Curtis, W. 2006.  and a  Bottle of Rum. Crown Publishers: New York p. 14-36.


1. When did rum appear throughout the Caribbean? Middle of the 17th century.

2. How soon did Saccharum officinarum arrive in the Americas?  Where? Carried by whom? 1493, carried by Columbus on his 2nd voyage to Hispaniola.

3. Note the effects of oversupply (a glut) on colonial agriculture (tobacco, sugar…) Colonies sought to produce a marketable agricultural commodity.  Often imitation led to vast supplies (gluts) which led to low prices.

4. How did coffee, tea, chocolate contribute the expansion of the British sugar market? These three products were introduced in Europe between 1650 and 1660.  The British rapidly developed a taste for these dietary non-essentials, but preferred sweetened versions. which led to a rapid increase in the demand for sugar. 

5. What happened to the British sugar intake? Quadrupled, then doubled and has continued to grow to our detriment.

6. “from 80 in 1627 to more than 75,000 by 1650”!  Talk about a boom! 

7. Note the wealth that the planters enjoyed.

8. Note how Barbados’ sugar economy compared with other British colonies. Barbados was the sugar leader, but planters in other British colonies in the Caribbean grew wealthy rapidly too.

Do not worry about the missing p. 20-21.  Those pages include descriptions of the luxury that successful planters enjoyed.  The final paragraph on p. 21 begins a discussion of yeast converts sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide.

9. What is molasses? sugar waste that wouldn't crystallize.

10. Approximately, when does it appear to have first been distilled into rum in the Caribbean?  Where? 1650s in Barbados

11. How did rum sales affect a sugar estates profits? Rum sales paid for all of the operating expenses on a sugar cane plantation so that all sugar sales were profit.

12. "camberpot" is an early version of chamberpot which was a toilet before the toilet had been invented.  Rum really was the result of converting waste (Including carcasses of dead animals!) into a valuable, compact product.

13. What class of English comprised the majority of settlers in Barbados? "young and poor" "rogues and whores"

14. How did Walduck characterize the differing settlement strategies of the different European groups in the Caribbean? Spanish = church; Dutch = fort; English = tavern

15. Note the Barbadians "commitment to drink."  This partly explains planters' preference for African slaves.

16. Here are the “humours” described by Foote in the article “Where Columbus was coming from”.  Note how rum was thought to be an aid for an Englishman's humours in the tropics.



Grog Question Set


1. How was a privateer different from a sailor in the English navy?  How did they benefit England?

Privateers were not enlisted in the English navy.   You can think of them as free-lancers who had he approval of England to attack ships flying their enemies’ flags and to divide the spoils among themselves as payment. Thus, privateers were an unofficial and unpaid navy for the English. Wink, wink.


2. Where specifically did Morgan do his work?  Why?

Puerto Príncipe, Cuba, Portobelo, Panama and Venezuela. He chose to maraud where Spanish vessels sailed and docked because Spanish vessels carried silver and gold from Mexico and Peru.


3. Why did Morgan sack ports in Panama twice?  What made that region so important?

Because the Spanish carried the silver that was mined in Peru across the isthmus at Panama. Transisthmian transport made Panama so important.


4.  Why wouldn’t Morgan have secured rum when he sacked Spanish ports? 


5. Where did the Caribbean rum-distillers finally find a market for rum?  What products were exchanged for rum?

North America. Agricultural commodities


6. When did rum finally become common on pirate ships?  Why then?

Zeal for drinking increased as more and more rum was found on sacked ships.  They were increasingly discappointed with the spoils from Spanish ships, which did not have rum so they moved north to harass the British.  1720’s 


7. Learn the site and situation of Port Royal.  Sounds like an interesting place from 1655 to 1692.  What happened then?

Port Royal was the de facto capital of the British pirate world.  It was Jamaica’s chief port, situated across the harbor from present day Kingston.  Jamaica was a hotspot for sugar but most of its economy was based on trade, most of it illegal.  It became a popular place for pirates because the local government was keen on turning a blind eye due to the money that pirates brought to the island.  Some considered it the Sodom of the modern world.


8. Note when piracy peaked.

1720 – when around 1500-2000 pirates existed between New England and the Indies.  Pirates went from being the hunters to the hunted.


9. Enjoy the description of Blackbeard’s life.  Also, learn the general location of his work and why.

Real name: Edward Teach.  He was the pirate most associated with rum.  He worked between Virginia and the Caribbean, presumably because of the abundance of rum on the islands. 


10. “splice the main brace”?  What does the phrase mean?   Why did its ubiquitous use in the British navy please West Indian merchants?

This means: dole out some rum.  It was ubiquitous because rum became more common on ships.  Water was not easily stored on ships.  Beer would quickly lose its taste.


11. When and why was Grog invented?

It was invented well after the peak of piracy. 1740 - because a ship captain did not like the effects of the strong rum.  Grog was watered down rum.


12. Why did British sailors become known as “Limeys”?

Scurvy was initially treated with drink but was later discovered to be caused by a lack ascorbic acid.  Sailors initially added sugar and lime to their grog to enhance the taste.  Then there was an edict given that the sailors take lime with their grog daily.