Origin of the Plantation System

Topics: Slavery, Cuba, Caribbean Pages: 4 (1035 words) Published: September 30, 2013

Xavier Livermon
AFS 3250
3/06/2013
Origin of the Plantation System

One of the world’s most important events of the seventeenth century was the introduction of the sugar cane to the Caribbean Islands. During the “sugar revolution,” sugar was in high demand and required a greater supply of labor. The importation of African slaves through the transatlantic slave trade provided the labor necessary to keep up with the rigorous demands for sugar products. The transportation of slaves to the New World was a lucrative business, from which the Europeans greatly benefited. The Caribbean Islands produced the greatest portion of supplies from the transatlantic slave trade. The demand for sugar cane was so high by the year 1870 that more than 32000 slaves had been brought to the Caribbean. Because of the harsh conditions and rigorous demands on the plantation many slaves died rapidly.

The origin of the plantation system was as a means to control economic, political, and social power in Caribbean society. With the exception of Haiti, which won its independence in 1804 through revolutionary battles, the independence of the British Caribbean slave’s came some years later. The slaves believed that they would come to enjoy the equal rights, as their white former masters, but the era was instead marked by increasingly adverse changes in racial and social class structure, widening the division between the elite and peasantry. Ethnic groups were divided into three categories: free whites, free non-white and free colored, status lines were divided based on wealth and family ties. The high ranking members of society were called the elite; their families previously owned slaves and owned successful plantations. The middle group consisted of professionals’ doctors, and clergymen. At the bottom of the social ladder were your farmers, servants, and day laborers.

During this period of emancipation an historical shift in immigrant labor occurred; ex - slaves were replaced...

Cited: Knight, Franklin. “The Haitian Revolution.” The American Historical Review 105 (2000):
103-115.
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