The Dutch West India Company, a chartered company of Dutch merchants, was established in 1621 as a monopoly over the African slave trade to Brazil, the Caribbean and North America.
WIC had offices in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Hoorn, Middelburg and Groningen, but one-fourth of Africans transported across the Atlantic by the company were moved in slave ships from Amsterdam. Almost all of the money that financed slave plantations in Suriname and the Antilles came from bankers in Amsterdam, just as many of the ships used to transport slaves were built there.
Many of the raw materials that were turned into finished goods in Amsterdam, such as sugar and coffee, were grown in the colonies using slave labor and then refined in factories in the Jordaan neighborhood.
Revenue from the goods produced with slave labor-funded much of The Netherlands’ golden age in the 17th century, a period renowned for its artistic, literary, scientific, and philosophical achievements.
Slave labor created vast sources of wealth for the Dutch in the form of precious metals, sugar, tobacco, cocoa, coffee, cotton and other goods. It also helped to fund the creation of Amsterdam’s beautiful and famous canals and city center.