In the early 1780s, the revolution that started with the Boston Tea Party was about to end with a fight over the Caribbean sugar bowl. Stewart Dean, an American privateer, sailed his fast, well-armed boat, Nimrod, from the new United States into the tropical fray, and landed himself smack in the middle of “The Sweetest Deal of the American Revolution.” Trapped in a web of international conflict, trade and diplomacy, he was saved by England’s growing taste for the 18th century’s most valuable commodity – sugar.
His release, in exchange for the entire 1782 sugar harvest of the Caribbean island of St. Kitts, was literally the sweetest deal of the Revolutionary War. Through it, England got its sugar. France got its way. And Dean got his freedom. How and why it happened is a story of American enterprise, English stoicism and French self-interest.