chapter  7
26 Pages


The Sugar of Abolitionist Aspirations
WithBarry L. Stiefel

This chapter explores the material, economic, and social history of maple sugar (as well as syrup and other products derived from maple sucrose, including liquor as a substitute to sugarcane-made rum) as the “alternative” sweetener from North America within the Atlantic world, in contrast to Caribbean-produced sugarcane. The objectives of this chapter are to study maple sugar as the Atlantic world’s alternative sweetener, as well as the abolitionist perspective on this commodity. Questions to be considered are: When did abolitionists catch on that maple sugar represented a guilt-free sweetener alternative? How and to what degree did it become a symbol of freedom during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries? To what extent was maple sugar traded and transported beyond its region of production in North America—such as other corners of the Americas and Europe—as an alternative sweetener to sugarcane? This analysis will bring a greater understanding of the “culture of consumption” in relation to sugar (in all of its manifestations) and beyond—economically, socially, and culturally.