Slavery in the Caribbean

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Slavery in the Caribbean

The beginning of slavery in the Caribbean can be traced back to the emergence of piracy in the 16th and 17th centuries. This eventually led to the promotion of slave trading and sugar plantations. While enslaved on the sugar plantations, slaves were treated very poorly. Plantation owners treated their slaves so poorly that most were undernourished and diseased. Slaves were even forced to work on their "spare" time to provide for their own needs. Needless to say, slaves encountered cruel punishment that we can’t even comprehend. The slaves however, continually resisted white supremacy causing much tension between the two social classes. Despite this, a new social class was emerging, the free coloureds. This confused matters even worse and made for a bigger separation between white and slave. Eventually however, emancipation of slavery finally occurred in 1834.

The first display of piracy was by John Hawkins who made a 60% profit on the first slaves he sold. This eventually led to the promotion of slave trading and sugar plantations. By the 17th century, over 50% of slaves coming into the New World were being led to the Caribbean. This led to the emergence of the sugar plantations, which drastically changed the lives of everyone in the Caribbean.

A slave society certainly emerged, as there was always a need for more slaves. The slave turnover ratio was tremendous as many died because of disease etc… It became somewhat ridiculous because sugar production required many more slaves and not much more of a profit than cotton plantations. Slaves were treated quite harshly and in an unfair manner and therefore the whole plantation system was degrading.

There are many horrors that occurred on the plant...

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...here there was going to be a slave insurrection.

The emancipation of the slaves in the 19th century changed their title, yet they were still undermined. Emancipation started in 1834 when Britain started to "legally abolish slavery" (Knight, 167). In 1886, Cuba had freed its slaves and finally the whole slave society in the Caribbean had been abolished. However, once these new societies emerged, social tensions still existed among the settlers and colonists. Nonetheless, slave systems were emancipated for political and economical reasons. Economically, sugar plantations were declining in production and the rum became scarcer. Politically, hopes and pride began to grow in the Caribbean thus leading to a natural separation with their mother countries. However, the disintegration of the slave trade occurred inevitably and certainly was not caused by slave uprisings.

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