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Book source: Het ontstaan van het eigendomsrecht by slaven in Suriname, Humphrey E. Lamur, OSO, jaargang 8, Nummer 1, Mei 1989.

Subject: [History] Origins of Property Rights Among Slaves


Slaves gathered some money by selling agriculture products from their garden plots (kostgrond). An other way for making money was selling products from door to door. At the end of the 17th century a regulation was issued which would warn white citizens not to buy anything from the slaves as it was most likely stolen goods according to the authorities. This regulation had little effect thus the colonial government thought it would be better to regulate the trade as was practised by the slaves.

Gov. Jan van Scharphuysen decreed that goods could only be sold at the market place or in shops. The Oranje tuin was selected to become the market. Gov Van der Veer, three years later, tried to forbid the purchases from slaves but it was a futile attempt. In the first part of the 18th century the plantation owners received approval for their slaves to sell goods at the market place. However, slaves had to carry a note from the plantation owner that they had the owner's approval. Besides agriculture products slaves also began to sell clothes in Paramaribo.

A third way how slaves made some extra money was as follows. The owner sent them to Paramaribo for a week and they had to return with a pre-determined sum of money which they had to turn over to the owner. Thus slaves began to contract themselves out in Paramaribo to earn the money. The government did not approve of this idea of making money and tried to stop it. Some exceptions were made and only the owner and the third party could sign a contract not the slaves.

In addition, the government opened some new market places in Paramaribo such as at the junction of the Keizerstraat/Klipstenenstraat/Domineestraat, the Jodenbreestraat and the plaza on the water front (Water kant). Only white citizens received permission for door to door sales of goods. Slaves could accompany a white citizen. The best customers of the slaves were the whites, free mulats, and free African-Surinamese.

Finally, slaves property rights had their origin the day a kostgrond was issued to them as they could grow their own food and sell what they did not consume.

Met dank aan Albert Buys

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