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August 23, 2007

Comments

Jun-An Chen

the article is pretty much all data and evidence. The author analyzes the effects of abolition of slavery on the British Economy. He compares the two colonies, Cuba and Jamaica in which one has continuous supply to fresh slaves and the other had its introduction to new slaves restricted. In his analysis, he discusses the impact of abolition on both private and social costs. He first compares the efficiency of raising a slave versus buying a fresh slave from Africa. This difference alone incurs an enormous cost on Jamaica which results in almost double the cost of Cuba. British plantations were obligated to provide better provisions than Cuban plantations. Additionally, the lack of fresh slaves, lowered the percentage of workers in the totally slave population in Jamaica where 1/3 of the labor force were unable to work due to various reasons. With production output lower than those of foreign plantations, British plantations are forced to sell at higher price. Ultimately the consumer must bare the burden of this cost. The government imposes tariffs to protect its own protection and strengthen its position on slave-produced sugar. This being the private cost, the social costs are the freedom of slaves, wellness of the overall economy, and ultimately the decline of the entire industry. I think that it is good that they didn't go for the cheapest available sugar. I think that long term benefits of free labor outweighs the short term cheapness and eventual social/private cost of slavery

Lauren Tombari

Sheridan’s article, “Sweet Malefactor,” clarified the sickening way people thought about their slaves in the nineteenth century. In high school, I only learned about the horrors of slavery in the United States, so I never imagined that slavery in other places, such as the Caribbean, could be even more brutal. I was shocked to know that it was more profitable for Spanish colonists in Cuba to work the slaves to death very quickly, and then just replace them! Most people today don’t even treat animals in this way. Even colonists at the time probably treated their livestock better than they treated their slaves. This behavior, if it was true, indicates that slaves were not only sub-human; they were even lower than animals. I thought that the British in Jamaica were even more outrageous than the Spanish in Cuba, however. Reformers try to “ameliorate” the living conditions of slaves in Jamaica by providing the most basic necessities, such as better food, clothing, and medical attention. Then, British planters would complain that the Spanish had cost advantages! I think that this article highlights that, at times, economic principles can be heartless if they are not constrained by political institutions.

This article also emphasizes another way in which the early economy of the United States was unique. The ability of Southern states to “produce” slaves in areas with poor soil, and then export these slaves to other, more fertile Southern states where their labor was needed made American slavery very efficient, even without the slave trade from Africa.

Something I found strange, why does slavery keep being referred to as a “peculiar” institution? Is this their indirect way of admitting that they shouldn’t be engaged in slavery in the first place? Or is it simply a common phrase of that time?

Dragana Ognenovska

I found this article to be very interesting and highly valued how Sheridan explained the “Concept of social costs in a slave society, which involved three separate issues: the value of freedom, the value of amelioration expenditures and the different costs of acquiring slaves.”
Freedom in my opinion is what allows one to be who they are, and without it is apparent that the physical and mental state of a person (slave in this context) will be impaired, as Sheridan explains.
The value of amelioration expenditures and the different costs of acquiring slaves during 1807-54 had an effect on the slaveholders and their profit, as well as on the slaves themselves. Slaves in Jamaica, I believe, due to the amelioration expenditure lived a better life in the sense of primary care, which led to a higher cost of owning a slave, unlike the slaves in Cuba.

Dragana Ognenovska

I also agree with Lauren, that this article clarified the sickening way people taught about slavery... I think it is a disgrace for human society to have treated people in such a demeaning manner, but I also believe that slavery, still, does exist today, but it is just not called "slavery" anymore. There are other labels for it, which in my eyes translate to slavery.

Simon Zhu

This article discusses the viability of growing sugar using non-imported slave labor in Jamaica, versus primarily imported slave labor in Cuba. After Britain abolished the active slave trade in its colonies, English Jamaica had a hard time remaining profitable compared to competitors Cuba and Brazil. The reason was that creating a sustainable population of laborers, rather than importing and essentially burning out a continuous stream of imported slaves from Africa, was significantly more expensive. The main thrust of the author's argument is that, despite the apparent competitiveness of slavery, there is a profound social cost that slavery hides.

There is a wealth of collected statistics showing this social cost, but the one that stood out to me was the mortality rate of slaves in the Cuban system. The article cites a net population decrease of 3-5% in the Cuban labor system, and an annual mortality rate of 7-8%. That is to say, the number of years you may expect to live after becoming a slave is roughly 1/.08 = 12.5. If we were to account for an abducted 20 year old man just arrived in Havana as an utility-maximizing agent rather than mere capital, we would have to add the cost of half his remaining life gone, and the other half in bondage, to the price of the sugar he produces. The price would be high indeed.

J.S.Mill's quotation in the conclusion sums it up eloquently. Slavery can indeed provide great profit for the slaver, but only in the same way that stealing would provide great profit for the theif. It is difficult to argue that a society full of thieves is socially optimal in any way, and only the large power disparity between imperialistic nations and exploited nations at that point in time, coupled with a moral hypocrisy that is difficult to fathom in hindsight, allowed this institutionalized thievery to continue for more than four centuries.

Richard Schimbor

I thought that the analysis of the impact of British liberalism on the slave trade was fascinating. The dispute over the Corn Laws, and the indifference of British liberalists to the plight of caucasian serfs presents an interesting racial dynamic. British liberals were also presented with the task of choosing between the liberal principles of free trade and abolitionism when deciding whether or not the British Isles should import slave grown sugar. There are arguments on both sides, as access to cheap sugar would almost certainly improve the standard of living of ordinary Britons, but not necessarily their nutrition. However, the abolitionist movement in Britain, with strong ties to the rise of the liberal Whig party, had fought a hard battle against West Indian interests and succeeded in abolishing slavery in the British empire in 1834. I also found the idea of ameloriating a slave population to be interesting. Can improving the life of an enslaved people by any margin convince any given slave to not sabotage his own work? From an economic perspective it makes little sense, as there still exists no motivation for the slave to work efficiently.

Amy Kim

William Wilberforce claimed that a cessation to slave trade would result in a higher quality of life for the slaves through four conditions: they would be better taken care of medically; they would become more open to Christian evangelism; their social status would go up; they would work less. It is somewhat comforting to observe the gentle side of such a deep and treacherous scar on human history that individuals were engaged in a trend where people were actually contributing toward the greater effort of improving the lives of slaves that had been exploited in inhumane ways. Based on the British government’s evaluation of the economic consequences in comparison to the moral, ethical, and religious consequences of emancipation, the adherence to abolition shows how much they valued the social benefits of the slave trade ban as opposed to the economic incentives and returns of slavery.

David Lum

This article illustrated the economical differences in slave trade and profit. I found it interesting that they compared the differences between purchasing new slaves opposed to encouraging reproduction of existing slaves. It was interesting to me because there were several statistical facts regarding the situation, everything from health and pregnancy, and also to mortality rate for people below the age of 14. A lot of these factors I would have never considered but the article really take’s inconsideration almost every factor. One factor the article did not speculate on too much was the quality of labor over the lifetime of imported vs. a Creole slave.
Still after reading this article, I found it inhumane that people at that time would sit and calculate the difference in worth of someone’s from being imported vs. Creole. In this modern day it’s still hard to swallow the fact people were treated like animals.

Yelena Vinarskiy

Externalities are always a concern for economists because their presence indicates a failure of the market to reflect the true cost of a good. In this article Richard Sheridan shows that the social costs of slavery were not internalized in the sugar market of the 19th century. British plantation owners in Jamaica claimed that the end of the slave trade, as well as new amelioration measures made it too hard for them to compete with Cuban sugar production, which was continued to benefit from the slave trade. The statistics from the Board of Trade report of 1830 presented by Sheridan presents an argument from these Jamaican plantation owners for subsidies to help account for the costs of maintaining the well-being of slaves. Yet, as Sheridan suggests, they were most concerned with maintaining their monopoly of sugar export to Britain. The rising price of sugar from Jamaica and thus the pressure to accept sugar from places like Cuba, where the slave trade persisted, creates an interesting challenge of British ideology during that time. How ready was the world to internalize the social costs of slavery? The rising middle-class may have prided themselves on the prohibition of the Atlantic slave trade in 1807, yet they like their tea sweet. At the end of the day, only the slaves themselves internalized the social costs of what was happening to them. Their strength and courage subsidized sugar production, creating the “artificial cheapness” of sugar in the 19th century.

Richard Paek

The article discusses slavery in Jamaica vs. slavery in Cuba. Jamaica was having a harder time making a return on its investment because they had both female and male workers that were provided with a decent living environment. Cuba, on the other hand, used solely male workers that they preferred to work to death and then replace rather than giving them rest and actually caring about them as human beings. However, being ruthless did have its advantages. Cuba was able to sell their sugar for much cheaper and make the same return on their investment as Jamaica. Jamaica and Cuba had differing strategies when it came to using slave labor. Jamaica tried to keep up their slave population by letting them have families whereas Cuba pretty much only imported slaves.

Kenneth Salas

In this article, Sheridan provides a more accurate assessment of the costs of commodities produced by slave labor. In order to highlight the variance in costs, he compares the costs incurred in Jamaican and Cuban sugar plantations. The owners of sugar plantations in Jamaica incurred higher costs due to the higher regulatory measures towards the treatment of slaves. Historians argue the new “costs of amelioration” in Jamaica gave Cuba more comparative advantage in sugar production since they continued to import slaves from Africa and treat their slaves no better than animals. Despite the higher probabilities of death and injury, past research reports concluded Cuban sugar plantations were more cost-efficient than their Jamaican counterparts. Despite the economics costs incurred in this period, Sheridan identifies major flaws in these reports and also addresses the additional social costs which African slaves were forced to burden for more than two centuries.

Evan Caso

Sheridan's article presents the fundamental difficulty with the abolition of what Thomas Jefferson referred to as the "peculiar institution". Areas that used slaves could grow and sell their product at a lower price than an area that used paid labor. Therefore, their commodity prices were lower. I think that in certain historical documents (and in previous classes), the British are highly praised for their efforts to abolish slavery. However, they continued to purchase commodities from nations that used slavery (especially the USA). In reality, the unilateral elimination of slavery would have been very costly. Great Britain would have to divert a substantial amount of its naval forces to stopping slave ships, and endure higher commodity prices at home. This points to the fundamental reasons for the persistence of slavery as explained in the previous article. It was an efficient investment compared to others at the time. In the end, it is clear that the moral and social costs far outweighed the economic benefits.

Shuwen (Shirley) Liu

In the article, “Sweet Malefactor”, Sheridan compared Jamaica and Cuba’s slavery systems, and analysis the similarities and differences between these two systems with a social economic prospective. While Jamaica (colonized by British) chose to restrict the slave trade and use the slavery’s reproduction to control its population, Cuba chose a more straight forward method, imports the fresh slaves and replaces the old ones. Although British’s system seem to be more pleasant, from Sheridan’s explanation, this system is not as efficient as Cuba’s system.
From my previous American history experiences, I learned a lot of slavery and how bad they are, but I never think it by using the economic perspective. I found it’s very interesting that economic theories actually can apply to many different fields, such as the slavery system. But I also found that it is very difficult to understand Sheridan’s article with the numerical evident that he provided.

Hanwen Chang

In Sweet Malefactor, Sheridan used data and evidence to explain economic and social cost of slavery and sugar in Jamaica and Cuba. Sheridan provided detailed data from the British Board of Trade report to present and evaluate his proposal. He also explained the three concept of social cost in a slaveholding society: the value of freedom, the value of amelioration expenditure, and the different cost of acquiring a given number of slaves. One of the important ideas to note is the cost of amelioration experiment. Sheridan concluded that the success of amelioration placed a great burden upon the British consumers and taxpayer and it raised a great deal of problems for the British government. On the other hand, for Cuba where fresh slave trade still existed, the country had a much higher effective worker ratio. Thus, the country incurred a much higher productivity level while maintaining low cost labors than the British colonies.

Orie Guo

The article pointed out some interesting differences in the slave market in the West Indies and in the United States. There was a very controversial issue presented: the moral cost of slavery itself, and also of treatment of slaves. There are some variables here that would extremely affect analysis:

Moral cost, determined by the sum of the following terms

the moral cost of freedom (let's say...f)
the moral cost of treating a slave badly (1 to 10, 10 being the worst...we can assign this to "t"), which would be multiplied by another variable d (the degree of influence that t has on total moral cost)
So...Moral cost = f+t*d

Also, there are costs of extricating oneself from a slavery-driven, which must be counted because eventually moral costs would become too high. This can be simplified to the cost of employing the number of slaves * the employment rate, possibly minus a factor that it would be hard for ex-slaves to find a job. So, n * (e-j) where n is # of slaves, e is employment rate, j is "hard-to-find-a-job factor."

Essentially, both the US and West Indies suffered from 'f' equally, but the second term in moral cost was far higher in the West Indies. This extra cost detracted from the actual money they had to pay, which was why it was more successful there. Whether or not this success was actually worth the moral cost is determined by one's "d," or how much one values the well-being of slaves.

Edris Boey

This article is one of the most enlightening ones I have come across so far in my academic studies. It has also stirred many emotions in me to think that humans were treated as property to be traded and exchanged for intrinsic value for such a long time. This article discusses about whether slave masters should import slaves or breed slaves - whichever would increase profitability. While this is quite a revolting thought to consider, this is also a very interesting fact regarding the type of slavery that was used has indeed made a huge difference in the economic development of countries/colonies at that time.

Delara Bastani

At the end of his article, Sheridan states that the “burden of costs for the suppression of the slave trade fell chiefly on British taxpayers…[and] the high cost of free-labour sugar, was borne by British consumers… British sugar colonies were, in practice, an economic drain on the mother country.” Is not it almost fair that the burden of the amelioration efforts fell primarily on the British? The British were at the forefront of the early slave trade, and were ultimately responsible for its vast reach across the New World. Electing to ameliorate and abolish slavery was not a noble act to be commended, but a responsibility. Economic and social strain suffered by the British pales in comparison to the torture and subjugation suffered by African slaves.

I found Richard Shimbor’s comment particularly interesting because he contemplated the effects of amelioration on the mentality of slaves. I agree with Richard that improving the life of a given slave cannot guarantee that his output will increase. I would like to add that many economists suggest that maximal output would have resulted from emancipating the slaves and then partitioning and selling the land those newly freed. Thus, the livelihood of a former slave would rest solely on his output, and he would be motivated to produce. The potential gains in output might compensate for the money lost on emancipation.


Niki Chen

I found it interesting that the rate of return to Southern slaveholders was high and that these slaveholders realized capital gains through annual increases in the slave population by natural means, stable family units, and long working life expectancy. I was curious that this was in contrast to Caribbean slaveholders who found it cheaper to buy slaves every year instead of encouraging reproduction. I thought the focus of the paper on the social costs of slavery, both direct and indirect were very clear. The social costs we were told were the value of freedom, value of amelioration expenditures, and different costs in acquiring slaves. I was suprised to learn that the West Indies were profitable despite social costs and that Robert Hibbert concluded that British planters were actually at a disadvantage compared to planters in the colonies since slave trade was still allowed. I agree with the paper that the cost of the slave-produced wealth should include social costs born by slaves and nonslaves.

Niki Chen

I found it interesting that the rate of return to Southern slaveholders was high and that these slaveholders realized capital gains through annual increases in the slave population by natural means, stable family units, and long working life expectancy. I was curious that this was in contrast to Caribbean slaveholders who found it cheaper to buy slaves every year instead of encouraging reproduction. I thought the focus of the paper on the social costs of slavery, both direct and indirect were very clear. The social costs we were told were the value of freedom, value of amelioration expenditures, and different costs in acquiring slaves. I was suprised to learn that the West Indies were profitable despite social costs and that Robert Hibbert concluded that British planters were actually at a disadvantage compared to planters in the colonies since slave trade was still allowed. I agree with the paper that the cost of the slave-produced wealth should include social costs born by slaves and nonslaves.

Niki Chen

I found it interesting that the rate of return to Southern slaveholders was high and that these slaveholders realized capital gains through annual increases in the slave population by natural means, stable family units, and long working life expectancy. I was curious that this was in contrast to Caribbean slaveholders who found it cheaper to buy slaves every year instead of encouraging reproduction. I thought the focus of the paper on the social costs of slavery, both direct and indirect were very clear. The social costs we were told were the value of freedom, value of amelioration expenditures, and different costs in acquiring slaves. I was suprised to learn that the West Indies were profitable despite social costs and that Robert Hibbert concluded that British planters were actually at a disadvantage compared to planters in the colonies since slave trade was still allowed. I agree with the paper that the cost of the slave-produced wealth should include social costs born by slaves and nonslaves.

Tiffany Tam

The article by Richard Sheridan was actually very depressing to read. I haven’t read many article’s that talk about the economic benefits slavery for countries that have easy access to slaves versus a country that doesn’t. Jamaica and Cuba are being compared and contrasted over the idea of efficient population of slaves. Cuba had more efficient and higher number of slaves than that of Jamaica. As time passed Cuba’s slave numbers continuously increased while Jamaica’s slave population decreased, leading to an increase in price for Jamaican goods. This article reinforces the idea of why slavery was good in the 1800’s but it’s just a rarity to read about how beneficial slavery is and why certain countries such as Cuba did better economically than that of Jamaica.

Alice Kousoum

I found this essay to be compelling and admirable respective to Britain’s attempt to procure amelioration for blacks and promote the idea to the slave trade. In Sheridan’s essay he discusses the great disparity between the profitability of Cuba and that of Britain in the sugar industry and how the replacement of worn out slaves by new able-bodied blacks from Africa contributed to Cuba’s overall monetary success on its plantations. In the limelight of Cuba’s sugar industry, Britain risks a part of its share in the market to work in its own self interest which was to lower the social costs to slaves and advocate better living conditions for them. This essay introduced a trace of compassion that was believed to seldom exist in a time of greed and merciless violence. I believe that this move toward a more humanitarian ideology may have been the start of the slow progression towards more humanitarian ideals.

Angela Le

The article "Sweet Malefactor" presents an economic way to think about the profitability of slavery in Jamaica and Cuba. This analysis was similar to the analysis that was done in another article for this week about the return on investment on slaves in the Ante Bellum South. I find it interesting and a bit ruthlessly quantitative way to measure the slavery system.

Both papers took into account the different costs associated with owning slaves which provided a comprehensive picture of the actual costs to owning slaves. Although I would question the accuracy of some of the numbers because it seems as if it is too difficult to measure the actual output and value of a person, I felt that it was probably the most objective way a person could measure ROI. On the more humanitarian and organizational behavior side, it was interesting to see that it was actually more profitable for the slave owner to treat his slaves better because it would lead to longevity and a higher willingness to work that, as a result, increases profits.

Tiffany G T Tam

Richard Sheridan’s article does a good job of analyzing slavery of two main sugar producing countries, Cuba and Jamaica. Sugar plantations are very common in regards to slave labor. The actual work itself is hard and tiring which makes it very reasonable for sugar plantation owners to have slaves to do all the hard work for very cheap. However, the costs that some of these owners incur from managing the slaves have become an issue to the sugar plantation owners. They are unwillingly to pay anymore than free for additional costs to ensure the health of their slaves. This is inhumane and sad to see because of how heartless people can be when it comes to profiting themselves. Sheridan provides data for his readers to see how drastic deaths of slaves are especially for children. This article also emphasizes the greater importance that male slaves have over female slaves. Female slaves will incur additional costs for the sugar plantation owners due to the need for more medical attention than men. Not only are these landowners treating male and female slaves differently, they are utilizing their short term labor to its full advantage without taking in account the long-term results of slavery.

Xia Hua

Sheridan compares Jamaica and Cuban slave labor. The two islands are compared here because they are largely dominated by sugar plantations and slave labor. They differ widely in land area, population, and levels of economic development, which gives Cuba a higher profit of slavery than Jamaica. In Jamaica female slaves exceeded male slaves while in Cuba there were twice male slaves. Cuban sugar plantations commonly had fewer slaves and less capital invested in buildings and machinery than their Jamaican counterparts. The proportion of effective slaves on sugar plantations was much greater in Cuba than in the British colonies. These all contributed to the more productive sugar plantations of Cuba.
There are many social costs to slavery and this inefficiency is eventually recognized through the end of southern slaver and the rise of state power. Some findings show that slave was rather a profitable “investment”. If slavery is analyzed as an investment, there are costs, capital forgone such as the loss of the death of children mentioned in the article. The act of slavery denied the value of freedom, the value of amelioration expenditures, and leads to different costs of acquiring a given number of slaves.
The article mentions that one cost of slave trade is the lives lost. Getting the slaves from Africa to Cuba and Jamaica would lose 700 out of 1000 lives. This number is astonishingly high. This also makes slave trade inefficient in that these wasted lives would mean enormous amount of labor and capital.
I find the article to be more of a comparative analysis than an explanation of the social costs of slavery.

Jenny Kwon

This article explained the differences between Cuba and Jamaica in regards to the social cost of slavery and sugar. It explained how social costs have to be incurred with the profit gained from each unit of output. Jamaica had to import their slaves which induced much social cost. They had to take on physical and mental health issues of slaves, worry about reproduction and lag time of newly born slaves, cultural shock issues, depression, and suicide. They provided more health care benefits and made sure that their slaves were moderately well taken care of. They provided health care facilities and cared for new born slaves and pregnant women. Whereas the Cubans didn’t tend to the needs of slaves as well as Jamaicans did. They saved money on less managers, doctors and superintendents. They didn’t have to worry about importing slaves and the social cost of importing. It was said that Jamaican sugar plantations were less labor intensive with effective the longevity of slaves. Consequently, Cubans benefited because they didn’t have to take on much social cost, which made it more profitable to produce sugar. They were able to sell sugar at a lower price whereas British colonies had to sell it a little more expensive to make up for their social cost. I found this article interesting because it digs deep down into the social costs that are associated with sugar output and how there are consequences of importing slaves.

Simon Shen

I find it very interesting that much of the evidence that the paper cites comes from a British Parliament investigation of slave conditions. This investigation was not a humanitarian mission, but rather an economic analysis of whether British planters were at a competitive disadvantage because they were forced to treat their slaves more humanely. From an economic perspective, the British government is torn between the planters, who demand government compensation or deregulation so that they can be competitive, and the abolitionists, who argue that it is the government’s duty to regulate because slavery has negative social externalities. I feel that the argument the British planters used about Cuba is very similar to the argument that many American manufacturers are using today against countries like China and India. In both cases, the native industry has higher costs than foreign competitors due to government regulations and social conditions, and in both cases, the native industry goes to the government for help.

Cam-Tu Nguyen

I found Richard Sheridan's "Sweet Malefactor" to be quite interesting. I've read articles about slavery before, but never seen it from this perspective. The comparison on the system of slaves ownership in Cuba and Jamaica with the British colonies were solely depended on the profitability and return for owning those slaves. However, Sheridan also showed that the lives of these slaves in Jamaica and Cuba were also taken care by their masters, such as through the providence of doctor, slave women who took care of the children, and allowance of slaves women who were pregnant to have 3 months of not working before and 2 months after their giving birth. I still have a difficult time imagining the reality that society at that time accepted slave trades. I thought the comparison between the profitability and return of allowing slaves to have family versus acquiring new slaves from Africa was also very interesting.

David Thomason

An interesting point about Sheridan’s article was the difference between a society in Jamaica, where slaves often had families and raised children, and a society in Cuba where there were many more men than women and slaves were constantly being imported. This, it appears, led to a higher cost for Jamaican plantation owners, because slaves do not become profitable until after age 14 normally, and the costs of rearing a slave were high. The United States had a similar situation to that of Jamaica, I believe. It’s curious how banning the slave trade in America obviously raised costs for American planters, and yet slavery thrived for so long. Maybe allowing slaves to have families alongside American planters entrenched slavery in American society a bit more than if they were just constantly imported.

Sean D. Salas

A key point in the article is the idea of “social costs” vs. production costs. Sheridan demonstrates the manner in which initiatives for improved slave treatment led to debates over how these initiatives would affect profitability. Throughout his descriptive analysis we see Sheridan depict this debate in form of social costs verses production costs. Social costs consist of the cost of human capital in terms of quality of life, whereas production costs consists of those involved in increasing the level of total output.

During the period of slave trading and ownership, slave owners were incapable to view the inefficiency in slavery since these individuals were interested in short term gains and losses. In Sheridan’s article we see slave owners would have to provide all the general necessities to slaves such as food and clothing – affecting business profitability. In the case of working with paid farmers, however, farmers use income to provide general necessities and additional resources such as clothes and appliances. Hence, a non-slave environment can lead to the accumulation of wealth and substantially decrease social costs involved in labor – everyone wins!

Michelle Chung

This article discusses about a very interesting topic: the social costs of the slaves. I was surprised by the fact that many slaves died before they reached the age of fourteen, and others even at the younger ages. I suppose this is due to underfeeding and the lack of medication at the early ages of the slaves. Also, Cuba had a higher number of working slaves than other British colonies, which consisted of more men than women slaves, and increased its profits through those slaves. Cuba had considerably more effective labor of slaves than the British colonies, and it allowed them to have the same profit for sugar as the British colonies did, even though Cuba’s selling price was much lower than that of the British colonies. Although Jamaica and Cuba were leaders of the producers for the world’s sugar, Cuba increased its slaves greatly from 1817 to 1827 whereas Jamaica decreased its slave population, and Cuba continuously increased its exports of sugar from 223,145 in 1850 to 5 million in 1929, whereas Jamaica faced an irregular decrease in its exports during that period. The Board of Trade report had defects on the providing evidence because Cuba or Jamaica, they didn’t want outside efforts to interfere with their slavery system. I was amazed by how Cuba and Jamaica had profited so much through exporting sugar, and the outside efforts about anti-slavery had only little effects on them. This article makes me contemplate on the slavery issues and the following social costs, which should have ended earlier, and there would be no more heartbreaking and miserable slaves. It also concerns about humanity issues, which seems to me that the mother country depicted slaves as garbage and means of their profits. I’ve realized that sometimes humans could be so cruel and selfish.

Patrick Humphresy

The most striking fact of the “Sweet Malefactor” article was the relative success of Jamaican emancipation. Under the “apprenticeship” program and the direct subsidy from the British government, slave owners were compensated for 96% of the value of their emancipated slaves. This might have proven to be a much more effective method for achieving emancipation in the U.S than all-out warfare. Given that Frank Lewis estimates a total loss—both direct and indirect—of over $20 billion and Walton and Rockoff estimate the market value slaves at $3 billion, it is readily apparent that a peaceful, subsidized emancipation was a better solution. Now, whether or not such an arrangement could have worked given the political realities of the time is another matter.

James Bebbington

In this article, Sheridan compares the costs (both private and social) of producing sugar in the West Indies, particularly Jamaica (where the amelioration of slaves was legislated) and in Cuba (where the unrestricted slave trade continued for much longer).
Most of the article looks at how British plantation owners and consumers had to bear the burden of amelioration and the abolition of the slave trade. A large number of statistics are presented to show how the costs of rearing slaves in the British Caribbean were much greater than the costs in Cuba of importing fresh slaves. The burden of these high costs was eventually placed onto the British consumer in the form of tariffs on foreign slave-grown sugar, as otherwise free-grown sugar would not have been able to compete.
Only at the very end of the article did Sheridan discuss the social costs incurred by slaves themselves. He points out that the “value of freedom” to a slave is immeasurable. The immorality of the slave trade is central to the issue, in my view, and cannot be measured in figures. Nevertheless, it’s clear that the increased production costs and prices incurred in ending slavery were far smaller than the actual cost of slavery to the slaves. Surely the costs borne by the British middle and upper class were necessary in order to end a cruel and immoral practice.

Chris Schoeneborn

As is expected, it is very difficult for one to measure the overall returns on capital in the context of slavery. Human capital is a delicate object that cannot easily be converted into montary terms. Sheridan computed the rate of return on the human capital by comparing the estimated discounted lifetime earnings of a slave with his or her market value. It is no surprise that slaves were indeed profitable investments, for they would not have been abused for so many years if wage labor was more profitable. On the other hand, I was unaware of the British expenditure on slave amelioration. From an economic standpoint, their policy of amelioration failed at increasing productivity or efficiency. It could be argued that when looking at a slave individually, improved welfare could increase his efficiency in the workplace. Yet, from a humanitarian point of view, the British policy to give slaves religious instruction, Sunday leisure, rights to marriage, and medical attention should be seen is a positive light. Although their restrictions on slave treatment can still not be seen as honorable, they did help set an example for further emancipation in the rest of the world.

Sung Rho

I have seen articles about slavery, but never from this point of view. Sheridan compares slavery in Cuba and Jamaica which depended on profitability from owning slaves. It was interesting how the masters would take care of their slaves, because of the costs of having one of the slaves dying. A point I would like to make is the costs that are generated by slaves. Sheridan shows that improved treatment of slaves would affect profitability. He shows this by social and production costs where the quality of the slave life was compared with the output that the slave put out. I did not know that most of the slaves died at such a young age, and I would see why slavery would be so costly if the slaves died. This is why slave owners would have to give the necessities that a person might need in such as food, clothes to keep his slaves from dying off.

Ronald Yokubaitis

I found this article very interesting in the fact that it attempts to describe the intersection of social and economics issues of antebellum slavery. Sheridan compares the two different slave economies of Jamaica and Cuba. Not only did the author explain how the two systems differed in their treatment of slaves but also the different economic decisions that went along with it.

Jamaica was mandated by the British government to treat slaves better than the standards of the slave system in Cuba. Therefore since these social issues bound the British government, their products became more expensive due to increasing input costs. Cuba (since not confined by slave treatment laws) found it was more profitable to run a slave into the ground and just buy a new one rather than plan to provide a sustainable slave life as the British did.

This intersection between economics and social injustice provides a great area for discussion. Although Britain still practiced slavery it made steps towards emancipation and the abolition of slavery. Whereas you can see clear business decision in Cuba where cost benefit analysis was made to achieve higher profitability. The comparison between the two colonies illustrates how social issues greatly affect economics and visa versa.

Breann Gala

Immediately upon reading this article I thought about how people and society say that economics is a dry subject, based solely on intense math and theories, and that economics has lost the passion that it once had when economists were passionate about issues of society, politics, and the economy. This article takes a vast subjects, like slavery and humanity, and quantifies them into equations to show how Great Britain's consumers bore the costs of the end of GB's slave trade. It's a good thing that Great Britain stepped up and made what could be considered the world's first step towards abolition of slavery, it's just hard to give that great recognition because in the current day we constantly bear the costs to support rights, like minimum wage or safe working conditions.

Erin Trimble

In his comparison of labor productivity in Jamaica and Cuba in the first half of the 19th century, Sheridan examines how Cuban sugar-planters were able to achieve a cost advantage over their Jamaican counterparts, thanks in part to the regular replacement of overworked slaves. By completely disregarding the social costs their private economic activities inflicted on the slave community, Cuban planters used their lack of compassion to their advantage as they vied for leadership as producers of the world’s sugar. The British colonies’ struggle to compete with the Cuban sugar industry was, to some extent, due to Britain’s amelioration expenditures and overall better treatment of slaves. Though evidence of such concern for the value of human life in a world dominated by the slave trade is reassuring, the fact that this bit of compassion was ultimately detrimental to the British sugar industry is unfortunate. In an attempt to make positive social change, the mother country suffered economically. Yet the burden of costs borne by the British taxpayers in the suppression of the slave trade was a small price to pay for the freedom of the slaves. Sheridan cannot put it better when he describes the ability of black slaves to survive and eventually overcome their condition as “one of the truly remarkable achievements of the human spirit.”

Kimberly Wong

This was a very interesting article, in which Sheridan attempts to make a comparison between the cost advantage of Jamaica and Cuba’s sugar plantations. Sheridan brings up a good point in which the demographic situation plays a part in determining the cost-benefit analysis for the slave owners. However, it is often quite difficult to make a comparison between whether constantly importing new slaves brought about a better return or if breeding creoles was better. In Jamaica’s case where they decided to breed the creoles, believing that having family structures among the slave would be more profitable because they lived longer and are healthier. However, when trying to maintain slave reproduction, only 1/3 of the slaves are actually doing the labor work in the sugar plantations. The rest are either on sick leave, raising children or doing other types of work. This situation made it seem like importing slaves was a better option. However, about 700 out of 1000 slaves die before they actually get some profits in for the slave owners in the sugar plantations. They die either to cultural shock, or during the middle passage, or due to diseases. Besides the economic stand point of whether importing slaves or maintaining slave reproduction was better, there was also a social issue. Jamaica being a part of the British colonies had to abide by their laws. While Britain was transitioning to emancipation and abolition of slaves, Cuba was still importing a lot of slaves. Thus we can see that both the social and economic situation can make it difficult to make a decision as to whether the cost advantage of slave was bigger in Jamaica or Cuba.

Athena Ullah

Justly entitled, “Sweet Malefactor” this article conveys a modest attempt of the socioeconomic valences and impacts of Colonial crafted slavery in Cuba and Jamaica. If “sugar, too, was in large a stolen good”, where the only punitive acts of this occurrence that if social costs to the Empire? I feel that the article is lackluster in addressing how, on a more day-to-day level was the social costs experienced not only by the slaveholders, but also by the slaves themselves. Presenting such a dynamic would have truly illustrated why certain colonies that invested in the sustained care of their labor force would have or not experienced gainful returns. Indeed, the valences of slavery is multi-faceted, in order to understand the decreases in the labor force especially in Jamaica, one must look at the actual employment conditions of the respective plantations. However, Sheridan points out a critical correlation between the bitter sweetness of sugar and its criminal bedrock or slavery.

Wing Yim

This article is basically using economics terms to compare the cost advantage between two slave-plantation colonies- Jamaica and Cuba. These are mostly statistical data and evidence to support Sheridan’s statements. However, he mentioned that some of the report was defective such as there was a discrepancy between the average cost of rearing and the market value of salves in Jamaica, and the market value is still suspect. The cost of rearing a slave to the age of fourteen in Jamaica is compared with the price of a twenty-year-old slave in Cuba. Jamaica basically refreshed slaves by reproduction, and Cuba brought slaves from Africa. For Jamaica, it’s very obvious that reproduction costs more than buy slaves from outside countries. It is more efficient to buy slaves since more man in labor force and less maintenance costs for rearing a slave. However, I really think that this article clarified the ugly side of the people in order to have economics advantage (buy slaves from Africa). I am glad that there had some reformers set up the abolition of slaves. Imposed tariff to protect local planter, but social coast are the freedom of slaves. As Sheridan mentioned, it would encourage the slave trades.

Lauren Frasch

We often discuss how the American economy was built on the slave trade, but it is easy to forget that slavery was extremely profitable in other regions, such as Jamaica and Cuba. Although we know about the dehumanizing nature of slavery, reading this article that talked about it in purely economic terms was striking. It's difficult to imagine that working a person to death rather than have them live and work longer would be more profitable- people don't even talk that way about work horses. This gives the shocking impression that slaves were an extremely expendable commodity.

Lucy McKenzie

I found the cost analyses of the slave trade in the British and non-British colonies very interesting, but was unsure as to exactly what conclusions Sheridan drew on the social costs of slaves. The costs that the author goes to such great pains to communicate seem to be mostly private, and the concept of social costs is mentioned mainly at the outset and in the conclusion of the article. Is Sheridan's conclusion that the higher costs paid by British colonists means that they had internalised the many social costs of slavery to a greater extent than had the Cuban residents? If this is the case, was this really an effective internalisation, since the sugar industry in the British colonies was later protected from cheaper Cuban imports via legislation?

Justin Fong

This cost-analysis article regarding the sugar plantations of Jamaica and Cuba during the era of slavery was informative, but somewhat disturbing as well. The fact that slavery was both a trade and business is sickening. Labor for wages is understandable, but pricing human beings is completely immoral. While these white colonials cared deeply about the costs their slaves accrued to them, the flip-side of the situation never appeared to be considered. Producing enough sugar to make fortunes was wrongly placed above human life. Was the extermination of the Amerindians worth the colonization of the Americas? While the thought of freedom for an African slave was immeasurable, the white colonial simply wanted more profit. People failed to reflect on different perspectives of life. The British occupied their thoughts with potential money lost to the Brazilian, Cuban, and Puerto Rican plantations if slavery was abolished in their colonies. This is economic history, but the distribution of wealth and freedom in the world is shocking.

Jashoda Kashyap

Sheridan states that social costs include the value of freedom, the value amelioration and the different costs of acquiring slaves. It is interesting to see that that the value of freedom is even considered because it seems that slaves were treated in such a way that there was no concept of freedom at all. Amelioration was thought of as a major improvement, but in reality it was just providing the very basic necessities. Also, the fact that the religious instruction was part of the amelioration is interesting, since the slave-owners are merely inflicting religious ideology on their slaves, rather than really helping them. It is sad to know that the slave owners did not let the slaves reproduce, but rather just brought new ones in because it was cheaper. This way, slaves never could have had families.

Mark Wes

I found this article interesting because it analyzed the economic effects of different policies of slave holding in Jamaica and Cuba. In particular I found the part about the Caribbean slave holder’s policy of amelioration to be interesting and disturbing. Although the idea behind amelioration was to make slaves healthier and improve their social conditions, the slave population still continued to decline in the Caribbean. The owners began to treat their slaves better, but the fact still remains that they were treated at a subhuman level. I also found the author’s discussion on raising slaves from infancy versus importing full grown slaves to be interesting as well. Sheridan analyzes statements from Robert Hibbert about the costs associated with raising a child from infancy. These costs include losing labor from the pregnant mother being on bed rest before/after pregnancy, food, clothing, little contributed labor, etc. The idea that a human life can simply be valued based upon his/her cost and labor output is disturbing to me.

Jessica Li

Labor had long been and continues to be the dominant force in driving production of goods and services. Nevertheless, it seems inhumane to me to talk about the labor that the slaves and the slave trade provided in the sense of a non-living, so-to-speak, material that went into the sugar production.
From an economic standpoint, it seemed to make a lot of sense for Cuban sugar producers to provide as little care as possible for the slaves and to force longer working days. In doing so, they were able to keep production costs to a minimum, while maximizing production and profit. The Cuban sugar colony demonstrated and exemplified important economic principles at work, and provided an explanation as to why slavery was the cause of much heated debate and conflict.
On the other hand, the British amelioration laws and legislations had certainly increased expenses for the sugar plantation owners. However, The immense social implications of such legal measures far exceeded the economic welfare of the few. Slavery still convey and connote such powerful and negative images of human inequality, suffering and suggests the endangerment of humanity. Therefore, how can any society flourish and foster growth, when its mere foundations lie on such principle of robbery of individual freedom?

Kevin Nakahara

While the idea of implementing regulations regarding slave treatment may have comforted the morality of a few at the time, I believe most involved in government and the sugar trade at the time saw this an experiment in cost-benefit. Basically, it compared whether increased productivity and lower turnover rate for healthy slaves would offset costs incurred from not abusing them, and in the end it turned out hiking prices and decreasing income. As the sugar trade was an oligopoly, if one firm (British sugar) were to increase prices just by a bit, it would result in a complete neglect in British sugar and increased purchases in other firms. Although British sugar was still purchased, it was still at smaller quantities than before, and it forced Cuban sugar to take on additional demand, forcing it raise its prices as well. I'm sure had the British known that this would've happen, slave regulation would have been much later to arise, reflecting a cost-benefit analysis similar to the one Ford used with the Pinto...

Matthew Cohen

I’m somewhat relieved that the Americans were the ones who used slaves the most humanely in comparison to the slave owners in Caribbean. Amelioration was probably the most interesting attempt to reverse the yearly net decline of the population of slaves in the Caribbean, and that the fact that it did not work is an obvious testament to the abhorrent treatment of the slaves. I agree with Jessica’s point that making conditions better for the slaves doesn’t necessarily mean that slavery is the correct option. It may have soothed the minds of the British government, but I can be relatively certain that the majority of slaves were still unhappy as slaves.

Sheena Mathew

After only reading the first page of this article, I found it to be such a stark contrast from the Conrad and Meyer’s piece that seemed to only focus on the profitability of slavery for the owners, without any mention of the social consequences felt by the actual slaves. It was nice to know that the British government did take some, although minimal, efforts to better the live s of the slaves in Jamaica. Although they did not do nearly enough, I was still surprised to see that they chose to not import slaves when data proved it was the more profitable option. However, after reading the comments of a former slave on returning to his former plantation, it is hard to commend the British at all, since any form of slavery has severe social ramifications.

Huinan Zhang

The article explained the economical differences in slave trade and profit. But first of all I was shocked how brutal the slaves were being treated and used to death. But also, I found it interesting that in the artical it compared the differences between purchasing new slaves opposed to encouraging reproduction of existing slaves. It was interesting to me since there were several numerial facts regarding this situation, everything from health and pregnancy, and also to mortality rate for people below the age of fourteen. A lot of these factors I would have never considered but the article really take’s inconsideration almost every factor. One factor the article did not emphasis too much was the quality of labor over the lifetime of imported vs. a Creole slave. Overall, this is a very informative and impressive article.

Alex Zhong

It was interesting to see that the British enforced regulations that tried to make life better for slaves in their own plantations in Jamaica, as if they were in search of peace of mind for keeping “peculiar institution” around out need to keep their own market stocked with sugar. If morality was such an issue for the British that they imposed such heavy costs on their own plantations that made them much more expensive to maintain, why did they take so long in ameliorating the slaves completely? It seems to me that they enacted provisions to make life better for slaves in the West Indies because they simply felt bad for them out of human sympathy, yet why they decided to keep it going around for so long afterwards is a puzzle to me.

Ben Sumarnkant

The contrast of balancing the sexes in the South versus the imbalance of males to females in the Caribbean is truly interesting. When reading about the method by which the worth of a fourteen year old youth was determined, I started thinking of valuation methods and thought of the concept of present value. Plantation owners had two choices: Obtain predominantly male, able-bodied slaves at the present time, or obtain a balance of males and females. Which choice had a higher net present value? On one hand, with the mainly male slave force, slave holders had a supply of labor ready to go. But if these slaves were worked to death, as was the case in the Caribbean, the slave holders would be draining these slaves physically and mentally, leading to lower life expectancy, and ultimately, requiring slave holders to obtain new slaves. Whereas with the second option, slave holders may not immediately have the same level of labor, but these holders were investing in the well-being of the slaves, leading to a greater chance of reproduction and a continual replenishment of the slave supply.

Dwight Upshaw

This article offered a very analytical view and economic perspective on a very sociological issue; the issue of slavery. Sheriden's statistical research was very much inlightening to see what the cost of slaves would be before the slave trade was ended and the cost post-slave trade. Professor Delong pointed out tht there was still slave smuggling after it officially was legally done away with, but the statistical references gave some insight into the economics of the slave trade. It is very sad to see how slave owners to a great extent viewed each slave as an investment. One slave owner broke down what the costs, profits, and the return on each investment would be from rearing a child to 14: Fourteen was the age that was seen as the age when children would be able to work a full day.

What we see in this article is that it was much more costly to treat slaves well than it was to work them to death and then buy a new one. They treated slaves as if they were a machine with a certain working life and could be done away with after that. In the economic view this was the best way to make a profit. The owner would not have to incur any loss and could have an almost fully functioning work force with no one not working. Those whom reared slaves to the age of fourteen and would treat their slaves in a more humane manner, would end up with about 1/3 of their work force either caring for the sick, giving birth, or being to young to work. Of that one third, only half would be seen as the "great gang" which were the most profitable slaves.

This view good to see because most historical views of the time period focus more on the astrocities of the slave trade and the sociological problems that occured there after, but I have not seen a point by point statistical view of the numbers going along with the slave trade.

Dwight Upshaw

...

Raymond Kei

The article started off by telling us that slaves were profitable investment; however, capital gains by slave-holders between the southern plantations of U.S. and Carribean colonies are different. Southern plantation slave-holders realized capital gains because the slave population increased annually by natural means, but the slave population of the Caribbean sugar colonies have a net annual decrease which was offset by the import of blacks from Africa. The Board of Trade report of 1830 is particularly interesting. The calculations on the report show that the price of sugar that British consumer paid should be able to cover the costs that were needed to maintain the slave labor force at a barely reproductive level. In contrast, non-British colonies like Brazil and Cuba continued to replace slaves by importation, which results in a much lower selling price for their goods. Then, the article compared Cuba and Jamaica,which Cuba imported slaves and the British colony Jamaica stopped importing slaves and using a more humanitarian approach for agricultural production. At the end, private cost and social cost is discussed, which makes me feel grateful that people incorporate social cost into consideration.

Raymond Kei

The article started off by telling us that slaves were profitable investment; however, capital gains by slave-holders between the southern plantations of U.S. and Carribean colonies are different. Southern plantation slave-holders realized capital gains because the slave population increased annually by natural means, but the slave population of the Caribbean sugar colonies have a net annual decrease which was offset by the import of blacks from Africa. The Board of Trade report of 1830 is particularly interesting. The calculations on the report show that the price of sugar that British consumer paid should be able to cover the costs that were needed to maintain the slave labor force at a barely reproductive level. In contrast, non-British colonies like Brazil and Cuba continued to replace slaves by importation, which results in a much lower selling price for their goods. Then, the article compared Cuba and Jamaica,which Cuba imported slaves and the British colony Jamaica stopped importing slaves and using a more humanitarian approach for agricultural production. At the end, private cost and social cost is discussed, which makes me feel grateful that people incorporate social cost into consideration.

Raymond Kei

The article started off by telling us that slaves were profitable investment; however, capital gains by slave-holders between the southern plantations of U.S. and Carribean colonies are different. Southern plantation slave-holders realized capital gains because the slave population increased annually by natural means, but the slave population of the Caribbean sugar colonies have a net annual decrease which was offset by the import of blacks from Africa. The Board of Trade report of 1830 is particularly interesting. The calculations on the report show that the price of sugar that British consumer paid should be able to cover the costs that were needed to maintain the slave labor force at a barely reproductive level. In contrast, non-British colonies like Brazil and Cuba continued to replace slaves by importation, which results in a much lower selling price for their goods. Then, the article compared Cuba and Jamaica,which Cuba imported slaves and the British colony Jamaica stopped importing slaves and using a more humanitarian approach for agricultural production. At the end, the article discussed the relationship between private cost and social cost, which makes me grateful that the British incorporated social cost into the price of sugar even though it makes it more expensive.

Casey Lilenfeld

As Yelena and Simon have already mentioned in discussing Sheridan's piece, an analysis of the costs and benefits associated with Jamaican and Cuban sugar must consider negative externalities from the use of slave labor. The British commission that produced most of the data and evidence Sheridan used for this paper looked at the use of Jamaican sugar borne by “creole” slaves and Cuban sugar borne by “salt-water” slaves who were brought over from Africa, and definitely attempted to analyze which sugar was more efficient. While “creole” sugar cost more because of the family conditions created in these plantations and the slave trade-produced sugar in Cuba was much cheaper since more slaves on average were able to work, the immense loss of life in the slave trade process and the violation of human rights was too large for Cuban sugar to stay cheap sugar.

Hoi Kwan

I found this article revolting and yet intriguing. The concept of trading people as commodities might sound unfathomable to us but we have to keep in mind the historical time that this took place in. Maybe generations down the line people will find it revolting that the food we consume is derived from killing other living organisms. That said I feel that from purely an economical standpoint it would have been more efficient for the Cuban to refresh their slaves than to encourage reproduction within them like what the Jamaicans did. This is because if we look at them as commodities or a capital investment, which they did back then, it would make sense to replace capital readily available than to take care of the ones we have. Although it might sound heartless to say this the new capital are not subject to the wear and tear as the old capital machinery although well maintained might be. So I believe the Cubans had a better strategy.

Minna Howell

In "Sweet Malefactor" Sheridan compares the slave colonies of Jamaica and Cuba by examining the difference in reproduction costs versus acquisition costs of slaves imported from Africa. Although there is a cost advantage to Cuban sugar plantations because they had access to incoming slaves and thus ultimately had a higher percentage of working slaves, the mortality rates in the two colonies were significantly different. Furthermore, Sheridan argues that social costs must be taken into consideration, which include the value of freedom, the value of amelioration expenditures, and the cost of acquiring a given number of slaves. Whereas the needs and comforts of slaves in Cuba were not well attended to and the annual loss by death in 1830 was a staggering ten percent, the outlays for slaves in Jamaica were much higher. The reason for this is the decision by some Caribbean slaveholders in the latter half of the 18th century to turn to measures of amelioration with the goal of increasing the physical and moral welfare of their slaves. Social costs were thus shifted to Jamaican planters as well as consumers in Britain. The cost of the suppression of the slave trade was also disproportionately placed on British consumers. In order for free-labour sugar to be competitive with slave-labour sugar British consumers would have to be aware of the social cost associated with slave-labour sugar in the form of impairment of the physical and mental health of the slaves. Sheridan reiterates the importance of social costs in the conclusion of his article, as they are especially useful in tracing the roots of price differentials for the same commodity.

Christina Chander

I found this article very interesting and enlightening, though at the same time disturbing. In the United States we usually focus on the slavery issues that we had within our own country so it was an eye-opener to be reminded that this was happening elsewhere. It was also appalling to read how slaves were just a good that was part of a business to their owners. In some places they were kept from reproducing because the cost of a young slave was too high; there was clearly no human decency or respect for personal freedoms in this business. An though the Bristish imposed amelioration measures so their slaves were treated “better,” the system was in no way humane and ended up hurting the British sugar industry.

Anthony Samkian

I have never read about the institution of slavery in such detailed economic terms and found it very interesting what implications the two different systems of slavery had. Just considering the sugar export statistics of Jamaica and Cuba over the 19th century shows what a remarkable difference the two slavery systems made. While Cuba’s exports of sugar accounted for only about a third that of Jamaica’s exports in 1805, Cuba caught up with Jamaica by 1823. The trend of drastic increases in the sugar exports for Cuba and decreases for Jamaica continued throughout the 1800’s and by 1913 Cuba exported approximately 409 tons for every ton that Jamaica exported. This clearly shows the burden that British sugar producers had to carry as a result of the slave trade ban and amelioration policy that was implemented in the early 19th century. But not only producers, also British consumers and taxpayers felt the effect of their government’s amelioration measures. However, the relatively high price of sugar in economic terms cannot be compared to the generations of pain and suffering. It was about time for an influential government to set an example and realize that the moral benefits of amelioration outweigh the economic costs, especially for a country with such an extensive history in slavery.

Kellie Fitzgerald

Richard Sheridan’s article on the costs and differences in the slavery systems between Cuba, Jamaica, and the British Empire was very interesting to me as since elementary school I have learned about slavery, but prior to this article I have never read anything that analyzed it on detailed economic terms. I found the breakdown of the average cost per slave and production yielded from slaves’ labor in these regions surprising. I also found the discussions of 1) differences between a slave-owner buying vs. breeding (purchasing slaves or relying on the reproduction of the slaves) and 2) overworking slaves and then repurchasing them vs. trying to maximize their working-life expectancy very interesting.

David M. Aviles

This article is one of economic interest, but also of moral and humanitarian interest. It reviews two slave-plantation economies of Cuba and Jamaica both of which produced sugar. Sheridan accounts the associated costs and benefits of slavery while trying to incorporate the worth of a slave considering they are human beings as well as centuries of torment and suffering experienced by them. Strictly in numbers, slaves were most profitable when purchased frequently and from different regions in order to discourage unity within the slave groups. Unified slaves would often sabotage their masters, runaway, fake illness, etc. Also, slaves that raised families and masters used the children as slaves incurred way more costs for the elderly, births, not to mention a high infant mortality rate, etc. Jamaican production fell off due to inactive slave trade while Cuban production rose. In 1838, slave emancipation achieved in Jamaica as it had in Britain. A new sense of humility overcame Britain forcing parliament to emancipate the slaves. It tried cutting off trade of sugar from "blood sugar" plantations, but realized it costly and hypocritical. It was already importing other goods produced at the hands of slaves. Although slavery seemed to reduce real prices, it was nothing against the actual institution itself. Eventually America emancipated its slaves under Lincoln. Many slaves were left uncompensated and many were put in situations close to slavery. Now we just import our goods produced by kids in sweat shops in order to keep prices down so we can sleep at night.

Katelynn Nguyen

Sheridan's article provides an intriguing topic about the relationship
between slavery and its social costs between Cuba and Jamaica. Cuba found
more effective for them to constantly have an inflow of slaves with a
higher ratio of men to women slaves. They did not pay attention to the
well-being of the slaves and paid small amounts for the social costs of
having a slave work force unlike Southern United States where much efforts
were focused on the humanity of the slaves. As a result, Cuba and
similarly, Jamaica were able to greatly profit from the sugar exportation.
Despite Great Britian's abolition of slavery, its colony, Jamaica,
continued its slavery practices but nonethless it was declining. These
Caribbean countries were focused on short gains and losses and were not
aware of maintainig capital gains. I think that Cuban's slavery tactics
were rather brutal and inhumane since slaves have a very short lifespan
and they were continuously being replaced by more slave labor force.
Their production of sugar was quite profitable as compared to Jamaica,
where slavery was declining. On another note, I couldn't understand why
the British were not able to stop Jamaica to stop using slaves as their
work force since Britain was its mother country

Eric Ritter

This article compares the different slave practices in Cuba and Jamaica toward the end of the practice of slavery in the British empire. The British government ended the Atlantic Slave trade and this had a huge effect on West Indian plantation society. Previously, Jamaica relied on a constant flow of new African Slaves to replace the slaves that had been literally worked to death. When the British government stopped this flow to Jamaica, plantation owners had to adapt to compete in the international market. Furthermore, the British government sponsored an amelioration program that put the financial burden on the plantation owners to treat their slaves better. This vastly improved the social welfare of the slaves living in the West Indies, but it increased the plantation owners' costs. Since the British Government pursued an increasingly Free Market economic policy, the plantation owners within the British Empire found it difficult to compete with other New World plantation economies that continued their practice of slave exploitation. I see lots of parallels between this system of slave labor to our system of cheap labor in third world countries. Because the economies in some of these third world countries are terrible, the people are willing to work for much less pay than their American counterparts. So when American companies build factories there and hire foreigners, they will reduce their costs and therefore reduce their prices. This practice continues because when products get back to America, Americans appreciate the lower prices and overwhelmingly buy the cheap products. This in turn supports the companies who use exploitive labor practices. This is very similar to the way the British people bought sugar from Cuba because it was cheaper, but it was cheaper because they treated their slaves way worse.

Alice Lin:19078943

The article pointed out the differences between Cuba and Jamaica in regards of the cost of slavery. What is interesting is that it discussed the three aspects of slavery which involves the value of freedom, the value of amelioration expenditures, and the different costs of acquiring a given number of slaves. In Cuba for example, they keep on importing fresh slaves to work in the plantation whereas Jamaica raised slaves instead. Jamaica cost of slaves is much higher since many of them died before they reach the age of fourteen which is when they are actually able to work. Jamaica cared for the slaves and endure much more costs compare to the Cubans that did not.

Anna Romanowska

Sheridan's article points out a very important isssue that government's of the slavery era had to deal with: the economic benefits and return to labor vs. moral standards. As Simon and Yelena point out the British government was not able to internalize the social costs of slavery. I was surprised that eventhough the amelioration laws were enforced in Jamaica to a great extend, the living standards and mortality rates in Jamaica were not decreasing. Just the opposite the population was decreasing. This had a direct consequences in the exports volume. The exports of sugar from Jamaica dramatically decreased, especially after the emamcipation. One could anticipate even a further export gap between Jamaica and Cuba if the British gov't wouldn't supprot Jamaican planters. The moral agenda of British government defined it's anti-slavery policies for a long time. Cubans could produce at much cheaper prices. Their returns to labor were much higher due to the fact that they were not obliged to pay for slave's rearing. The ratio of effective slave workers to the uneffective was roughtly 2/3. The ability to import prime age slaves from Africa and maximize utility from working them nearly to death put them in an advantageous position compared to Jamaican slave owners.
Sheridans analyzes the slavery issue from a very interesting perspective by showing the struggle between higher rents and higher moral standards.

Patrick Traughber

"Sweet Malefactor" present intriguing insight into the economics of slavery in the Caribbean and in the South. While slavery is a horrible stain on American history and exposes the treatment of humans as commodities, Sheridan does a good job of highlighting information relevant to understanding the incentives that slavery offered, and the costs associated with owning slaves. What I found particularly interesting is the discrepancy in costs between purchasing new slaves to maintain a constant labor force versus having slaves reproduce to maintain the labor force. Reading about the costs associated with keeping the slave population healthy offered some hope that slave owners genuinely wished for their slaves to be in good health for the slaves own sake, but just as people run businesses today, I am sure a majority of slave owners had only their own interests in mind and wanted to make sure their slaves were healthy in order to maximize productivity.

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