In recent months, I have spent a considerable amount of time here explaining how Barbados – the original English slave society – was the cultural hearth of the British West Indies and the Lower South.
South Carolina (founded in 1670) and Jamaica (founded in 1655) as well as French Saint-Domingue (founded in 1697) were built from the start on the basis of the Barbardian model of race-based plantation slavery.
Barbados (founded in 1627) and Virginia (founded in 1607) were older English colonies that did not start out as full fledged race-based plantation societies. Both colonies originally had a White majority and relied upon a workforce of English indentured servants to grow cotton and tobacco.
In Caribbean Project: The Proto South, we traced the origins of race-based plantation slavery back to the Spanish and Portuguese sugar plantations in Madeira and the Canary Islands in the eastern Atlantic. We saw how Christopher Columbus brought sugarcane to Hispanolia during his second voyage in 1493.
In the century that followed, Spain and Portugal divided the New World in the Treaty of Tordesillas. Significantly, this legitimized the Spanish claim to most of the Americas while ceding Africa and Brazil to the Portuguese. It would also put the African slave trade in Portuguese hands by expelling Spain from Africa.
During the sixteenth century, the Spanish created the first race-based sugar plantations in Hispanolia and Puerto Rico. Originally, Caribbean Indians were used as slave laborers, but as their populations declined the Spanish turned to the Portuguese to import African slaves.
By the mid-sixteenth century, there were tens of thousands of African slaves in Hispanolia and Puerto Rico. As Spain’s interest shifted toward their far more lucrative conquests in Mexico and Peru though, Hispanolia and Puerto Rico became backwaters of the empire and the plantation system collapsed there.
The future Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico were failed Spanish slave states that came to be dominated by cattle ranching and peasant agriculture – this is why Dominicans and Puerto Ricans became so much more mixed and multiracial than Cubans.
At this point in the New World, it appeared that race-based, modern agro-industrial plantation slavery had failed – but there was one major exception, Portuguese Brazil, where the sugar industry was taking off due to constant reinforcements of African slave labor from nearby Portuguese Angola.
How did Barbados become the first race-based plantation society in British America?
“While the importance of the Dutch introduction of sugarcane to Barbados in 1637 is open to question, the crucial role of Dutch merchants in providing financial backing with which British settlers built the first sugar mills on that island is beyond dispute. Dutch planters and sugar masters also taught the British Barbadians what they came to call the “method of Pernambuco” – which included not only the know-how of planting, milling, and processing cane, but also the rudiments of a legal code of regulating slavery. Dutch ships, finally, linked Barbados’s emerging plantation economy both to the supply of African labor provided by the Atlantic slave trade and to the effective and profitable distribution networks in the Netherlands. Although the extent of Dutch involvement has lately become a subject of debate among historians, it may be safe to say that within little more than a decade between 1640 and 1650, the Dutch helped to transform Barbados from a slaveholding society with a large yeoman population engaged in fairly diversified economic pursuits into a slave society solidly based on sugar monoculture.”
Barbados was the first successful race-based plantation society in the Caribbean – it was the model that spread across the Leeward and Windward Islands, to Jamaica and Saint-Domingue, later to Cuba and the Guianas, and most significantly, to South Carolina and to Virginia which became a slave society in the late seventeenth century.
This shit got off the ground in Portuguese Brazil and the Dutch had played a decisive role in the industrial espionage that brought race-based plantation slavery into the British and French Caribbean.
In Jews, Slavery, and Dixie, I noted that the Jew had once wore the pro-White hat and had once been quite the racialist and owned black slaves and had definitely been involved in the African slave trade, especially in the Dutch and Portuguese colonies in the Caribbean:
“Sephardic Jews who had lived for centuries in the Caribbean and the antebellum South were accustomed to racialism and white supremacy and actually played a key role in bringing plantation slavery from Portuguese Brazil to the English and French colonies in the Lesser Antilles.”
After reading the passage above in The Caribbean: A History of the Region and Its Peoples, I was struck by lightning like Chechar and remembered that “the Dutch” and “the Portuguese” here were probably Sephardic Jews:
“The introduction of sugarcane from Dutch Brazil completely transformed society and the economy. Barbados eventually had one of the world’s biggest sugar industries after starting sugar cane cultivation in 1640.  One group which was instrumental for ensuring the early success of the sugar cane industry were the Sephardic Jews, who originally been expelled from the Iberian peninsula to end up in Dutch Brazil.  As the effects of the new crop increased, so did the shift in the ethnic composition of Barbados and surrounding islands. The workable sugar plantation required a large investment and a great deal of heavy labour. At first, Dutch traders supplied the equipment, financing, and African slaves, in addition to transporting most of the sugar to Europe. In 1644 the population of Barbados was estimated at 30,000, of this amount about 800 were of African descent, with the remainder mainly of English descent. These English smallholders were eventually bought out and the island was filled up with large African slave-worked sugar plantations. By 1660 there was near parity with 27,000 blacks and 26,000 whites. By 1666 at least 12,000 white smallholders had been bought out, died, left or the island. Many of the remaining whites were increasingly poor. By 1680 there were seventeen slaves for every indentured servant. By 1700, there were 15,000 free whites and 50,000 enslaved blacks.”
This is an exciting find.
If this is true, it means that Jews are morally responsible for the spread of slavery and racism through Brazil, the Caribbean, and the American South. I will continue my research in this area and publish my findings in my first book on race and the Caribbean.