Middelburgsche Commercie Compagnie

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Middelburgsche Commercie Compagnie
Middelburgsche Commercie Compagnie symbol - transparent background.png
Fullname: Middelburgsche Commercie Compagnie
Alias: MCC
CCM
Origin: Middelburg, Zeeland County, Netherlands
Foundation: 1720
Headquarters: Middelburg
Goals: Profit from slave trading (succeeded)
Go into business repairing ships to avoid being liquidated (failed)
Crimes: Slave trading


Middelburg embraced the founding of the MCC, since the company would be based in the city – the city council would have had a high estimation of the possible economic advantages to the city. In addition, the lord governors planned to become shareholders themselves, as can be seen from the signatures of the founding charter. The ties between the city and the new company were strong.
~ "Middelburgse Commercie Compagnie". Zeeland Archives.

The Middelburgsche Commercie Compagnie (MCC) (1720 - 1889), also known as the Commerce Company of the city of Middelburg, or CCM, was the principle Dutch slave trading organization after the monopoly on the Atlantic slave trade by the Dutch West India Company was abolished.

The MCC was founded in 1720 in order to stimulate the trading activity in the Dutch city of Middelburg. After the foundation it initially raised about five million guilders in investment, but thanks to a fraud epidemic many investors had to withdraw and the final amount raised was a little less than 1.4 million guilders.

The company's first transatlantic voyage was in 1732. Until two years prior, the West Indian Company had held a monopoly on slave trading, but they had released their monopoly and so private companies like the MCC could begin profiting from the practice of human trafficking as they had. The slaves were taken from their home countries in Africa and shipped to the Americas, where they were either auctioned off or given away in private sales. The slave ships would return home with the profits from the sales.

While the company had initially traded in other products besides slaves, in 1756 the board of directors took the decision to trade exclusively in slaves. Between 1756 and 1807 the MCC sent out 114 slave voyages, out of 296 total voyages.

Due to a series of wars damaging the Dutch economy, the MCC had become a British mandate alongside all Dutch colonies. When in 1807 Britain abolished the slave trade, the company was in serious trouble. While they were still technically allowed to trade because Holland had not yet abolished the slave trade, Britain was legally allowed to seize any slave ship its navy found. The company quickly switched its focus to repairing iron ships, using the abandoned shipyards of the defunct West India Company for their purposes. They built 30 ships during the nineteenth century, attempting to specialise in building iron ships in the latter half of the century. The attempt in vain; the company was liquidated in 1889.

Thanks to the well-preserved notes and documents of the company, the MCC archives have proved very useful to scholars in understanding and reconstructing the Dutch 18th-century slave trade.