The Sugar Revolution

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The production of sugar dominated the Jamaican landscape from 1780 to 1792 and ultimately led the island to achieve the title as the largest sugar producer for the British market. However, this enticing image of the island’s economic success was painted with the innocent blood of African slaves. The captives of the transatlantic slave trade were merely used to power the development of commercial sugar cultivation and thus were branded as self-augmenting capital. These slaves were imprisoned in a society that was consumed by the ideology of discrimination and racism. The slaveholders possessed the right to torture and main, the right to kill, the right to rape, the right to alienate, and the right to own offspring of the slaves. Consequently,…show more content…
For centuries, sugar was a rare luxury that was only consumed by the royal and elite of society and became a decorative item of their wealth and power. However, in the eighteenth century, there was an increase in the production of sugar that led to a decrease in the price of the commodity across the nation. The reputation held by this good inspired the middle class to use it to emulate the status of the wealthy. Thus, the crop that was once confined to the upper classes of society transformed from a luxury product to an article of mass consumption. This growing hunger that swept the British nation was fed through the expansion of sugar plantations and consequently the slave trade. The plantation owners exploited this opportunity to maximize their profits by increasing their production output and decreasing their cost of labour through the recruitment of slaves. By 1771-1775, Jamaican exports of sugar amounted to £2 400 000, which was nearly four times greater than the 1740 levels. Accordingly, the island bound its economic well-being to sugar and benefited from this rising demand for its prime agricultural product. The planters leveraged this desire for the good to construct an argument that advocated for the perpetuation of slavery in the sugar industry. The renowned planter, William Beckford, even claimed in his novel that, “If abolition, unconditional, unqualified abolition shall take place, … the price of sugar, which is now become a necessary article of life, must be immediately enhanced; discontentment and dissatisfaction may dismember the [sugar] empire.” His argument accentuated the importance of slavery to the preservation of sugar and that only slavery could satisfy the consumers’ demand for this status symbol. This justification was endorsed by many planters on the island and ultimately created the attitudes that

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