Bonaire, History, Ships calling at Kralendijk, Jean Baptiste Tierce Cadet, Toussaint Louverture, Anciens Libres, Tula, Alexandre Pétion, Luis Brión, Revolution in Curaçao, A British vessel bearing the American Flag, 1795-1804

11_Toussaint_LouvertureJune 10, 1800. A ship from Toussaint Louverture’s Fleet

Fatras-Bâton, Toussaint Breda, Pierre Dominique Toussaint L’Ouverture, François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture. (Cap-Français 1743 – Fort de Joux 1803).

The corvette skipped by M.L. Ellis (perhaps linked to the “Ellis of St Eustachius” and the “De Veer of Curaçao”) arrived in Bonaire three months before the blockade of Curaçao by the French.

Een schipper M.L.Ellis arriveerde 10 juni 1800 van St Thomas op Curaçao en deelde mede beoosten Bonaire “gestroken te zijn” door een korvet onder Franse Vlag, waarvan de equipage hoofdzakelijk uit Negers, Spanjaarden en Italiaanen bestond. Wellicht was het een der door generaal Pierre D. Toussaint Louverture op Saint Domingue uitgeruste kapers. (Johannes Hartog – 1954 – Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse Antillen: Bonaire, van Indianen … – Page 102)

conspiracy1800, Anciens Libres, Alexandre Pétion and the conspiracy in Curaçao

“Anciens libres” from the south coast, including futur president Alexandre Pétion, participated in a minor rebellion on Curaçao in 1800, and a conspiracy in Maracaibo in 1799.(Piet C. Emmer, Germán Carrera Damas, Jalil Sued Badillo – 2012 – General History of the Caribbean: Vol. 4: the Long Nineteenth … – Page 3)

It is true that president Alexandre Pétion of the southern Haitian Republic later pressured Simon Bolivar to investigate slave emancipation in South America and that he became personnaly involved in a rising on Curaçao in 1800…
…Edmond Thétis had left behind Haitian comrades on Curaçao who were planning to join the St Pierre insurrection (Martinique). (Robert L. Paquette, Stanley Lewis Engerman – 1996 – Lesser Antilles/age of Eur Exp (c) – Page 296)

curazaoCuraçao, the age of revolution 1795-1800

…Between 1685 and 1705 the Spanish Crown issued three strongly worded Royal Decrees aimed at addressing the problem of these so-called ‘blacks of bad entry’ (negros de mala entrada), threatening to grant freedom to any slave on the mainland whose owner did not have a legitimate bill of purchase via the asiento. In 1690 the Crown issued another decree, specifically mentioning the widespread fraud committed by the Coymans asiento, based on Curaçao, which, it claimed, had ‘introduced over 400 heads of bad entry, of which no more than sixteen have been captured’…

…Charles once again ordered all such slaves to be freed, citing the full text of the previous Royal Decrees of 1685 and 1690. A Royal Decree issued in 1705 again echoed the Crown’s earlier concern, fined owners in Tierra Firme two hundred pesos for each illicitly obtained slave, and granted freedom to the slaves…

…These Royal Decrees provided one way for Spain to populate Tierra Firme with potentially loyal subjects…

…In the decades after these decrees were issued, marronage from Curaçao to Tierra Firme skyrocketed, spurred by the close ties between the areas created by contraband trade, as well as by the framework that the reales cédulas provided. Coro was a particularly popular destination due to its proximity and accessibility, but records indicate that enslaved Curaçaoans travelled to a variety of different destinations along hundreds of miles of Tierra Firme’s Caribbean littoral. The coast of Barlovento, especially the area around Curiepe, was another attractive destination. Runaway slaves put into place a sophisticated trans-colonial network to navigate the process of emigrating from slavery on the small Dutch island to freedom in Spanish America. Some slaves left the island openly by forging documents or posing as freemen and women; others surreptitiously stowed away on sea-craft (Klooster 1998:68–9). Many seafarers simply jumped ship once they reached a mainland port…

For example, three men who arrived in Coro from Curaçao in 1740 took six years of legal manoeuvring to gain their freedom, and they changed their story several times along the way to enhance their case. After initially testifying that they already were Catholic and remaining in jail for several years, all three subsequently claimed that they had come to the mainland to escape from ‘heretical owners’ and that they sought ‘the sacred waters of baptism’, to be accepted into ‘the one true faith’. They then enlisted a local priest to (re)baptize them, and soon thereafter won their freedom, both from jail and from slavery…

…An elaborate dance played out within the Spanish colonial legal system, one which often involved years of complicated proceedings and multiple court cases, in which colonial authorities, fugitives, court personnel, Roman Catholic clergy, and witnesses duly certified the conversions and baptisms of people who already were Catholic. A host of other middle sectors, including lawyers, scribes, and clerks, as well as general character witnesses drawn from the wider community, were also involved in the fugitives’ quest for legal freedom. In some cases freedom was granted and then revoked multiple times, sometimes on a technicality, other times on more substantive issues. Such cases could drag on for years, or even decades…

H-001460dThe formation of the Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas (or Caracas Company) in 1728 was a catalyst for resistance. This Basque-owned company was one of Spain’s most ambitious and comprehensive attempts to limit illicit trade and channel its wealth directly to the royal treasury. The Caracas Company established a coast guard that was authorized to intercept and repress suspected smugglers and confiscate their vessels along hundreds of miles of the Caribbean littoral. This met with immediate resistance from the many different people who were involved in illicit inter-colonial trade. There were at least six major rebellions in cacao-producing areas during the fifty-six years of the company’s existence…

…Smuggling sometimes proved to be a unifying force, trumping race, ethnicity, social class, and colonial affiliation. Smugglers often parlayed their inter-colonial contact into collusion against those who would limit the trade…

…The first of the revolts broke out in 1730, soon after the Caracas Company began patrolling the Caribbean coast of Tierra Firme. It was led by Andrés López del Rosario, alias Andresote, a mixed-race Venezuelan of African and indigenous descent who had close ties to the trade with Curaçao. This uprising of slaves, free blacks, mulattos, and native people was directed against the Caracas Company and the colonial authorities who were trying to curtail smuggling. It had the full support of local whites, including elite landholders. At its height participants took over several towns and blockaded roads in the Yaracuy Valley, a major contraband area and site of the thriving smuggling settlement of Tucacas. Most of the Yaracuy Valley’s inhabitants, including local officials, enslaved plantation workers, indigenous people, and maroons, as well as white farmers, rightly felt that their entire livelihood was jeopardized by the Caracas Company’s crackdown on smuggling. Curaçaoan traders, who also felt threatened by the Caracas Company’s activities, provided critical support to the rebels, trading arms and alcohol to them in exchange for cacao (Brito 1985:209). When officials sent in several thousand troops to intensify repression of the uprising, Curaçaoan smugglers whisked the rebel leader Andresote off to the nearby island where he remained at least until 1739. In the subsequent trials several residents of Tierra Firme testified that they had taken Andresote to Curaçao several times to purchase goods prior to the revolt…

Mapa_del_tren_Caracas-La_GuairaIn 1771 the commander of the Caracas battalion warned of ‘the suspicion and fear which is being caused by the continued flight of black slaves from Curaçao’ (Gonzalez 1990:52). In 1789 Spain allowed free trade in enslaved Africans to some of its American colonies, including Venezuela. This eliminated, at least in theory, the need both for the asiento and for the parallel contraband trade in slaves (although it is not entirely clear how this played out, especially in the short term, and whether, in fact, it immediately led to the cessation of the illicit trade in enslaved labour)…

…In 1790 Venezuelan authorities denounced slaves born in Curaçao as ‘detrimental to these provinces’, articulating a sharp break with previous policies that had welcomed them over eight decades (Acosta 1961:39). The new law applicable to the Dutch sphere, promulgated in 1791, specifically noted the close relationship between marronage and contraband trade in the area between Curaçao and Coro (Torres 1997:50). That same year Spain and the Dutch Republic also signed an agreement for ‘the reciprocal restitution of fugitives’ (De Granda 1973:6-7). Foreign fugitives were now seen as a threat to Spanish colonial interests rather than as useful geopolitical pawns or as a way to increase the number of loyal subjects…

…The other leader of the revolt, José Leonardo Chirinos, was a freeman who worked on cacao plantations and had direct links to the contraband trade with Curaçao (Brito 1985:225-226; Castillo 1981:603). There is evidence that Chirinos travelled regularly to Curaçao and also to Saint-Domingue in the early 1790s (Documentos 1997:186; Brito 1985:225-6)…

…However, a good number of the runaway slaves from Curaçao had settled in the town of Coro, forming a neighbourhood that at the time was called Guinea, now known as Curazaíto…

tumblr_li4dssykNb1qhb7mro1_1280Curaçao was intimately connected to the French, Spanish, British, and Danish colonies. These close ties were replicated on an individual level, as evinced by the involvement of Curaçaoan blacks in a maroon community in Santo Domingo, slave conspiracies in Louisiana and Cuba in the 1790s, and the Coro revolt of 1795…

…As sailors, many free coloureds had spent time in French colonial ports. Since the Seven Years’ War (1756-63), Curaçao had conducted a brisk trade with the French Antilles, supplying provisions and Venezuelan mules in exchange for cash crops. The links with the southern parts of Saint-Domingue were especially close, in particular after the outbreak of an Anglo-French war in 1779, when French authorities invited foreign merchants to do business there. By the mid-1780s, sixty-eight vessels arrived annually in Willemstad from Saint-Domingue. Heavy traffic continued well after the outbreak of the Haitian Revolution. When a disappointing number of free coloureds reported for militia inspection on Curaçao on the first day of 1793, their captains explained the many absentees by reference to the trade with the French colonies, in which they were employed…

…In Saint-Domingue, the black freedman Toussaint Louverture emerged as a prominent leader in the 1791-93 insurrection and may have been one of its organizers. Less well known are the Maracaibo militia lieutenant Francisco Pirela; manservant Alexis Casimir, who played a shadowy role in the Martinique rebellion in 1789; and the black artillery sergeant who provided weapons for the Cartagena conspiracy of 1799.

…Another, smaller spate occurred in 1795 in the Spanish empire, where the withdrawal of the controversial Código Negro in late 1794, and reforms regarding free people of color contributed to a wave of resistance that stretched from Louisiana to Buenos Aires…

…The 1795 revolt was not the first one in Curaçaoan history. We now know of minor ones in 1716, 1750, and 1774, and further research might disclose other upheavals. More interestingly, there is hard evidence of continued unrest among both the slave population and free coloured and black population in the years after the crushing of the 1795 revolt. In 1796, a coup d’état involved the participation of free coloureds. The influence of the Haitian Revolution and ideas of racial equality and antislavery were to surface again in another little-known series of upheavals in 1799-1800. Dutch Patriots, mainly black troops from French Guadeloupe, and hundreds of local blacks, both enslaved and free, were part of this turmoil. In the end, British and American military intervention restored order, secured that slavery would persist, and paradoxically guaranteed the long-term survival of the Dutch colonial order by returning the island to the Dutch after the Napoleonic Wars.

…In 1750 one hundred slaves revolted. The insurgency was crushed the same day after the rebels killed 59 slaves of the West India Company’s plantation; only one white was killed. Some of the rebels committed suicide; of the 52 captured, 13 were sold off the island and no less than 39 executed…

…Archives mention the presence of marooned Africans from Curaçao in Coro, present-day Venezuela, at least by the end of the seventeenth century. Reliable figures are hard to come by, but between 1759 and 1766 alone, 380 slaves were recorded as having escaped to the Spanish Main. Wim Klooster, in this book, mentions 140 slaves escaping to the Spanish Main in 1774 alone, a year in which Curaçao faced a severe food crisis. And in her contribution, Linda Rupert demonstrates how this migratory tradition drew the Coro region and Curaçao close to each other throughout the eighteenth century…

…The third recorded revolt, in 1774, indeed started as a mass marronage. All 72 slaves of plantation De Fuijk attempted to board a large canoe heading for Coro. The escape failed and only five slaves managed to cross in a smaller canoe…

…The 1795 revolt started on 17 August as some fifty slaves of plantation De Knip, in apparent protest against a specific infringement on the usual daily routines, refused to work and marched off to neighbouring plantations. This strike soon became an attempt to launch an island-wide revolution inspired by the ideals and example of the Haitian revolt…

…Contemporary accounts of the revolt have left dramatic testimonies of the revolt’s foremost leader, a slave called Tula, who may have been born outside of Curaçao and most likely had spent time in the French Caribbean; he was also known as ‘Rigaud’. In conversations with the Catholic priest Jacobus Schinck, who had been commissioned to convince the slaves to capitulate, Tula reportedly made several statements demonstrating his knowledge of the French and Haitian revolutions. ‘We have been badly treated for too long, we do not want to do anybody harm, but we seek our freedom, the French [Caribbean] blacks have been given their free-dom, Holland has been taken over by the French, hence we too must be free’. Drawing on Christian rhetoric as well, Tula told the priest that all people share the same parents, Adam and Eve. Talking about the abuse intrinsic to slavery, Tula added that animals were treated better than slaves – hence the right to revolt…

…Other French Caribbean colonies seemed on the verge of following this example – between 1789 and 1794, there was a series of revolts in Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Lucia, and Dominica. From 1795 onwards, the circle widened with revolts and conspiracies in the Spanish Caribbean and Tierra Firme, in particular the Coro region, as well as in the British colonies and in Dutch Demerara and, indeed, Curaçao (Geggus 1997:46-50)…

…By late September, the 1795 revolt was brutally suppressed. At the end of the day, two whites had been killed, as opposed to 100 slaves. The proceedings of the hearings and the subsequent executions of the revolt’s leaders testify to nauseatingly cruel retributions, in stark contrast to the courteous way Tula and his fellow insurgents treated men such as the priest Jacobus Schinck…

Scan 1Dutch colonial Orangists against the local pro-French Patriot party, increasing tensions within this Patriot party, the strategic interests of both France, Britain, and the United States in Curaçao, perhaps a Haitian drive to export revolution, and Venezuelan revolutionaries taking refuge in Curaçao. The way all these elements converged in Curaçao only underlines how much the island was embedded in a wider Atlantic network, precisely because of its long-standing status as a free trade zone and the ties its inhabitants had developed around the region.

…In his contribution, David Geggus focuses on both the 1795 revolt and the events that transpired in 1800, when many Curaçaoan slaves sided with French invaders from Guadeloupe. What set these two rebellions apart from most slave revolts in the Americas, Geggus contends, was the large number of participants. Having assembled information on as many as 180 revolts, Geggus is on solid ground with his assertion that black Curaçaoans staged two of the eight largest revolts during the Age of Revolutions…

…One of Coro’s rebel leaders, Ramón Aizpurua tells us, was a former slave from Curaçao who had earlier obtained his freedom by fleeing to the Spanish Main. Aizpurua investigates the politi-cal links between the two areas in the period 1795-1799, when two major republican conspiracies were set up in Venezuela, featuring motley crews indeed. White officials, merchants, and soldiers, as well as mulatto militiamen, were involved in the 1797 conspiracy, while alongside privateers from Guadeloupe, sailors from Curaçao took part in the 1799 Venezuelan plot.

While these conspiracies fizzled, a genuine coup d’état was carried out on Curaçao in late 1796. Karwan Fatah-Black shows that the Military Committee behind this coup could count on popular support. In the previous months, Curaçaoans had begun to recruit leaders and catalog demands without consulting the authorities across the Atlantic. Once the take-over had succeeded, the new leaders issued a declaration that started, tellingly, with the words ‘Freedom, Equality, Fraternity’. The coup prompted a naval retaliation from the so-called Batavian Republic, the Dutch metropolis that ironically was a de facto vassal state of France…

Reclus18_08Between 1795 and the British take-over in 1800, therefore, Curaçao was governed by a Dutch governor representing a French puppet state, a Batavian Republic with no revolutionary intentions in the Caribbean. Its local representative since 1796, Governor Johann Rudolf Lauffer, had even fewer such inclinations. The local elites were divided among themselves as to their loyalty towards France or the exiled House of Orange. This was the case in 1795 and even more so in the following years, a division which continuously undermined colonial rule. Indeed, the absence of harsh retribution to Patriots after the 1800 British take-over might reflect an awareness that more internal rivalry within elite circles might elicit another round of unrest among the free coloureds and slaves…

…The entire plan fell apart, and, just as Picornell and Campomanes had done before in late June 1797, Gual and España escaped to Curaçao one month later, in late July, where they made contact with local residents and French agents on the island, perhaps with the idea of amplifying their original plan with any aid that the Curaçaoans and French might provide. Once on the island, they soon reported to the governor of the island, Johann Rudolf Lauffer. They lodged in the house or inn of Felipe Piar, son of a mulatto Curaçaoan woman and a Canarian captain who travelled to the island. His brother was Manuel Piar, who was to have an important role in the first years of the so-called Venezuelan War of Independence, but ended up executed in 1817 at the orders of Simón Bolívar himself, following a murky trial in which racial problems may have been lurking. When a commissioner, José Rafael Oberto, arrived along with a privateer, Captain Pedro Castillo, with the mission of transporting them back to La Guaira under arrest, it seems that Gual and España sought protection with the French merchant Jean Baptiste Tierce…

…The fugitives moved into Tierce’s house, where they even met with Castillo. Soon after, Castillo, Oberto and José Obediente, the person commissioned by Lauffer to help Oberto apprehend Gual and España, were chased and harassed by mobs of people who followed them everywhere, insulting them with ‘…there goes the aristocrat who comes to take away the revolutionaries, and the traitor who helps them…’

Aided by Tierce, Gual and España had began to recruit volunteers for the expedition they were planning with the aim of first taking La Guaira and next assaulting Caracas to overthrow the Spanish authorities. From among the varied population of Curaçao – locals, Frenchmen, and Spaniards – many of whom were probably crew members on Curaçaoan ships or French corsairs, they managed to ‘enlist’ a large number, some 400 people, among whom 100 pesos were distributed daily to keep them committed to the project; some informants spoke of local Jewish support. Some of these conspirators, for example, the Frenchman Boissere, went along with the refugees from La Guaira, supposedly to learn the expedition’s intent. In a long letter to Governor Pedro Carbonell disclosing the conspiracy, Boissere maintained that the French were the true captains of the project, and that its ultimate aim was to seize the riches of the Royal Treasury in Caracas, which they thought might hold over 20,000 pesos…

MX4_082Upon their arrival in Curaçao late in 1798, Cortés de Campomanes went ashore, but España did not because he learned that Lauffer had issued a warrant for his arrest. He decided to leave for Saint-Domingue, via Aruba, travelling on the ship of Juan Pedro Maduro, a free coloured merchant and mariner, and friend of Tierce. While Maduro was busy buying mules to take back to the French island, Gual arrived in Aruba too on a ship belonging to Pedro Brión, for whom Tierce had worked and whom the Frenchman considered a close friend. They finally left for Jacmel, where they stayed for several days. There, Gual decided to speak with the English authorities of Martinique, travelled there, and subsequently went to Trinidad (recently conquered by the English), where he tried to sell his idea of invading Venezuela and making it a republic…

…In hindsight, Gual, España, Picornell, and Cortés seem to have attempted to sell their plan for revolution to both the French, in Guadeloupe to Commissioner Victor Hugues and in Curaçao to Tierce, and to the English, in Martinique to Admiral Ralph Abercromby and in Trinidad to Governor Picton, but without much success…

…Otherwise it is hard to understand the odd behaviour of Tierce and Lauffer toward the Venezuelan fugitives, first inciting the expedition but leaving them on their own, or of hiding them from the Caracas authorities yet pursuing them. Lauffer, as well as Tierce and General Urbain Devaux, in their various letters to Carbonell and his successor Guevara y Vasconcelos, presented themselves as devoted, selfless allies of the Spanish Crown, requesting their aid for the trying times on the island in 1799, but keeping their distance from each other – Lauffer in one corner, and Tierce and Devaux in another. However, José María España declared before the Caracas authorities that he thought Tierce was following orders from Lauffer in supporting the plan for the naval expedition to La Guaira…

…In September 1799, two French agents from Saint-Domingue, Urbain Devaux and Isaac Sasportas, together with a resident French merchant, Jean Baptiste Tierce Cadet, were arrested in Curaçao for conspiring to overthrow the island’s government and to liberate the slaves. They were deported without trial. Allegedly this conspiracy, of which Tierce Cadet was accused of being the local ringleader, was part of a much wider scheme initiated in Saint-Domingue: the liberation of the slaves in all the colonies of the Caribbean Basin. A year later an expeditionary force from Guadeloupe tried to take over Curaçao militarily, supported by most of the island’s slaves and other segments of the local population…

…On 8 September 1799, Acting Governor Lauffer of Curaçao summoned an extraordinary session of the island’s council in which he disclosed the existence of a conspiracy. The French agent, General Devaux, sent to Curaçao from Saint-Domingue as receveur of the proceeds from the sale of prizes brought into the Curaçao harbour by French privateers, was accused by Lauffer of being the leader of a group that plotted to bring down the island’s government and to instigate a general revolt among the slaves. With the consent of the council Devaux was invited to join the meeting and apprehended as soon as he passed the gates of Fort Amsterdam. Later that day another French agent from Saint-Domingue, a civilian called Isaac Sasportas, was also arrested (Hamelberg 1985:53-7)…

…In a written statement, José Obediente, an officer in the National Guard and confidant of Lauffer, together with Abraham Rodriguez Pimentel disclosed that Devaux had planned to kill Lauffer. Sasportas, after his arrest, stated that he knew that naval Captain Albert Kikkert and a Curaçaoan citizen named Jan Schotborgh were dissatisfied with the colony’s government. A Frenchman called Renaud stated that he had overheard a conversation between Tierce and Devaux in which the first mentioned details regarding his plans for a take-over of the government. Tierce also disclosed the beheading of Lauffer, Obediente, and several others and argued that Kikkert was to take Lauffer’s place as governor. The plan to overthrow the government included the ransoming of the Jews and the confiscation of American ships and other property. In yet another statement it was said that Devaux had advised Schotborgh to sell his plantation and all his slaves and that he had boasted that he had 400 Frenchmen at his disposal (Emmanuel 1970:285; Hamelberg 1985:58)…

…In December 1799, three Frenchmen were ousted from the colony, suspected of a revolutionary conspiracy directed from Saint-Domingue and aimed at starting a massive revolt that would eradicate slavery throughout the Caribbean, beginning with Curaçao. The story does not end here. From July through September 1800, Curaçao was first visited then partly occupied by predominantly black troops from revolutionary France’s colony Guadeloupe. There was apparently widespread local support among the slaves, but not from the free black and coloured population. The participation of several French, Haitian, and Guadeloupean military leaders, including the revolutionary French commander Bresseau and future Haitian President Alexandre Pétion, is well-documented. So is the participation of members of the local criollo elite, including the future admiral serving under Simón Bolívar, Luis Brión…

…The following year (1800), on the morning of 23 July, five ships under French flag and carrying a large number of mainly black soldiers suddenly arrived at Curaçao. The expedition was sent from Guadeloupe, its leader Maurice-Henri Bresseau explained, to help defend the island against the common enemy: according to intelligence received by the Guadeloupe agency, the British were preparing an expedition against Curaçao. Lauffer told them that he did not need any reinforcements and that he was very capable of defending the island with the troops he had at his disposal. The governor was suspicious from the start about the real intentions of this French force and only reluctantly allowed the troops to disembark. Soon it became clear that the French also had a list of complaints against Curaçao’s government, including the arrest and the extradition of Tierce, and the accusation of siding with the Americans regarding the seizure of American prizes by French privateers. A very tense period, which lasted for weeks, followed. The Curaçao defences were kept in a permanent state of alert, with the guns in Fort Amsterdam trimmed at the Guadeloupean ships and troops. Finally, on 3 September, and only after receiving ample supplies and a large sum of money, the Guadeloupeans left.

The next day, however, it was reported that the French ships had anchored in St. Michiel’s Bay, just a few miles to the west of Willemstad, and that the troops had landed and taken possession of the local fort. Lauffer prepared for battle, but when the French attacked, his defence collapsed almost immediately; his troops fled in blind panic at the sight of the approaching enemy. Lauffer was forced to hastily retreat across St. Anna Bay, and the French started a siege. The French troops were joined by most of the colony’s slaves and soon controlled a large part of the island, while privateers blockaded the harbour. After a week a British frigate appeared before the harbour and broke the French blockade. Being short of supplies governor and council saw no alternative but to ask the British enemy for protection against the French ally. After the arrival of two American warships on 22 September, the French gave up their siege and evacuated the island during the night; Curaçao came under British rule (Hamelberg 1985:72-86)…

…From their headquarters in Guadeloupe, the French engaged in a privateering war against U.S. ships, for which they used Curaçao as a base. Jordaan shows that the Curaçaoan government was caught in the middle, trying to remain on good terms with North American traders while not alienating the French. In 1800, the French took their war to the shores of Curaçao, as soldiers disembarked from a fleet of five ships to pre-empt an attack on the island by their other enemy, the British. After a British frigate broke the French blockade, Curaçao ended up in British hands…

Landhuis-Groot-Davelaar-CuraçaoOn 23 September (1800) the colonial French troops evacuated hastily, leaving many prisoners behind. It remains a puzzle why the French ‘revolutionaries’ backed down so easily against what was not an overwhelming British majority. In any case, most foreigners were quickly banished from the island, local white participants were forgiven, and there was apparently no strong repression of either the black and coloured free population or of the slave population. In stark contrast to the aftermath of the 1795 revolt, there were few executions and not the type of exemplary state terrorism displayed five years earlier…

…Venezuelan historian Roberto Palacios honoured the alleged protagonist in Curaçao, Frenchman Jean Baptiste Tierce Cadet, for his Jacobin ideals and his firm belief in the ultimate consequences of the revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity: the instalment of a ‘genuine revolutionary government’ in Curaçao, which would legislate ‘absolute racial equality’ and the abolition of slavery (Palacios 1983:22)…

…This is not to say that there was no revolutionary conspiracy at all. Tierce Cadet, a representative of the French government who had lived on the island since 1784, had indeed been at the centre of a revolutionary circle on Curaçao, entertaining direct contacts with Venezuelan revolutionaries as well as French agitators. And indeed attempts may have been made to attract Governor Lauffer to this camp. Lauffer, however, had no interest whatsoever in either becoming involved in Haitian rivalries or in jeopardising his relations with Britain – much less was he interested in slave emancipation. His pro-French leanings, which had helped him stage a coup against his Orangist predecessor in 1796, had clearly withered after his appointment (Schutte 1974:207-9)…

…Next, the number of slaves on Curaçao itself shrank by almost fifty per cent between 1789 and 1816, making the enslaved population a minority of the insular population for the first time since early colonisation. Perhaps large numbers of slaves were sold off in the region. This, too, may have limited the slaves’ confidence to succeed in any type of revolt. Afterwards, there was the sale of over 4,000 slaves to other Caribbean colonies in the 1819-1847 period. There is a correlation between years of poor harvests and high numbers of slaves sold, and this must have been the most important factor. Yet one may speculate that owners were particularly interested in selling off precisely those slaves they sus-pected of rebelliousness. Indeed, prior to 1819, only the export of ‘bad, stubborn, thievish and for the Colony extremely danger-ous slaves’ had been admitted by the local authorities and was indeed practiced…

…In the debates preceding the (late) abolition of slavery in the Dutch West Indies in 1863, the main concern regarding Suriname was an immediate shortage of labour for the plantations, as land was freely available in abundance; a solution was sought in a ten-year period of apprenticeship. The major apprehension for Curaçao, in contrast, was the rise of the number of unemployed who were at risk of becoming vagabonds. There was stark hypocrisy here, as the problem of land shortage was augmented by the monopolisation of agrarian land and wells by the former slaveholders. On the eve of Emancipation, local experts and Dutch politicians discussed emigration as the best way to solve the alleged problem of landlessness and oversupply of labour (Renkema 1981a:144-59; Oostindie 1996:167).

(Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal, Land en Volkenkunde. CURAÇAO IN THE AGE OF REVOLUTIONS, 1795-1800, Edited by Wim Kloster and Gert Oostindie. Published by KITLV Press, Leiden, 2011. [PDF] Untitled – Oapen)

PDF/ebook published by KITLV Press, JEAN-BAPTISTE TIERCE AND THE BATAVIAN REPUBLIC. By GH Homan – 1976 – [PDF] JEAN-BAPTISTE TIERCE AND THE BATAVIAN – KITLV journals

PDF/ebook published by KITLV Press, [PDF] Ramón Aizpurua (Universidad Central de Venezuela) – kitlv

Shipwreck_klein_curacaoGeneral Beauvais

En septembre 1799, le général Beauvais, mulâtre, commandant la place de Jacmel, est attaqué par Toussaint Louverture. En fuite vers Curaçao pour aller rendre compte au Directoire, son bateau fait naufrage et il disparaît. (Jean-Marie Williamson – 2001 -Les passions de Marie Renault (1775-1855): de Saint-Domingue à … – Page 47)

October 06, 1804. A British vessel bearing the American flag

Op 6 october 1804 liep een Engels schip, nota bene onder Amerikanse vlag, op Bonaire binnen onder het voorwendsel van in nood te zijn. Na de nodige informaties te hebben verkregen, ging het op zee kruisen…Changuion liet het Engelse schip nazetten, maar de vervolging liep op niets uit. (Johannes Hartog – 1954 – Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse Antillen: Bonaire, van Indianen … – Page 103)

©2013 Olivier Douvry/GlobeDivers

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  1. Bonaire, Kounoukou Bleeuw, Salinas del Caribe, Schotborgh and De Veer, Levi Maduro, Playa di Sarna, Playa di Flor, 1783-1883 | Globedivers' Blog
  2. Bonaire, A Maritime History, Slave Trade, Maurice-Henri Bresseau, The French Corsairs and the West India Company, 1759-1816 | Globedivers' Blog

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