BBC - History - British History in depth: The Darien Venture
The Darien Scheme was an attempt to plant a Scottish colony on the Isthmus of Panama portray it as being bound to fail and a straightforward disaster story. different times distort our understanding of the power relations in the region. RE THE letter from A Sked (23 March). In reference to the Darien scheme, the failed attempt by Scottish traders to establish a trading colony. four years later in , some say as a result of the failed Darien Scheme, .. relationship between the two parties, as noted by the primary accounts of the time .
William Paterson pushed for a Scottish colony at Darien to be used as a gateway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. During this time of harsh economic rivalry in Europe, England thought the Scots were getting a bit too wealthy. They slapped down the Navigation Act. This required that all trade goods to and from England or any English possession or territory in Asia, Africa, or the Americas must be transported in English ships sailed by an English captain with a crew of at least 75 percent Englishmen.
This stripped Scotland of their economic independence and led to increased dependence on England. His ambitions first involved setting up a colony they would call Caledonia symbolic because this was the part of Scotland the Romans could never conquer. Then he planned to establish a trading post that would connect the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Had he been successful, the new colony of Caledonia may have proven to be an extremely lucrative empire. William Paterson founded the Darien colony near the Isthmus of Panama in Fundraising for the Darien Scheme Raising capital for the Darien scheme was not a problem.
Many English and Scots wanted to reap the rewards that the import-export business was then yielding. Unfortunately for Scotland, King William of England reacted to parliamentary pressures by publicly denouncing The Company of Scotland, which caused the English investors to take back their monies.
This is impressive when one considers that Scotland was already wounded by years of wars and famines. William Paterson, his wife, and child were also on this expedition. Forty passengers died of illness between Scotland and Darien.
After a four-month journey, they arrived in Panama on November 2, and within two months 32 more people died. Soon after, it became apparent that life was going to be very different than they had expected. England forbid anyone under their power to trade with or assist Caledonia in any way.
This meant that the colonists could not obtain any provisions from the English islands in the area, including Jamaica. Agriculture also proved to be difficult and required time and energy — both of which the Scots were short on since they were starving and dying of illness.
Instead of establishing farms, the Caledonians had to resort to setting up a rickety town that they christened New Edinburgh. They also built a fort called Fort St. Relations with the Kuna Indians and Spaniards The Darien colony needed locally grown items to plant and eat. They sought to trade with the native Kuna Indians, who inhabited the Darien region.
A failed attempt to get more money and emigres from Scotland compounded the tragedies. The Spanish began to take military actions against the settlers to keep their domain.
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Kuna Indians, by Lionel Wafer. In some eyes they appeared to be a clique and this was to cause much suspicion among other members of the expedition. The first expedition of five ships Saint Andrew, Caledonia, Unicorn, Dolphin, and Endeavour set sail from the east coast port of Leith to avoid observation by English warships in July[c] with around people on board.
The journey around Scotland while kept below deck was so traumatic that some colonists thought it comparable to the worst parts of the whole Darien experience. After calling at Madeira and the West Indiesthe fleet made landfall off the coast of Darien on 2 November. The settlers christened their new home "Caledonia" declaring "we do here settle and in the name of God establish ourselves; and in honour and for the memory of that most ancient and renowned name of our Mother Country, we do, and will from henceforward call this country by the name of Caledonia; and ourselves, successors, and associates, by the name of Caledonians".
With Drummond in charge, they dug a ditch through the neck of land that divided one side of the harbour in Caledonia Bay from the ocean, and constructed Fort St Andrew, which was equipped with 50 cannonbut no source of fresh water.
A watchhouse on a mountain completed the fortifications. Although the harbour appeared to be a natural one it later proved to have tides that could easily wreck a vessel trying to leave.
Darien scheme - Wikipedia
The feasibility of the scheme, especially for a country of Scotland's limited resources, has often been considered doubtful, although some modern authorities consider it might have possessed good prospects of success, if it had been given the support of England. Michael, with its Islands and Countries Adjacent".
In A letter giving a description of the Isthmus of Darian, Edinburgh: Letters sent home by the expedition created a misleading impression that everything was going according to plan. This seems to have been by agreement, as certain optimistic phrases kept recurring.
However, it meant the Scottish public would be completely unprepared for the coming disaster.
Most serious was the almost total failure to sell any goods to the few passing traders who put into the bay. With the onset of summer the following year, malaria and fever led to many deaths.
‘Benevolent’ English helped thwart the Darien scheme - The Scotsman
Eventually, the mortality rate rose to ten settlers a day. The only luck the settlers had was in giant turtle hunting, but fewer and fewer men were fit enough for such strenuous work.
The situation was exacerbated by the lack of food mainly due to a high rate of spoilage caused by improper stowing. At the same time, King William instructed the Dutch and English colonies in America not to supply the Scots' settlement so as not to incur the wrath of the Spanish Empire. After just eight months, the colony was abandoned in Julyexcept for six men who were too weak to move.
The deaths continued on the ships, and only of the settlers survived. A desperate ship from the colony had called at the Jamaican city of Port Royalbut it was refused assistance on the orders of the English government, which feared antagonising the Spanish. Those on the single ship that returned home found themselves regarded as a disgrace to the country and were even disowned by their families.
When the Scots were told that two ships, the Olive Branch and Hopeful Beginning, had already sailed to re-supply the now deserted colony, Thomas Drummond commissioned two sloops to aid their efforts in Darien.
Worsening relations with England 1689-1707
Expecting a bustling town, the ship's captains debated their next move. When the Olive Branch was destroyed by an accidental fire, the survivors fled to Jamaica in the Hopeful Beginning, and landed in Port Royal harbour.
The Scots were not allowed ashore, and illness struck the crowded ship. On 20 September, Thomas E.
Drummond set sail from New York in the sloop Ann of Caledonia, formerly the Annepicking up another fully supplied vessel the Society on the way. They arrived in Darien to find the burnt timbers of the Olive Branch rotting on the shore. New Edinburgh is on the isthmus on the right. Word of the first expedition did not reach Scotland in time to prevent a second voyage of more than people. They sailed from the Clyde, on the west of Scotland, cutting out the perilous round-Scotland route taken by the previous ships.
Some men were sent ashore to rebuild the huts, which caused others to complain that they had come to join a settlement, not build one. Drummond insisted there could be no discussion, and the fort must be rebuilt as a Spanish attack would surely come soon.