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"The 1770s saw two important changes in the Turks salt trade. First, the victory of the American colonists in their War of Independence led to the flight of loyalist settlers, who took their slaves with them and—in a few cases, at least—settled on the Turks and Caicos. The introduction of slavery into the archipelago provided a new source of cheap labor to the now better-defended salt trade. The second change was ignited by a decision made in the legislature of the Bahamas to seek jurisdiction over the Turks and Caicos, which thus ceased to be common land and became a crown colony. The Bahamian acts imposed two crucial new conditions on the Turks salt rakers: They had to reside on the islands permanently, rather than for the 10 months at a time that had been the Bermudan custom; and any slaves who missed more than 48 hours of work during the 10-month season would forfeit their owner’s share in the profits. The aim, quite plainly, was to disrupt Bermudan salt raking and take control of what was an increasingly lucrative trade.

"The Bermudans, as might be expected, did not take all this very kindly. Their Assembly pointed out that 750 of the new colony’s 800 rakers were Bermudan and argued that the Turks and Caicos lay outside the Bahamas’ jurisdiction. Meanwhile, on the islands, a group of salt rakers took matters into their own hands and beat up a Bahamian tax man who had been sent there to collect a poll tax and new salt duties imposed by the Nassau government. In 1774, Bermuda sent a heavily armed sloop-of-war to the Turks and Caicos to defend its waters not against enemy Frenchmen or Spaniards, but their supposed allies, the Bahamians. Only the distraction of the American war prevented the outbreak of full-blown hostilities between the two colonies over the Turks salt trade.

"Hatred of the Bahamas ran high in the Turks and Caicos then, and it continued to play an important role in what passed for island politics for a further century. A British government resolution of 1803, aimed at ending the possibility of bloodshed, formally transferred the islands to the Bahamas, and in the first half of the 19th century salt taxes made up fully a quarter of the Nassau government’s revenues—a fact bitterly resented on Grand Turk, whose representative in the Bahamian House of Representatives, the writer Donald McCartney says, “did not attend meetings regularly because he was not made to feel part of the Bahamian legislature.” It was commonly observed in the Turks and Caicos that little of the tax was used to improve the islands...

"The friction between the islands and their Bahamian neighbors explains one further peculiarity in Turks and Caicos history: the geographically absurd link between the islands and distant Jamaica, which began in 1848, when the British government at last agreed to the islanders’ repeated pleas to be freed from Bahamian exploitation. From that year until Jamaica’s independence in 1962, the Turks and Caicos was ruled from Kingston, and a brief reunion with the Bahamas between 1962 and 1974 showed that not much had changed; renewed dissatisfaction in the Turks and Caicos meant that the islands became a separate crown colony from the latter date."

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