Dutch Jews and the White Slave Trade
IN THE British West Indies much of the early capital to finance White slavery came from Sephardic Jews from Holland. They provided credit, machinery and shipping facilities. In the 1630s Dutch Jews had been deeply involved in the enslavement of the Irish, financing their transport to slave plantations in the tropics. By the 1660s, this combination of Jewish finance and White slave labor made the British island colony of Barbados the richest In the empire. The island’s value, in terms of trade and capital exceeded that of all other British colonies combined. (John Oldmixon, The British Empire in America, vol. 2, p. 186.)
Of the fact that the wealth of Barbados was founded on the backs of White slave labor there can be no doubt. White slave laborers from Britain and Ireland were the mainstay of the sugar colony. Until the mid-1640s there were almost no Blacks in Barbados. George Downing wrote to John Winthrop, the colonial governor of Massachusetts in 1645 that planters who wanted to make a fortune in the British West Indies must procure White slave labor “out of England” if they wanted to succeed. (Elizabeth Donnan, Documents Illustrative of the History of the Slave Trade to America, pp. 125-126.)
From their experience with rebellious Irish slaves, Dutch Jews would eventually be instrumental in the switch from White to Black slavery in the British West Indies. Blacks were more docile — and more profitable for the Jews.
The English traffic in slaves in the first half of the seventeenth century was solely in White slaves. The English had no slave base in West Africa, as did the Dutch Jews. Moreover, Dutch Jews were not only bankers and shipping magnates but slavemasters and plantation owners themselves. Jews were forbidden by English law to own White Protestant slaves, although in practice this was not uniformly enforced. Irish slaves were allowed to the Jewish slavers but were regarded by them as intractable. Hence the Jews became prime movers behind the African slave trade and the importation of Negro slaves into the New World. (Dalby Thomas, An Historical Account of the Rise and Growth of the British West Indies, pp. 36-37, and G. Merrill, ‘The Role of the Sephardic Jews in the British Caribbean Area in the Seventeenth Century,’ Caribbean Studies, vol. 4, no. 3, 1964-65, pp. 32-49.)
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Source: Heretical Press