By the 16th Century sugar was fast becoming a necessity in Europe. Sugar was needed for a variety of different things from distilling and brewing to the making of cakes and biscuits.

Origins of Sugar 
The type of sugar cane which Columbus introduced to the West Indies in 1493 originated in India in about 3000 BC  It came to Europe by way of Arabia and was known to the Spaniards in the eight century AD  The sugar taken to Hispaniola in 1493 came directly from Cyprus to the Canary Island in 1491 and from the Canary Island to Hispaniola  Some Canary islanders were also transported to help in cultivation

Change from Tobacco to Sugar 
During the early years of settlement tobacco was the primary crop. Several factors accounted for the changeover from tobacco to sugar cane cultivation:

West Indian Tobacco could not compete neither in quantity nor in quality with that of the American colony of Virginia. 2. Like tobacco, sugar-cane was a tropical product and the growing of product was conducive to the climate. 3. The production of sugar also presented no real transportation problems as sugar was not too bulky to be transported on the small ships of the time.

Change from Tobacco to Sugar
4.The introduction of tea and coffee to Europe resulted in a greater demand for commodities to sweeten these products. 5.The English colonists readily accepted sugar as an alternative crop due to the efforts of the Dutch. The Dutch were expelled from Brazil by the Portuguese which led to tremendous economic losses. In order to regain these losses the Dutch not only supplied the English with the know how to produce sugar but they also supplied slaves to work on the plantations as well.

Consequences of the Sugar Revolution
Sugar profoundly changed the economic conditions, social structure and political organization of the islands.  Previously tobacco was produced on relatively small plots. These plots were much to small to cultivate sugar. Hence small estates adjacent to larger ones were acquired.  As sugar became more profitable and the demand for land increased so did the price of land.

Consequences of the Sugar Revolution 
The change to sugar also affected the racial

composition of the colonies.  Many of the whites who worked on the tobacco plantations found new work as inn keepers, clerks etc.  Others returned to Europe or migrated to the United States .  Many of the European bondservants who worked on the plantations also left.

Consequences of the Sugar Revolution 
Sugar cultivation required a large disciplined

workforce. The importation of negroes from Africa began.  In 1640 in Barbados their was approximately a few hundred slaves, by 1645 their was over 6,000 and 1685 their were over 45,000.  In contrast the white population decreased from 40,000 in 1645 to about 20,000 by 1685.

Consequences of the Sugar Revolution 
The cultivation of sugar also increased the

wealth to be obtained from the West Indies. This led to a change in in the system of governing the West Indies. The islands had previously been neglected by the British. However their recent profitability caused the British to bring their islands in the West Indies under closer control.  The increasing wealth of the West Indian colonies also caused the other European nations to attempt to wrestle the colonies away from one another.

Ted Smart is a Tobacco producer in the

American colony of Virginia. He produces large amounts of tobacco that is of a very high quality. 
Steven Wilson is a tobacco producer in the

island of Barbados. He to produces tobacco however he doesn t produce as much tobacco as Ted Smart, and the quality of his tobacco is not of a high quality.

If you had the choice of buying tobacco from

either Ted or Steven who would you buy tobacco from?  Do you think that Steven Wilson will continue to produce tobacco?

Steven Wilson hears about a product that

everyone in Europe is using to sweeten their tea and to bake. The product is called sugar. Columbus brought Sugar to the New World on one of his voyages from the Canary islands. What would you do if you were in Steven s position?

In order to produce sugar the Dutch

merchants tell Steven that he will need large amounts of land and a large labour force. When Steven was producing tobacco he had a relatively small labour force made up of first Amerindians and then European bondservants. He also used a small piece of land to produce tobacco.

Steven s neighbor Scott also plants tobacco but

he decides that instead of producing sugar he will move back to Europe. Steven decides that he will produce sugar. In order to do so he decides to buy Scott s tobacco plantation. Other tobacco producers in Barbados decide to follow Steven s lead and they begin to look to acquire more land to produce sugar. 
What do you think will happen to the price of

land in Barbados?

Now that Steven has acquired more land he now

needs to acquire labour to work on the sugar plantation. The Dutch merchants advise Steven to use the Africans as a form of labour. The Dutch merchants tell Steven that he will need about 150 Africans to work on his plantation. Steven agrees to this plan and many of the other tobacco planter who have decided to plant sugar follow his lead.  What will happen to the population of the West Indian colonies?

Steven and his fellow sugar planter s have now

begun to successfully produce sugar. Due to the fact that there is a large amount of people who wish to buy sugar Steven and his fellow sugar planter s make huge profits. The British government who had previously neglected the West Indian colonies, now decide to pay more attention to them as the colonies are now making immense profits.  The British government implement a system of government that allows them to have more control of the West Indian colonies.

Based on the scenarios that you have just heard    

about answer the following questions: Identify two reasons why the West Indian planters change from producing tobacco to sugar? Examine the changes that took place in the West Indian colonies due to the change from tobacco to sugar. Which of the changes that took place fall under the following headings: Social, Economic and Political.

Sugar Revolution 
Sugar Revolutionµ should only be applied to the change from
tobacco to sugar cultivation which took place: ‚ In the mid to late seventeenth century ‚ In the eastern Caribbean islands belonging to the English and French ‚ Where the monoculture of sugar became the rule ‚ Where the social changes were equally revolutionary, e.g. small holdings were swallowed by large estates; indentured servants were dispossessed; black slaves dominated the populations by a ratio of at least 10 to 1

Sugar Revolution 
There was no ´ Sugar Revolutionµ in the Greater Antilles because:

‚ Sugar cultivation and production developed slowly ‚ Sugar was never cultivated to the exclusion of other farming ‚ White urban and rural population always remained a large population of the total population ‚ Cuba was so large that for two hundred years the Spanish hardly needed another source of sugar

Reasons for The Sugar Revolution
Š West Indian tobacco prices fell when tobacco from Virginia, in

greater quantity and of better quality, began to be sold in Europe
Š The Dutch who were loosing their colonies of Brazil between 1624

and 1654, helped the English and French colonies begin sugar cultivation with capital, expertise, slaves and transport
Š Barbados changed from tobacco to sugar in the decade 1640 and

1650, the epitome of the sugar revolution
Š Concomitant changes were the increase in the size of land holdings;

fall in numbers of land owners; increase in land prices; polarization of society into white planters and black slaves; and a black to white ratio of at least 10:1

Other facts relating to ´The Sugar Revolutionµ 
The Leeward Islands experienced the sugar revolution later than Barbados. It lasted longer but was not so complete  Jamaica rapidly became a sugar island after 1670 but sugar was not replacing anything  St Domingue became the leading sugar producer of the French islands but it was a new colony  Martinique and Guadeloupe experienced gradual revolutions over the period of 1670 to 1770, but these were incomplete as tobacco growing and small holding remained

Cultivation of Sugar Cane
Š Before sugar cane was cultivated the land had to be


Š The ground had to be cleared of bush, shrubs and

grass and where necessary drainage and irrigation canals dug

Š Because there were no ploughs tilling was done by

the slaves with heavy digging hoes

Š This process was called ´holingµ

Cultivation of Sugar Cane 
Holes were dug about 4 feet square and from 6-

9 inches deep 
The hole was filled with manure, soil and a

cane cutting 
In 12- 15 months the crop was ready for


Cultivation of Sugar Cane 
The reaping was usually done by slaves using

cutlasses and machetes  Cut canes were tied in bundles and transported to factories in carts

Manufacturing of Sugar 
At the factory the canes were passed through mills

consisting of rotating iron rollers  The juice or liquid was extracted and conveyed by gutters into receptacles called siphons  The cane trash was collected, dried and used as fuel under the various boilers  The siphons of juice were clarified by heating, the impurities were skimmed off and later used with molasses in the distillation of rum

Manufacturing of Sugar 
The liquor was transferred to a large boiler

where it was heated until it became so thick that one drop would stretch between ones fingers  The sticky substance was emptied into a large shallow cooler where it remained until it was almost cold  It remained in this position for 3 wks during which the molasses dripped out leaving behind sugar crystals

Labour force before African slavery 
The profits of the sugar planters depended on

having enough labor for the yearly cycle of planting, hoeing, cutting, hauling, crushing, boiling and packing  However it was becoming difficult to recruit European labor on the most desperate Europeans would leave home for such plantation work  So the planters came to rely for their labor on dishonest recruiters  The recruiters signed up simple youths who had no idea where the sugar islands were and what future to expect

Labor continued.. 
European suppliers often kidnapped sailors

and fishermen and hustled them on board a ship bound for the West Indies  Convicts and prisoners of war were another means of acquiring labor  Convicts and prisoners did not meet the growing demand of English and French planters for more labor therefore they turn to the Africans


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