The Caribbean since 1900

The Caribbean since 1900

The Caribbean since 1900

The Caribbean since 1900

Excerpt

For almost three and a half centuries after the discovery of America, a period twice as long as that during which the United States has been an independent nation, the Caribbean region played an important role in the affairs of the world. It was one of the areas in which European rivalries brought frequent clash of arms and many transfers of territory.

Then, at about the end of the first third of the 1800's, started what proved to be a long period of decline. The former British colonies to the north were busy developing the great agricultural domain of central North America. The revolted Spanish colonies in the southern half of the New World were torn by internal dissensions and absorbed in their own affairs. European interest in the Caribbean fell off, for with the abolition of slavery came the fall of the cane sugar industry, the chief source of previous prosperity. Only occasionally did the Old World powers show concern in that part of America which they had once most highly prized.

As the nineteenth century came to a close, however, conditions within the area and conditions elsewhere which would affect it, gradually changed. The economic yield of the states of the region became diversified and the import and export trade increased. Plans for an isthmian canal that would make the area one of the crossroads of the world were revived, and the United States, which was becoming an industrial nation, was gradually taking over from Europe the leading role in commerce with the area and in concern with local political developments. Then, suddenly, as a result of the war with Spain, it became the leading Caribbean power.

The more than a third of a century which has passed since that short conflict turned the attention of the world anew . . .

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