The most significant event in kickstarting race-based plantation slavery and the creation of slave societies in the British and French West Indies – which later became the cultural model for slavery in the Lower South – was the arrival of Jewish refugees from Brazil in Barbados.
This story about the arrival of the international Jew in Barbados is also mentioned in David Brion Davis’ Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World:
“By 1640 leading planters recognized that Barbados stood in desperate need of a new crop; tobacco and even cotton brought little profit. As we have seen, Brazil had maintained a virtual monopoly on sugar production for Europe, bit warfare and rebellion severely disrupted both Portuguese and Dutch efforts to meet the rising demand down to 1654, when the Portuguese finally expelled the Dutch. Although the Barbarian soil and climate were ideal for sugar cultivation, the English had no experience in producing such a commodity. Barbarian planters learned the techniques from Hollanders though the precise story is unclear. Some sugarcanes were brought in from Dutch Pernambuco, while a few English Barbadians had also visited, and according to one account, a planter named James Drax, of Anglo-Dutch background, brought a model of a sugar mill to Barbados from Holland.
However the transfer was accomplished, Barbadians were producing sugar for Europe by 1643, and within seven years there was a tenfold increase in the value of plantation land. Dutch traders had a continuing partnership with the English in Barbados, acting as middlemen and offering in Holland the best refineries in Europe. When Dutch exiles arrived in the Caribbean from Brazil, they brought additional skills, experience, and capital for sugar production. The exodus from Brazil in 1654 also included thousands of Sephardic Jews, who had enjoyed relative religious freedom in Dutch Brazil as in Holland itself. Many of these Jews settled in such new Dutch colonies as Curaçao and Suriname. By 1680 there were even fifty-four Jewish households in Bridgetown, the only true urban center in Barbados, with a population of almost three thousand. Mostly urban merchants, these Jews, unlike their brethren in Suriname, never became members of the wealthy planter elite.”
Note: We have already seen that Jews were a majority of the “Dutch” in Suriname. Davis elaborates in the footnotes that Suriname was the only New World colony where significant numbers of Jews became slaveholding masters.
He also notes that these “New Christians” helped finance the Portuguese reconquest of Brazil. Previously, there had been thousands of Sephardic Jews in Brazil where they seem to have played a key role in pioneering modern plantation slavery.
Instead of wasting our time on “Black Confederates,” OD will continue to assist our Jewish friends in the blogosphere in rediscovering their slavery heritage in the hope that more black people will become aware of this.
Update: The ship that arrived in Virginia in 1619 carrying the first African slaves has always been called a “Dutch” ship on the basis of John Rolfe calling it “a Dutch man of Warr.”
OD was correct to be suspicious of the “Dutch” nature of this vessel in light of the fact that so many different peoples – in particular, Sephardic Jews – were operating under the Dutch flag in the slave trade in the Caribbean and South America.
BTW, this is an indisputable historical fact in Brazil, Curaçao, St. Eustatius, and Suriname (we’re going to shine some stadium lights on this), not “a Jewish conspiracy theory,” but thanks for your assistance.