This open letter, 'To the Administrators and Planters of the plantations of Surinam' was written by a Moravian missionary, Nils Otto Tank, in May 1848. Having lived in Surinam for five years, Tank had noted the abysmal living conditions of the slaves there (compared to the British, French and Danish West Indies, which he visited in 1847). His solution was to circulate a letter in the Netherlands, appealing to absentee plantation owners. His letter was careful not to call for the abolition of slavery in the Dutch colonies, instead he asked for gradual reform of the plantation system through education and increased freedom for the missionaries to carry out their work. By referring in his letter to the emancipation of slaves elsewhere in the Americas (Haiti, the British colonies and soon, he implies, the French colonies, including nearby Cayenne), Tank hoped to put pressure on the Dutch planters. He also threatened that he would go to the government if necessary to ask for reform. He argues that the refusal to allow the education of slaves was potentially dangerous, as well as unjust.
Attached to the letter was a form for absentee owners to complete, in order to permit slaves to be educated on their plantation by the Moravians.