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The trans-Atlantic slave trade or triangle trade took place between the 16th and 19th century. Captured Africans were transported across the Atlantic Ocean and sold as forced laborers to work on the plantations.

What was such a triangular journey like? Here, the crew of the snow ship The Unity give us insight into the triangle trade, and a glimpse of the people they met and the exotic destinations their travels took them to: first traveling with their cargo goods to Africa, then to the Caribbean with captured Africans, to finally return with a harvest of sugar and coffee from the plantations.

MCC Archive

The administration of The Unity has been preserved in the archives of the Middelburgse Commercie Compagnie (MCC), which are administered by the Zeeland Archives in Middelburg, the Netherlands. These documents include:

  • the logbook of the first mate,
  • the journal of the surgeon,
  • the trade book,
  • the letters that were send by the captain of the ship and by correspondents abroad.

The Blog

The ship The Unity departed on October 1, 1761, and completed her voyage on March 25, 1763. The ship can be followed on the blog via:

  • The map of the Atlantic Ocean which shows the route of The Unity. Read the explanation in The Voyage on the Map
  • The report of the day, with original contributions from the logbook, the surgeon’s daily journal, the trade books and other archive documents. Read the explanation in The Daily Account
  • The menu with background information on the voyage of The Unity, the Middelburgse Commercie Compagnie and the triangle trade. Read the explanation in The Menu

Snow ships of the Middelburgse Commercie Compagnie
Painting of snow ships of the MCC by Engel Hoogerheyden (1740-1807), oil on canvas, 111×245,5 cm.
Zeeuws Archief (Zeeland Archives), Stadhuiscollectie Middelburg (City Hall Collection).

The 2014 Commemoration

The Dutch government abolished the slave trade in 1814. The Dutch national commemoration of the abolishment of the slave trade in 2014 took place in Middelburg. This blog was part of the commemoration program. The Zeeland Archives made this blog to draw attention to the archives of the MCC.

Archives of the MCC online

The Zeeland Archives digitized the entire archives of the MCC. All records including scans are digitally accessible by way of the archives inventory.