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Feb 2, 2024


Although Connecticut sometimes seems like such a small, isolated place on the map, it was connected to the far-flung, complex, cosmopolitan British empire even in the 17th century.  This year on Grating the Nutmeg, we’re going to explore Connecticut’s maritime history with episodes on Colonial Connecticut’s trade with the British colonies of the Caribbean, privateering during the American Revolution and the whaling ships sent around the globe in the nineteenth century. Connecticut’s maritime entrepreneurs made fortunes by sending ships to sea and employed sailors, shipbuilders, traders, drovers, provisioners, and more.


In this episode, we talk about sugar. Sugar production in the tropical climate of the British islands of the West Indies made men tremendous fortunes. But to cultivate and process sugar cane into sugar required vast amounts of labor. As my guest Dr. Matt Warshaurer wrote in the Summer 2023 issue of Connecticut Explored “The fields and mills of the Caribbean were worked by African peoples stolen from their homes, placed in shackles and delivered to British colonies in North American and the Caribbean.” Connecticut’s ships delivered food and building materials to the islands and returned with sugar, rum and molasses. These were then traded for finished goods from England-furniture, china, glass, textiles. We’ll hear today about how the trade route known as the “Triangle Trade” moved people, products, and goods across the  Atlantic Ocean, helping to make British plantation owners as well as some Colonial Connecticut families rich.


My guests today are Dr. Matt Warshauer, professor of history at Central Connecticut State University.  The author of five books and countless articles and reviews, Warshauer has written extensively on Andrew Jackson, slavery and the Civil War. Dr. Warshauer serves on the editorial board for Connecticut Exploredmagazine and in the Summer 2023 issue authored the feature story “Connecticut’s Sweet Tooth: The Sugar Trade and Slavery in the West Indies”.


To read this story, please go to


Dr. Katherine Hermes, the publisher of Connecticut Explored, has published extensive research on the Atlantic world and Colonial Connecticut.  She is the director and historian for the award-winning public history  project  “Uncovering their History: African, African-American, and Native-American Burials in Hartford’s Ancient Burying Ground, 1640-1815”. She recently completed two new projects for the Ancient Burying Ground Association including one telling the stories of people with connections to the West Indies and one on women-Black, White and Indigenous-who rest in the Burying Ground. 

To read more about these projects, please go to:

And to listen to earlier podcasts, please go to:


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Fresh episodes of Grating the Nutmeg are brought to you every two weeks with support from our listeners. You can help us continue to produce the podcast by donating directly to Grating the Nutmeg on the Connecticut Explored website at   Click the donate button at the top and then look for the Grating the Nutmeg donation link at the bottom. Make a $250 dollar donation and we’ll send you our brand new Grating the Nutmeg teeshirt.


This episode of Grating the Nutmeg was produced by Mary Donohue and engineered by Patrick O’Sullivan at


This is Mary Donohue. Join us in two weeks for our next episode of Grating the Nutmeg, the podcast of Connecticut history.