17 Reading 34-1 Under slavery, Jamaica became an island of large, relatively unproductive estates. In 1783 there were over a hundred estates in all, each averaging more than 700 acres in extent, nearly 4 times the size of the average plantation in Barbados. An average estate would have more than 500 worker slaves, compared to under 20 on Barbados. Each worker slave in Jamaica produced only half the annual sugar crop of each slave in Barbados. Jamaica was therefore an island of low output per acre and low output per man, exacerbated by a dif f cult climate with a tendency to hurricanes and earthquakes. A condition of agricultural equilibrium was never achieved, as it was in Barbados. Because there was more land, it was not properly cultivated. Investment in slaves was far higher than that in land, perhaps 4 times as much. It is dif f cult to avoid the conclusion that when the economy of Jamaica became mature, in the period from 1770 to 1810, the interest of the trade became the engine for the survival of slavery itself. By 1795–1800 Jamaica was to become the greatest sugar exporter in the world. At the beginning of the 17th century, every trader to West Africa was offered slaves in exchange for his European goods. Early traders sometimes refused to trade for slaves, and even in 1689, by which time
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This note was uploaded on 11/18/2011 for the course HIST 302 taught by Professor Jensic during the Summer '10 term at Purdue University-West Lafayette.