During the 17th century the Caribbean economy experienced a great change that would be revolutionary. This change was termed the "Sugar Revolution".
The "Sugar Revolution" describes the change from tobacco to sugar as the chief crop of the region and the changes that were associated with it. But what were the factors that led to this great change?
THE FACTORS INCLUDE:
* Competition. West Indian tobacco faced great competition from tobacco grown in the North American colony of Virginia. Virginia produced tobacco of a better quality and in larger quantity compared to the West Indies. Due to the demand for tobacco in England, Virginia was able to meet this demand, thus the demand for West Indian tobacco decreased as it was of an inferior quality compared with tobacco from Virginia.
* Demand for Sugar In Europe. During the 17th century, tea and coffee became popular in Europe. Due to this there was a demand for sugar to sweeten these beverages, as honey which was used became expensive. They also needed sugar to preserve fruits and make jams.
* Right climate and soil. The West Indies possessed the ideal climate (tropical) for growing sugarcane. They also had the right soil which was easily drained to cultivate the crop.
* Sugar was not bulky. Sugar was light which made it easy to transport in the small ships used during the seventeenth century.
* Access to Market. Through the transatlantic voyage, the West Indies became more accessible to the European markets.
* Help From the "God Fathets' (Dutch).The Dutch helped in the establishment of the sugar industry by providing their expertise in sugarcane cultivation, capital and labour (slaves).
It was these facts that made it possible for the West Indian sugar industry to develop during the 17th century.
What effects did the introduction of slaves to the Caribbean have on the society and economy of the region? What political effects did it have?
1. An artificial increase in the size of the population as literally hundreds of thousands of African slaves were imported annually into the New World. 2. A change in the racial composition of the society. Before the Sugar Revolution the majority of the population was white and the minority black. By the mid-18th century blacks far outnumbered whites, in some cases the ratio was as much as 25:1 3. A host of new laws were introduced to regulate and define the relationship between master and slaves. For example the Deficiency Act was passed to deal with the unequal ration. Then each Colonial Power drafted their own set of laws: Spanish: Siete Partidas, French: Code Noirand the English colonies enacted their individual Slave Codes. 4. A whole new culture was introduced- the African culture. There was a small amount of mixing of the two cultures as well. 5. A new ‘breed' of person was introduced. These were the mulattoes. They were the off springs of the whites and blacks. 6. Society became highly stratified. A person was now judged firstly by colour and then wealth, so that even a poor white was deemed to be of a higher status than a rich mulattoe.
7. The pattern of landownership changed. Before sugar and slavery there were many farmers owning small plots of land on which they grew tobacco and other cash crops. This pattern changed to a few landowners owning large estates on which they cultivated sugar cane to be manufactured into raw muscavado sugar for export to the Mother Country. 8. The price of land increased dramatically towards the end of the 17th century and into the 18th century as more and more sugar estates were being established. 9. Large amounts of capital were invested in the sugar industry. Most of this capital however came from the Mother Country itself. Soon the West Indian planters became indebted to (European) British bankers, investors and merchants. 10. The plantation owners became very wealthy. Some of them went...