This article examines the short but eventful life and writings of Jacobus Johannes Elisa Capitein, the eighteenth-century Gold Coast mulatto ex-slave turned missionary who defended slavery as necessary for the eventual salvation of Africans. I examine the racial assumptions and assertions that were at play in Capitein's writings and place his views and actions within the context of the religious, political, and economic climates of eighteenth-century Netherlands, Europe more broadly, and the Gold Coast. I complicate the narrative that interprets Capitein's defense of slavery as a mere alibi intended to garner support for his missionary agenda, contending that reducing his position to his missionary ambition underplays the import of Capitein's position and the particular circumstances of his life in the Gold Coast. I further explore the existential dilemma that Capitein, an African ex-slave missionary, faced upon his return to his native Gold Coast, and I conclude by suggesting that Capitein's defense of slavery should be understood as a heuristic and rhetorical device.

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