Sugarand slavery

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  • 1.Sugar and Slavery Tropical Agriculture and the Plantation Economy

2. The Craving for Sweetness

  • Everyone today, has a craving for sweetness.
  • This is easy to explain from an evolutionary perspective.
  • As humans evolved, individuals that craved sweet foods had an advantage over people who disliked them.
  • Liking sweets prompted people to seek out sweet tasting foods such as fruits and vegetables.
  • In the past such cravings were useful because fruits and vegetables were (and still are) an important source of many nutrients and vitamins.

3. Honey Bee in Ancient Egypt Hunter of bees, Arana, Spain 7000BCE 4. Collecting Honey from Hives 5. Honey Garden with wattle fence, fountain.Apiary surrounded by wattle fence. 6. Collection of sap from sugar palm Sweet Sap from Sugar Palm and Maple Collection of sap from sugar maple and evaporation in North America 7.

  • Sugarcane ( Saccharuim officinarum , Poaceae)
  • Most important source of sucrose
  • Cheapest energy food
  • Crop of the humid tropical lowlands but grows well in savanna climate
  • Grown in US (Hawaii, Florida, Louisiana)


  • Sugarcane History
  • Cultivated in India in 400BCE
  • Sugarcane cultivation technology carried to China and Arabia
  • Crusades brought sugarcane cultivation to Europe

9. Arab expansion of sugar production (blue line) 10. Sugar Manufacture Extraction of sugar in Sicily, 1584 Production of sugar in Venice 11. The Progression of Sugar

  • Introduced to Madeira and Azores in 1420
  • Columbus took sugar to New World in 1493
  • 1791, Capt Bligh transportedS. officinaruim(noble canes) from Tahiti to Jamaica
  • Plantation agriculture first developed in Brazil and spread to New World


  • Started in Brazil with settlement of northeast (Bahiaand Recife) in the 16th century

Origins of Plantation Agriculture 13. Origin of Plantation Agriculture

  • Gold was original aim in Brazil, but none in the area
  • Thus tropical crops were the only profitable endeavor
  • Sugarcane technology from Madeira, Azores, and Capo Verde
  • Large Land Grants ( Capatanias ) were established along the coast, 150 miles wide and as far West as could be controlled
  • Grantee had power over inhabitants


  • Tremendous demand for sugar in Europe (rum in demand in England but excluded from Europe which had brandy from wine)
  • Original plan was for exploitation of Indian labor, but diseases decimated local populations and Indians made poor slaves
  • The solution was the use of Black African slavespurchased from slave traders along the African coast where Portuguese had colonies
  • Plantation system based on African slavery soon spread to the entire Caribbean
  • Sugar Islands became the source of tremendouswealth in the 17th and 18th centuries

Origin of Plantation Agriculture 15.

  • Commercial production
  • Large scale (relatively) usually consideredlarger than 80 hectares or 200 acres
  • Central management, exclusively by Europeans (now shifting toward indigenous ownership, but still managed by Europeans)

Characteristics of Plantation Agriculture 16.

  • Capital intensive often including
    • transportation and shipping
    • Hired labor
  • Labor intensive but changing with agricultural revolution, especially machine harvest and herbicides
  • Combination of agricultural-industrialenterprise
  • Tendency toward monoculture
  • Continuous year-round production

Characteristics of Plantation Agriculture 17.

  • Slavery has been present in one form or another for all of recorded history
  • Commonly mentioned in the bible
  • Slaves were considered property ,a shameful episode in human history, now universally condemned
  • Slavery still exists in various forms

Slavery and the Slave Trade 18. Slave capture 19. Transportation 20. The forcible exile of over 12 million Africans to work the plantations of European colonists. 21. Profile of a Slave Ship

  • Name of ship: Zong
  • Left Sn Tom 6 September 1781
  • Slaves on board 440
  • White crew 17
  • Arrived in Jamaica 27 November 1781
  • Slaves deceased 60
  • Crew deceased 7
  • Slaves sick on arrival, likely to die greater than 60
  • Price per slave in Jamaica20-40 pounds
  • fromThe Memoirs of Granville-Sharp
  • (text p. 284)


  • Slave trade source of great wealth for Britain andNew England
  • Slave ships would pick up slaves in Africa and sell them in the Americas
  • On the return voyage they would return with sugar or rum
  • The British made all exports to their possessions in British ships
  • All manufactured good came from Englandreturning with rum and sugar

The Slave Economy 23.

  • Sugar industry reached its greatest heights in Jamaica
  • In 1655, when Jamaica was taken from theSpanish by the British, there were 3000 black slaves
  • In 1800 there were 300,000 black slaves
  • Most of increase due to imports as rate of natural increase was low, not even sufficient tomaintain the population until emancipation

The Slave Economy 24.

  • System collapsed in the 1800s
  • Slave uprisings
  • End of slave trade and emancipation (1830 in England)
  • End to mercantile protection (sugar beet became competition)
  • Inefficiencies of the system due to fact thatsystem run by foreign managers
  • Low prices due to competition from beet sugar

25. The Development of Creoles

  • The Standard view:
    • Pidgin develops early, perhaps even before arrival at the plantation.
    • Pidgin stable as code for conducting business on the plantation.
    • Children are raised in this linguistically impoverished environment.
    • Children elaborate the pidgin into a creole (using UG as a guide).

26. On the Standard View

  • The creole becomes radically different from the superstrate language very early in the process (during the establishment phase).

superstrate creole 27. On Revised View

  • The creole doesnt diverge from the superstrate language until later in the process (during expansion phase).

superstrate creole 28. On Revised View

  • During the plateau phase, the creole can begin to de-creolize toward the superstrate langauge.

superstrate creole de-creolization 29. Question from Bickerton:

  • And, never forget, that [infernal] machine not only spearheaded the technology of the Industrial Revolution, but it also provided the capital accumulation that built all those dark satanic mills.And at the same time it developed an essential ingredient of our modern world, the work discipline and the system of organization that, replacing the whip with economic necessity, kept countless millions working at sterile and repetitive tasks throughout their lifetimes.Would the world we know today have come into existence without sugar and slavery?Think about it.