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Book source: manumissies in Suriname 1832-1863, Okke ten Hove and Frank Dragtenstein, CLACS & IBS, Utrecht, 1997. ISBN 90-393-1460-8

Subject: [History] Free African-Surinamese


In 1667, the Dutch took over Suriname from the British and there were already a number of free African-Surinamese (vrije Afro-Surinamers) in Suriname. Especially between 1667-1670 the number of them increased.

The notes of a Police Court meeting in 1670 state that they were 'free loaders' and could encourage the plantation slaves to desert. Thus all free African-Surinamese were required to report for work to a master. However not many paid attention to the regulations.

Up to 1733 it was a matter between master and slave if a slave should be given his freedom. Thus to 1733 no reliable or accurate records were kept of the number of slaves set free. Sometimes the only records are the wills/testament of the owners of a slave.

Not many males were set free but an exception was made for those who helped capture run-away slaves. They were set free as a reward for their service. Free African-Surinamese remained dependent on their benefactors. A white person remained his/her superior. They were required to show respect to the whites because of the goodness of the whites they were given their freedom.

The free African-Surinamese were reminded of this. The mixed blood mulattes received more benefits and were in a more advantageous position than free African-Surinamese.

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