Aruba Past and Present: From the Time of the Indians until Today

By Johan Hartog; J. A. Verleun | Go to book overview

THIRD CHAPTER
1636--1792 UNDER THE DUTCH WEST INDIA COMPANY

FROM THE END OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY A DOCUMENT HAS been preserved about the call of an English ship here. But at the same time when their ramblings first brought the English to these parts, the Dutch also began exploring the Spanish Main.

The Spaniards had done so from love of adventure, but they were simultaneously inspired by that missionary spirit so typical of Latin- Christian civilization.

It was this nation against which the Dutch had been waging the Eighty Years' War from 1568 onward. After 1580 Philip II closed Portuguese ports to Dutch navigation. Among the consequences of this was that the Dutch started cruises to the West Indies in search of salt.

After 1585 the Dutch are first seen around our islands. Small companies at Amsterdam, Enkhuizen and Rotterdam organized an illicit trade with the Spanish dominions across the seas, for trade with Spanish colonies was interdicted to all foreigners. Notwithstanding this the Dutch fetched sea-salt close to Cumaná, the oldest settlement of the Spaniards on the continent of America.

From that point on the Venezuelan coast it is not far to the nearest island, Bonaire, where dye-wood was loaded by a Dutch West-Indiaman so long ago as 1623. Accordingly the name of Aruba occurs again and again in the ships' journals, the Jaerlyck Verhaal van de Verrichtinghen der Geoctroyeerde Westindische Compagnie (Annual Account of the Transactions of the Chartered West India Company), kept by Johannes de Laet and published in 1644. Until 1637 De Laet was one of the managing directors of the West India Company and the reliability of his information has been confirmed many times.


Aruba seen by the Dutch

April 24, 1624--that, in all probability, is the day when Aruba was first seen by a Dutchman. The Zealand Chamber of the West India Company had sent Pieter Schouten on an expedition with the ship De Hoop, the

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