Sugar Masters in a New World

Sevilla la Nueva, the first European settlement in Jamaica, is home to the bittersweet story of the beginning of the Caribbean sugar trade

Jamaica possessed superb growing conditions for sugar cane, and by 1513, Spanish farmers in Sevilla la Nueva tended fields bristling with the green stalks. (Lebrecht Music and Arts Photo Library / Alamy)

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Despite its short history, says Woodward, the Spanish colony at Sevilla la Nueva tells us much about the birth of the sugar industry in the New World, a global trade that ultimately had an immense long-term impact on the Americas. The growing and milling of sugar cane, she points out, “was the primary reason for bringing ten million Africans to the New World.”

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