“Their power has been broken, the danger has passed.” Dutch newspaper coverage of the Berbice slave revolt, 1763
Keywords:Berbice, slave revolts, slavery, newspapers, Dutch Republic
In February 1763 one of the largest and longest slave revolts erupted in the Dutch colony of Berbice. As the majority of the white population fled, colonial authorities were left behind with few, and mostly ill soldiers, and in no time the insurgents controlled the colony almost completely. This rebellion did not only shake the colonial government to the core, but also made a significant (media) impact in the Dutch Republic. For the duration of the Berbice rebellion substantial reports on the revolt appeared in the Dutch press, and other print media, such as pamphlets and news digests, also devoted attention to the issue. This article studies the rebellion through newspaper reports and provides a glimpse of the reception of the Berbice revolt in the Dutch Republic. This shows that slavery was already a public affair around the middle of the eighteenth century and not, as it is often presented, a limited, mostly scholarly debate. It will explore whether the extensive coverage affected the public perception of slavery in the Dutch Republic. Did it reinforce support for the institution of slavery or did it raise awareness of the problems surrounding it, breaking ground for the later abolitionist movement?
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Copyright (c) 2018 Esther Baakman
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