The Castaways

The Castaways
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Violence was commonplace in Nevis, as in all the slave-ridden sugar islands. The Caribbean sugar economy was a system of inimitable savagery, making the tobacco and cotton plantations of the American south seem almost genteel by comparison. The mortality rate of slaves hacking away at sugarcane under a pitiless tropical sun was simply staggering: three out of five died within five years of arrival, and slave owners needed to replenish their fields constantly with fresh victims.

One Nevis planter, Edward Huggins, set a sinister record when he administered lashes to a male slave and to a female. Evidently unfazed by this sadism, a local jury acquitted him of all wrongdoing. A decorous British lady who visited St. If a negro strikes a whiteman, he is punished with the loss of his hand and, if he should draw blood, with death. All of the horror was mingled incongruously with the natural beauty of turquoise waters, flaming sunsets, and languid palm fronds. In this geologically active zone, the hills bubbled with high-sulfur hot springs that later became tourist meccas.

The sea teemed with lobster, snapper, grouper, and conch, while the jungles were alive with parrots and mongooses. There were also monkeys galore, green vervets shipped from Africa earlier in the century. Nine years after Rachel had fled St. Croix, Lavien surfaced for one final lesson in retribution. Oppressed by debt, he had been forced to cede his most recent plantation to two Jewish moneylenders and support himself as a plantation overseer while renting out his little clutch of slaves. In the interim, he had begun living with a woman who took in washing to boost their income.

In a document seething with outrage, Lavien branded Rachel a scarlet woman, given to a sinful life. He was determined to preserve his wealth for his one legitimate son, thirteen-year-old Peter. Rachel was undoubtedly stunned by this unforeseen vendetta, this throwback to a nightmarish past. Summoned to appear in court in St. Croix, she must have feared further reprisals from Lavien and did not show up or refute the allegations.

On June 25, Lavien received a divorce that permitted him to remarry, while Rachel was strictly prohibited from doing so. The Danish authorities took such decrees seriously and fined or dismissed any clergyman who married couples in defiance of such decisions. Rachel had relinquished responsibility for Peter and forced Lavien to bring the boy up alone. Croix in-laws, suggesting that her own family may have seen her life as less than blameless.

In view of this lacerating history, Rachel probably never imagined that she would return to St. Croix, but a confluence of events changed that. In the early s, Lavien moved to Frederiksted, on the far side of St. Croix from Christiansted, and dabbled in real estate. Then, around , Peter moved to South Carolina. So when James Hamilton received a business assignment in Christiansted in April , he could have taken along Rachel and the two boys without fearing any untoward collisions with Lavien.

He served as head clerk for Archibald Ingram of St. The Ingrams asked James to collect a large debt due from a man named Alexander Moir, who was returning to Europe and denied owing them money; the resulting lawsuit was to drone on until January In the meantime, Rachel and the boys took up residence in Christiansted.

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Croix tax rolls, she shows up under misspelled variants of Faucette and Lavien. Stripped of whatever cover of legitimacy had sheltered them, it would have become glaringly evident to Alexander and James, Jr. James Hamilton scored an apparent victory in the Moir case, then left St.

Croix and deserted his family forever.

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Why this sudden exit? Did Lavien conduct a smear campaign and poison the air with innuendo? These scenarios seem unlikely given that James Hamilton never appeared on the St. Croix tax rolls, suggesting that he knew all along that he was a transient visitor. Because James, Jr. This state of things occasioned a separation between him and me, when I was very young.

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Father and son never entirely lost touch with each other, but a curious detachment, an estrangement as much psychological as geographical, separated them. As we shall see, there is a possible reason why James Hamilton may have felt less than paternal toward his son and Alexander less than filial toward him. For a woman once hounded from St. Croix in disgrace, Rachel exhibited remarkable resilience upon her return. At this, she succeeded admirably, superseding James Hamilton as the family breadwinner.

Already on August 1, , her wealthy brother-in-law, James Lytton, had bought her six walnut chairs with leather seats and agreed to foot the bill for her rent. Croix had probably been premised on support from Ann and James Lytton, a hope that never quite panned out, as her in-laws were themselves besieged by successive problems.

Like many sugar plantations, it was a world in miniature, a compound that included slave quarters, a sugar mill, and a boiling house that produced molasses and brown sugar. Then, one by one, the Lytton children were overtaken by the curse that seemed to afflict everyone around Alexander Hamilton.

This business venture failed so abysmally that one summer night in , the bankrupt James, Jr. Shattered by this scandal, James and Ann Lytton sold the Grange and in late moved back to Nevis, just months after Rachel and her two boys arrived in St. Croix from there. Within one year, Ann Lytton was dead, leaving Rachel as the last surviving Faucette.

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Rachel took a two-story house on 34 Company Street, fast by the Anglican church and school. Adhering to a common town pattern, she lived with her two boys in the wooden upper floor, which probably jutted over the street, while turning the lower stone floor into a shop selling foodstuffs to planters—salted fish, beef, pork, apples, butter, rice, and flour.

It was uncommon in those days for a woman to be a shopkeeper, especially one so fetching and, at thirty-six, still relatively young. One traveler to St. No less than in Nevis, slavery was all-pervasive on St. Because her mother had died, Rachel now owned five adult female slaves and supplemented her income by hiring them out.

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The slaves also had four children; Rachel assigned a little boy named Ajax as a house slave to Alexander and another to James. This early exposure to the humanity of the slaves may have made a lasting impression on Hamilton, who would be conspicuous among the founding fathers for his fierce abolitionism. Croix had its picturesque side in its conical sugar mills, powered by windmills or mules, that crushed the sugarcane with big rollers.

During harvesttime, the twilight glittered with fires from boiling houses that dotted the island. The coast around Christiansted was lined with soft, green hills and punctuated by secluded inlets and coves. Early idealized prints of the town show two distinct moods: a smart military precision down near the fort and wharf, with heaps of sugar barrels ready for export, and a slower, more sensual inland atmosphere, with black women balancing large bundles on their heads.

By night, the whitewashed town of Christiansted, laid out in a formal grid by Danish authorities, erupted into a roaring, licentious bedlam of boisterous taverns and open brothels overflowing with rebels, sailors, and outlaws from many countries. So extensive was the sexual contact between whites and blacks that local church registers were thickly sprinkled with entries for illegitimate mulatto children.

If Alexander Hamilton was exposed to abundant savagery and depravity, he also snatched distant glimpses of an elegant way of life that might have fostered a desire to be allied with the rich. The local atmosphere was not likely to breed a flaming populist: poverty carried no dignity on a slave island. The big planters rode about in ornate carriages and shopped for imported watches, jewelry, and other European finery.

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Some oases of culture survived amid the barbarism. Two dancing schools gave lessons in the minuet, while the Leeward Islands Comedians served up a surprisingly varied fare of Shakespeare and Restoration comedy. Rachel tried to give her spartan household a patina of civility. From a later inventory, we know that she had six silver spoons, seven silver teaspoons, a pair of sugar tongs, fourteen porcelain plates, two porcelain basins, and a bed covered with a feather comforter.

Many people on St. Croix would have snickered at his bookish habits, making him feel freakish and contributing to an urgent need to flee the West Indies. From his first tentative forays in prose and verse, we can hazard an educated guess about the books that stocked his shelf. If Hamilton felt something stiflingly provincial about St. Croix, literature would certainly have transported him to a more exalted realm. The boy could be forgiven his escapist cravings. In late , Rachel, thirty-eight, uprooted her family and hustled them down the block to 23 Company Street.

Heering on February 17; by that point, Alexander, too, had contracted the unspecified disease. Heering subjected mother and child to the medieval purgatives so popular in eighteenth-century medicine. Rachel had to endure an emetic and a medicinal herb called valerian, which expelled gas from the alimentary canal; Alexander submitted to bloodletting and an enema. Mother and son must have been joined in a horrid scene of vomiting, flatulence, and defecation as they lay side by side in a feverish state in the single upstairs bed.

Notwithstanding the late hour, five agents from the probate court hastened to the scene and sequestered the property, sealing off one chamber, an attic, and two storage spaces in the yard. By the day of the funeral, Hamilton had regained sufficient strength to attend with his brother. The two dazed, forlorn boys surely made a pathetic sight.

The town judge gave James, Jr. Their landlord, Thomas Dipnall, donated white bread, eggs, and cakes for the mourners, while cousin Peter Lytton contributed eleven yards of black material to drape the coffin. As a divorced woman with two children conceived out of wedlock, Rachel was likely denied a burial at nearby St. This may help to explain a mystifying ambivalence that Hamilton always felt about regular church attendance, despite a pronounced religious bent. How Much Have You Seen?

A Life Is Spared–an Excerpt from The Castaways: Real-Life Accounts of Aborted Souls

The Castaways are an American rock band from the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Their first and only hit single was "Liar, Liar". Written by band leader James Donna. The Castaways: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – July 1, An intense tale of love and loyalty set against the backdrop of endless summer island life from bestselling and beloved author Elin Hilderbrand. Elin Hilderbrand lives on Nantucket with her husband and their three young.

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Basically because the original Castaways toured and played so many of those venues. Jack Gwillim as Capt. Occupying a house in the southern Nevis foothills, the Faucettes owned a small sugar plantation and had at least seven slaves—pretty typical for the petite bourgeoisie. I love it. Mar 28, It is dopey and goofy looking back on it now, but it is harmless fun.

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