Captured on the Gold Coast

“Illegal” Enslavement, Freedom and the Pursuit of Justice in Dutch Courts, 1746–1750

In: Journal of Global Slavery
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In May of 1746, slaving captain Christiaan Hagerop illegally captured ten Gold Coast canoe paddlers, seven of whom were free Africans from Elmina and Fante. Hagerop subsequently sailed to Suriname, where he sold the paddlers into slavery. To appease the relatives of the captured men and to safeguard its reputation among local Africans, the Dutch West India Company (WIC) launched a search for the kidnapped paddlers. Six of the men were eventually located in Suriname in 1749, the seventh having died in slavery. While the Africans were transported back to the Gold Coast via Amsterdam, the WIC tried to have Hagerop extradited to its Gold Coast possessions to receive punishment for his crime. A legal battle over jurisdictional competence ensued in the Dutch Republic, the outcome of which was that the captain was made to stand trial in Amsterdam, but in the end he received very little punishment.

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