Before Revolution

1764-1789: Spain regains its footing while British colonial rumblings make history

Sugar prices continued to rise, but the British islands found that trade improved during times of war. However, trade regulations imposed by the Spanish and British governments each caused their own problems.

Opening Up to Trade

After the Seven Years' War, during which Britain occupied Havana for less than a year from 1762 to 1763, Cuba was returned to Spain. However, during the British occupation, Havana flourished economically. Many new trade ships were allowed to enter the port, and some 10,000 slaves arrived on Cuba, changing the course of island history.

Over a period of 20 years this high number of slaves would be an import of most islands, but Cuba's economy was restricted by Spanish laws that were designed to protect their treasure ships. Charles III began reducing these trade restrictions in 1765. By 1789, Cuba allowed foreign slave traders.

Trade changed somewhat after the American Revolution, which ended in 1783, but which Spain joined in 1777. After the United States gained its own independence, Cuba became a top source of America's sugar, despite its illegality.

Puerto Rico also made overtures toward more open trade during this period. Spain began to clean up the politics on Puerto Rico in 1775 and soon invites immigrants. Artisans and planters who were willing to accept the Roman Catholic faith and the Spanish crown were welcomed to the island.

Closing Down Trade

While Spain was learning about the importance of open trade, Britain continued to try to profit from its colonies and made even tighter trade restrictions. Although Parliament passed the Molasses Act in the 1730s, the North American colonies generally ignored it. However, the Sugar Act in 1764 got the attention of the colonists.

Tightened trade restrictions caused an uproar in the North American colonies since they would be forced to stop trading with the French islands for sugar altogether. However, none of the British Caribbean islands appreciated the Stamp Act, passed the following year.

Although the British Caribbean islands at first supported the American outrage at the Stamp Act, which required all official transactions to take place on special stamped paper, which was subject to an extra tax, they quickly lost their backing. Even Jamaica was forced to leave its outrage and fight against the North American colonies.

This was an important step before the North American colonies declared their independence from Britain. This war involved not only Britain and its colonies in civil war, but it was a perfect opportunity for France and Spain to weaken British control.


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