Unless otherwise indicated, all OI books are distributed by The University of North Carolina Press.

In the Eye of All Trade

Bermuda, Bermudians, and the Maritime Atlantic World, 1680–1783

Michael J. Jarvis

Cloth: 978-0-8078-3321-6 ($75.00)
Paper: 978-0-8078-7284-0 ($35.00)

Copyright 2010
University of North Carolina Press

A Prize-Winning Book

  • James A. Rawley Prize in Atlantic History, American Historical Association (2010)

In an exploration of the oceanic connections of the Atlantic world, Michael J. Jarvis recovers a mariner's view of early America as seen through the eyes of Bermuda's seafarers. The first social history of eighteenth-century Bermuda, this book profiles how one especially intensive maritime community capitalized on its position "in the eye of all trade."

Jarvis takes readers aboard small Bermudian sloops and follows white and enslaved sailors as they shuttled cargoes between ports, raked salt, harvested timber, salvaged shipwrecks, hunted whales, captured prizes, and smuggled contraband in an expansive maritime sphere spanning Great Britain's North American and Caribbean colonies. In doing so, he shows how humble sailors and seafaring slaves operating small family-owned vessels were significant but underappreciated agents of Atlantic integration.

The American Revolution starkly revealed the extent of British America's integration before 1775 as it shattered interregional links that Bermudians had helped to forge. Reliant on North America for food and customers, Bermudians faced disaster at the conflict's start. A bold act of treason enabled islanders to continue trade with their rebellious neighbors and helped them to survive and even prosper in an Atlantic world at war. Ultimately, however, the creation of the United States ended Bermuda's economic independence and doomed the island's maritime economy.

About the Author

Michael J. Jarvis is associate professor of history at the University of Rochester.


In the Eye of All Trade studies from all angles an island society that was as fully maritime as any in the Atlantic world. Michael Jarvis has explained best what the ocean itself lent to the lives of those who lived beside it.

--Daniel Vickers, University of British Columbia

An engaging and multidisciplinary study that. . . . will serve as a model. . . . for Atlantic historians and those interested in the history of colonial Bermuda.

--South Carolina Historical Magazine

[An] impressive achievement in bringing Bermuda's maritime world to life.

--William and Mary Quarterly

An important book. . . . In the Eye of All Trade makes a significant contribution to Atlantic history.

--International Journal of Maritime History

[A] superb and rewarding book. . . . The engaging prose of this attractively presented book . . . provides the close correlation of transatlantic connections with internal developments often missing from the Atlantic perspective.

--Journal of American History

Jarvis delicately situates the details of the Bermudian history within this Atlantic sweep, thereby crafting a book that is finely calibrated. . . . Should be required reading for Atlantic scholars. . . . Jarvis' theme of self-organization . . . will keep scholars busily debating for decades.

--Journal of Interdisciplinary History

Everyone who is interested in the history of British colonies in the Atlantic, North America and the Caribbean should read this fine book. . . . This is Atlantic history at its best.

--Anglican and Episcopal History

This masterly study. . . . the result of 20 years of research, is confidently written and structured.

--Journal for Maritime Research

Jarvis's choice of perspective is truly inspired. . . . Having spent twenty years painstakingly researching colonial Bermuda, Jarvis has produced a wonderfully written narrative history worthy of its lengthy gestation.


Jarvis has written a brilliant interdisciplinary study of Atlantic history, describing the pivotal role the island of Bermuda played in the development of that world. With clear prose buoyed by extensive notation, Jarvis elucidates the unique nature of the island. . . . This well-written and thoughtful history guides the reader on a voyage that traverses the Atlantic, colonial, and maritime historical worlds, simultaneously making this a captivatingly broad, yet focused, volume.

--Sea History

Jarvis paints a detailed portrait of Bermudian society, successfully melding a demographic study with a more cultural discussion of patterns of consumption, fashion, and architecture. . . . [This book] is a significant addition to the burgeoning scholarship in the field and ought to be essential reading for everyone interested in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world.

--New West Indian Guide

This impressive book—the author's first monograph—offers a convincing interpretation of the socio-economic and maritime history of Britain's oldest and smallest colony. . . .Jarvis jumps from pawn to bishop among maritime historians.

--American Historical Review