The Economic Impact of St. Domingue

St. Domingue was a major producer of sugar, indigo, and coffee.  At one point, Saint-Domingue produced roughly 40% of all of the sugar available in all of Europe and its colonies.

t                  In 1789, Great Britain's export trade was worth 27 million £s (pounds sterling, that is, of sterling silver), of which 5 million was with its colonies.  France's export trade was worth less, only 17 million £s, but of this 11million came from Saint Domingue alone.

t                  In 1789, Saint-Domingue was the largest single market for slaves in the world. 

t                  Some 2-5 million people in France, out of a total population of 23 million, were employed in activities connected with Saint-Domingue.

t                  In 1789, Jacques Necker, the king’s finance minister, acknowledged the profitability of France’s colony, of which Saint-Domingue was the most profitable, by stating:  “It is only by selling abroad the merchandise that it had gotten from its colonies. . . that France obtains a positive [trade] balance...”