The impact of the slave trade on the Dutch economy | 6/18/2019 | Staff
Cayley1561 (Posted by) Level 3
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View of the harbor of Middelburg, second half of the eighteenth century, by Mathias de Sallieth and based on a drawing by Dirk de Jong. Rijksmuseum Collection Amsterdam, RP-P-1926-37.

To what extent did the Netherlands grow rich from the Transatlantic slave trade? In his dissertation "Walcherse Ketens," Gerhard de Kok looks at Vlissingen and Middelburg, the most important slave trade cities in the Netherlands during the second half of the 18th century. It turns out that, although the slave trade comprised only a small fraction of Dutch national trade, it had a major economic impact at a local level.

Decades - Trade - Island - Walcheren - Zeeland

In the two decades before 1780, the slave trade on the island of Walcheren in Zeeland was at its peak. After the dismantling of the Dutch West India Company's slave trade monopoly in the 1730s, 65 to 70 percent of the Dutch slave trade was in the hands of Walcheren merchants. Between 1730 and 1800, about 500 slave ships departed from Vlissingen or Middelburg, loaded with valuable exports to exchange for people in West Africa. By participating in the slave trade in the 18th century, people from Zeeland joined the "Atlantic system," which was driven by slave labour.

For two other major North-Western European centres of slave trade, Liverpool and Nantes, it is known that this trade branch considerably stimulated the municipal economy. De Koks research shows that the construction, provisioning and equipping of slave ships was also of great economic importance on Walcheren between 1755 and 1780. The Walcheren economy was closely tied to the slave trade in the second half of the 18th century, according to De Kok. Carpenters, sailmakers, bookkeepers, millers, ironsmiths; countless of 'ordinary citizens' were directly or indirectly involved in the slave trade. This trade in human beings also stimulated other branches of trade, such as the import of...
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