The Dutch Transatlantic Slave Trade

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The question of why the Dutch became involved in the Transatlantic slave trade should be clear to us now. The Dutch currently controlled Northern Brazil, but did not have a labor source to work the sugarcane plantations. The question of how this came about will presently be addressed. But before doing this, it should be noted that Dutch citizens and corporations had been involved in the slave industry long before the WIC or even the VOC came into existence and represented the Netherlands in the Transatlantic slave trade. The most often reported example of the early Dutch involvement in the slave trade comes from John Smith in the Virginia colony.

“About the last of August (1619) came a Dutch man of Warre that sold us about twenty negars.”
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They also contracted the help of two Portuguese slavers to assist the WIC in their maiden voyage. Because of the necessity for immediate slaves, the WIC also contracted privateers to confiscate Africans from Spanish and Portuguese slave ships. As the slave trade began to produce laborers, the WIC transported 26,286 documented Africans to Northern Brazil. From 1636 through 1645, the WIC imported ninety-four percent of their overall slave trade to New Holland. What may appear as instant success rather came about through years of premeditated planning. The WIC had been slowly acquiring Portuguese forts along the African coast for decades. Initially they attempted to acquire Fort Mina, the most coveted fort, in 1606 from the Portuguese. The WIC understood that if their cooperation with the Portuguese ended, they would need leverage on the African continent. However, it would be two decades and thousands of men lost before Colonel Hans Coine in 1637 finally captured Fort Mina (to be renamed Fort Elmina) from Portugal. Alongside of Fort Elmina, the Dutch established Fort Nassau and Axim. From 1637-1872, the Dutch possessed at least fifteen forts along the West African coast which were vital to the success of the Transatlantic slave trade. With this success, the WIC increased her workforce from 6,000 to over 10,000 employees in less than a …show more content…
With an overhead cost around 93 guilders, the WIC generated an appreciable profit from just Atlantic slavery. Alongside of this, the WIC was sending salt and sugar back to the Netherlands to be refined and then exporting rum and Dutch manufactured goods back to Africa to be traded for African slaves. This created the Dutch triangle and became one of the most lucrative importing and exporting industries the world has ever seen. In addition, the WIC sent silver from Spanish mines to the VOC to maintain Dutch dominance in the East Indies. This success was short lived for the WIC, however. Because of the way the Dutch captured Northern Brazil, plantation owners there had little to no capital and were purchasing African heads on loan from the WIC. By 1645, the Portuguese plantations owed the WIC 4.5 million guilders. Instead of Portugal footing the bill, the plantation owners revolted and Portugal recaptured Northern Brazil. With the loss, so ended the miracle run by the Dutch which was due in part to a lot of luck, success in commerce and trade, but a failure to colonize. And in 1647, the Spanish ended the Eighty Years War with the Netherlands and the WIC’s involvement in privateering came to an end. The WIC was in dire straits from 1645 until their bankruptcy in 1674. What kept them alive was

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