Loyalist Sculpture Garden on Green Turtle Cay: Uncommon Attraction
There exists a rather uncommon history about the founding fathers of Green Turtle Cay. One that runs counter to the conventional history of the American Revolution many of us learned in schools across the United States. A history kept alive within the Loyalist Sculpture Garden in New Plymouth.
Loyalists of Green Turtle Cay
Here, as in other similarly small and remote corners of The Bahamas, groups of American Colonists largely forgotten in my old American History textbooks fled the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They firmly rejected the Stars and Stripes in favor of the Union Jack. Fittingly, these folks were known as Loyalists. You know, since they remained loyal to King and country back in England.
I never learned much about them in American History class. The little that we did cover definitely left out much of what can be learned at the Loyalist Sculpture Garden. During an early-summer visit to Green Turtle with the wife last year, we got to read and, in some ways, feel their side of the story.
The Other Side of American Revolution Story
It’s not a happy tale. At least not as it relates to their treatment at the hands of the victorious Americans following the Revolution. As noted on one of the plaques:
Tyrannized for their differences of opinion, active Loyalists tolerated unstinted verbal abuse, lost civil rights and property, and endured physical torture and wretched imprisonment. Some Torries were even executed as ‘traitors.’
Hmm… definitely not the picture of “Good Guy” American rebels versus “Evil Empire” Brits ingrained in my school-boy mind.
Loyalist Sculpture Garden Figures
At the Sculpture Garden, the other side of the story is on full display. A collection of 24 hauntingly realistic bronze busts immortalize key figures among the earliest Loyalist settlers on Green Turtle Cay and other surrounding parts of the Abacos.
The two female statues in the lead photo above are particularly interesting. They symbolize a hopeful new beginning in The Bahamas for the persecuted former Americans. A young black girl with a conch shell, a symbol so strongly identified with The Bahamas, is flanked by a young white girl holding aloft the Union Jack, billowing proudly in the breeze.
Many loyalists, though, fled to The Bahamas with enslaved Africans remaining in their possession. The hopefulness espoused by the statue, then, seems more than a bit incongruous. At least from the standpoint of racial equality.
Nevertheless, as big history buffs, the wife and I were pretty taken by the Loyalist Sculpture Garden. Attaining some slight understanding of the hostilities and ostracism that loyalists faced in what we’ve always been largely led to believe was a unanimously joyous and united post-Revolutionary War America was moving in a way that was a little eerie.
The plaques told the story in words, but gazing into the faces of each statue seemed to reveal a whole lot more. A mix of pride born of the new communities they established in The Bahamas, and pain over wrongs mostly forgotten.
If You Go…
The Loyalist Sculpture Garden is located in the charming town of Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay. From the waterfront, head up Parliament Street toward the Albert Lowe Museum. The Sculpture Garden will be on your left just before you reach the museum.