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

By Johan Hartog; J. A. Verleun | Go to book overview
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FOURTH CHAPTER
1792-1816 A PERIOD OF CONFUSION

IN FRANCE REVOLUTION BROKE OUT IN 1789. THE REPUBLICAN FORM of government was introduced in the French colonies--the coloured people did not share the famed equality--and the slogans and ribbons of the new liberty even made their way to Curacao. On this island measures had to be taken against "persons of the colour".

All this went by unheeded on Aruba. Seclusion, neglect, and the total absence of slaves, had long been among the causes making for lack of regular contact with Curacao. As the island had remained closed to colonists and slaves, there were no people here to whom the new ideas could appeal. Aruba's free population was not to be stirred by liberal ideas until later, when in its spiritual motherland, Venezuela, the banner of freedom was unfurled.

Notice of the war between France and the Dutch Republic, which had broken out in 1793, only comes to Curacao three months after the event. Not until 10 August 1796 is the news received that the stadtholderate has been abolished. Governor Johannes de Veer resigns and Jan Jacob Beaujon--member of a Curacao family only arriving in Aruba in 1876 in the person of Lieutenant-Governor Jan H. R. Beaujon--becomes acting governor.

French frigates under the command of Colonel Thomas sail into Curacao waters, but on Aruba nothing is heard of this. Oral tradition preserves a story that cannot be checked, to the effect that Commander Specht was very much worried by these events and even got quite upset, giving vent to his angry frustration in the following words: "Where are my glasses, girl, my head is in a whirl!"

But to what extent the commander really got unstrung is unknown. History does not preserve any data about troubles on Aruba and the only fact we do know about Specht is that in 1799 he did not lose his balance at all, but stood his ground and beat off an attack.

When, in 1799, Curaçao got notice of the Treaty of Commerce and Friendship between the successor of the Dutch Republic, which now went by the name of Batavian Republic, and the United States--the treaty's

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