Rum and the Slave Trade
July 18, 2011
Although Rum was one of the great commodities in the New World trade, it had a great impact on people in the Atlantic World, namely the African Slaves. Rum has become one of the oldest commodities to come out of the New World trade that still exists today.
When the Spanish made their way to the Caribbean, they realized that sugar cane grew well there. Large amounts of labor would be required to harvest the plentiful crops, but the Spanish were quickly eradicating those able to harvest the crops by introducing disease to the New World. The ...view middle of the document...
This was more infamously known as the Slave Triangle. “The exchange of slaves, molasses, and rum was quite profitable, and the disruption to the traded caused by the Sugar Act in 1764 may have even helped cause the American Revolution” (Tannhill, 1973)
The success of the sugar cane industry, sadly, was built on the pain and suffering of slavery in the Caribbean. Machinery was not available to them at the time and all harvesting was done by hand. Today, most of the inhabitants of the Caribbean Islands are direct decedents from these very salves.
Sugar plantation owners were becoming extremely rich off of the fruits of their land, albeit at the hands and freedom of their slaves. In Europe, sugar was fetching sky high prices. Rum turned out to be a by-product of the sugar production. When unused molasses was left out in the sweltering Caribbean sun, the molasses fermented and turned itself into rum.
The discovery of rum fermentation was an absolute mistake. Molasses, the waste of sugar production, was often discarded outdoors. “With a little rain water and some natural yeasts that are present in the atmosphere, the molasses would begin to ferment all on its own. It was discovered that this became a weak form of alcoholic beverage and was often distributed amongst the slaves.” (www.therumelier.com)
After the abolishment of slavery, plantation owners needed to find another source of cheap labor to harvest their crops. They in turn employed laborers from China and India. In exchange for their services, plantation owners promised bits and pieces of the plantation, but in the end, they were duped and treated just like the...