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Raising Cane in the 'GladesThe Global Sugar Trade and the Transformation of Florida$
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Gail M. Hollander

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226349503

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226349480.001.0001

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The Sugar Question in Frontier Florida

The Sugar Question in Frontier Florida

(p.20) Chapter Two The Sugar Question in Frontier Florida
Raising Cane in the 'Glades
University of Chicago Press

This chapter focuses on the half-century preceding World War I, when the international political economy of sugar production and trade captured the world's attention. During this time, published debates, international conferences on the “sugar question,” and attempts by national governments to forge international sugar agreements proliferated. The development of the European beet-sugar industry and accompanying global surpluses posed a challenge to promoters of U.S. agricultural interests, who saw in domestic sugar production a regional development strategy. Florida boosters, especially, saw in the modernizing Cuban industry both an exemplary model and a formidable competitor. The chapter shows how changing ideas of sugar, of Florida, and of the U.S. role in the Caribbean shaped the context in which southern agricultural boosters promoted the establishment of a sugar industry. In so doing they articulated an “imagined economic geography,” a necessary but insufficient precursor to the development of a regional cane belt. These “imagined economic geographies” were quite detailed, including land measurements and speculation on potential labor sources, profits, and economic multipliers.

Keywords:   sugar production, international political economy, sugar industry, Florida, Cuba, Caribbean, agricultural boosters, economic geography

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