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«Its Causes, Course and Consequences A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in History in the ...»

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Although an excellent governor ln the opinion of the Commission General in Batavia, he was recalled to Java by the end of 1818 to succeed General Anthing as Army Commander on the latter's return to Holland. De Kock saw the revolt as a result of the fear felt by the natives of the return of the old system after the mild and supposedly fair rule of the British and of a number of wrong decisions taken by the government 1. He went out of his way to convince the islanders that it was the government's intention to rule fairly and that no one would be oppressed. He was genuinely 1 Gen. De Kock Memorie van Overgave (1819) Schneither Collection 57 No. 128. Rijksarchief, The Hague.

concerned about the poverty that was rampant in the negories of Saparua, Haruku and the coast of Hitu, where most of the houses had been destroyed by fire, either in the course of the war or as punishment for participation in the revolt.

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labour was demanded them during De Kock's term of office and sago from the large government sago forests on Ceram was made available to the population at a very modest price.

He was convinced that peace could be lasting if the natives were ruled gently and no great demands were made for compulsory labour. He also ordered that the Hongi expeditions should not be conducted annually; they were, he thought, too harsh on the villagers. He did not conduct one such expedition during his term of office, feeling that one every third year would be sufficient. He also took issue with Batavia over the rate of pay for civil servants in the Moluccas, which, despite higher prices in the islands, was lower than in Java. This, he felt, could easily lead to renewed extortion.

Baron Van der Capellen, the Second Commissioner General and Governor General, has a reputation as a humane and compassionate man. He was an ardent admirer of the Abbe Raynal, author of Histoire philosophique des establissements et du commerce des Europeens dans les deux Indes (the

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3 Published in Amsterdam in 1771.

East and West Indies}, who did for colonial rule what Rousseau had done for education and political science. The Abbe was a genuine representative of the Enlightenment; he clearly exposed the dark side of empire, especially in the Moluccas. His influence on Van der Cape11en was a lasting one.

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to be appointed after the British interlude, there had been a number of people who felt themselves eminently eligible for the office. Prominent among them were Daende1s and Dirk van Hogendorp, people with extensive experience in government of the colonies. But the King's choice fell on Van der Cape11en, a man who, the King felt, subscribed to

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was the reason why William bypassed the people with colonial experience whom he considered to belong to the past. The new colonial government was to have as its hallmark that decency and respectability that were the guidelines of William's own c.onduct as King of the Netherlands.

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that the Indonesians had to be protected and their burden lightened; but he went a step further by explicitly recognizing that a degree of compulsion - on both sides - was necessary. He warmly supported the view of those who, in the Charter of 1802, had laid down that the administration

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"should treat the indigenous people as a father treats his child and not as a ruler treats his subjects,,8.

King William I saw the colonies, as did most of his contemporaries, as a concern that should be profitable.

He ordered the Commissioners to re-organise the government for which purpose they received extensive instructions.

The last lines of Art. 19 of these instructions read:

"with regard to the cloves produced in and around Ambon, they shall especially investigate if and why the Monopoly must be considered more advantageous to the State than the encouragement of the cultivation through free trade and the introduction of land dues and import and export duties II • This part of their instructions had not yet been fulfilled by the Commission by the time the Revolt erupted.

During the Ambon Revolt Van der Capallen had shown

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and its effect on the population. When, after Elout's and Buyskes' departure, he assumed the office of Governor General, one of his first acts was to set up a Moluccan Commission, composed of H.J. Van de Graaff and G.T.Meylan, his chief advisers. In their report, submitted in 1821, they expressed the opinion that the conditions of the people, under the present system, were most unfavourable and they recommended the abolition of the monopoly and the encouragement of colonisation by European farmers, to grow spices under free-trade conditions. This commission's findings were backed by Governor Merkus who made an extensive inspection tour of the entire Moluccas shortly after taking up his appointment there.

–  –  –

Before making a decision Van der Cape.llen decided to acquaint himself with the circumstances, in person and on the spot, but the heavy pressure of work forced him to delay his visit until 1824. Then, with Merkus and Van de Graaff as his advisers, he conducted a new investigation.





There is a record of their deliberations in the

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go, not only in the interest of the population which had suffered under it for two centuries, but also in the real interest of the state. They based this decision on the following considerations: the impossibility of maintaining the monopoly in the face of the free shipping concessions in the Moluccas, which made it impossible to maintain all the measures required to enforce it; the high cost of government supervision and defence that were inseparable from the system; the fact that the interest of the population was diametrically opposed to the demands of government;

and finally on the diminishing income derived by government due to steadily sinking prices for spices, both in the Indies and the European Markets, as a direct result of the planting of clove trees outside the Dutch East Indies, especially during the British Interregnum. This last point they saw as the reason why the Moluccas, instead of being a profitable possession for the fatherland, would become a pressing financial burden on the finances of the Indies.

They were agreed, not only on the necessity of introducing a system of government for those territories that would be more in harmony with the principles on which the government was now based - fairness to the people and the clearly understood continuing interest of the government - but also

----.~--------"---------------------------------------------------Collection "Kolonien na 1813 file 966, Rijksarchief, The Hague. Quoted by Stapel op.cit. p.182.

in the belief that the intended changes must consist of total abolition of the monopoly system and its replacement by a system of free-trade. The introduction of free trade would necessitate the levying of regular taxes to offset the cost of sound, politic and financial government.

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achieved and the means setting it into operation, the opinions of the Commission differed. They felt that special measures were required to introduce the system, but Governor Merkus felt they could be introduced immediately.

Whatever the course, it would cost a considerable amount during the first few years. If the existing system were abolished gradually no immediate reduction of the army would be possible and costs would be considerable for a few years. If, on the other hand, it was abolished immediately, then the benefits would be immediate too. The people's co-operation with the government, that would result, would allow an immediate reduction of the armed forces in the area and a consequent saving of expenses.

The Governor General felt that the old monopoly system was incompatible with the personal ideals of the King and these considerations inclined him to consent to the immediate nemoval of all obstacles to this abolition, but he also considered that, on such a matter of principle, he would not be justified in making decisions without extensive debate about the consequences by the entire "high Government". He also thought that some immediate measures should be taken to remove the worst of the pressure.

The result was the IIMoluccan Publication ll of 1824, which was posted allover the islands in a Dutch and Malay text. This remarkable document is printed in the Staatsblad (Goverrunent Gazette) No. 19a 1824 • After the solemn opening, addressed to all the South Moluccan peoples, mentioned by name, the Governor General informed them of the King's bidding to pay special attention to the Moluccas during his stay in the East. Pressure of work had prevented him, so far, from doing much about this and he had had to rely on other people to investigate the needs of Ambon, but

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follows a list of disasters which had affected the Moluccan people, interspersed with some of their failings: poverty, dependency, unrest and disputes, rebellion against the Heads, smuggling, lawlessness and laziness. To a considerable extent the fault was not theirs, and therefore, Van der Capellen claimed, he had not come to punish but to save.

He promised some improvements: complete abolition of the hongi-expeditions, no more unpaid labour duties and a doubling of payments for materials supplied. New laws and regulations regarding local goverrunent would be introduced and other reforms brought down. For their part, the islanders ought to receive goverrunent officials well, because from now on the offences which had been committed by officials would cease: no more clove trees would be cut down, no more gardens destroyed, no more prahus or houses burned, there would be no more interference with religion and people would be protected against attacks from pirates.

In his Journal, after discussing the Publication, Van der 10 Quoted by F.W~Stapel in "Een en ander over de Molukken publicatie van 1824", Bijdragen Vol. 86 (1930) P.18 O.

Capellen wrote: III have informed the King of my transactions in Amboyna and not hidden from His Majesty that the Monopoly System can no longer be maintained llll.

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disappointments must have been that the King disagreed with most of his actions. The interference of the Dutch government in the economics of the islanders, the almost complete freedom given to the Governor of the Moluccas, Merkus, to prepare for a system of free trade and cultivation, the Ilfanatical speeches ll to the people and the Publication were

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Count Du Bus de Gisignies, sent out to the Indies as a Commission of One, was authorised by the Minister for the Colonies to reverse the decisions regarding the Moluccas and to re-instate the compulsory cultivation. The islanders remained free to dispose of their cloves as they wished,

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Gisignies ordered that the clove cultivation be extended to the South Coast of Ceram, that the cultivations be regularly inspected and that everything that stood in the way of this cultivation be eliminated, but care was to be taken not to

–  –  –

proclaimed on 15 April 1824 - in fact at the very time that Van der Capellen was in Ambon - representatives of the Netherlands government had signed the London Treaty of 17 March 1824, in which, in Article I, the subjects of both IlJournaal van Baron Van der Capellen van zijn reis door de Molukken II " T'ijdschrift voor Nederla'nd'sch Tndie.

Vol. II (1855). ---- 'Staatsblad No. 80, 1827. Source: H. van der Wijck, IlDe Nederlandsche Oost Indische Bezittingen ll Ph.D. Thesis, (1866).

s 'Gravenhage.

states were guaranteed free trade in each others colonies, but in which also, in Article 7, the Moluccan Islands and especially Ambon, Banda and Ternate and their immediate dependencies were "specifically excluded until such times when the Netherlands government will deem it advisable to abolish the monopoly in spices".

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The IlMoluccan Publication ll is an important document, nonetheless, as the first official government document which expresses a new spirit. It differs from other government documents in that it openly admits that the policies pursued thus far had been detrimental to the population. The appreciation of such open mindedness, as might be expected, was varied. The Lt. Governor General admired it greatly. But an (anonymous) civil servant wrote in the margin of the Publication: IIIf the population had been able to understand it, it would have caused much damage" • Such prognostications did not eventuate, however, probably because the Ambonese, in all likelihood, did not understand the stilted high Malay.

Why should the anonymous writer have been worried?

Most likely because of the new spirit expressed in the proclamation. An open confession of guilt, until this moment, had not been the government's line. But why had the King refused to abolish the clove monopoly in the Moluccas? There were several arguments against an immediate

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14 Stapel (1930) op.cit. p.18l.

or rapid abolition of this century old economic system.

Van der Capellen and Van de Graaff already suspected that, with the abolitions of the (in their view fatal) monopoly, little or no co-operation by the people could be counted on, as they would see the unpleasantness of the unfamiliar rather than the benefits intended. The long suffering, mostly conservative, Moluccan population would not welcome change but only saw trouble in innovation. Having been used to enforced cultivation for centuries they simply would have no conception of free cUltivation and also lacked the necessary experience to act as merchants in a free market.

–  –  –

compulsory clove cUltivation had become a kind of tax.



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