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The Dutch Slave Trade, 1500-1850

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Volume 5

European Expansion & Global Interaction

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The Dutch Slave Trade, 1500-1850

Pieter Emmer
Translated from the Dutch by Chris Emery

25th Anniversary Sale, 25% off all books! Add coupon code BB25

176 pages, bibliog, index

ISBN  978-1-84545-031-1 25% OFF! $120.00/£85.00 $90.00/£63.75 Hb Published (January 2006)

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“[Emmer offers] a compelling and well researched story of the relationship between power and greed in shaping the dealings of the Dutch with the non-European world before 1850, and how this in turn shaped Dutch history…Emmer’s account of the Dutch slave trade, and issues of moral conscience and national identity that underpin it,is likely to encourage yet more research and reflection among both scholars and others on how slavery was interwoven with the history of other European nations.”  ·  The International History Review

“…a succinct overview of the state of research on the Dutch Atlantic slave trade from its emergence in the early seventeenth century until its disappearance nearly two centuries later, as ell as a brief discussion of its moral implications.”  ·  Business History Review

“[This book] is to be highly recommended to anybody who is looking for brief and concise information on key aspects of the Dutch slave trade.”  ·  Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte

“This is a short book on what turns out to be a rather bigger subject than might have been expected from the title; not because the Dutch slave trade was so important, but because Emmer uses it as an entry to a wide range of issues concerning the Atlantic slave trade in general and its historiography...a triumph of concision… It is remarkable how much interesting material and controversial argument he has managed to pack into such a limited space. The translation by Chris Emery from the original Dutch text is clear and reads well."  ·  Reviews in History


Dutch historiography has traditionally concentrated on colonial successes in Asia. However, the Dutch were also active in West Africa, Brazil, New Netherland (the present state of New York) and in the Caribbean. In Africa they took part in the gold and ivory trade and finally also in the slave trade, something not widely known outside academic circles. P.C. Emmer, one of the most prominent experts in this field, tells the story of Dutch involvement in the trade from the beginning of the 17th century–much later than the Spaniards and the Portuguese–and goes on to show how the trade shifted from Brazil to the Caribbean. He explains how the purchase of slaves was organized in Africa, records their dramatic transport across the Atlantic, and examines how the sales machinery worked. Drawing on his prolonged study of the Dutch Atlantic slave trade, he presents his subject clearly and soberly, although never forgetting the tragedy hidden behind the numbers – the dark side of the Dutch Golden Age -, which makes this study not only informative but also very readable.

Pieter C. Emmer is Professor of the History of the Expansion of Europe and the related migration movements at University of Leiden. He was a visiting fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge, UK (1978-79), at the Wissenschaftskolleg Berlin (2000-2001) and at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (2002-2003), Wassenaar, The Netherlands. He served as visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin (1986-87) and at the University of Hamburg, Germany (1996-97). Pieter Emmer is member of the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Jahrbuch für die Geschichte Lateinamerikas, Studien zur historischen Migrationsforschung, Journal of Caribbean History, Itinerario and author of The Dutch in the Atlantic Economy, 1580-1880 (Aldershot, 1998) and co-editor of Migration, Integration, Minorities, a European Encyclopaedia to be published by Cambridge University Press. In 2004, he became a member of the Academia Europaea.

Subject: Colonialism Early Modern History Refugee & Migration Studies
Area: Europe North America



Chapter 1. The Atlantic Slave Trade: Participate or Not? The Iberian Example

  • The Netherlands and the Slave Trade
  • To be Forgotten or Remembered?
  • The Greatest Crime against Humanity?
  • The Bridge between Slavery in the Old and the New World: the Portuguese
  • First against, Then in Favour
  • The Volte-Face in Dutch Ideology
  • The Slave Trade in Dutch Brazil

Chapter 2. Greedy Customers: Planters and Plantations in the New World

  • The English and French Caribbean
  • A Second Dutch ‘Brazil’?
  • The Dutch Antilles and the Slave Trade with South America
  • The Slave Trade to the Dutch Guyanas and the Ending of the WIC’s Monopoly

Chapter 3. The Slaving Voyage: Departure from the Netherlands and Trade on the African Coast

  • Preparing for a Slaving Voyage
  • Preparations for a Slaving Voyage
  • The Composition of the Cargo
  • Did European Goods Harm Africa?
  • On the African Coast: the Purchase of Slaves
  • The Demographic Costs of the Slave Trade for West Africa
  • Where Did the Slaves Come From?
  • Why Did Africa Let So Many Slaves Go?
  • Bosman and Equiano on the Slave Trade

Chapter 4. The Slaving Voyage: the Crossing from Africa to the West Indies

  • The Mortality
  • The Fight Against Death
  • Shipboard Mutinies
  • The Middle Passage According to Equiano
  • Arrival in the West Indies
  • The Sale of Slaves

Chapter 5. The West Indian Plantations and Their Insatiable Demand for Slaves

  • Why did the Plantations always Need More Slaves?
  • Insurgents and Runaways
  • From African to American?

Chapter 6. The Dutch Economy and the Slave Trade

  • Equiano’s Arrival in the West Indies
  • The Return Voyage to the Netherlands
  • Profit and Loss in the Dutch Slave Trade
  • The Economic Importance of the Dutch Slave Trade
  • The Cruellest Planters?
  • The Reputation of Suriname and the Dutch Slave Trade

Chapter 7. The Aftermath: the Abolition of the Dutch Slave Trade, The Illegal Slave Trade and the Transportation of Indentured Labourers from Asia

  • The Abolition of the Slave Trade
  • The Illegal Slave Trade
  • The Abolition of Slavery in the Dutch Colonies
  • Africa without the Slave Trade
  • Suriname without the Slave Trade
  • A New Slave Trade?
  • The Transportation of Asian Indentured Labourers to Suriname

Chapter 8. Morality and the Slave Trade: Debts of Honour

  • How Guilty is the Netherlands?
  • Right and Wrong in the History of the Dutch


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