University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
“Give me some sugar!” When most people hear that phrase, it usually means someone wants a kiss. But in the late 1600s and early 1700s, people want to plant sugar. True, it started some 9000 years ago in New Guinea, but it took a while before the rest of the world caught on. During this time, there was a movement called the sugar trade. Although there were many forces driving the sugar trade, what mainly drove it were the ideal land masses for sugar production, the amount of slaves needed, and the demand for it.
The first driving force behind the sugar trade was finding the perfect land to grow the plant. Jamaica and Barbados were under British rule in 1750 (Doc. 1), and they were the ones who discovered that the islands were well within the ideal climates for producing sugar because they were in the correct temperature climate, and had the perfect soil; the only off thing was the amount of rainfall they had was less than perfect amount. (Doc. 2) The encyclopedia tells us that the land that the British conquered than its own land and/or even England’s own land. Once a man had found the model land, he would state everything that he needs for his plantation, such as windmills, a boiling-house, the amount of slaves and animals, and all the other houses and shops. (Doc. 6)
Belgrove demonstrated that owning a plantation was a big deal and one had to be absolutely sure on everything that was needed in order to have a fully-functioning plantation. Most plantations were owned by wealthy English families, instead of numerous people buying the land together. (Do. 7) It can be interpreted that Mintz said that the better was to get money was to own the whole thing by yourself. Men like Charles Long and John Gladstone owned large amounts of land and therefore became richer because of the amount of land they owned, amount of sugar they produced and the amount of slaves they had. (Doc. 7) Williams shows us that rich Englishmen liked getting richer and they used their plantations to attain this goal.
The second driving force behind the sugar trade was the amount of slaves that were needed in order to produce these mass amounts of sugar. Men, and women, and possibly children, were forced into the field to work or into the boiling-house. (Doc. 8) Clark and Bridgens illustrated that the British didn’t care what age or gender you were, you still went out and made sugar each and every day. Slaves didn’t come cheap though, at least not in British Caribbean. In 1748, slaves cost €32 in the British Caribbean whereas they only cost €14 on the West African coast. (Doc. 9) This indicates that the British Caribbean wanted to give the buyers a run for their money, whereas the African coast didn’t know better, this was all new to them.
As the amount of slaves someone owned went up, so did the amount of sugar that was produced, unless you were the French in 1789, where they somehow actually lost tons. (Doc. 10) The British were probably more efficient in producing crops than the French and it resulted in them being the biggest sugar trader in the Caribbean. The need for slaves was so imperative that the British would trade thing that weren’t even theirs in order to make sure they had slaves. (Doc. 11) Campbell displays the variety of thing that the Brits would trade, such as powder, bullets, tobacco-pipes, certain toys, and some East India goods, but in the end, nothing was their own.
The third force behind the sugar trade was the demand. Everywhere you looked, there were people using sugar for something. Whether it be tea, or rum, people had to have sugar. They would have a large barrel that weighed between 700 and 1200 pounds filled with sugar and people would go insane trying to get it. (Doc. 3) Parris illustrates this to us and Moseley says that the increasing demand for sugar exceeded all comparison with other articles, meaning sugar was the number one thing that Brits of the 1600s and 1700s wanted more than life itself. The UK, and most of the rest of the world, has used sugar to put in tea, which has made tea the most important nonalcoholic drink ever. (Doc. 4)
Sugar was and is still a big deal, not only in England, but also in the US; ask ten people and see how many of them drink tea or coffee with sugar in it. By 1770, the population was well above eight million, and the consumption was up to 16.2 pounds. (Doc. 5) That basically says that all the Brits were drinking two pounds of sugar a year! They even set up a parliament that set up a trading system that said Brits made materials into finished goods, such as pots and pans, and then merchants would go and sell it at high prices in England and other countries, which meant more money came in than went out. (Doc. 12) This meant that they could use the money that came in to buy more sugar or slaves to make sugar.
Although there were many forces driving the sugar trade, what mainly drove it were the ideal land masses for sugar production, the amount of slaves needed, and the demand for it. One beneficial factor to this DBQ would have been more information on the French because it’s know that they were also planting and growing sugar, but we don’t hear their success story, as they did pass Britain in the top sugar producer in 1740.