A PERIOD OF REST
JUST OVER SEVENTEEN HUNDRED PEOPLE LIVED ON ARUBA IN 1816. In the period covered by this chapter their number increased to something under nine thousand.
The trade to the Gulf of Maracaibo was a transit-trade; shipments were received from Curaçao merchants and return-cargoes consisting of dye-wood and goatskins were sent there. Eight merchants and eight shopkeepers resided on our island, as well as 78 sailors. Fishing was only carried on in "canoas". Of the 319 persons whose calling was known 194 were planters. There must have been a moderate prosperity, since two goldsmiths found occupation here.
Public buildings (the commander's house, the "horsemen's houses", the soldiers' quarters and Fort Zoutman) had fallen into a state of disrepair.
An inventory of Fort Zoutman makes it very clear that government- property was in a sadly neglected condition. It consisted of "two benches, two tables, two iron pots, four halivats (an Aruban measure, half vat, about 8 gallons), two water-casks, a soldiers' quarters, 17 workable and defective muskets, and 20 cartridge-pouches.
With regard to private houses nothing was reported. The garden or "bakkoval" at Fontein according to old usage served as "special allowance" for the commander.
All the soil belonged to the government, but Aruba was not classed as a government plantation like Bonaire. However, those cultivating the little gardens or cunucus did not pay leases. Rates were not levied, but every inhabitant was obliged to work two days a week for the government, a kind of statute labour. It was possible, however, to have oneself replaced by a slave.
When more people got an opportunity to settle here the feudal laws maintained by the Dutch West India Company until 1791, which had been left intact by the government afterwards, could no longer be kept up. In 1823 the whole of Aruba was still regarded as crown-land. In that year the residents were permitted to obtain the ownership of the land they had received as concessionaries by purchase. The gold-finds of 1824