. Kitts & Nevis
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Nonetheless, conflicts for control
of the island lasted until the late 18th century: the Dutch attacked
three times, the Spanish once, and the French twice before the
Treaty of Versailles finally allowed the islanders a reprieve.
The island's rich sugar economy recovered, and social life on
the island became notoriously extravagant--even dissolute. Nevis
became a kind of 18th-century playground for the rich and famous,
with lavish entertainments at the Bath Hotel and the construction
of grand estate houses--many of which are now among the Caribbean's
finest plantation inns. This was also the era during which Nevis
welcomed Horatio Nelson, who no doubt
enjoyed the hospitality of both the Bath Hotel and the estate
of Fanny Nisbet, his future wife.
However, even by the 1780s the impetus
toward the abolition of slavery--and the free labour that made
the sugar industry
both possible and profitable--was becoming clear. After 1834,
when slavery was abolished, the industry diminished rapidly,
and with it Nevis's fortunes. Over the course of the nineteenth
century life on St. Kitts and Nevis was difficult, as economic
inactivity combined with natural disasters frustrated revitalization
efforts. In fact, it wasn't until the rise of tourism in the
last few decades that St. Kitts and Nevis again gained recognition
as pearls of the Caribbean.
Only the fortress at Brimstone Hill remains
as a reminder of the uneasy history of these islands. Today,
the country is a
model of peace and stability in the Caribbean. The Federation
of St. Kitts & Nevis, established as an independent nation
within the British Commonwealth in September of 1983, is democratically
ruled, with an economic focus on tourism, sugarcane, and ecology.
The authors would like to thank Vincent K. Hubbard, in particular,
for much of the information about Nevisian history contained
in these pages. The history contained here is only a pale sampling
of the rich historical picture of Nevis that is provided by his Sword,
Ships & Sugar: History of Nevis to 1900
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