Dutch slavery history
“Service to the chain?”, With the subtitle: “The Dutch Bank and the Last Decades of Slavery, 1814-1863”, is the result of a study of the history of Dutch slavery, contained in a 248-page paperback.
Keti Koti 2022
The publication was presented in the Netherlands around 1 July 2022. It is a story about De Nederlandsche Bank, in which the authors pay particular attention to the connection with slavery, both as a factor in the economy and as a topic of political debate. With this research, the bank hopes to contribute to the social discussion of Dutch slavery history.
The research team
dr. Karwan Fatah-Black, assistant professor of social and economic history at Leiden University, led the research.
The scientist was assisted by Lauren Lauret, a researcher at University College London and assistant professor of Dutch history at Leiden University. Assistant Professor Joris van den Tol from Queens’ College, Cambridge University and Associate Professor of Economic History at Radboud University Nijmegen, was also part of the research team.
Scientist Fatah-Black was sent to Suriname to present the research and the resulting book, to shed light on it and to measure how production is perceived in Suriname. On July 11, the researcher gave a lecture in a reception room of the National Archives of Suriname.
At the beginning of his introduction, the researcher referred to the speech of President Klaas Knot of De Nederlandse Bank (DNB), which was held on 1 July in connection with the celebration of the abolition of slavery during the presentation of the book for Dutch society.
Knot: “On behalf of De Nederlandsche Bank, I apologize today to all descendants of slaves in the Netherlands, in Suriname, on Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, on Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. Apologies to all the people who were reduced to their skin color because of the personal choices of my predecessors. Sorry to all the people who are still suffering the consequences of this today. “
DNB founded in 1814
Speaker Fatah Black spoke about the fact that DNB was not involved in the history of Dutch slavery. The Dutch central bank was founded in 1814. Slavery had already ceased at that time. King Willem Frederik Prins van Oranje-Nassau had set the corridor in motion.
According to the speaker, DNB had no policy on transatlantic slavery. It was clear at the time of the creation of the bank that slavery would be abolished. DNB had no representative in Suriname. The banking system in Suriname was not DNB’s responsibility.
West Indian Bank Suriname
It is true that the West Indies Bank Suriname, founded in 1828, took DNB’s patent as an example. It was created to streamline the economy. In Suriname, there were all sorts of accounts to settle. As a bank, DNB was involved in the payment and collection of bills of exchange. De Surinaamsche Bank, founded in 1865, was also not affiliated with DNB.
The current DNB management wanted to know what the bank’s role was in the slavery institute. The study focuses on the Dutch central bank and its employees in the bank. The involvement of bank staff in the past of slavery was examined.
In the nineteenth century, the Nederlandsche Bank served Dutch commercial interests and the Ministry of Colonies. DNB’s directors’ private involvement in slavery or in special cases in the fight for abolition is clear. It is concluded that there are points of contact between the bank and the history of slavery, nothing more. In the annals of the bank the word slavery does not even appear.
North and South Holland
The king was busy building a ‘new kingdom’, it is connected with the establishment of DNB. It was thought of as a world empire. The idea was to increase the trade of the kingdom. The processing of products took place in the industrial southern part of the country. The Nordic region, which was rich in trade contacts, was accused of sales and distribution.
The capital of Amsterdam
Before De Nederlandse Bank was founded, Amsterdam was Holland’s financial / banking center. Of the 16 people who invested money in DNB, many had interests in Suriname and the slave trade. Two of them were born in Suriname.
The establishment of DNB did not go smoothly. The plants and other stakeholders have long opposed the abolition of slavery. At the negotiating table, the requirements and conditions were met. It took some time before they invested capital in DNB so it could work.
During the investigation, it became clear that the list of the first major investors in DNB, who decided who would be the first directors of the bank to sit on the board, was led by names that were recognizable in Suriname.
Making money on slavery
For example, the money with which De Nederlandsche Bank was founded was partly earned through slavery. For example, De Nederlandsche Bank accepted products from the plantations, such as coffee and sugar, as security for a loan. And therefore De Nederlandsche Bank paid compensation to former plantation owners when slavery was abolished, on behalf of the Ministry of Colonies. Among them are also directors of De Nederlandsche Bank. “
To be continued