A colony of Jewish exiles from Holland had settled and thrived in Brazil in the early seventeenth century; however, when the Portuguese recaptured the territory from the Dutch in 1654, the Jews were expelled. Instead of returning to Europe, though, a small group decided to seek another home in the Americas. Having obtained a charter from the Dutch West Indies Company (Amsterdam Chamber) in September 1659, they established a colony on the island of Cayenne (later French Guiana). When French colonists took control of Cayenne in 1664, the Jews were again forced to leave, this time to the English (soon-to-be-Dutch) possession of Suriname.
With the Jews forming a sizable segment of the non-slave population of Suriname through the eighteenth century, the Essai/Geschiedenis still serves not only as the primary source on the history of the Jews of this Dutch colony, but as an important scholarly resource for information on the colony as a whole, including the text of the original Dutch charter for the colony and an extensive foldout chart of exports for the years 1700-1787.
Acad. Lugd. Bat. Bibl. (Leiden University Library) (stamp on verso of title and on upper and lower paper edges)
Rudolf Bijlsma, “David de Is. C. Nassy, Author of the Essai historique sur Surinam,” in Robert Cohen (ed.), The Jewish Nation in Surinam: Historical Essays (Amsterdam: S. Emmering, 1982), 64-74.
Jonathan Israel, “The Dutch Jewish Enlightenment in Surinam, 1770-1800,” in Yosef Kaplan and Dan Michman (eds.), The Religious Cultures of Dutch Jewry (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2017), 183-206.
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