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Did you know when St. Lucia was brought back under French control in 1744, agricultural activities soared?
Cotton and coffee plantations were established or expanded.
In 1730, only 463 people lived on the island, of these 175 of them were slaves of African or Creole descent.
By 1745, the population had increased to 3,455, including 2,573 slaves.
The militia was used for coastal defense as well as for protection against ‘the threat within’: the slaves.
Militiamen were deployed to suppress slave uprisings, to track down and return runaway slaves.
Just as a mixed set of planters had emerged in the 1730s as a stake-holder vis à vis the French and British authorities, so did the African and island-born slaves surfaced as a distinct stake holding group in the 1940s.
As the population grew and the economy expanded, a new social order emerged – and a contentious one at that.
Under Govern ors-General Marquis de Caylus, André Martin (1744 -1745) and de Longueville (1745-1748), St. Lucia remained French for four years, but by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748), it was declared neutral once again.
De facto, however, France retained possession and de Longueville remained in charge until February 1762.
The year 1756 saw the commencement of the Seven-Year-War – between France and England, and hostilities spilled over into the Caribbean. England conquered Martinique in 1762 and then waltzed into St. Lucia without a fight.
It was a significant sign that the planters never considered defending St. Lucia by force, evidently fearing loss of property more than British rule.
Instead they surrendered and negotiated a favorable capitulation prize. As it was they chose well, as British rule was short-lived and in 1763, the Treaty of Paris ceded St. Lucia back to France.
Source: A History of St. Lucia by Harmsen, Ellis & Devaux – 2012
This feature runs every Thursday. It is compiled by daughter of the soil Anselma Aimable, a former agricultural officer and former correspondent for Caribbean Net News, who has a deep interest in local culture and history. Send ideas and tips to [email protected]