Episode 351: Nicole Maskiell, Wealth and Slavery in New Netherland

African chattel slavery, the predominant type of slavery practiced in colonial North America and the early United States, did not represent one monolithic practice of slavery. Practices of slavery varied by region, labor systems, legal codes, and empire.

Slavery also wasn’t just about enslavers enslaving people for their labor. Enslavers used enslaved people to make statements about their social status, as areas of economic investment that built generational wealth, and as a form of currency.

Nicole Maskiell, an associate professor of History at the University of South Carolina and the author of Bound By Bondage: Slavery and the Creation of the Northern Gentry, joins us to investigate the practice of slavery in Dutch New Netherland and how the colony’s elite families built their wealth and power on the labor, skills, and bodies of enslaved Africans and African Americans.

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Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

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Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.

Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Colonial Williamsburg Innovation Studios.

Episode Summary

Nicole Maskiell, an associate professor of History and the Peter and Bonnie McCausland Fellow at the University of South Carolina, joins us to investigate elite Dutch families and slavery in New Netherland and early New York with details from her book, Bound by Bondage: Slavery and the Creation of the Northern Gentry.

During our investigation, Nicole reveals details about the colony of New Netherland and its role within the Dutch Empire; The Dutch practice of slavery in New Netherland; And, how New Netherland’s elite families used enslaved people beyond their labor to create and maintain generational wealth.

What You’ll Discover

• New Netherland’s establishment in North America
• The West India Company’s role in New Netherland
• Peter Stuyvesant as Director General of New Netherland
• New Netherland’s role and place in the Dutch Atlantic Empire
• Dutch practices of slavery and slavery’s arrival in New Netherland
• How Dutch slavery was similar or different from other European forms of slavery
• The Dutch West India Company as enslaver
• Unique opportunities for Dutch West India Company slaves
• How the Dutch West India Company shaped the establishment and development of slavery in New Netherland
• The early economic history of famous Dutch-American families such as the Livingstons, the Stuyvesants, the Schulyers, and Van Rensselaers
• How some Dutch families utilized and relied upon the practice of slavery to expand their economic and social standing
• The use of enslaved individuals as capital and surety for loans
• The myth of Dutch enslavement as “better”
• The fall of New Netherland
• The impact that English conquest had on Dutch New York culture
• New Netherland’s switch from Roman-Dutch law to English common law
• How English law impacted Dutch perceptions of gendered wealth and inheritance practices
• How English law impacted Dutch slavery and its practice
• The practice of bequeathing enslaved people to build generational wealth

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Complementary Episodes

Episode 121: Wim Klooster, The Dutch Moment in the 17th-Century Atlantic World
Episode 139: Andrés Reséndez, The Other Slavery
Episode 170: Wendy Warren, Slavery in Early New England
Episode 185: Joyce Goodfriend, Early New York City and its Culture
Episode 220: Margaret Newell, New England Indians, Colonists, and the Origins of Slavery
Episode 242: David Young, A History of Early Delaware
Episode 256: Christian Koot, Mapping Empire in the Chesapeake
Episode 324, Andrea Mosterman, New Netherland and Slavery

Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

In your opinion, what might have happened if New Netherland's elite families had never become involved with slavery and the slave trade? How might the experience of slavery in early New York and in early North America have been different?

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