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Weathering the Storms: Hurricanes and Risk in the British Greater Caribbean

Matthew Mulcahy
The Business History Review
Vol. 78, No. 4 (Winter, 2004), pp. 635-663
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25096952
Page Count: 29
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Weathering the Storms: Hurricanes and Risk in the British Greater Caribbean
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Abstract

The risk of hurricanes made planting in the British Greater Caribbean, a region stretching from Barbados through South Carolina, an especially volatile and uncertain business during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The storms were a new experience for European colonists, and they quickly became the most feared element of the region's environment. Hurricanes routinely leveled plantations and towns, destroyed crops and infrastructure, and claimed hundreds of lives. The widespread destruction resulted in significant losses for planters and necessitated major reconstruction efforts. Most planters survived these economic shocks, often with the help of outside credit, but at times hurricanes were the breaking point for smaller or heavily indebted planters. The profits that came from sugar and rice kept planters rebuilding, but the threat posed by the storms shaped the experience of plantership in the region throughout the period.

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