Dutch West India House, Amsterdam

Chartered on the success of its eastern company counterpart, the Dutch West India Company (Geoctroyeerde Westindische Compagnie or GWC) focused on trade around the Caribbean with particular attention to trading slaves from the Africa’s and America’s.  Similar to their strong East India counterpart, their aim was to control a monopoly over key trade in the West.  Early colonies were established in Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean including parts of present day United States such as New York (then called New Amsterdam), Connecticut, Delaware and New Jersey.  One of their key centres of trade at the time was the island of Curaçao which with its proximity to South American coast became a drop off for slave traders.

Flag of the Dutch West India Company

Flag of the Dutch West India Company

The Dutch company (consisting of 19 members known as Heeren XIX, “The Lords Nineteen”) had already successfully captured a large proportion of Brazil’s north-eastern Sugar Coast from the Portuguese, where large barrels of cachaça and sugar lumps were exported.  Continuing trade in sugar cane and slaves would lead the Dutch to have a profound influence on the future of a new legendary spirit – rum.

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