17Reading 34-1Under 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 difficult 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 difficult 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 17thcentury, every trader to West Africa was offered slaves in exchange for his European goods.
This is the end of the preview.
access the rest of the document.