The Mission of Menasseh Ben Israel and Cromwell’s Western Design
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Well aware of the success of Amsterdam sustaining the European sugar market, the English under Cromwell hoped to attract Sephardic merchants to conduct their colonial trade. As he designed a plan for westward expansion in the Caribbean, Cromwell consulted his advisors on contacts with and expertise of Sephardic Jews in trade with Spanish territories. In Amsterdam, in the meantime, Menasseh ben Israel and the leadership of the Sephardic community considered the opportunity for readmission of Jews to England. A conference was held at Whitehall in December 1655 which resulted in a policy of granting residency and trade privileges to Jews in London and the colonies. A network analysis based on genealogical date sources established that the Sephardic community extended from Brazil to Barbados and connected with Amsterdam and London.