13 Reading 34-1 The ratio of black to white in Barbados was never as wide as in other islands, however, and does not seem to have exceeded 5 blacks to 1 white. In some of the islands the proportion was 15:1 or 20:1. But how the census was taken when the population was as mobile as it was, and the next Island was only hours away by small boat, no one today can tell. The small size of the Barbadan estates meant that many proprietors were actually working farms not much bigger than similar holdings in England. Any crop except sugar could have been grown without slave labor, and indeed white men did so before sugar entered the island’s economy. Sugar was then, of course, the supreme cash crop. There was no great demand in the 18th century for cotton; tobacco was more ef f ciently grown in Virginia; indigo, coffee, and cocoa far less pro f table than either. Except for gold, sugar was the only colonial product before 1750 which showed a trade balance in favor of the colony. It was the boredom and hard work of sugar cultivation twice a year, at planting and at harvest, which made black slavery “inevitable.” Cane planting was done by clearing a pit 3 feet square and a few inches deep, into which the young plant or stem cuttings were dibbled. The object of the pit was to make subsequent
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