My project examines confluences between the scientific, progressive, and reforming ideas associated with the early English Enlightenment, and the concurrent proliferation of Caribbean slave plantations. More specifically, it argues that Britain’s West Indian sugar estates were major sites of early Enlightenment thought and practice, and were imagined as such by both Caribbean planters and English reformers during this period. From the mid-seventeenth century until the American Revolution, two of the most significant developments within the English Atlantic were the proliferation of Enlightenment ideas on reason, order, and progress, and the simultaneous expansion of slave-based work regimes. Yet despite this concurrence historians have almost always treated these topics separately, juxtaposing them as opposing forces within early modern thought. This approach has stymied historians when seeking to explain how a terror-based, exploitative labor system could prosper during the period of Enlightenment. Such a problem has forced historians either to ignore slavery’s role within Enlightenment narratives, or to characterize slavery as the Enlightenment’s shadow-double with expressions like “The Peculiar Institution” or “The American Paradox.” I address this problem through a study of early English sugar plantations, showing how these estates were appraised by England’s intellectual community in the seventeenth century. In doing so, I demonstrate how both slavery and the Enlightenment shared common roots within the expansionist discourse of English natural science during this period. Within this discourse, the dual categories of knowing and dominating were understood as positive synergic outcomes of an ethos which stressed both a systematic exploration of knowledge, and an enforced rational application of that knowledge towards various worldly problems. In particular, this ethos advocated using new discoveries and innovations to streamline artisanal industries and to more thoroughly organize English labor routines, all for the sake of national plenty and profit. Because of this focus, natural scientists of this period perceived little moral, scientific, or economic distinction between the coercive practices of the West Indies and other developmental or experimental projects within British dominions. Instead, Caribbean plantations were simply understood as another example of this period’s strivings towards moral, natural, and economic improvement—hallmarks of early Enlightenment thought.