Reizen en lotgevallen van Gustaaf Westerman, in de Nederlandsch West-Indische bezittingen. A.E. van Noothoorn. Amsterdam: Sijbrandi, 1843.
This is a rare children’s book . The writer A. van Noothoorn (1811-1851) was teacher in Nijmegen and tries “to increase the knowledge of our West-Indian property” . The young Gustaaf accompanies his uncle to Suriname. Uncle Jan has heard that the director of his plantation maltreats the slaves and neglects his business interests.
This is a typical early 19th century novel for children; not slavery itself is being questioned but only the extreme excesses. In general the author claims that it would not be in the best interest of slaves to abolish slavery. Uncle Jan says that the slaves are uncivilised and terribly lazy. To them freedom is what is fire for a child. This book is clearly anti-abolitionnist. Just like so many 19th eeuwse books it doesn’t teach us something about Suriname or its inhabitants. The writer has never set foot on Surinamese soil. Much more it gives us an idea of how anti-abolitionist forces tried postpone the inevitable abolition of slavery in The Netherlands.