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History of Sugar and Cotton Trade: Origins of Modern Capitalism

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Around the world, the consumption of sugar is necessary and played an important role in the economy. However, but we as consumers don’t know exactly the origins of these important products that are sugar and cotton in the 18th century. In this essay, I’m going to discuss the importance of sugar, the role that played slavery in the sugar plantation, how cotton benefits the economy and also, how sugar benefits the economy. The human doesn’t know exactly the history of sugar and how sugar became an important product globally. Some people may ask what is sugar and why sugar is valuable? I would say that sugar is a crystalline substance that is very sweet and is obtained from various plants, such as sugar cane, etc. and is commonly used as a sweetener in food, desserts or drinks. The sugar is important because it was the motor of the slave commerce that transported millions of Africans to the Americas in the 16th-century. In this essay, I'm going to discuss a book called sweetness and power by Mintz and what he learned on his trip about the people of the Caribbean and their products. Also, secondly, I'm going to discuss today capitalism was born as slavery which was very important because it talks about cotton and the importance of cotton by Beckert and finally the rise of slavery by Gibson that explain how hard was the regimen in the plantation in the 17th century and the beginning of sugar production in the Caribbean.

The history of Mintz is very interesting and important because it talks about the history of the Caribbean and how he learned about some of the products that we consumed nowadays. Mintz says that “his book has an odd history. He studied the history of the Caribbean and some of the tropical products, mainly agricultural since the European conquest” (Mintz. 1985). Mintz worked with people of the Caribbean he was learning about those people, how they transformed their life for the conditions they were livening. Mintz liked to know more about sugar, rum, coffee, and chocolate. The history of the Caribbean and their products is very interesting and we can learn a lot from this reading some of the points that caught my attention is that Mintz was learning about the culture of the people of the Caribbean and what caught his attention was their products such as sugar, rum, coffee and chocolate which is still very important products globally. In the year 1800, Puerto Rico and Cuba succeeded Haiti, after the Haitian Revolution, because they have the most important world sugar producers. Also, Mintz learned that north Americans had penetrated most deeply into the vitals of pre-1898 Puerto Rican life.

According to the article titled “Today's capitalism was born in slavery” written by Beckert talks about how by the year 1830 one million Americans were enslaved, grew cotton. That was a huge number of Americans enslaved in 1830 and they have to work. One of the* most important exportation in the United States was Raw cotton. A fugitive slaved name, John Brown observed in 1854: “When the price of the cotton rises in the English market, the poor slaves immediately feel the effects, for they are harder driven, and the whip is kept more constantly going” (Beckert, p. 2). I can say by this that when the price of the cotton increase the poor slaves are the one that suffers because is more work for them and they have to be in constant movement. One point that caught my attention is when the author talks about the economy of the United States and he says that like cotton and slavery, became the key to the U.S economy and this moved to the center of the world because thanks to the cotton and slavery U.S economy increase. Capitalism with slavery also played an important role in the United States and in more countries. Our modern world originated in cotton factories, cotton ports, and cotton plantations of the 18th and 19 centuries. In other to understand the creation of the cotton and how this empire grew, we need to extend our view to the world at large and to the history of global capitalism.

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According to the reading named “the rise of slavery” written by Gibson is letting us know about how cruel was the regimen in the plantation. African slavery was too big and extended to be ignored. By the beginning of the 1700 new lands were rich but what they don't know if how this plantation operated because slavery plays an important role in the world. In the reading, there was a point that caught my attention which I didn't know about it. When in the reading says that “slavery was a living death for millions of people and in the eighteenth-century things got worse because Africans had been enslaved in the Caribbean for more than 200 years” (Gibson, p. 4). I can imagine 200 years of slavery in the Caribbean that's terrible. I know at that time a lot of slaves were sent to work in rural areas or in mines which is very hard work. I didn't know by 1700, English ships had taken around 400,000 slaves from Africa. That was a lot of slaves at that time and that was a very impressive number of slaves at that time. Also, it was very terrible that a big number of them die in the sea and others were stolen by pirates.

The beginning of sugar production in the Caribbean was very important because after the Caribbean was first colonized and conquered by Spain in the 15th century, a system of sugar planting and enslavement were developed. The Caribbean turned into important colonies because of the demand for sugar cane products in Europe. Sugar is very valuable, necessary and important because few products derived from sugar cane, which can be used for tea, coffee, chocolate, and other products. Also, it can be used to make rum, which is an alcoholic drink that is very popular globally. Sugar plantation owners became very wealthy and the production increased and for that reason, they buy slaves to keep the hard work. Sugar was first used, only the wealthiest people consumed it. After 1650, the price of sugar decreased to the consumption and therefore production, increased as it became more available to the lower class.

What is cotton and why was it important? Cotton is one of the most important products in the United States. Cotton is soft and fluffy and grows around the seeds of cotton plants. Cotton was important because it is one of the first commodities in the world, after sugar and tobacco. The United States gained power and they have a connection with the western hemisphere due to the consumption of cotton because the U.S sold cotton to other countries. Our modern world originates in the cotton factories, and cotton plantations of the 18th and 19 centuries. Slaves contributed a lot in the United States and cotton became successful because slaves were the ones who used to work in the plantation and do the hard work. The trade between the Western hemisphere and Eastern hemisphere became absolutely incredible because the caffeine was produced by the northeast and the cotton was in the U.S which impact the economy and the economy of the United States increases because of the trade of these products.

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History of Sugar and Cotton Trade: Origins of Modern Capitalism. (2023, February 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 4, 2024, from
“History of Sugar and Cotton Trade: Origins of Modern Capitalism.” Edubirdie, 01 Feb. 2023,
History of Sugar and Cotton Trade: Origins of Modern Capitalism. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 4 Mar. 2024].
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