the Birthplace of Alexander Hamilton
Located in Charlestown, the museum interprets the History
and Culture of Nevis and the life of Alexander Hamilton, first
Secretary of the United States Treasury.
Island of Nevis formed in a series of volcanic eruptions over
a period of approximately 3 1/2 million years, however, it has
been .98 million years since the last eruption. Despite this the
Island is still volcanically active as evidenced at Bath Spring
and several near shore underwater sites.
excavations reveal that the first inhabitants came to Nevis about
4,000 years ago. These people relied heavily on the sea and traveled
between islands in boats crafted from huge trees. The Museum features
artifacts left from these first indigenous people who were followed
by civilizations of people who left a series of ceramic styles.
Some issues of conservation concern have been incorporated
into the exhibitions at the Museum of Nevis History. These are
soil and forest conservation, conservation of the wetlands and
sea. Wetland areas at Gallows Bay, Pinneys Pond, Nelson Spring
and Newcastle Bay play an important role in protecting land and
sea. Coastal wetlands protect land from swells and absorb silt
and other pollutants that damage the sea; properly managed they
can be tourist attractions. The sea regulates land temperature,
provides recreation and seafood as well as an avenue for transportation.
Now, the sea is endangered from human activities.
The political history of Nevis is featured in exhibitions
titled: Flags Over Nevis, Associated Statehood, Independence and
Party in Power. The Cultural Aspects of the Island are shown in
Cooking and Home Craft, Our Architectural Heritage, Leisure Time,
Churches and Other Religious Bodies, and Schools.
have only scant accounts of the contact between the earliest people
and the English who settled Nevis in 1628. The settlement was
preceded by visits from Christopher Columbus, other Spaniards,
the Dutch and a well documented visit , in 1607 by the colonists
on their way to found the Virginia colony (Jamestown, Virginia,
USA), the first overseas English colony.
first Europeans raised subsistence crops and cash produce, which
consisted of tobacco, ginger, cotton and indigo (for blue dye).
However, the island was quickly transformed into a plantocracy
when sugar was introduced in the 1640's. Raising sugar is very
labour intensive, therefore, this need was supplied by African
slaves which is responsible for the present demographic and cultural
formation of the island. For a considerable time in the late 17th
and early 18th centuries, exports from Nevis surpassed those from
the colony of New York, thus gaining the island the distinction
"Nevis-Queen of the Caribees." Although, Nevis continued to produce
sugar commercially until the mid-1970's, after the turn of the
18th century it was soon evident that the stony soil did not make
for sustained sugar production. Early in the 20th century, Great
Britain encouraged putting extensive acreage in cotton, however,
cotton raising diminishes each year. Livestock raising has been
important and Nevis has supplied beef, pork and mutton for the
regional export market. Fishing still supplies part of the seafood
demand for Nevis and provide some export income.
Museum is housed in a Caribbean Georgian building that was built
on the foundation of the structure where Alexander Hamilton was
born in 1757 (or 1755). His parents, mother Rachel Fawcett Lavien,
daughter of a Nevisian doctor descended from French Huegonots
and James Hamilton, 4th son of a Scottish Duke, were never married,
however, theirs was a liaison that lasted about 15 years. Alexander
was the second son of the relationship (his older brother was
named for his father). Hamilton, naturally bright and enterprising,
migrated to the North American colonies for education, became
caught up in the American Revolution, was selected George Washington's
chief military aide. He published many articles supporting the
Constitutional Convention which established the United States
of America. Washington appointed him Secretary of the Treasury
and he worked tenaciously researching and writing the new nations's
monetary policy. Then he set about raising funds to pay off the
Revolutionary War debts and fund the administration. Hamilton
was the President's most prominent cabinet member and was relied
by Washington in many realms. Unfortunately, his principles regarding
the country incurred the wrath of Aaron Burr and the two engaged
in a duel which was fatal to Hamilton.
Our gift shop has Nevis Literature and Memorabilia for sale.