Miracle Cure for an Economy in Crisis? Colonial Exploitation as a Source of Growth in the Netherlands, 1815-1870
In the early modem period the Republic was one of the main colonial powers. The Dutch were present on every continent and in their glory days they ruled the seven seas. Before 1800 their colonial possessions mainly served commercial interests. They were exploited by private enterprise, such as the plantation owners of Suriname or the shareholders of the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (East India Company - VOC). The VOC became a state within the state. The States-General transferred its sovereignty over the colonies to the company and allowed it to have its own army, to wage wars, conclude treaties, and appoint governors in the name of the Republic.1 Although the ties between the government and the merchant community were close, through financial obligations for example, the overseas possessions were not yet an integral part of the Dutch state in that period.