THE ICON: Etienne De Bore
THE LEGACY: Etienne de Bore was worried, and with good cause. Indigo, which had been Louisiana’s leading cash crop in the late 1700s, had again been ravaged by chenille worms, leading to another year of belt-tightening and hand-wringing. That’s when de Bore decided to make a change at his New Orleans plantation. Fatefully, he decided to switch to sugar, planting fields of it and — after improving processes being experimented with at the time — helped pioneer what is recognized as the first large-scale commercial refining of cane juice into granulated sugar. That first crop, produced in 1796, brought him the equivalent of $200,000 today. More importantly, it revolutionized the economy of Louisiana — with regard to both the sugar trade and the slave trade — and, in the process, changing the course of history.
THE ARTIST: Maddie Stratton
THE INSPIRATION: “Other planters followed the example of M. de Bore, and the cane will doubtless be very soon cultivated in every part of this territory where the climate permits. The facility with which sugar planters amass wealth is almost incredible.” — Louisiana Gov. C.C. Claiborne, in an 1806 letter to Thomas Jefferson