Abraham George Ellis

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Abraham George Ellis (26 August 1846, Paramaribo – 29 November 1916, Amsterdam) was a Dutch Vice Admiral and politician. Born in Suriname of a mother born in slavery, he was the first Minister of African descent to serve in a Dutch cabinet.[1]

Vice Admiral A. G. Ellis (1846–1916), Minister of the Navy (1903–1905) and co-founder and first president of the Kon. Ned. Association Our Fleet in 1906

Early life[edit]

Mary Louise Hart (pregnant) and Johannes Ellis Suriname, 1846

Ellis spent his early life in Suriname where he was born. He was the son of a wealthy civil servant[2] and a freed Surinamese slave. His father, Johannes Ellis (b. 1812), was the illegitimate love child of Abraham de Veer, governor of the Dutch Gold Coast (now in present-day Ghana) and his Ghanaian housekeeper Fanny Ellis. De Veer was appointed in 1822 as governor of Suriname. On his departure from Africa he took Johannes with him. His mother, Maria Louisa de Hart (b. 1826) was born in bondage. Her father, a Jewish plantation owner named Mozes-Meijer de Hart had purchased her family's freedom when she had been just a few months old.[3] In 1860 Ellis left Suriname with his parents and four younger sisters and moved to Amsterdam, Netherlands.[4]

Career[edit]

Navy[edit]

Ellis graduated from the Royal Netherlands Naval College in Den Helder on 1 September 1864.[5] He spent over forty years in the navy serving tours to the Dutch East Indies, New Guinea, China, South America and Japan. In between tours he worked ashore with the Naval Torpedo Service and the Personnel Department of the Navy. In June 1902, Ellis was promoted Rear Admiral and appointed director of Willemsoord naval wharf and the Commander of the Den Helder defense line (Stelling Den Helder). There Ellis cracked down hard on the social democratic sailor's union, earning him a reputation as a "Devourer of Socialists" (Socialistenvreter).[6]

Government (1903–1905)[edit]

Following the death of Gerhardus Kruys, the apolitical Ellis was made Minister of the Navy in the Kuyper government. His ministry was dominated by combating the rise of unionists within the navy and he saw little success. When the government sought a new Foreign Affairs Minister after the resignation of the Minister Robert Melvil van Lynden, Ellis served briefly as interim minister. Ellis resigned from the Navy at the rank of Vice-admiral on 1 December 1905 due to heart problems.[7]

Retirement[edit]

On 16 August 1905, less than two days after the end of his term in government, Queen Wilhelmina appointed Ellis as her special adjutant. He remained closely associated to the navy and marine business interests and later died from a heart attack in November 1916 during a board meeting of the Colonial Rubber Company in Amsterdam.[8]

Personal life[edit]

In 1889 Ellis married Elisabeth Maria Anna (1861–1943) the daughter of his former superior, Vice Admiral Johann Willem Binkes. The marriage remained childless.

Honors[edit]

Ellis was a Commander of the Order of the Dutch Lion. He was also closely involved in the creation of the Royal Dutch Navy association 'Our Fleet' (Onze Vloot) which he was a president of until 1913.[9]

Trivia[edit]

A photograph of his parents in 1846 is the earliest known daguerreotype made in Suriname.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "A.G. Ellis" (in Dutch). Parlementair Documentatiecentrum (PDC) of Leiden University. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  2. ^ Boos, Carla. "Een Surinaamse socialistenvreter" (in Dutch). Historisch Nieuwsblad. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  3. ^ Boos, Carla. "Een Surinaamse socialistenvreter" (in Dutch). Historisch Nieuwsblad. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  4. ^ Beekelaar, G.A.M. "Ellis, Abraham George (1846–1916)" (in Dutch). Biografisch Woordenboek van Nederland. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  5. ^ van der Peet, Anselm (October–December 2004). "Een Moksiwatra als minister van Marine: Abraham George Ellis (1846–1916". MARS et Historia (in Dutch) (Pro Patria, Zwijndrecht.) 4: 3. ISSN 0928-5156. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Boos, Carla. "Een Surinaamse socialistenvreter" (in Dutch). Historisch Nieuwsblad. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  7. ^ van der Peet, Anselm (October–December 2004). "Een Moksiwatra als minister van Marine: Abraham George Ellis (1846–1916". MARS et Historia (in Dutch) (Pro Patria, Zwijndrecht.) 4: 3. ISSN 0928-5156. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  8. ^ Beekelaar, G.A.M. "Ellis, Abraham George (1846–1916)" (in Dutch). Biografisch Woordenboek van Nederland. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  9. ^ "A.G. Ellis" (in Dutch). Parlementair Documentatiecentrum (PDC) of Leiden University. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  10. ^ "Rijksmuseum verwerft vroegst bekende foto uit Suriname". NOS Journal. 8 February 2009. Retrieved 2 May 2013.