DAR Cruise Day 4: The American Revolution in the Caribbean

Written by: LeAnn Turbyfill, National Chair, Public Relations
November 16, 2018

Those traveling on the DAR cruise were awakened this morning to the sounds of steel drums welcoming us to the port of St. Johns on the island of Antigua (an-tee’-ga).  The day dawned with bright sunshine as we embarked on a day filled with adventures and history.  Any rain that happened to briefly fall was quickly referred to as “liquid sunshine!”

Antigua is a small volcanic island located midway along the Leeward Islands in the eastern Caribbean Ocean.  It is a relatively dry island receiving little rainfall – although some rain forest areas do exist.  Guides explain that there are no rivers per se on the island.  As such, drinking water is captured in water catchments – think of these as large cisterns in which rainwater is then filtered and made available for domestic use.  With few natural resources, the island nation today has developed its tourism industry to support the local economy.  In addition to the storefronts located near the pier, drivers and tour guides abound -- all knowledgeable and proud of their nation’s history.

Historically, the island was sighted by Christopher Columbus during his second voyage in 1493. He named it “Santa Maria de la Antigua” after an icon located in the Catholic cathedral in Seville, Spain.  Prior to this, however, Amerindians resided on the island.  During the early 1600’s sugar cane plantations were established to grow the “white gold.”  Native peoples fiercely resented the arrival of settlers which led to confrontations.  With the introduction of European and later African diseases, the native populations soon disappeared. 

Slaves from Africa were imported to supply the labor needed for the sugar cane industry.  The endeavor was quite successful economically for the British investors.  However, the slaves who toiled on the plantations were not content with the treatment and conditions.  Unrest was inevitable.  By 1834 slavery had been abolished on the island.  Today, many Antiguans who descend from these slaves know and understand that the freedoms they enjoy are due to the hardships faced by their ancestors all those years ago.

The island offers much more for visitors.  The Nelson Dockyards, the world’s only Georgian-era dockyard still in use today and a UNESCO World Heritage site, provides a glimpse into how sailing ships were and are maintained.  The historic blockhouse remains of the British military presence on the seaside bluff of Shirley Heights provides a dramatic view of the Caribbean coastline.

Being an island, Antigua has many beaches – so many that they claim there is a new beach to be enjoyed each and every day of the year!  Numerous water activities can be enjoyed such as snorkeling near the coral reefs, swimming with stingrays, relaxing on the sandy beaches, cruising on board a catamaran, and sailing a yacht.

The five colors of the Antiguan flag created in 1967 summarize this nation’s history and vision for the future.  The black symbolizes the African roots of its citizens – stemming from the legacy of slavery – as well as the black volcanic soil.  The red symbolizes the blood of the native peoples as well as that of the slaves shed during the island’s long history.  It also symbolizes the energy of the Antiguan people.  The yellow symbolizes the sun which warms the waters and shores of this beautiful island.  Blue symbolizes the water surrounding the island as well as the diversity of the people of Antigua.  White symbolizes hope – the hope that these people will continue to share their love of their history, culture and hospitality with all who visit its shores.

As the Celebrity Summit sailed slowly out of St. Johns harbor, we marveled at the glorious sunset before us.  It was a great ending to a wonderful day in Antigua!  On to St. Lucia!

Connect with DAR

Stay Up-to-Date

Subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Search, Subscribe, & Send us a comment

Get Involved

Historic Preservation,
Education, Patriotism

Through restoring historic properties, funding scholarships and supporting our troops, DAR makes a difference in local communities.