Type of Document Dissertation Author Vaughan, Elizabeth Author's Email Address email@example.com URN etd-0228103-142646 Title Louisiana Sugar: A Geohistorical Perspective Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Department Geography and Anthropology Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Carville Earle Committee Chair Craig Colten Committee Member John Grimes Committee Member Kent Mathewson Committee Member Kalliat Valsaraj Dean's Representative Keywords
- agricultural history
- Louisiana history
- agricultural economics
Date of Defense 2002-12-20 Availability unrestricted AbstractThe planting of sugarcane in Louisiana’s southern parishes has persisted with stunning
continuity since its introduction in the late eighteenth century. This industry, however, is an
economic and agricultural anomaly. It is a relic of the sixteenth-century expansion of European
capitalism in which granulated sugar, then a novel product, stimulated the Atlantic slave trade
and contributed to the incorporation of the sugar-producing colonies of the Americas into an
emerging European-world economy. The Louisiana sugar industry was launched in 1795 with a
historic granulation from a new variety of sugarcane recently introduced into the Caribbean.
From this early success, the industry grew rapidly as immigrants from the Caribbean poured into Louisiana to escape the unrest associated with slave revolts and incipient emancipation. The
burgeoning industry contributed to a westward migration of US populations into the newly
opened Louisiana Territory as entrepreneurs responded to news of the enormous wealth made by
the successful sugar planters. The sugar industry of Louisiana also stimulated the expansion of
intra-regional slave trade as eastern slaveholders sold surplus slaves to the widening slave economy of the state, putting in place institutions and values that remain problematic today.
Sugarcane now contributes the largest share of the state’s gross farm income, having surpassed
cotton in year 2000. Its cultivation in the latitudes of Louisiana , however, is at a disadvantage compared to the tropical climates, where its full maturation is not abbreviated by a short growing season. The Louisiana industry persists in this marginal climate because of tariff protection, price supports, and the on-going research to select and release ever-stronger varieties with resilience,
early maturation, and high sugar concentration. When viewed from the national and global
perspectives, especially the eventualities of the NAFTA and trade resolutions with Cuba,
continued sugarcane cultivation in Louisiana’s subtropical climate is an uncertainty.
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