Correspondence between Elias Canneman and Isaac Jan Alexander Gogel

Elias Canneman (1777-1861) and Isaac Gogel (1765-1821) played an important role in the new, national, financial policy in the years following the Batavian Revolution of 1795. Canneman worked as a civil servant at the Ministry of Finance between 1798 and 1811, and rose to the highest rank. Gogel held the position of Minister of Finance several times.

When Gogel, a merchant, was asked to become Agent (Minister) of Finance in 1798, he took the young Canneman from Amsterdam to The Hague to help start the Ministry. They were acquainted because of their work for the Generale Beleenbank of Holland, but they were also friends and held the same political views. They favoured a uniform state that could replace the strongly decentralized and fragmented Dutch Republic. Budgetary policy, managing the national debt and tax legislation became important subjects.

When they did not see each other daily, they kept up an intensive correspondence. Because of their friendship and mutual confidence their letters were frank. They regularly subjected the behaviour of contemporaries to a moral judgment. Their differences in character – the one pragmatic and meticulous, the other high-spirited and unpredictable – lends colour to their relationship and correspondence. The exchange of letters ended abruptly in 1813.

The correspondence not only gives the reader a unique inside view of the political enterprise, but complements the image that the research of official documents evokes. Especially, it is a source of knowledge on the financial-economical and political relations, on the interaction between state finances and private merchant companies, and on the operational side of transactions between these parties. But this personal correspondence also provides a fascinating view of the two influential main characters and their time.