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Environment and History

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Environment and History

Ecology, Epidemics and Empires: Environmental Change and the Geopolitics of Tropical America, 1600-1825

J.R. McNeill

Environment and History 5(1999): 175-184

In the Atlantic American tropics, from Florida to Brazil, yellow fever attacked different populations differently. It killed outsiders more easily than locals, whites more easily than blacks, adults more easily than children. This meant that, after yellow fever was firmly ensconced via an ecological reconfiguration connected to sugar (c. 1640-90) it underpinned a military and political status quo, keeping Spanish America Spanish. After 1780, and particularly in the Haitian revolution, yellow fever undermined that status quo by assisting independence movements in the American tropics.

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