Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chapter 10: The West Indies

This chapter was all about how the little/sorta big islands in the Gulf of Mexico, including plantation culture and pirates! As you can imagine, nothing really happy happens in this chapter, but I managed to find things, anyway.

"Sugar could bear the costs of long-distance transportation (and the purchase of slaves by the thousand) because it was in great and growing European demand to sweeten food and drink." Europe's sweet tooth was a perfectly legitimate excuse for, you know, slavery. (Starting things off light.)

"Lacking cities and gold but possessing a fearsome reputation, the Caribs were the sort of Indians that the Spanish had learned to avoid." Hahaha oh NOW they get the point.

"Landscape, climate, location, and pigs combined to render Barbados especially attractive." As we'll recall from our good friend George Spencer, the Brits were REALLY into pigs.

"Aside from the plantation buildings and a few groves of trees, the island was a terraced sea of cane plants, which grew eight feet high at maturity." Does it make me a nerd that the first thing I thought of when I read this was "Keep out of the long grass!"? ... there might be raptors... It could happen!

"Compared with the Lesser Antilles, Jamaica was grander, lusher, hotter, wetter, stormier, more mountainous, and more susceptible to slave rebellions. To English sensibilities, that enlarged scale rendered Jamaica both the most alluring and the most disturbing place in their West Indies." Sounds like a sexy dangerous lady. ;)

"English Jamaica had a dual economy: agriculture in the interior valleys and far-ranging piracy from the seaport of Port Royal." Yarr! Them fields be needin' harvestin'!

"Worse yet, the piracy sometimes scared away shipping, depriving the planters of new slaves and clogging their warehouses with unsold sugar." If I was there, I would make lots and lots of cookies for everyone. :)

"Suffering from cirrhosis of the liver, the heavy-drinking Sir Henry [Morgan] sought relief from an African folk doctor. But his treatments-injections of urine and an all-body plaster of moist clay-only hastened Morgan's death." It might just be me, but don't you think that doctor was fucking with him? Just a *little* bit?

"After 1690, white immigration to Jamaica slowed, while out-migration grew." Um, Professor Taylor, I believe the word you're looking for is emigration. It's okay, it happens to the best of us.

"Although an economic success, the West Indies was a demographic failure that manifested a society in consuming a pursuit of profit and with a callous disregard for life." Well, it's a good thing that never happened on the mainland.
"At the end of the seventeenth century, white emigrants from the West Indies, particularly Barbados, carried the seeds of that society to the southern mainland by founding the new colony of Carolina." Oh shit...

Chapter 11 soon to follow.

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