Ever wondered about Haiti?
“when the Spanish came back with more men, more guns and wiped out the Caribs. The Caribs went out in style: the last few just jumped off cliffs instead of letting the Europeans capture them and put them to work on the sugar cane plantations the whites were setting up.
Well, that meant a shortage of free labor, which cut into the profit margin. So the plantation owners started buying Africans. Lots and lots of Africans. Nobody’s sure how many, but it’s well into seven figures. Most of them died on the voyage, or under the whip, or from disease, but there were enough left to keep the cane plantations going. And that was important, not just to the local colonists but to France, which ruled the whole island by that time. You have to remember, the Europeans were focused on the West Indies back then. They didn’t think much of North America at the start of the 1700s. It was just a big cold wilderness with no gold, and no potential for raising the tropical crops that really made money. Barbados meant more to England than Virginia, and Hispaniola meant more to France than Canada.”
Filed under: Analysis