University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Sugar in the 19th Hundreds, Problems
What is the reason for the abandonment of sugar plantations in the British West Indies in the 19th century? I am going to analyze and asses the reasons why sugar plantations were being abandoned by plantation owners in the 19th century? The main causes and the main effects. The abandonment of the Sugar plantations in the Caribbean leads to major changes and had a great effect on West Indian countries. So what caused sugar, a once thriving industry, to be abandoned? And what was the impact it had? ata collected will assessed and analyzed to understand these effects, the causes and how they pertain to life in this century.
Chapter 1 Introduction. Sugar cane was the main cash crop grown on numerous British, French and Spanish owned islands. Sugar was in high demand and was very profitable. But this industry needed labor and lots of it thus slavery was the cheapest and best source of labor they had. Plantation owners would buy slaves brought from Africa to work on their plantations. Plantation life in the 19th century was very hard, grueling labor, severe punishment and extensive exhaustion.
Slaves worked for long periods of time in fields harvesting sugar, in factories producing sugar and the main house as workers (maids, butlers, and cooks ). The abandonment of sugar production was imminent to failure because of the ill treatment and over working. The United States was also a major factor in sugar abandonment, along with the feuded between British and the Spanish which lead to more problems. In my S. B. A I will asses these problems and the effects they had on both the economy and on the society.
Chapter 2 Reasons for abandonment The abandonment of sugar plantations in the 19th century was caused by not only one factor but, it was caused by a collection of factors or a chain of events happening one after the other. Reasons for the abandoning of the sugar plantations started with the Emancipation of slaves, then from that event, multiple amounts of other events caused the sugar estates to close. Emancipation was the greatest cause of Sugar estates being abandoned. The Emancipation Act was passed in 1830 in May and an ex and it stated that “All men were equal and slavery was to be abolished.
This in turn means that former slaves were free. These “free” men now had rights. So plantation owner had to pay slaves, this was a great change from the former system they had. Work time for slaves had to be cut; there were no long excessive amount of work hours, now it had to be a limited amount of time. Slaves could not be abused anymore and they could have refused to do the work. These factors caused a great stress on the plantation owners. They were losing more of their profit to pay wages, less hours of work were being done, and less sugar was being produced, in turn less profit.
After Emancipation plantation owners taught that sugar production would have decreased, it did, for some countries. Smaller Islands production went up such as Barbados and Puerto Rico. These places, relatively all the land was used for estate purposes, so freed slaves had no other choice but to go back and work on the plantations. But in larger countries such as Jamaica where slaves hated plantation life and there was land untainted by settlement sugar production took a massive lost in profit. Everything changed by the end of the 19th Century. Slavery had been abolished, and Europe’s beet sugar had preempted Caribbean cane.
Depressed market prices could not offset the production and transportation costs for an island crop, and sugar plantations soon were abandoned. Abolition of slavery was difficult for the colonies, which had to adjust to having a majority of new citizens who could not be denied the civil rights already grudgingly extended to the few. Extending those civil rights, then as now, was neither easily nor gracefully achieved because the political systems had existed for centuries as the narrow instruments of the small, white, landed elite, largely absentee, whose members were threatened by the removal of their special trade preferences.
Above all, there were economic difficulties. Sugar prices were falling, and West Indian producers were facing severe competition not only from other producers in the British Empire–such as India, South Africa, and Australia–and non-imperial cane sugar producers–such as Cuba and Brazil–but also from beet sugar producers in Europe and the United States. Falling prices coincided with rising labor costs, complicated by the urgent need to regard the ex-slaves as wage laborers able and willing to bargain for their pay. Acts passed by the government.
Acts passed by the Government in the 19th century contributed to the abandoning of plantations greatly. They were one of the most influential factors. If it was not for these Acts, in my option the sugar industry would have survived. Such as “The Sugar Equalization Act,1846” this law was passed because persons wanted cheap raw materials but the price of these items was very high. Politicians of the Manchester school convinced the British that duties were keeping the price at a high rate. Thus duties were removed from corn and sugar.
Some farmer’sprophesied this was the end for sugar and along with “The Encumbered Estates Act, 1854″ the sugar industry looked grim. “The Encumbered Estates Act stated that the government could seize plantations that were abandoned and could be sold with their debt and the new owner had to pay off this debt. The act was very short sighted and gave away to long term effects that prove to be disastrous Labor problems. To mitigate labor difficulties, the local assemblies were encouraged to import nominally free laborers from India, China, and Africa under contracts of indenture.
Apart from the condition that they had a legally defined term of service and were guaranteed a set wage, these Asian indentured laborers were treated like the African slaves they partially replaced in the fields and factories. Between 1838 and 1917, nearly half a million East Indians (from British India) came to work on the British West Indian sugar plantations, the majority going to the new sugar producers with fertile lands.
Trinidad imported 145,000; Jamaica, 21,500; Grenada, 2,570; St. Vincent, 1,820; and St. Lucia, 1,550. Between 1853 and 1879, British Guiana imported more than 14,000 Chinese workers, with a few going to some of the other colonies. Between 1841 and 1867, about 32,000 indentured Africans arrived in the British West Indies, with the greater number going to Jamaica and British Guiana. With important British politicians such as Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone (1809-98) owning sugar estates in British Guiana, that colony, directly administered by the crown, assumed great importance in the Caribbean.
Chapter 3 Effects of Sugar abandonment in the Caribbean. Indentured labor did not resolve the problems of the plantations and the local governments in the Caribbean during the nineteenth century, but it enabled the sugar plantations to weather the difficulties of the transition from slave labor. The new immigrants further pluralized the culture, the economy, and the societies. The East Indians introduced rice and boosted the local production of cacao (the bean from which cocoa is derived) and ground provisions (tubers, fruits, and vegetables).
Although some East Indians eventually converted to Christianity and intermarried with other ethnic groups, the majority remained faithful to their original Hindu and Muslim beliefs, adding temples and mosques to the religious architecture of the territories. The Chinese moved into local commerce, and, by the beginning of the twentieth century, the corner Chinese grocery store and the Chinese restaurant had become commonplace in all the colonies.
Emancipation of the slaves provided the catalyst for the rise of an energetic, dynamic peasantry throughout the Caribbean. A large proportion of the ex-slaves settled in free villages, often forming cooperatives to buy bankrupt or abandoned sugar estates. Where they lacked the capital, they simply squatted on vacant lands and continued the cultivation of many of the food crops that the planters and the colonial government had exported during the days of slavery.
The villages, although largely independent, provided a potential labor pool that could be attracted to the plantations. The growth of these free villages immediately after the emancipation of the slaves was astonishing. In Jamaica, black freeholders increased from 2,014 in 1838 to more than 7,800 in 1840 and more than 50,000 in 1859. In Barbados, where land was scarcer and prices higher, freeholders of less than 2 hectares each increased from 1,110 in 1844 to 3,537 in 1859. In St. Vincent, about 8,209 persons built their own homes and bought and brought under cultivation over 5,000 hectares between 1838 and 1857. In Antigua, 67 free villages with 5,187 houses and 15,644 inhabitants were established between 1833 and 1858. The free villages produced new crops such as coconuts, rice, bananas, arrowroot, honey, and beeswax, as well as the familiar plantation crops of sugarcane, tobacco, coffee, cacao, citrus limes, and ground provisions. Which lead to the integration of a wide variety of agricultural products?