Timelines: Timeline of African Slavery in the Former Dutch Empire, 1579 – 1873

Shalom, everyone! The Dutch Empire, headed by the Netherlands (Holland), was a significant participant in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The Dutch shipped millions of Africans from its trading post in West Africa to its colonies in North America, the Caribbean, and South America. The following is a timeline of African slavery in the former Dutch Empire from 1579 to 1873. Please note that this post is a work-in-progress. As more information becomes available, this timeline will be updated:

Year Historical Event
1579 (29 January 1579) With the Union of Utrecht, the northern provinces of the Low Countries unite to create a Calvinist republic free from Spanish rule. The United Provinces (modern Netherlands) soon becomes an important slave-trading nation and an aspiring colonial power.
1581 The Dutch establish the first Zeelandic colony of Pomeroon on the Pomeroon River in the Guiana region on the north coast of South America.
1590s Dutch ships began to trade with Brazil and Gold Coast of Africa.
1592 Bernard Ericks becomes the first Dutch slave trader.
1596 – 1829 The Dutch transport approximately a half million enslaved Africans across the Atlantic, primarily to its colonies in the Caribbean and Brazil. The Dutch also shipped about a half million enslaved Africans to their colonies in Dutch Guiana, notably Suriname, where they worked primarily on sugar plantations.
1596 Pomeroon destroyed by the Spanish and local indigenous warriors.
1602 The Republic of the Seven United Netherlands chartered the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie or “VOC”) with the mission of exploring North America‘s rivers and bays for a direct passage through to the Indies.
1614 The Dutch established the colony of New Netherland on the east coast of North America. The claimed territories extended from the Delmarva Peninsula to extreme southwestern Cape Cod, while the more limited settled areas are now part of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut, with small outposts in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. The inhabitants of New Netherland were European colonists, American Indians, and Africans imported as slave laborers.
1616 The Dutch established a colony on the Essequibo River called Essequibo, in the Guiana region on the north coast of South AmericaEssequibo was founded by colonists led by Joost van der Hooge from the first Zeelandic colony, Pomeroon, which had been destroyed by the Spanish and local warriors around 1596. The colony formed a part of the colonies that are known under the collective name of Dutch Guiana.
1617 – 1678 The Dutch established trading posts called Bovenkust in modern-day Senegal. The main purpose of these trading posts was to obtain slaves in order to ship them to the Americas.The French captured Bovenkust in 1678.
1621 (3 June 1621) Dutch West India Company granted a charter for a trade monopoly in the Dutch West Indies by the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands and given jurisdiction over Dutch participation in the Atlantic slave trade, Brazil, the Caribbean, and North America. The area where the company could operate consisted of West Africa (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Cape of Good Hope) and the Americas, which included the Pacific Ocean and the eastern part of New Guinea.
1625 – 1680 The Dutch established settlements on St. Croix, Tortola and Virgin Gorda. Over time the Dutch would be driven from these territories by the Spanish and the British.
1627 Berbice, a region along the Berbice River in Guyana, was by the businessman Abraham van Peere from Vlissingen, under the suzerainty of the Dutch West India Company. Berbice would remain the personal possession of Van Peere and his descendants until 1714.
1630 The Dutch capture Northerneastern Brazil from the Portuguese and renamed it New Holland. The main cities of the Dutch colony of New Holland were the capital Mauritsstad (today Recife), Frederikstadt (João Pessoa), Nieuw Amsterdam (Natal), Saint Louis (São Luís), São CristóvãoFort Schoonenborch (Fortaleza), Sirinhaém and Olinda.
1630s Brazil provided 80% of the sugar sold in London.
1631 The Dutch established a settlement on Sint Maarten, erecting Fort Amsterdam as protection from invaders.
1633 The Spanish recapture Sint Maarten from the Dutch, and keep possession until abandoning the island in 1648.
1634 The Dutch West India Company take possession of Curaçao and establish its capital Willemstad. Commerce and shipping—and piracy—became Curaçao‘s most important economic activities.
1636 The Dutch West India Company took possession of the island of Sint Eustatius. The island was of some importance for the cultivation of tobacco and sugar.
1636  The Dutch take possession of Aruba and Bonaire from Spain. Aruba was used to farm and graze livestock as a source of meat for other Dutch possessions in the CaribbeanBonaire became a plantation of the Dutch West India Company. Enslaved Africans were put to work alongside Indians and convicts, cultivating dyewood and maize and harvesting solar salt.
1637 The Dutch West India Company captured Elmina in South Ghana from the Portuguese; in subsequent centuries it was mostly used for the slave trade.
1638 – 1710 The Dutch East India Colony establish a colony on the island of Mauritius, off southern Africa’s east coast.
1640 Dutch colonists from Sint Eustatius take possession of Saba on behalf of the Dutch West India Company.
1640 The Dutch West India Company began sending servants regularly to the Ajaland capital of Allada (modern-day Benin), the capital of the Kingdom of Dahomey, from 1640 onward.  The Dutch had in the decades before begun to take an interest in the Atlantic slave trade due to their capture of northeastern Brazil from the Portuguese.
1644 (February 25A group of 11 enslaved Africans in New Amsterdam (modern-day New York) successfully petition the government there in what is the first group manumission in a North American colony.
1645 The Battle of Tabocas between the Dutch and the Portuguese, won by the Portuguese. The battle was a first major victory in the nine-year period of war that would lead to the retreat of the Dutch from Northeastern Brazil.
1648 The Treaty of Concordia in 1648 divided the island of Sint Maarten in two, between the Dutch and French. With the new cultivation of cotton, tobacco, and sugar, the French and the Dutch imported a massive number of slaves to work on the plantations. The slave population quickly grew larger than that of the white landowners.
1649 The Dutch West India Company obtained a monopoly on gold and enslaved Africans in the kingdom of Accra (present-day Ghana).
1650 The second colony of Pomeroon established on the Pomeroon River in the Guiana region by the Dutch West India Company. Plantations were set up on which African slaves were forced to work. A small town called Nieuw Middelburg was formed, and the fortress Nova Zeelandia was built to protect the small colony.
1652 The Dutch established a colony on the Cape of Good Hope on the southern African coast to serve as a resupply station for ships en route to Europe from AsiaDutch immigration in the Cape rapidly swelled as prospective colonists were offered generous grants of land and tax exempt status in exchange for producing the food needed to resupply passing ships.
1654 (28 January 1654) The Dutch lost control of Recife to Portuguese forces, leaving to the Portuguese their colony of Brazil and putting an end to New Holland.
1660 The Vergulde Valck, Dutch slave-traders, bought 675 of the 1,000 slaves sold in Angola in 1660.
1660 – 1691 The Dutch establish a trading post in Offra in modern-day Benin. From 1660 to 1691, between 2,500 to 3,000 enslaved Africans are shipped annually to the Americas via Offra. From 1660 onward, Dutch presence in Allada and especially Offra became more permanent. A report from this year asserts Dutch trading posts, apart from Allada and Offra, in Benin City, Grand-Popo, and Savi. This is the establishment of the Dutch Gold Coast.
1661 (6 August 1661) New Holland (Brazil) formally ceded to Portugal under the terms of the Treaty of the Hague. the Portuguese would pay 4 million réis over the span of 16 years in order to help the Dutch recover from the loss of Brazil.
1662 The Dutch West India Company made Curaçao a center for the Atlantic slave trade, often bringing slaves here for sale elsewhere in the Caribbean and on the mainland of South America.
1667 (26 February 1667) Surinam colony captured by the Dutch from the British. The colonization of Surinam is marked by slavery. Plantations relied on slave labor, mostly supplied by the Dutch West India Company from its trading posts in West Africa, to produce their crops. Sugar, cotton, coffee, and indigo were the main goods exported from the colony to the Netherlands. The treatment of enslaved Africans was horrific, resulting in many escaping to Maroon communities in the jungle known as “Djukas” or “Bakabusi Nengre.” Throughout the 18th century, the Djukas would conduct many attacks on plantations in Suriname.
1667 The Dutch cede New Netherland to the control of the British.
1674 The Dutch West India Company collapsed under mounting debt but continued to exist due to the high demand for slaves in Dutch colonies.
1675 The Dutch West India Company was reorganized as the Second Chartered West India Company (also called New West India Company and Second Dutch West India Company).
1689 Pomeroon colony destroyed by French privateers. The buildings and sugar-mills were burned and the slaves were taken away to French colonies. The plantations were not restored, and the colony was abandoned.
1691 The Dutch shifted its main trading post from Offra to Ouidah in modern-day Benin.
1694 – 1700 The Second Dutch West India Company waged war against the British Royal Africa Company over trading rights in the Eguafo Kingdom along the Gold Coast, present-day Ghana.
1712 (November 1712) Berbice briefly captured by the French., who demanded the Van Peere family pay a ransom to free the colony.
1714 (24 October 1714) Ransom paid to French by five Dutch businessmen, the brothers Nicolaas and Hendrik van Hoorn, Arnold Dix, Pieter Schuurmans, and Cornelis van Peere, thereby acquiring the colony of Berbice.
1720 (24 October 1714) The Society of Berbice is founded by the owners of the colony of Berbice, governed similarly to its neighboring colony the Society of Suriname.  In the years following, Berbice became the second most flourishing Dutch colony in the Guianas after Suriname.
1726 The Dutch shift their slave trading post to Jaquim (modern-day Godomey) in southern Benin.
1763 (26 February – December 1763) Berbice Slave Uprising led by Cuffy, an enslaved African of Akan descent, on Plantation Magdalenenberg on the Canje River, protesting harsh and inhumane treatment. More than 2,500 enslaved Africans revolt against the colonial regime. Other key figures among the rebels include Atta, Accara, and Accabre.
1764 (Spring 1764) The Berbice Slave Uprising is put down with assistance from troops from neighboring French and British colonies.
1778 The Dutch colony at the Cape of Good Hope expanded beyond the initial settlement and its borders were formally consolidated as the composite Dutch Cape Colony in 1778. At the time, the Dutch had subdued the indigenous Khoisan and San peoples in the Cape and seized their traditional territories. Dutch expansion further east halted by the Xhosa people.
1779 – 1879 The Xhosa wars between the Xhosa and the Dutch, as Dutch settlers repeatedly try to expand and claim lands in Xhosa territory in what is now the Eastern Cape in South Africa.
1780 – 1784 Fourth Anglo-Dutch War.
1781 (27 February 1781) Dutch colonies of Berbice, Essequibo, and Demerara occupied by British forces as part of the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War
1782 (January 1782) Berbice, Essequibo, and Demerara were recaptured by the French, who were allied with the Dutch.
1783 The French restored the colonies of Berbice, Essequibo, and Demerara to Dutch rule with the Treaty of Paris of 1783.
1790s Dutch planters began resettling on the banks of the Pomeroon River. The region now administered as part of the Dutch colony of Essequibo and Demerara.
1791 Second Dutch West India Company‘s stock was bought by the Dutch government.
1792 (1 January 1792) All territories previously held by the Dutch West India Company reverted to the rule of Dutch Republic.
1795 A major slave revolt took place under the leaders Tula Rigaud, Louis Mercier, Bastian Karpata, and Pedro Wakao. Up to 4,000 slaves on the northwest section of the island revolted. More than 1,000 slaves took part in extended gunfights. After a month, the slave owners suppressed the revolt.
1796 – 1802 (22 April 1796) The British recaptured the colonies of Berbice, Essequibo, and Demerara from the Dutch. Colonies briefly restored to the Dutch in 1802 under the terms of the Treaty of Amiens.
1803 (September 1803) British permanently occupied BerbiceEssequibo, and Demerara.
1806 The British occupy the Cape Colony in South Africa
1812 Starbroeck renamed Georgetown by the British.
1814 (15 June 1814) As part of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814 (Convention of London), the slave trade abolished on paper. Dutch ships for the slave trade were no longer permitted in British ports. This restriction would be extended to a ban on involvement in the slave trade by Dutch citizens.
1814 (13 August 1814) Essequibo became official British territory as part of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814 (Convention of London) and was merged with the colony of Demerara. Slave trade abolished. Dutch Cape Colony in South Africa formally ceded to the British.
1815 (20 November 1815) The Dutch formally cede Berbice and Demerara-Essequibo to the British.
1863 (1 July 1863) Slavery abolished in the Dutch colonies, emancipating 33,000 slaves in Surinam, 12,000 in the Dutch Antilles, and an indeterminate number in Indonesia. Former slaves in the Dutch colonies were forced to serve an unpaid apprenticeship of an additional ten years, with full emancipation occurring on July 1, 1873. Some former slaves of Curaçao emigrated to other islands to work in sugarcane plantations. Other former slaves had nowhere to go and remained working for the plantation owner in the tenant farmer system. This was an instituted order in which the former slave leased land from his former master. In exchange, the tenant promised to give up for rent most of his harvest to the former slave master. This system lasted until the beginning of the 20th century.
1872 The Dutch cede control of Elmina fort with the sale of the Dutch Gold Coast to the British.
1873 (1 July 1873) Former slaves in the Dutch colonies granted full emancipation.



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