Our Side of the Water : Political Culture in the Swedish colony of St Barthélemy 1800–1825

Sammanfattning: The small island of St Barthélemy was a Swedish colony 1784–1878 and saw its greatest population growth and trade during the turn of the nineteenth century. This was because of Gustavia, the Swedish founded free port, which attracted mariners from the Caribbean, North America and Europe. Their goal was to become Swedish subjects, as Swedish neutrality provided a benefit during the various wars at this time between France, Great Britain and the United States. As these mariners changed their national allegiance from their country of origin to Sweden, questions about their political rights emerged. The makeup, as well as the role, of the local council became a contested issue between native and naturalized Swedes. This conflict, as well as many other local and global issues, was discussed in various mediums. I have examined petitions, the newspaper The Report of Saint Bartholomew and discussions within the council, to create an understanding of how political expression was formed by the population, as well as controlled by Swedish administrators. This analysis has been performed through an intersectional framework considering gender, race and ethnicity. My study shows that while most native and naturalized Swedes believed in input from the population, they had different perceptions of what the purpose of this input was. The Swedish administration saw the political participation of the naturalized population as purely advisory, without any obligation to perform its wishes, which the population resented and protested. Gender played a significant role in the formation of political expression, as masculinity was essential to the identity of white men and free men of colour as political subjects. Yet ethnicity, in terms of place of birth, had no significant impact among the free population’s political identity, although it did render them politically unreliable in the eye of native Swedish administration.