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Planting the sugar cane.

Planting the sugar cane.
Planting the sugar cane.
© National Maritime Museum, London
Repro ID: E9115
Description: The production of sugar and the need for a steady supply of African labour for the plantations of the Americas were the major driving forces behind the transatlantic slave trade. The planting, tending, harvesting and processing of sugar cane were highly labour intensive activities, involving long hours of backbreaking work. In fact, the profits made from the sugar trade were enormous and far greater than those gained by selling captured Africans into slavery. This print presents an idealised view of the cane fields. The men and women appear to be working contentedly in the field and the image shows nothing of the strict discipline, terrible cruelty and hard labour involved. In the Caribbean, conditions were so harsh that an enslaved African’s life expectancy on a sugar plantation was only seven years. This meant that there was a constant demand for more labour, further fuelling the slave trade.
Creator: Infant School Society Depository
Date: circa 1820
Credit line: National Maritime Museum, London, Michael Graham-Stewart slavery collection
National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
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