This is an extract of our Dutch Empire document, which we sell as part of our Dutch Empire and its Competitors Notes collection written by the top tier of Cambridge students.
The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Dutch Empire and its Competitors Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:
THE DUTCH EMPIRE AND ITS COMPETITORS AND THEIR COMPETITORS
Pieter Emmer, The Dutch in the Atlantic Economy, 1580-1880, (Farnham, England: Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 1998); various essays: 'The Dutch in the Atlantic Economy, 1580-1880: An Introduction'???Historiography of the Atlantic economy has tended to ignore the contribution of the Low Countries; it has seemed more attractive to concentrate on the history of the Dutch in Asia, where they played a unique role, far more important than might have been anticipated from their relatively modest position among the expanding nations of Europe For two centuries, the Dutch were the most important traders in Asia, and the Dutch East India Company had a virtual monopoly in the marketing of a large assortment of Asian goods; at times it employed more than 40,000 people around the world; the Company built its own vessels, the largest ships on the seas at the time; between 1600 and 1800 the Company brought one million men to Asia of whom only one third returned alive (cf. A.C.J. Vermeulen, 'The People on Board', in J.R. Bruijn, F.S. Gaastra and I. Schoffer (eds.), Dutch-Asiatic Shipping in the 17th and 18th Centuries, vol. III (The Hague, 1987), pp.143-172) In the Atlantic, the Dutch role was a much more minor one; within fifty years of their first exploits in the region, they rather lost their momentum, even before their economic position in Europe itself started to decline Right from the start, Dutch expansion into the Atlantic took a different course in comparison with that of Britain; (i) the Dutch merchants broke the weakest link in the defences of the Iberian New World by illegally penetrating the production of, and the trade in, sugar in Portuguese Brazil; (ii) this policy of quiet, pacific penetration was rather suddenly abandoned in favour of a fully-fledged attack on Portugal; the upshot was that between 1580 and 1650, the Dutch merchant community lost considerable sums of investment capital in trying to obtain a sugar-producing area and a slave-supply system After defeat in Brazil, the Dutch did seize a Caribbean base: Dutch Guyana; but the precarious position of the Dutch West India Company (WIC) had made it virtually powerless; in sum, the Atlantic policies of the British turned out to have been much more successful than those of the Dutch In Britain, there was a constant flow of investment capital going out to the plantations in the West Indies; part of that came from the transfer of family capital, in addition to which merchants and banks involved in handling plantation produce in Britain advanced money and mortgages to the planters; this pattern also existed in the Dutch Caribbean until the 1750s, when suddenly small groups of Amsterdam investors started to pour large sums of money into the West Indian plantations with disastrous result Another feature specific to the Dutch Atlantic was the prolongation of the system of slavery until 1863; various consequences: (i) continued 'benefit' of slavery in Suriname did not lead to an increase in total output of cash crops, only prevented decline; (ii) Suriname planters paid a price for the continued existence of slavery: they were more or less forced to give in to metropolitan pressures to increase the food rations, to improve slave housing and to improve care for pregnant women; eventually, the Suriname slave system may well have been unique in the protection it offered slaves: minimum standards for food, clothing, and housing; thus the slaves could force the colonial government to take the planters to court and plantations had to close down when they could not afford the costs of these improvements
'The Dutch and the Making of the Second Atlantic System', in Slavery and the Rise of the Atlantic System, ed. B.L. Solow, pp.75-96George Canning, British Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister (1770-1827) once remarked, it is said, that "in matters of commerce, the trouble with the Dutch is giving too little and asking too much"; whatever the value of such political poetry, the contents of this apply very neatly to the Dutch expansion in the AtlanticTwo Atlantic systems: first created during the ancien regime; second by the Dutch, British and FrenchDifferences in terms fo economic geography mainly limited to the Caribbean; characteristics of other geographical regions present in both systems; in both, Europe provided free and indentured settlers, administrators, military and navy; African regions of both systems were not houses of industry, but instead provided the forced labour to the various American coloniesThe revolt of the Netherlands against Habsburg Spain and the subsequent secession of the northern Netherlands had a slow but dramatic impact on the geopolitics of world trade; it became increasingly difficult for the Dutch merchant marine to limit itself to the role of European distributor; gradually, Dutch commercial expansion turned into a flurry of activity; began to compete with the Portuguese along the Cape Route and in Asia; established their own contacts in West Africa; siphoned off some wealth of Brazil and Spanish AmericaTruce with Spain between 1609 and 1621 diminished the velocity of the Dutch expansion; Iberian ports once again offered an alternative to buying transatlantic produce; but between 1619 and 1621, the situation changed when the Dutch West India Company was created with a monopoly over all trade in the Atlantic; structure almost a mirror image of the successful forerunner, the Dutch East India Company; investment floundered; could not maintain its monopoly; over time, it had to abandon its monopoly in virtually every branch of the Atlantic tradeAdditionally, Dutch merchants found several ways to trade illegally in the Atlantic, avoiding the monopoly of the Dutch West India Company by founding and financing Atlantic Companies in Sweden, Denmark and BrandenburgIn spite of these commercial drawbacks, the DWIC enabled the Dutch government to wage a constant war against the SpanishPortuguese colonial empire by allowing the Company to issue 'letters of marque' (in the days of fighting sail, a letter of marque and reprisal was a government licence authorizing a person (known as a privateer) to attack and capture enemy vessels and bring them before admiralty courts for condemnation and sale. Cruising for prizes with a letter of marque was considered an honourable calling combining patriotism and profit, in contrast to unlicensed piracy, which was universally reviled); in addition, the Company received financial and naval support from the Dutch government in this conflictOn the surface, by the 1640s, the Dutch seemed to have destroyed the first Atlantic system and started a new one, but the reality was quite different; Dutch Brazil could not be turned into a good location for the development of a reliable capitalist sugar industry; the cane growers and mill owners were Portuguese, and their loyalties remained uncertain
Despite the continued existence of an Iberian system in the South Atlantic, and in spite of the absence of Dutch settlements in the Caribbean, the Dutch withdrawal from Brazil laid the foundations for the second Atlantic system by forcing the Dutch to offer their expertise in slave trading and transportation to the French and British; in 1644, the Dutch were left with a relatively large supply system of African slaves but without a market once Dutch slave imports to Brazil had been halted by the revolt of the Portuguese moradores; the revolt in Dutch Brazil suddenly diminished the exportation of clay sugar to the Dutch refineries The Dutch tried to make up for the loss of their sugar-producing colony by continuing their previous policy of buying sugar from others; first turning to Portuguese Sao Tome, then to Barbados, Guadeloupe, and Martinique; at the same time, they directed the supply of African slaves to Sao Tome, to Curacao, which functioned as a transit harbour for Venezuela, and to Barbados and the French Antilles In turning to the Atlantic, the economic importance of slavery in New Netherland - the short-lived Dutch colony in North America - was similar to that in the Middle Colonies under British colonial rule; some of the slaves in New Netherland had come directly from Africa; the majority, however, were brought to the colony via Curacao; in total, slaves made up 5 per cent of the population of New Netherland, estimated at 9,000 in 1664 The Dutch role in the Atlantic was important in that the Dutch were instrumental in combining the production technology of the first Atlantic system with the capitalism of the second; as a result, the major production areas of tropical cash crops shifted from Brazil to the Caribbean and to the southern regions of North America Slavery was the only source of labour in both Atlantic systems, making up for the insufficient supply of both European migratory labour and labour available in the New World was offered by Amerindians and by settlers of European descent; the supply of African labour was relatively elastic, and that elasticity was one of the key elements in the distinctive orientation of the second Atlantic system toward the international market After the first fifty years, the international competitive elements within the second Atlantic system were reduced; the system was in danger of separating into several national systems; again, the Dutch played an important role in keeping the system as 'international' and market-oriented as possible; at home, the Dutch provided an international market for the purchase of goods destined for the African barter trade; they provided slaves to non-Dutch territories via their Antillean transit harbours; these harbours also functioned as international assembling points of Caribbean produce to be shipped to Europe The international importance, then, of the Dutch in the creation and operation of the Atlantic economy sharply contrasted with the modest Dutch share in the production of Atlantic cash crops, as well as with the negative returns on Dutch plantation investments
Blusse and Gaastra, 'The West India Company, 1621-1791: Dutch or Atlantic?', in Companies and Trade: Essays on Overseas Trading Companies during the Ancien Regime (The Hague, 1981), pp.71-95In spite of the striking resemblance in organizational structure at home, the Dutch WIC was never as much an all-embracing trading and shipping firm and a colonizer with a firm legal and actual monopoly as was the VOC; by the same token, there was not even a symbolic resemblance between the dissolution of the two companiesThe difference between the development of the West India Company and of the East India Company makes it easy to label the WIC as a failure and as the 'black sheep' of the Dutch mercantile expansion; while this might apply within the Dutch expansion, it is certainly not true when the West India Company is compared with companies of other nations trading in the AtlanticEarly Dutch involvement in Asia might well have hampered the Atlantic expansion; the Dutch choice to direct most of its overseas efforts towards the trade and transport of Asian luxury products with a near monopoly at both the buying and selling markets created a situation in which Dutch naval and mercantile power in the trade to, from, and within, Asia remained impressive in spite of the declining position of the Dutch Republic after 1650 among the other seafaring European nations???
The foundation of the WIC must have been partly based on the calculation that privateering against Spain and Portugal would be very lucrative; in fact, these hopes about the positive outcome of the anti-Iberian WIC privateering ventures did not always materialise; in 1628, the Company was operating at a loss, and in 1646, privateering was transferred from the WIC to another body On the other hand, the WIC hardly gave any new stimulus to the Atlantic trade in contrast to the VOC in Asia; long before the foundation of the WIC, there were several Dutch companies and merchant-houses operating in the Atlantic and trading to the West Coast of Africa, the Wild Coast, Portuguese Brazil and to North America; whereas the VOC could create something new in Asia, it was not until the beginning of the slave trade that the WIC added a novelty to the previously existing Dutch trade patterns in the Atlantic Examination of the existing Dutch trading-patterns in the Atlantic before the foundation of the WIC argues against pure economic motives in the foundation of the Company; 'No wonder it took over two years to collect enough capital to operate' After a two year trial period, the WIC monopoly was partly abolished in 1638; trade with Brazil and the Caribbean was opened to all shareholders of the Company upon the payment of a fee, with the exception of the trade in slaves, ammunition and Brazilian dye wood; the WIC directors took this first step after long discussions and under heavy pressure from Amsterdam; in 1648, the trade to Brazil and to New Netherland (inclusive of the slave trade) was thrown open to all Dutch merchants on the condition of payment of a fee to the WIC This partial annulment of the WIC monopoly struck at the very roots of the Company; after 1638, private merchants were able to take over the profitable sugar trade, while the Company had to pay the expenses for the administration and the defence of its possessions; in 1638, the WIC, unlike the VOC, lost its monopoly During the existence of the first and second VIC, the Company participated in the trade during the period 1621 to (roughly) 1740; in that period slaves, gold, and ivory were the main trade items; gold and ivory were brought exclusively to Europe, slaves only to the Caribbean; between those two trading patterns there was no complementary structure; WIC ships for the gold and ivory trade sailed between Europe and Africa only, while the WIC slavers usually made a triangular voyage; there was no
??existing inter-African trade pattern in which the WIC could or would fit as was the case with the VOC in Asia; the WIC could not earn a trade surplus in Africa itself as did the VOC in Asia; all return goods had to be directly bartered for with European produce/goods The internal trade between the American colonies of the WIC never became of any importance, although the WIC directors had some expectations in this direction; to reduce transport costs to a minimum, the Heeren XIX expected New Netherland to provide its southern sister colony with victuals In K.G. Davies' comparative study on the colonial governments of England, France, and Holland in North America and the Caribbean, the WIC administration in its overseas possessions is labelled as military; the Dutch Company was mainly interested in trade and was incapable of governing settlement and plantation colonies WIC rule on the Gold Coast was indeed a military-type administration; the Director-General was appointed by the WIC directors themselves; he was assisted by a council consisting of other high-ranking WIC officials The defence of its possessions was a tremendous financial burden for the WIC; in fact, none of the two Dutch overseas trading companies were designed to wage extensive wars, but the WIC was constantly at war both in Brazil and in North America, fighting Portuguese and Indians; i 1636 the defence and administration of New Holland alone amounted to 300,000 guilders per month; New Netherland's defence and administration came to a loss of 550,000 guilders over the years 1626-1644; in Brazil, the Company maintained an army of 6,000 men
"'Jesus Christ was Good but Trade was Better'": An Overview of the Transit Trade of the Dutch Antilles, 1634-1795', in The Lesser Antilles in the Age of European Expansion, eds. Robert L. Paquette and Stanley L. Engerman, pp.266-322 (Gainsville, FL, 1996)Contrasts the VOC with the WIC; the Dutch in the Atlantic assumed a much more modest role; between 1500 and 1800 they ranked fifth in volume of trade after the British, the French, the Portuguese, and the Spanish; unlike their major European competitors, the Dutch seemed unable to establish numerous or sizeable settlement and plantation coloniesReasons for the relative success in Asian trade: (i) enjoyed commercial advantages; (ii) they offered cheaper maritime freight rates, (iii) more advanced methods of corporate finance, and (iv) an impressive variety of consumer goods; all these advantages carried weight in the Atlantic, but failed to provide sufficient building material with which to construct an Atlantic empireBut the Dutch lacked out-migrants; only a few of its inhabitants wanted to settle overseas, which was different to the situation in Britain, Portugal, and parts of France; the authors put this down to the advanced nature of the Dutch poor law provision; indeed, foreigners made up about 40% of the crews of the Dutch navy and merchant marine; there is no reason to assume that this percentage was different among the migrants to the Dutch coloniesIn the early decades of the seventeenth century, the Dutch gave no indication that they would remain far behind France and England, the other two newcomers in the Atlantic; the Dutch had established firm trading links with Brazil; they had founded some small settlements on the coast of Guiana; they traded with the west coast of Africa; they had started a small settlement colony along the Hudson River in North AmericaDutch in the Atlantic went through stages of growth, stagnation, and decline; by 1675, the British and the French had overtaken the Dutch; even the Portuguese remained more important than the Dutch in the southern part of the Atlantic; by 1675, the explosion of energy, which seemed to have made the small Dutch Republic into the shipyard of the world, had abated; rather than remaining the daring pioneers of overseas discovery, trade and conquest, the Dutch government the WIC, and individual merchants and shipping firms seemed to have become a group of timid and defensive shopkeepers who refused to undertake any new venture in the Atlantic because the costs seemed to highAfter fifty years of war, conquests and losses in the Atlantic, a different phase evolved after 1675, during which the Dutch avoided expensive operations and political and commercial risks as much as possibleOne explanation for this change can be found in the attitude of the Dutch merchant and governmental elites towards large wars and expensive overseas conquests; by 1675, the common opinion prevailed that such ventures would only result in financial disasters as the conquest and subsequent loss of Dutch Brazil had shown; after 1675, the Dutch in the Atlantic became dependent on the political decisions of the British, who could have easily taken all Dutch colonial possessions in the Caribbean along with New Netherland; the size and development of the Dutch Atlantic empire resulted from the British decision to limit its expansion in the Caribbean and to expand on the North American mainlandIn short, the Dutch had no other choice after 1675 but to profit from a neutral position vis-a-vis the imperial rivalries in the Atlantic; the previous operations in the Atlantic had been aggressive and expensive; in Asia, the VOC had been able to shift the burden of its expensive overhead costs to the buyers of its products, including the expenditure for its defence and for its expansion into new areas; for most of the seventeenth century, the Dutch could profit from their unbeatably low freight costs and from their well-stocked staple market in Europe; in the Atlantic, however, the impact of the British and French migrationcum-colonization schemes, their mercantilist policies, and their naval power rapidly dwarfed the free-trade advantages offered by the Dutch Douglas A. Irwin, 'Mercantilism as Strategic Trade Policy: The Anglo-Dutch Rivalry for the East India Trade', Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 99, No. 6 (Dec., 1991), pp. 1296-1314 Abstract: This paper interprets seventeenth-century mercantilism in light of recent theories of strategic trade policy. Long-distance international commerce during the mercantilist period was undertaken chiefly by state-chartered monopoly trading companies and was therefore conducted under conditions of imperfect competition. The economic structure of the Anglo-Dutch rivalry for the East India trade provides an excellent illustration of an environment in which the profit-shifting motive for strategic trade policies exists. Dutch supremacy in the early East India trade was facilitated by a managerial incentive scheme in the monopoly charter that enabled it to achieve a Stackelberg leadership position against the English. Using data from the East India trade around 1620 in a Cournot duopoly model, I find that the managerial incentives yielded greater Dutch profits than would have been obtained from a standard profit-maximizing objective and that the scope for other strategic trade policies was clearly present.
The seventeenth century defined the age of mercantilism, in terms of both economic thought and commercial policy. Mercantilist economic thought held that the gains from international trade arose solely from exporting and that the nature of these gains made international trade equivalent to a zero-sum game. Mercantilist commercial policy entailed extensive government regulation of international trade to ensure that these gains accrued to one's own country, a pursuit that even carried European states into military conflict with one another over commercial interests The analogy between mercantilism and strategic trade policy is based on the observation that the emerging trade between Europe and other regions of the world during the mercantilist period was undertaken chiefly by state-chartered monopoly trading companies and was therefore conducted under conditions of imperfect competition. Imperfect competition gave rise to monopoly profits or rents, the international distribution of which could be altered by commercial policies. Recognition of this fact gave monarchs and statesmen a clear incentive to adopt interventionist trade policies to capture these rents for one's own country. These features of international trade in the seventeenth century may account for mercantilist attitudes and policies of the period. Indeed, the necessity of state protection of commercial interests against foreign encroachment and the desirability of state promotion of overseas trade for reasons of power and profit were unquestioned in mercantilist writings. These features also make the theory of strategic trade policy, with its emphasis on the rivalry between domestic and foreign firms in an imperfectly competitive setting, a particularly relevant framework in which to examine the mercantilist era. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the analogy between mercantilism and strategic trade policy by examining the seventeenth-century Anglo-Dutch rivalry for the East India trade The Anglo-Dutch rivalry for the East India trade, and perhaps other imperfectly competitive long-distance commerce of the period, illustrates a situation in which the profit-shifting opportunity for trade policy was clearly present. Dutch supremacy in the early East India trade was not achieved through government subsidies but was facilitated by managerial incentives in the monopoly charter to increase shipping revenue. This particular episode ends with an ironic twist that serves as a caution to advocates of strategic trade policies. By gradually acquiring territory on the spice islands of Indonesia, the Dutch succeeded in pre-empting rivals from the region but committed themselves to a trade that was to decline in importance in the second half of the century. Meanwhile, passive in their response to the Dutch commercial tactics and ousted from much of Southeast Asia, the English were forced to divert their trade toward India. Once established in India, the English were exceedingly-and unwittingly-well positioned to capitalize on what soon became the much more profitable and more rapidly growing cotton textile trade. In this trade they achieved pre-eminence toward the end of the seventeenth century and thereafter.
Pieter C. Emmer and Wim Klooster, The Dutch Atlantic, 1600-1800 Expansion Without Empire, Itinerario / Volume 23 / Issue 02 /
July 1999, pp. 48-69 (This paper was presented at the Itinerario conference 'The Nature of Atlantic History', May 1999 and was written by Pieter C. Emmer (Introduction, The Demography of the Dutch Atlantic and Power Politics in the Atlantic: The Mouse that Roared) and Wim Klooster (Dutch Atlantic Culture and Trade and Investment)Why did the Dutch expansion into the Atlantic not result in the creation of a Dutch Atlantic empire? To begin answering this question we will show that the first, dynamic period of Dutch expansion in the Atlantic between 1580 and 1675 contrasted sharply with the subsequent period of stagnation and decline. A real Dutch Atlantic empire incorporating an integrated set of colonies and trading forts on both sides of the Ocean only existed for a period of fifteen years, between 1630 and 1645. But the Dutch had been almost everywhere in the Atlantic and the view of the Dutch as an important Atlantic power has remained popular, particularly among foreign scholars. Yet, as early as 1645 the Dutch Atlantic started to disintegrate. It constituted only a marginal addition to Dutch metropolitan economy and society. In order to prove this point the four most important consequences of Dutch expansion into the Atlantic will be reviewed: cultural impact, demographic impact, effects on trade and investments and impact on Dutch foreign policy in the period between 1600 and 1800.If economic opportunities in the Atlantic were no more than marginal additions to Dutch trade and investments in Europe and Asia, the demo- graphic consequences of the Dutch expansion in the Atlantic were of no great importance either. There was no Dutch equivalent to the settlement colonies in the British and Iberian New World with their rapidly growing populations. The only Dutch colony where anything like the powerful demographic performance of the settlers in the non-tropical New World colonies could be witnessed was the 'tavern of two seas', the Cape of Good Hope, situated outside the Atlantic orbit.The cultural impact of Dutch Atlantic expansion was virtually invisible. A large, Dutch speaking community on the other side of the Atlantic never came into existence. The only two exceptions were the short-lived colonies of New Netherland (1609-1664) and Dutch Brazil (1624-1654). Together they housed about 15,000 Europeans of whom not more than 10,000 came from the Netherlands. In North America, the colony of New Netherland always remained a provincial outpost, but during a brief period the Dutch colony in Brazil was fully integrated into the expansive cultural and scientific life of the early Dutch Republic.However, this was a one-time phenomenon and it was never repeated in any of the other Dutch colonies and trading posts in the Atlantic. In fact, the cultural life of Dutch Brazil was solely the creation of an atypical Dutch administrator: Johan Maurits van Nassau Siegen. All this points to the fact that the impact of the Atlantic trade and colonisation on the foreign policy of the Dutch Republic was limited. Dutch business acumen and organisational talents were not the winning factors in the Atlantic as was the case in Asia. In the Atlantic, naval strength was the decisive factor and for that reason the Dutch lost out against the other Atlantic powers, notably against England. However, the naval weakness of the Dutch did not become apparent right away. Their maritime defensive and offensive capacities were adequate during the period between 1600 and 1675 when the Atlantic balance of power was still in the making. During that period the Dutch were able to cash in on their low shipping costs, wide range of trade goods and excellent marketing skills because of the various wars in Europe and internal unrest in Portugal, Spain, France and Great Britain.After 1675, however, the Dutch were only allowed to compete with shippers and traders of other nationalities in the few remaining niches as the Atlantic area had been carefully partitioned between the Atlantic powers. The borderlines between these Atlantic empires could only be changed by the British as they had invested much more in naval power than any other nation. Indeed, the British were so powerful that they could have taken over more Spanish and Portuguese possessions and indeed all of the Dutch and French Atlantic had they wanted to.
Only the British succeeded in creating an integrated Atlantic empire. That explains why the term 'Atlantic history' is very much a creation of historians in the U.K. and U.S. In the case of the Dutch such a concept makes no sense or as much sense as 'Dutch Asia' or the 'Dutch Mediterranean'. The same applies to France after the loss of French Canada. It remains to be seen whether the terms 'Spanish Atlantic' or 'Portuguese Atlantic' are applicable as the internal commercial and demographic cohesion in these empires were far weaker than the British case.Not only the Dutch slave trade but also the Dutch plantations in the West Indies suffered from inadequate profits. The demographic factor cannot explain why. There is no proof that the demography of the slave population in the Dutch Guyana's differed substantially from that in other colonies in the region. Higher death rates or lower birth rates have not substantiated the reputed impact of bad treatment. The only unique feature of the slave population in the largest Dutch plantation colony was the relatively large number of young, male runaway slaves. During the middle of the eighteenth century, the number of runaways was estimated, to have been as high as ten per cent of the total slave population. This must have caused severe economic hardship. However, it could be argued that the ready availability of the 'maroon escape hatch' made for a better selection between the slaves who did and those who did not want to work on the plantations. Those remaining would work more efficiently than else- where. In other parts of the Caribbean slave resistance expressed itself in continuous malingering, strikes, insurrections and frequent rebellions. In Suriname, the comparative disadvantage of frequent marronage was offset by the absence of large-scale insurrections and rebellions.?????In the domain of economics, the period before 1674 stands out in the history of the Dutch Atlantic as much as it does culturally. The Dutch were, by any standard, the most dynamic of all the Atlantic powers in the first half of the seventeenth century. Trade with West Africa was already in full swing prior to the foundation of the WIC (1621). New Netherland and Guiana attracted several merchants, but by far the most voluminous trade was conducted via Portugal with Brazil, the world's leading sugar producer at the time. Ten to fifteen ships were built annually for this triangular trade alone. Not content with their share in the Brazil trade, the Dutch then under the WIC conquered Recife, creating the colony of New Holland in Pernambuco (1630-1654). The Company's first historian, Johannes de Laet, estimated the overall value of Dutch sugar imports from Brazil at twenty million guilders in the years 1637-1644, about three million annually. Other Dutch colonies in the Atlantic world could not compete with these figures, however much the gold from Sao Jorge da Mina, the otter and beaver skins from New Netherland and the tobacco from Guiana was appreciated by metropolitan merchants. The Dutch did not confine themselves to trade between their own port cities and the Dutch colonies. They engaged in direct trade with foreign colonies in the New World and factories on the African coast, as well as participating in various foreign trading networks spanning the Atlantic to a greater extent than merchants from other Atlantic powers. In the middle decades of the seventeenth century, the Dutch, with their business acumen, credit facilities, low shipping costs, and wide range of supplies, became indispensable partners of the nascent English and French colonies in Virginia and the Caribbean. The ubiquitous Dutch came to dominate trade and shipping in these colonies. Circuitous voyages characterised Dutch Atlantic shipping as much as shuttle or triangular trade. Notarial records show the existence, prior to 1654, of a regular trade route from Pernambuco via the English West Indies (Barbados or St Christopher) to Virginia, and finally back to the United Provinces with cargoes of tobacco. After the introduction of the Navigation Acts, Dutch mercantile firms did not lose their vital role in England's overseas trade overnight. Several of them simply transferred their business to England. Similarly, the privileges that the French State assigned to the Compagnie des Indes Occidentales (1664) did not immediately end Dutch participation in French colonial trade. There is every appearance that they continued to control this trade for another twenty- five years from their bases in Nantes, La Rochelle, and Bordeaux. The 1650s and 1660s also saw the Dutch penetrate Spanish colonial trade. Shortly after the signing of the Treaty of Minister (1648), that concluded the Eighty Years' War, Dutch merchandise began to fill the holds of the Spanish fleets and galleons. In many years, goods and bullion shipped back from Cadiz to the United Provinces in payment for Dutch supplies amounted to more than ten million guilders. In addition to this participation in the carrera de Indias, there were a remarkably large number of Dutch ships that sailed to Spanish America avoiding the cumbersome system of fleets and galleons. Merchants from Amsterdam and Zeeland, in conjunction with colleagues from Flanders and France, chartered so-called register ships which were authorised to sail to the Spanish colonies outside the fleet system. Some Dutch ships first dropped anchor off the Canary Islands, where they were sold - for the sake of appearances - to local Canary traders by means of forged passports. But usually this charade was not necessary and registers to sail to Havana or the Rio de la Plata were granted without much ado. A French traveller (in 1658) counted twenty-two Dutch sails anchored in Buenos Aires, each loaded with thirteen or fourteen thousand hides. After mid-century, the Dutch were forced to restructure their Atlantic trade. They sustained their most painful defeat in Brazil, where New Holland was lost to Portugal and completely abandoned, but in other parts of the Atlantic they had to take a beating as well. In the Caribbean, a new balance of power was established, which benefited France and England, while in Western Africa the French conquest of the Dutch forts of Goeree and Arguim (1677) checked Dutch expansion. The subsequent growth of the Dutch slave trade was only marginal, contrasting with considerable French, English, and Portuguese expansion in this line of business. The WIC, meanwhile, had become defunct and was replaced in 1674 by a new organisation that inherited the name and little else. The once dreaded war ma- chine had become a harmless bureaucracy that cherished its few remaining commercial monopolies. Under the new WIC, the United Provinces lost their dominance in transatlantic trade. The landmass under Dutch rule had shrunk considerably, but even that was not the decisive factor. The French colony of St Domingue, for instance, was several times smaller than Suriname - the Dutch plantation colony par excellence, with 50,000 slaves in 1770 - yet it accounted for almost half of the coffee and sugar that entered Europe from the Americas. It was rather the 'compartmentalisation' of the colonial production and Atlantic trade that was responsible. By levying high import duties on foreign sugar, rival states protected their own produce on the national markets. The Dutch, however, refused to give up the tried-and-tested formula of the Dutch entrepot, even when mercantilism spread all around Europe. They never stopped investing in foreign Caribbean colonies, financing in the second half of the eighteenth
????century plantations in the Danish Caribbean and various English islands in the region, including Tobago, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, and St Vincent. The participation of Dutch merchants in the system of Spanish colonial trade tapered off towards the end of the seventeenth century. But produce from Spanish America continued to find its way to Dutch markets through the small Caribbean island of Curacao, which was transformed into a regional entrepot. The transit trade, in which the Dutch had excelled during the old Company, thus remained a speciality. Curacao made the most of its advantageous location just off the Spanish Main. Despite the lack of an agricultural hinterland of any significance, its port became one of the liveliest in the entire Caribbean. Curacao initially operated as a transit port for African slaves sent to the mainland of Spanish America. Slaves, along with textiles and other European manufactures were exchanged for cacao, tobacco, and hides from the Spanish colonies. These transactions, while taking place in broad daylight, were technically illegal, since it was forbidden for subjects of the Spanish crown to trade with foreigners. In contrast to the Dutch East India Company, the basis of the West India Company was certainly not solely commercial. The timing -1621 - was clearly chosen to put new life into the war with Spain after the end of the Twelve Years' Truce. Political and religious conflicts had prevented the founding of the Company at an earlier date and the WIC remained an object of eternal criticism among Dutch mercantile circles. Little wonder that it took three years before the Company had collected enough capital to start operating. This fact indicates that it was much more difficult to find investors for the WIC than for the VOC. Amsterdam investors in particular were very hesitant and did not come forward with nearly as much money as they had so recently invested in the VOC in spite of the fact that in 1602 the city was far less affluent than in 1621. The main attraction of the WIC must have been the calculation that privateering against Spain and Portugal would be very lucrative. That was exactly the reason why the exiled Sephardic-Jewish community in Amsterdam stayed away from the Company. During the first half of the seventeenth century Sephardic Jews dominated the lucrative sugar trade in the Atlantic. By 1621 they managed to bring one half or perhaps even as much as two thirds of the annual Brazilian sugar production to Amsterdam. An aggressively anti-Iberian WIC would only disrupt this trade. The Sephardic Jews even threatened to leave Amsterdam if their sugar trade had to be incorporated into the trade monopoly of the new Company. The foundation of the WIC met with similar opposition from the West Frisian salt carriers. The salt trade to the Caribbean had started after the Spanish put a sudden stop to the Dutch salt trade with Portugal at the end of the sixteenth century. That embargo was part of the Spanish war effort against the Netherlands as the Dutch fishing fleet would suffer severely without the right kind of salt to preserve its herring. The Spanish also tried to block access to the salt pans in the Caribbean and the West Frisians were anxious to avoid upsetting the Spanish any further. A compromise was found. The West Frisians were allowed to continue their salt trade but they had to pay dues to the Company. Features of Dutch Atlantic: First, the history of the Dutch Atlantic shows how important naval power was. Only the British were able to build up a navy that not only could protect all of the British possessions in the Atlantic, but that could also harm or take away the Atlantic colonies of Spain, France and the Netherlands. After the 1670s the Dutch were unable to invest as much money in keeping their navy on par with Britain because the British internal revenue system was far superior to that of any other country in Europe. The second best option was that the Dutch could try to profit from their neutral position during the many wars in the Atlantic of the eighteenth century. Britain, on the other hand, was able not only to damage its competitors in the Atlantic but also to annex some of the most promising plantation colonies such as Guiana and Trinidad at the end of the period under review. A second feature of early Atlantic history, which was uniquely British, is the large supply of young, mobile people willing to work and settle overseas. Only Portugal seems to have duplicated the British experience in that respect. Without that supply, Dutch expansion in the Atlantic took on a different character. Most of the Dutch viewed their stay overseas as a temporary exile, comparable to making an extended voyage on a ship. However, a caveat is in order here. It should be pointed out that the Dutch could command large numbers of foreign men to become sailors and soldiers overseas. Between 1600 and 1800 the Dutch East India Company was able to send more than one million of them to Asia, half of them non-Dutch. Only about forty per cent returned alive. These figures indicate that the Dutch excelled in sending men to the tropics on a temporary basis. Their system of recruiting poor, young, unmarried men from Scandinavia, Germany and the north of France was unrivalled. That explains why Dutch merchants were so keen on exploiting the lethal trade niche with tropical zones in Asia: they had enough men. To send those men as settlers to North America as Britain did would have been less profitable. A third observation triggered by the Dutch experience in the Atlantic concerns the importance generally attributed to plantation colonies. How much growth would these 'darlings of the empire', have generated without protective tariffs? In the Dutch experience the plantation colonies were viewed as generators of trade rather than as producers of tropical cash crops. There was no protection of Dutch sugar and coffee on the home market and the major part of the imported coffee and sugar into the Netherlands always came from non-Dutch colonies. The Dutch were as keen as all the other Atlantic powers to exclude foreigners from trading with the Dutch Caribbean, but they showed no interest in granting protection to products from their own West Indies. As a result, the Dutch plantation economy was much less dynamic than elsewhere in the Atlantic, where economic growth was artificially stimulated by large subsidies for the consumers on the home market. Were the Dutch ahead of their time? It was not until the middle of the eighteenth century when the privileged position of the West Indian planters in Britain came into question. By that time, however, a comparison between the respective Atlantic activities of Britain and the Netherlands had become increasingly difficult as the industrialisation of the United Kingdom progressed. The abolition of the slave trade and slavery exemplifies the British Sonderweg
Peter Boomgaard, 'Technologies of a trading empire: Dutch introduction of water - and windmills in early-modern Asia, 1650s- 1800', History and Technology: An International Journal, Published online: 19 Dec 2007 Abstract: This article deals with the introduction of European wind- and watermill technology by the Dutch in Asia, and it links this development to the gradual shift from a trading empire to a territorial state. The article evaluates how this technology fitted in with
Asian technologies, why the Dutch trading company invested so much money and energy in keeping the new technology working, and how this technology had to be adapted to local circumstances, particularly to the new physical environment. It also looks at indigenous reactions and the role of indigenous labour????
In the seventeenth century, watermills and windmills were introduced by the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde OostIndische Compagnie or VOC for short) in various Asian countries, in particular those that are now called Indonesia, India, and Sri Lanka. This article is not only about the diffusion of what was then modern technology from Europe to Asia, but also the other way around - Asian technology to Europe - at an earlier stage, and intra-Asian diffusions from the mid-seventeenth to the beginning of the nineteenth century. It is not so much about the 'blessings' of the new technology in its new surroundings, as it is about the difficulties encountered by the new technology in its alien setting, and the adaptations needed to get it working properly 'To Indonesian military commanders, sailors, artisans and farmers, the Dutch were bearers of innovations in firepower, boat design, mapping, metalwork, and agriculture'; strangely enough, the quote does not mention one type of technology introduced by the Dutch -the technology of wind- and watermills. Dutch windmill technology was once renowned, and in the Netherlands still constitutes a tourist attraction. This oversight is typical of the historiography on Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries, and it is not much better regarding other Asian areas. Of course, in the various volumes of Joseph Needham's Science and Civilisation in China Chinese mills are dealt with, but Boomgaard states that he is 'not aware of any article or book on the introduction of European pre-steam mills in Asia.' Around 1600, Dutch merchant fleets, in search of Asian spices - cloves, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, and pepper - started to arrive in Asian harbours; at an early stage the VOC, established in 1602, conquered territories in the Indonesian Moluccas (the islands of Ambon and Banda), where cloves and nutmeg were endemic plants, thus establishing a monopsony and monopoly in these crops. In 1619, the VOC conquered the city that is now called Jakarta, in the western part of Java, and gave it the name Batavia. During the seventeenth century, they expanded the territory around Batavia through conquest and treaties with the local rulers, the most important of whom was the ruler of the central Javanese state of Mataram. By 1677, the Company was in the possession of about half the territory of western Java. Between 1679 and 1684 they concluded treaties with the two western Javanese sultanates, Banten and Cirebon, thus establishing suzerainty over their territories. From the 1740s, the VOC acquired territorial rights over the districts of the north coast of central and eastern Java, a large step in the evolution from a trading empire to a territorial one, a process that in Java was rounded off in 1830. Another series of important territorial conquests took place on the island of Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka). Between 1638 and 1656, the VOC conquered and occupied a range of towns and their hinterlands, including Trincomalee, Galle, Negombo, Jaffna, and Colombo. After another period of war, a peace treaty, dated 1766, arranged the formal cession of the coastal areas to the Dutch. This time, however, the process of territorialization did not go any further, and in 1796 the VOC lost Ceylon to the British. The territory of what was to become Batavia had not been conquered because of the natural resources to be found there. Its importance lay in its strategic location as a port-of-trade. Compared to the tiny spice-producing islands of Ambon and Banda, Java was a much bigger and also more important place, despite the fact that it did not produce spices. Instead it produced other very important trade items - rice and timber. Rice was needed to feed Batavia, Ambon and Banda, Palembang and Padang (both Sumatra), and occasionally places such as Malacca (Malay Peninsula) and Ceylon. Rice was also needed to feed the VOC fleet. Timber, particularly teak, was necessary for ship building and repair, essential, therefore, for the survival of the VOC fleet; in addition, timber was used for the construction of houses, warehouses, 'industrial' establishments, fortifications, bridges, and sheetpilings of sea walls and the banks of rivers and canals Ceylon's importance lay mainly in its production of cinnamon. In terms of surface area, Java and Ceylon were the main VOC conquests, which gave them a special place in the VOC administration. The VOC regarded these regions as 'its own' territories, where they were inclined to concentrate their European personnel, their strategic investments and their agricultural experiments. All other VOC establishments were either smaller conquests (Ambon, Banda, Malacca, Makassar), or just trading posts. (See table 1). After 1657, it was only then that the VOC came into action, taking their cue from the soldier-miller, but it has to be said that they did so swiftly and in style. The Company started by inviting tenders for the digging of a canal as a feeder for a whole range of mills, the so-called Molenvliet [millstream]. The project was undertaken by the Captain of the Chinese in Batavia, Bingam.13 The VOC then started to build, in rapid succession, gunpowder-mills, a sawmill, a flour-mill, a tanning-mill, and a paper-mill, while a private individual, Abraham Pittavin - perhaps another Huguenot - constructed a sugar mill. This building boom started in 1657 and came to an end in1664. In that year there were eight watermills in Batavia, in addition to one or more buffalo-drawn mills. A second burst of mill-building activity in Java - and this time not only in Batavia - took place between 1684 and 1687, as is illustrated by Table 2.
Table 1. Construction years of the mills of Batavia's early period (1629-64)*
Type 1629 Gunpowder (VOC)?
1632 Flour Animal?
1654/7 Gunpowder (VOC) 2 Animal 7; 1655 Flour (De Bollan) Water 1657 Rijswijk watermill Water 1657/61 Gunpowder (VOC) 2 Water 241 1657/9 Saw (VOC) Water 1657/9 Flour (VOC) Water 1662 Tanning (VOC) Water
Sources De Jonge, Opkomst V, 151 Plbk I, 284 Realia II, 125; GM III, 44, 206- Realia II, 120 De Haan, Oud Batavia, I, 135 Realia II, 125; GM III, 206-7; Realia II, 239; D 1659, 173 Realia II, 239; Plbk II, 325-6 Plbk II, 361-2; GM III, 448-9
Buy the full version of these notes or essay plans and more in our Dutch Empire and its Competitors Notes.