A book focusing on the sugar trade, written by the Scottish historian John Campbell and first published in 1763.

The work is titled Candid and Impartial Considerations on the Nature of the Sugar Trade; the Comparative Importance of the British and French Islands in the West-Indies: with the Value and Consequences of St. Lucia and Granada, Truly Stated: Illustrated with Copper Plates [NMM Ref: PBF7499]. 

Title-page of Candid and Impartial Considerations on the Nature of the Sugar Trade, by John Campbell, 1763 [PBF 7499].
In his book, Campbell gives a brief introduction to the history of sugar, and some remarkable observations on sugar commerce and the importance of promoting sugar’s consumption in England.

The author points out that the aim of his work is to introduce a 'succinct enumeration of the advantages that arise from the share in the sugar trade' [p19]. Campbell believes that the only way to list the sugar trade’s benefits is by explaining the sugar colonies’ life and methods of work, comparing the British American Islands to the French ones.

As a final point, the historian integrates his work with three beautifully made copper-plates to illustrate the Caribbean Islands’ geography in detail. More specifically, he gives explanations of the Harbour of Calivenie on the south-east end of the Island of Granada (drawn by the topographer John Powell in 1762) and of Fort Royal on the Island of Granada.

The sugar trade had an enormous impact and influence on the British economy and on the lifestyle of British people. Sugar went from being an unknown product to a very popular luxury commodity among the aristocracy. This consequently increased the demand for the production of sugar and the exportation of it. It also changed the eating habits of many people. As the sugar market developed, its transatlantic commerce became highly significant for the British economy. As Britain’s shipping activities and related industries expanded they contributed to creating the power of the British Empire.

By the middle of the 17th century, the French colony known as Saint-Domingue had become the largest sugar producer in the world, confirming France as the major colonial power in the Americas. However in 1763 the Peace of Paris was signed ending the Seven Years’ War and, most importantly, the French predominance in the struggle for colonial supremacy. 

By the end of the war Britain had made significant gains, adding to its territory numerous former French colonies with various consequences such as the opportunity to develop its sugar commerce and the confirmation of the British colonial leadership. The book was a result of Lord Bute, the British Prime Minister, asking John Campbell to write an article explaining the consequences of the Peace of Paris and proving the importance and the value of the newly acquired British Sugar Islands in the West Indies.

Consequently, as a reward for writing the Candid and Impartial Consideration on the Nature of the Sugar Trade as affirmation of British colonial power, Campbell was appointed as King’s Agent for the province of Georgia in 1765.

To find out more about sugar trade we have a range of resources in the Caird Library Reading Room:

  • Marshall Smelser, The Campaign for the Sugar Islands, 1759: a Study of Amphibious Warfare [PBB1811]
  • Richard B. Sheridan, Sugar and Slavery: an Economic History of the British West Indies 1623–1775 [PBE9336]

Sonia, Information Assistant, Library

Search the Archive catalogue

Search the Library catalogue