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The Globalization Reader, 5th Edition by John Boli, Frank J. Lechner

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12 Waves in the History of Globalization

Frank J. Lechner

The First Wave of Globalization: Jamaica

In 1670, one Francis Price, a former British officer, filed a patent on a piece of land in central Jamaica he named Worthy Park, which was to become a large sugar plantation that survived into the twentieth century. Fifteen years before, British troops had expelled the Spanish from the island; with the government's encouragement, would-be planters like Price now moved into the countryside to make the victory pay off. That proved difficult. As in other parts of the New World, the island's native inhabitants had been decimated by European germs, leaving no indigenous labor force. In spite of modest Spanish efforts to grow sugar in the West Indies, Jamaica had no viable economy, which meant that the British had to start nearly from scratch. The island lacked the infrastructure that would make plantations immediately profitable. To purchase land, prepare it for production, and buy provisions, entrepreneurs needed capital, which they had to borrow on stiff terms from financiers back home. From the outset, they were in debt to bankers and merchants, for whom risky loans at high interest were good business. While the home country provided capital, it offered few willing or even indentured workers. Soon after, slaves solved the labor shortage: in 1670 Jamaica already had nearly 8,000 out of a total population of about 13,700, within half a century they would outnumber whites ten ...

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