In the shaping of
the modern social and economic structure of tropical
Around 1830, for example, 36 % of Jamaican slaves lived in units of more than 200, compared to 5 % in the sugar producing regions of Louisiana US and a mere 1 % in Bahia.
Roughly 60 % of
Within the British
The French and Spanish colonies always possessed a relatively substantial smallholder class.
In spite of the
much larger slave population of the
Although the large
plantation typified the relations of production in the slave societies of
abolition of slavery in 1838
By the end of the 19th century a great deal of plantation land had been abandoned to the Jamaican Small holder, while the surviving plantations consolidated property and power in the lowlands.
18th and nineteenth century the plantation provided the spatial context within
which a large proportion of the
During slavery this existence went together with literal physical confinement, slaves being forced to spend the greater part of their lives within the close community defined by a single plantationís boundaries.
The nature of life for the plantation community both before and after emancipation was determined very largely by the decision of the planter and his supervisory representatives.
The political power of the plantocracy meant that it controlled land tenure and settlement patterns as well as the internal organisation of their private domains.
Very light settlement by the Spanish, who had caused the indigenous population of Arawaks to disappear within a decade.
For the English Jamaica was quickly regarded as a potential producer of sugar and other tropical staples, an extension of the plantation system which was already establishing itself in the Eastern Caribbean.
During the 17th
By 1661 with the
establishment of civil government Planters were encouraged to come to
By 1670 when the British began to circumscribe the activities of the Buccaneers, a diversified economy based on Cacao, sugar, indigo, pimento and cattle had emerged. Production was organised around smallholdings as well as plantations.
Assisted by generous crown grants, corrupt lawyers and the scarcity of competent and honest surveyors, the growth of large land holdings started in this period.
The development of
that plantation system was set back by the Earthquake of 1692 and the threat of
French invasion. but by 1700
Sugar emerged as the most profitable crop and there appeared a tendency to monoculture.
But it was not until 1730 that the country was firmly established as the Major producer of sugar within the British holdings.
The last years of slavery were marked by gradual decline, while emancipation in 1838 was followed by rapid economic contraction.
Coffee did not
emerge as an important crop until the 1790ís, when it was granted British
Tariff protection and French planters fled to
The other crops were of no more than minor significance during the period of slavery
dominance of sugar,
Livestock for motive power† and meat were produced on lands unsuitable for sugar or coffee in pens which often rivalled the plantation in area and scale. At the time of emancipation these pens accounted for 10 % of the total value of Jamaican output. and after emancipation many plantations were converted to pens.
Foodcrops were produced by the slaves and later my peasants and wage labourers, utilising lands too rugged for sugar cultivation.
Land settlement concentrated on the south coast until 1740 when plantations quickly spread along the north coast.
Buoyancy of Sugar price and easy availability of slaves: bad management.
The number of sugar mills operating in the island increased from 57 in 1670 to 419 in 1739 to 1061 in 1786.
Between 1792 and 1799 some 84 new sugar estates were established
Robertsonís map of 1804 showed a total of 830 sugar estates. By 1834 there were 670 in 1854 330, 200 in 1880 and 125 in 1900