Page 24 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
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 Republic. These debts were considerable, more than one hundred million guilders. Sha-
reholders protested against this procedure and tried to obtain compensation. They have
never received any. If a shareholder o f 1602 could have survived the Company, he would
have been able to cash in 3600% o f his original investment. This was the percentage o f
all dividends paid out by the VOC up to February 1796, involving a sum of
fl 231,847,192.00.
The directors
43
The 76 merchants holding directorships of the voorcompagnieën
44
were given the same
officeinthechambersoftheVOCin1602. Thisnumberwasnottobemadeupagain
after resignations or deaths, but to be reduced to sixty, i.e. twenty in the Amsterdam
chamber, twelve in the Zeeland chamber and seven in each o f the smaller chambers. In
Zeeland this procedure gave rise to a long drawn out conflict. The Zeeland chamber was
situated in Middelburg, but Veere and Vlissingen had after prolonged negotiations acqui-
red the right to fill two directors' seats. However, since De Moucheron of Veere had left
the Company as early as 1603, at a point when the question of replenishment had not yet
come up, this town lost one o f its two seats on the board o f directors. Whenever a later
45
vacancy arose, Veere always tried afresh, and always in vain, to regain the lost seat.
Like shareholders, directors deposited their money by registration in the shareholders
register of the chamber concerned. In this respect they had been put on the same footing
with shareholders in 1602. But it is obvious from a number o f clauses in the charter that
the notion of the directors' omnipotence over a company they considered their own, had
not yet disappeared. The notion was so strong in fact, that at the preliminary discussions
the States of Zeeland thought it necessary to insist that directorships were notto be
hereditary.
A s before, directors received one per cent o f the value o f equipment o f
46
ships, and one per cent of the proceeds of sales. From this provision they themselves had
to pay bookkeepers, cashiers and other employees. Directors were obliged to take out
shares of at least fl 6000, or in the case of Hoorn and Enkhuizen at least fl 3000. This sum
was looked upon as a security. If a director, on account o f insolvency or mismanagement
for instance, was no longer able to discharge the obligations he had taken upon himself
in this capacity, any possible loss had to be covered by the chamber concerned, and was
chargeable in the first instance on the directors' investments. They were also responsible
in cases o f fraud or mismanagement by their cashiers. On the other hand, the important
clause 4 2 o f the charter stipulated that directors could not b e held responsible by third
parties for obligations entered into in the Company's name, thus underlining the more
47
modern, corporate character o f the enterprise.
Directorships were not tied t o a fixed term in 1602, and in principle they were for life.
When a vacancy arose, the States of the province were to appoint the new director from
43 De Korte, De jaarlijkse financiële verantwoording, 93.
44 The directors' names were mentioned in the charter, except for three from Hoorn; see Gaastra,
De geschiedenis van de VOC, 29.
45 Van der Chijs, Geschiedenis der stichting van de VOC. Also Resolutions of the States of Zeeland,
10 Febr. 1617 and 24 Nov. 1622 in V O C 11081.
46VanBrakel,DeHollandschehandelscompagnieën, 130.
47 For conditions concerning the directorships, see the works mentioned in notes 2 and 3 and also
Van Dam, Beschryvinge, vol. 63,156 et seq. and Van Dillen, Het oudste aandeelhoudersregister,
20-34.














































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