HIST 1100 Lecture 6: The Caribbean: Sugar, Planters, Slaves, and Pirates

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7 Feb 2017
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The Caribbean: Sugar, Planters, Slaves, and Pirates
Sugar in the Caribbean
o Sugar is not native to the Americas
o Collapse of local population opened land for sugar
Spaniards cleared land
o Grew well in Caribbean islands, which produced 80-90% of sugar consumed in
Europe
Vastly changed diet
Before, didn’t eat much sugar
o Generated huge profit
Vast majority of imperial production, 17th and 18th centuries
o Requires lots of labor
Slavery begins in 1800s
Colonizing the West Indies
o Spanish only in 1492 to early 17th century
There for silver and gold
Not much of it; didn’t really want it
o English, French, and Dutch start colonies, 1604-1640
30,000 Britons to West Indies at the same time as 20,000 to New World
Barbados
o Small island: 21 miles long, 14 miles wide
o 1620s: most colonies were young male indentured servants
“Wild West;” brutal, killing in the streets
o Switch from tobacco and cotton to sugar in 1640s
Got from Portuguese and Dutch
Jamaica
o 1000 miles west of Barbados
o 145 miles long, 50 miles wide; mountainous
o Seized by English in 1655
o Base for privateers (legal pirates) in 1660s, 1670s
Henry Morgan, Pirates and Empire
Criminal; major part of colony coming together
o Not organized
o Did not surpass Barbados in sugar production until 1720s
Sugar
o Scarce luxury commodity in England until this period
o Previously obtained from Mediterranean basin and Morocco
o English learned to make sugar form the Dutch and Portuguese
o Sugar boom in Barbados, 1640-1643
o Price of land increase 10X in Barbados 1640-1646
Barbados Planters
o Barbados planter were the wealthiest men in English America in 1680s
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