Virginia & the Spanish Caribbean

In Our Southern Nation: Its Origin & Future the process of the birth of the New World planation civilization is outlined, telling the story of how sugarcane was brought across the Atlantic and how Iberians inherited a proto-plantation model of colonialization and spread it to Brazil and the Caribbean basin. English-Caribbean colonists became aware of this successful model and brought it to Carolina, where it thrived, and then spread it throughout the Southern mainland colonies.

My book emphasizes South Carolina’s role as the first true mainland English plantation colony and therefore the mother of the South as a distinct culture, challenging the traditional view of Virginia (which began as a European settler colony rather than a plantation colony) occupying this honored position.

However, I recently found a passage in The Atlantic World and Virginia, 1550-1624 (University of North Carolina Press, 2007) which notes the strong, early connection between Virginia and the older, already prosperous plantation colonies of the Carribean:

Although some blacks were free and others occupied positions of skill, most blacks the English encountered in the Spanish Caribbean were slaves. The association between slavery and blackness took firm hold in the early Caribbean. The idea that slavery developed slowly in Virginia and that it was largely invented out of whole cloth fails to credit Caribbean antecedents. The Caribbean experience, with which many early Virginians were familiar, indicates the die was cast much earlier.


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