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<   No. 4690   2022-01-21   >

Comic #4690

1 Ponsonby: Deploy grappling hooks! Board those pirates!
2 Long Tom: Be repellin’ boarders!
3 Dirque: I be needing extra rations o’ rum!
3 Long Tom: What for? Bravery?
4 Dirque: Then I can be reppelin’ ’em with me breath!

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Rum is an alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane.

Although rum is intimately associated with the Caribbean region, sugarcane originates in New Guinea, where it was domesticated around 4000 BC, then rapidly introduced across the Pacific, South-East Asia, and India. Muslim and Arab traders brought sugarcane to the Mediterranean around the 8th century.

Sugarcane arrived in the Caribbean in 1493, brought by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World. It quickly became a major crop there in the tropical climate, providing sugar for shipping back to the colder and less suitable growing climates of North America and Europe. This formed one leg of the infamous Triangle Trade, the others being the shipping of textiles, manufactured goods, and rum(!) from America/Europe to Africa, and the shipping of slaves from Africa to the Americas.

Fermented sugarcane juice has been drunk in many places around the world, but it was in the Caribbean that it rose to prominence. Caribbean rum was popular in the American colonies. So much so that according to a citation in Wikipedia: Estimates of rum consumption in the American colonies before the American Revolutionary War had every man, woman, or child drinking an average of 3 imperial gallons (14 litres) of rum each year. Rum was also used as a medium of exchange. And in 1733 rum was at the centre of Great Britain's Molasses Act, which levied taxes on the importation of molasses to the American colonies, an act that led towards the Sugar Act of 1764 and ultimately to the American Revolution.

In the Australian colonies in the next century, rum also became very important. There it was also used as a medium of exchange, being valued as about the only thing to bring solace to the colonists in harsh and food-scarce conditions. Arguments over the control and supply of rum were central to the overthrow of Governor William Bligh in 1808 in the so-called Rum Rebellion - the only instance (so far) of governmental overthrow in Australia. (Though frankly, if you were looking for someone to not be overthrown as Governor, you could probably do better than choosing William Bligh, who had previously been overthrown as captain during the 1789 mutiny on the Bounty.)

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