Slavery In The Caribbean Essay

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The Caribbean is often overlooked when the concept of slavery is discussed. However, the Caribbean islands played an integral part in the building of various countries’ economies around the world; primarily European countries. Many of the social stigmas that are associated with slavery are still present in various Caribbean countries’ societies today. Caribbean cultures have very strong African roots as of the numerous traditions carried from Africa by the slaves. This paper will give an overall view of slavery in the Caribbean and go more in depth into the economic, social, and cultural affects that it had and is still giving in the Caribbean using Haiti as a focal point.
In order to begin to understand the impact of slavery in the Caribbean,
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Saint-Domingue, a French colony located on the western third of Hispaniola (present-day Haiti) was developing so rapidly that by the 1750’s colony was the world’s leading producer of sugar; 40 percent of the world’s sugar trading belonged to France. “Under French rule, cultivation of coffee, sugarcane, cotton, and indigo turned Haiti into the richest European colony in the Western Hemisphere” (Girard). The French were so focused on the production of sugar that “most necessities, including food, were imported” (Rosenburg). Not only was Saint-Domigue dense in its exports, it also had around 500,000 slaves, almost half the entire population of slaves in the Caribbean. The Caribbean as a whole was described as being “dominated by the 1680s and 1690s by African slaves” (Slavery). New slaves from Africa were constantly being brought in due to the colonies rapid growth and horrible conditions of living which led to higher death rates among the slaves already there; there more slaves born on the continent of Africa than in colonies. Along with agricultural contribution to France’s economy, there were also other economic contributions to the global economy. For every ship of slaves transported captains had to be paid, “wood, water, and other provisions from shore” (Behrendt), as well as the ship’s crew. This distributed money all over Europe. It is said that “British West Indian production…show more content…
The “plantocracy” was the social class made up of the plantation owners, many of whom spent much or all of their time away from their plantations. The French colonial administrators formed a second group, and the blancs manants, or poor whites, were a third. Relatively few white women lived in the colony, especially in the lowest ranks. In addition to the white population, Saint-Domingue had about 28,000 gens de couleur (French for “people of color”) or affranchis (“freedpersons”); most were of mixed African and European descent, but some were black. A small but influential proportion of the affranchis owned property and slaves. Class differences followed skin color, with darker people concentrated in the lower classes. The colonial militia reinforced the authoritarian system that kept power in the hands of the wealthy white elite.

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