A Short Answer to an Elaborate Pamphlet Entitled “The Importance of Sugar Plantations”, 1731
- There’s a bill in the House of Lords being hotly pursued by people
from Barbados looking to prohibit profitable trade between the English colonies
in America, & French & Dutch sugar plantations to supply them with
lumber & horses. There’s not much in the way of reasoning behind this
- The author of the remarks says that British Sugar colonies are of the highest importance. That’s probably true but he’ll have to admit that the ones in Barbados are the least profitable in the Empire. They jack up their prices to us & still ask for relief from Parliament. Their plantations are all worn out & poorly run
- Then he tells that the plantations rake in £1.2 million every year & then says the planters themselves spend £850000 a year in reinvestment or paying out to their owners back in England. He claims that after taxes, they don’t get very much at. But these taxes are paid by the consumer. How in the world can they claim that they make nothing? Either they’re lying or they’re terrible businessmen
- He claims that most of the American colonies don’t do enough trade with the sugar colonies & don’t oppose the bill. They were not even made aware of the bill in time to protest it. At least allow us the time to mull it over…
- He says that the New England colonies are the only ones who oppose the
bill. He claims the sugar colonies do 10x more business for the empire than New
England, especially since they only produce raw materials.
- In response to this – Let’s answer the charge that New England doesn’t buy too much from the Sugar Plantations… Sugar is a different sort of commodity. It is a luxury. We have to build & maintain our colonies first & foremost then we can start thinking about dropping money on sugar. The truth is that we are self-sufficient. The commodities we provide to the empire are also the ones we use ourselves to build them up. The Sugar plantations buy a lot of iron from us. But they’re buying silk & ships from France. We make ships here in New England & they don’t buy any…
- The proposed prohibitions are to enable their colonies to make their products as cheap as the French products are. As if it was necessary to ban outside trade to do this.
- He treats the American colonies as if they were not a part of the whole empire & something easily forgotten about. Isn’t a mother (England) supposed to look after all of her children (colonies). We all make the family rich. He insinuates we aren’t worth of the love because we are self-sufficient & they are dependent down there.
- Then he tells us the Sugar colonies have worn out soil & destroyed
- That’s true especially when compared to the Northern colonies. We are flourishing up here, which is weird because they never pay any duties on the products they’re sending out. The customers are paying it on their end. So, the claim is that their product is so profitable that they make so much of it that the soil is worn out & people buy it in spite of the tax mark-up. But it’s so unprofitable that they need government intervention to keep them afloat. This is more about bad business practices than anything else.
- I honestly believe the Sugar colonies, particularly Barbados, need to face the market fairly. All the costs of reinvestment, paying costs of operation, paying out of profit, paying taxes & facing a market for a luxury good, all while operating in a closed Mercantile system is proving to be a problem for them. Other Empires have been able to turn a profit without massive & constant support from the government to stay solvent. In fact, their product is more expensive than us trying to import foreign goods, which is now illegal. They are given better deals on commodities than the French are, yet they can’t turn a profit. They point to us as the problem when we complain that their prices are too high, even though we get zero help from Parliament.