PIRATES OF THE BAHAMAS TIMEFRAME: 1748 to 1783
1722 marks the end of the Golden Age in the Caribbean and piracy is essentially wiped out in the Bahamas. British patrols kept it that way but in
1742 the War of Austrian Succession resulted in France and Spain being allied against England and opened up a new era of naval hostilities in the West Indies. By
1748, with British warships concentrated against their enemies around the islands in the southern Caribbean, the Bahamas were once again freed up to become a haven for pirates to intercept merchant ships trading between the American colonies and Jamaica. That war ends but the British keep Jamaica as the naval headquarters.
1756, England again declares war on France and also begins attacking them in the Caribbean, calling for and commissioning privateers. However, the American Colonies who were getting cheap molasses from Martinique continued to do business with them using the pirates of the Bahamas as smugglers.
With the British fleet concentrated in Jamaica and making frequent attempts to conquer Cuba, the Bahamas continued to be a good hunting ground for pirates and smugglers, once again reaching a heyday in
1762 when Britain again declares war against Spain and finally takes Cuba. Trade between the colonies and the Caribbean grows, but when the Treaty of Paris ended the Seven Year War in
1763 and hostilities against the French and the Spanish concluded, Britain traded Cuba for Florida and British Warships were able to patrol not only Bahamian waters but also the straights of Florida.
1763, British Prime Minister George Grenville cracked down on bribery and illegal trading. Eight warships and twelve armed sloops were sent to patrol American waters to put an end to the smugglers. Previously, many customs officers had remained in England while sending low-paid underlings to America to do the dirty work. Grenville ordered these officers to take up their posts in America or resign, firing them immediately if they neglected their duties. Customs duties were designed to not only raise revenue but to also regulate and control trade, so Grenville created a list of proposals to raise revenue and curtail smuggling. In
1764, Parliament enacted these proposals, called the Sugar Act, into law.