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Thu, 06.03.1621

The Dutch West India Company is Formed

*The Dutch West India Company was founded on this date in 1621. They were a chartered company of Dutch merchants, slave traffickers, and foreign investors.

Among its founders were Willem Usselincx and Jessé de Forest. It was granted a charter for a trade monopoly in the Dutch West Indies by the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands and given jurisdiction over Dutch participation in the Middle Passage slave trade, Brazil, the Caribbean, and North America. The area where the company could operate consisted of West Africa (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Cape of Good Hope) and the Americas, which included the Pacific Ocean and the eastern part of New Guinea.

The intended purpose of the charter was to eliminate competition, particularly Spanish or Portuguese, between the various trading posts established by the merchants, including Fort Amsterdam. The company became instrumental in the largely ephemeral Dutch colonization of the Americas (including the New Netherlands) in the seventeenth century. From 1624 to 1654, in the context of the Dutch-Portuguese War, the GWC held Portuguese territory in northeast Brazil, but they were ousted from Dutch Brazil following fierce resistance.

After several reversals, GWC reorganized, and a new charter was granted in 1675, largely on the strength of the Atlantic slave trade. This "New" version lasted for more than a century, until after the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War when it lost most of its assets. It went defunct on January 1, 1792.



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