case one books about the sugar islands

The Sugar Islands


Descriptions of the islands are a source of much detail not only about the islands themselves, with their climate, flora, and fauna, but about the changes that took place in agricultural production and social structures. As the sugar colonies became important parts of the empire, better known and more familiar to readers in England, authors wrote not so much to portray the curiosities of the locale as to present a picture of the society of the islands. Each sought to portray the social, economic, or political life of the islands in a light that furthered his agenda.

Richard Ligon A Trve & Exact History of the Island of Barbados... Together with the Ingenio that Makes the Sugar, with the Plots of the Severall Houses, Roomes, and other Places, that are Used in the Whole Process of Sugar-making ... By Richard Ligon Gent. 1657

Ligon witnessed the changes that made Barbados the first of the sugar colonies, as it set what became the typical pattern. He saw the beginning of sugar monoculture, and the transition from smallholdings worked by owners with some slave or indentured labor to large plantations worked by gangs of slaves under overseers. He gives considerable detail on the making of sugar, making him a valuable source for the technology and practices current at the beginning of the plantation period.

James Grainger The Sugar-cane: A Poem. In Four Books. With Notes ... 1764

The poem is a self-conscious Georgic, dealing with practical aspects of agriculture and rural affairs. Part of Grainger's agenda was to portray Britain as more than just England, making the colonies less peripheral to the life of the empire. The verses portray the cultivation of the cane in detail, and celebrate the life on the plantations, using pastoral poetic conventions to make them over in the image of rural England.

Edward Long The History of Jamaica. Or, General Survey of the Antient and Modern State of that Island: with Reflections on its Situation, Settlements, Inhabitants, Climate, Products, Commerce, Laws, and Government. 1774

Published when Jamaica was Britain's largest and wealthiest West Indian possession, this work covers the island's flora and fauna, weather, history and laws, with significant space devoted to political arguments and commentary on slavery. The author, a planter and judge of the vice-admiralty court in Jamaica, is at pains to portray slavery on Jamaica as a benevolent institution, and to support the rights of the planters against the power of the imperial government.