Subject Area



On August 14th, 1775, Bermudian elites and their slaves discreetly carried gunpowder from the island’s magazine onto two Rebel ships. The island’s Gunpowder Plot was organized by Colonel Tucker, the elite family’s patriarch, and members of the Continental Congress, like Benjamin Franklin. Under the terms of this plot, the Bermudians would supply the Continental Army with 100 barrels of gunpowder in exchange for exemption from Congress’ trade embargo and would receive provisions such as food. This negotiation, along with other illicit trade between the island and the rebelling Thirteen Colonies next door, raises the question: how did the British island, which sits only a few 100 miles from the Eastern seaboard, fit into the complex puzzle of the Imperial Crisis? When America rebelled, why would Bermuda remain loyal? Was not Bermuda more like America and less like England? How did Bermudians view their American cousins, and what was it like to straddle this warring family?

My Honors Thesis in History, “The Obedient Servants of Opportunity: Bermudians in the Revolutionary Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World,” seeks to answer these questions through an archival examination of the following: Inward and Outward Manifests of St. George’s Port, Vice-Admiralty cases, prizes, and petitions, the Tuckers Papers, Colonial Dispatches, House of Assembly Journals, and Executive Council Minutes. In Chapter One, “Friends of America,” I argue that Bermudians were opportunities – not insurgents. Bermudians were not obedient servants to the Empire or the Rebels; instead, they were obedient servants of opportunity motivated by the well-being and prosperity of their kin, their enterprises, and their island. In Chapter Two, “The Treasonous Pen,” I argue that the reputation and maintenance of epistolary networks meant everything for the survival of Bermudians and their island. Without their discreet negotiations and empire-wide friendships, the island faced starvation, invasion, and neglect. Since the island’s first printing press was not first established until a year after the war, in 1784, Bermudian elites, such as the Tuckers, exchanged their opinions and economically treasonous schemes without the risk of public scrutiny. Isolated in the center of the Empire, Bermuda served as an important middle ground that remained politically loyal to the British while also relying economically on the rebelling neighbors who sat only a few hundred miles West of their reefs.


Providence College

Academic Year



Spring 2022








Included in

History Commons