The sugar trade was driven by the demand for sugar in Europe. Sugar was a luxury item in Europe, and the Caribbean had a monopoly on sugar production. The sugar trade was also driven by the demand for slaves. Slaves were needed to work the plantations in the Caribbean, and the majority of slaves came from Africa.
Sugar production was firmly established in the Caribbean in the late 1600s and 1700s. The Sugar Trade was a heated rivalry between France and Britain. In 1655, Britain became the largest sugar trader in the Caribbean. In 1740, France surpassed Britain as the main sugar trader in the Caribbean (oi). There were several causes for the Sugar Trade’s success. Some of them were money, slavery, and complementary industries.
The Sugar Trade was very capital intensive. In the early years of sugar cultivation, only wealthy landowners could afford to set up plantations. They used their own money or borrowed from investors. By the mid-1700s, the cost of setting up a sugar plantation had dropped and more people were able to get involved in the trade.
Slavery was another key factor in the growth of the Sugar Trade. Slaves were brought over from Africa to work on the plantations. They were treated very poorly and worked long hours in difficult conditions. Many slaves died as a result of overwork, disease or violence.
Complementing industries also played a role in the development of the Sugar Trade. For example, the rum industry grew up to support the sugar trade. Rum was made from sugarcane and was often used as a currency in the Caribbean. The development of the Sugar Trade also spurred growth in other industries such as shipbuilding and agriculture.
The Sugar Trade had a huge impact on the Caribbean. It changed the economy, demography and society of the region. It also had an impact on the wider world, with sugar becoming an important commodity in international trade.
Money is quite significant. British colonists during the slave trade referred to sugar as white gold (oi). According to Peter Macinnis in Bittersweet: The Story of Sugar, the first curse of sugar is capital intensive, which means it requires a lot of money. Money was spent acquiring slaves who cultivated the sugar that consumers afterwards bought. Land was also required for sugar plantations.
“Sugar requires a level terrain, so if there were rocky outcrops or hills in the way, they had to be dynamited. The land had to be cleared of trees and bushes, because sugarcane is a grass that grows about two metres high… After the cane was harvested, it had to be crushed quickly to prevent fermentation and decomposition” (Macinnis). So not only was money used to buy slaves and land, but also for machines and other equipment. All of this money went into what drove the sugar trade.
The sweet substance we know as sugar comes from sugarcane. Sugar was first grown in Polynesia and then introduced to India and China by traders (Sugarcane). It eventually made its way to the Mediterranean and was grown in sugar beet form in Northern Europe (Bittersweet).
Sugar became a big trade item during the slave trade. Slaves were brought over from Africa to the Caribbean to work on plantations where they grew and harvested sugarcane (Sugar and Slavery). The working conditions for slaves were brutal and many of them died from overwork, disease, or suicide (Slavery).
The sugar trade was very capital intensive, as mentioned before, but it was also labour intensive. Slaves were needed to grow and harvest the sugar cane. Without them, the sugar trade would not have been possible. It is estimated that between 10 and 12 million Africans were taken from their homes and sold into slavery (Slavery). They were brought to the Caribbean and other parts of the Americas to work on plantations. Slavery was abolished in the British empire in 1833, but it continued in other parts of the world until the late 19th century (Slavery).
The sugar trade was also risky. Hurricanes and other natural disasters could destroy crops, which would lead to financial losses for plantation owners. In addition, slaves could rebel or run away, which would also lead to financial losses. The slave trade was a very important part of the sugar trade and without it, the sugar trade would not have been possible.
The majority of the sugar industries were controlled by wealthy English families. As a result, outside investors were rarely involved. According to document 7, four of the major sugar plantations were owned by absentee owners who were either rich or had money from their families. Mercantilism was another way money was essential. The British used the mercantile method to acquire natural resources, also known as slaves, at low costs and turn them into finished products for a profit.
This made the British very wealthy and powerful. The slave trade was also profitable for the British. Slaves were bought for very cheap prices in Africa and then sold for very high prices in the Caribbean. This was a major source of income for the British.
Sugar was also a very important commodity in the 18th century. Sugar was used in many different things such as tea, coffee, and candy. It was also used as a preservative. Sugar was so valuable that it was even used as currency in some places. All of these factors made sugar a very important commodity and drove the sugar trade.
The sugar trade was driven by many different factors such as slavery, mercantilism, and the demand for sugar. Slavery played a very important role in the sugar trade. Slaves were bought for very cheap prices in Africa and then sold for very high prices in the Caribbean. This was a major source of income for the British. Mercantilism was also a driving force behind the sugar trade.
Others claim that sugar drove the slave trade, while others say that sugar precipitated it. The truth is that the slave trade became mired inextricably with the sugar trade (oi). Slaves were required on plantations; they performed all of the labor. Planting and cutting sugar cane vines was just one of the tasks they had to accomplish. They also had to transport the canes to the crushing facility and cook down the cane juice.
Slaves were brought over from Africa to do this grueling work. The sugar trade began in the early 1600s. Barbados was the first island to have sugar plantations. Sugar quickly became a valuable commodity. Other islands soon followed suit and began growing sugar. Jamaica, St. Kitts, Antigua, Montserrat, Nevis, and Puerto Rico all had sugar plantations by the mid-1600s (oi).
Sugar was so valuable that it was even used as a form of currency. In fact, by the mid-1700s, sugar made up 60% of Britain’s imports (oi). Sugar was in high demand and the Caribbean had a monopoly on it.
The slave trade was a lucrative business and it continued until the early 1800s. It is estimated that 12 million Africans were brought to the Americas during this time (oi). The majority of them ended up working on sugar plantations.