Sugar Cane Plantation 1500-1800

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Sugar Cane Plantation 1500-1800

The American sugar industry evolved between 1500 and 1800 as planters adopted innovations in land use and in the mills. The Spanish began commercial sugar production in Hispaniola; the Portuguese followed shortly thereafter in Brazil. The sugar cane is not a native plant of the western hemisphere; it originated from New Guinea and subtropical India. Sugar plantation economy was based on agricultural mass production of sugar cane. Evidently, the rise of sugar economies points out to a transformative power of a single commodity, which resulted to crop determinism.(1) To this effect, economies of the Caribbean colonies expanded massively in the sense that sugar plantations shifted to production that realized economies of scale that brought massive wealth to the colonies especially Great Britain. Mass production for trade was facilitated by slave labor, large scale plantations, and high population density with Black majority who offered labor and market; there was high output per capita. In the commercial sense, the Caribbean sugar production allowed an expanded system of commerce and the ability and necessity of trade transactions with the colonies. Caribbean production of sugar cane became entirely dependent on the British market. This dependency resulted in the Caribbean creating a cheap supply of sugar to Britain. This trend is evident in the fact that there was an increase in sweet tooth and dental decay in 1650s.(2) The commerce of sugar is attributing to expanding trade into the commercial revolution and eventually led to the English imperial expansion in the seventeenth century. Sugar quickly became Britain’s leading colonial import in 1640s and yielded a far higher and steadier profit than any other American cash crop grown at time. (3)

The ability to increase mass production of sugar allowed the colonies to stimulate economic growth, especially to the Caribbean colonies and the world in the following ways: it provided...
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