Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies

Last updated

Governor-General of the
Dutch East Indies
Residence Governor-General's Palace, Batavia
Appointer VOC (1610–1800)
Dutch government (1800–1949)
Precursor None
Formation 1610
First holder Pieter Both
Final holder Tony Lovink
Abolished 1949
Succession President of Indonesia

The Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies (Dutch : Gouverneur-generaal van Nederlands Indië) represented Dutch rule in the Dutch East Indies between 1610 and Dutch recognition of the independence of Indonesia in 1949 [note 1] .

Dutch language West Germanic language

Dutch(Nederlands ) is a West Germanic language spoken by around 23 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting the majority of people in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is the third most widely spoken Germanic language, after its close relatives English and German.

Netherlands Constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe

The Netherlands is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba— it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian.

Dutch East Indies Dutch possession in Southeast Asia between 1810-1945

The Dutch East Indies was a Dutch colony consisting of what is now Indonesia. It was formed from the nationalised colonies of the Dutch East India Company, which came under the administration of the Dutch government in 1800.



The first Governors-General were appointed by the Dutch East India Company (VOC). After the VOC was formally dissolved in 1800, [1] the territorial possessions of the VOC were nationalised under the Dutch Government as the Dutch East Indies, a colony of the Netherlands. Governors-General were now appointed by either the Dutch monarch or the Dutch government. During the Dutch East Indies era most Governors-General were expatriate Dutchmen, while during the earlier VOC era most Governors-General became settlers who stayed and died in the East Indies.

The Dutch East India Company was an early megacorporation founded by a government-directed amalgamation of several rival Dutch trading companies (voorcompagnieën) in the early 17th century. It was established on March 20, 1602 as a chartered company to trade with India and Indianised Southeast Asian countries when the Dutch government granted it a 21-year monopoly on the Dutch spice trade. It has been often labelled a trading company or sometimes a shipping company. However, VOC was in fact a proto-conglomerate company, diversifying into multiple commercial and industrial activities such as international trade, shipbuilding, and both production and trade of East Indian spices, Formosan sugarcane, and South African wine. The Company was a transcontinental employer and an early pioneer of outward foreign direct investment. The Company's investment projects helped raise the commercial and industrial potential of many underdeveloped or undeveloped regions of the world in the early modern period. In the early 1600s, by widely issuing bonds and shares of stock to the general public, VOC became the world's first formally-listed public company. In other words, it was the first corporation to be listed on an official stock exchange. It was influential in the rise of corporate-led globalisation in the early modern period.

Under the period of British control (1811-1816), the equivalent position was the Lieutenant-Governor, of whom the most notable is Thomas Stamford Raffles. Between 1942 and 1945, while Hubertus Johannes van Mook was the nominal Governor-General, the area was under Japanese control, and was governed by a two sequence of governors, in Java and Sumatra. After 1948 in negotiations for independence, the equivalent position was named High Commissioner of the Crown in the Dutch East Indies.

Position of the Governor-General

Governor-General's palace in Batavia in c. 1880-1900 COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Het paleis van de gouverneur-generaal aan het Koningsplein in Batavia TMnr 60025394.jpg
Governor-General's palace in Batavia in c. 1880–1900
Opening of the Volksraad by Governor-General count of Limburg Stirum in Batavia on 18 May 1918 COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Opening van de Volksraad door gouverneur-generaal Van Limburg Stirum op 18 mei 1918 op Java TMnr 10001373.jpg
Opening of the Volksraad by Governor-General count of Limburg Stirum in Batavia on 18 May 1918

Since the VOC era, the highest Dutch authority in the colonial possessions of the East Indies resided with the Office of the Governor-General. During the Dutch East Indies era the Governor-General functioned as colonial chief executive, president of colonial government, as well as commander-in-chief of the colonial (KNIL) army. Until 1903 all government officials and organisations were formal agents of the Governor-General and entirely dependent on the central administration of the Office of the Governor-General for their budgets. [2]

Commander-in-chief supreme commanding authority of a military

A commander-in-chief, sometimes also called supreme commander, is the person that exercises supreme command and control over an armed forces or a military branch. As a technical term, it refers to military competencies that reside in a country's executive leadership – a head of state or a head of government.

A Governor-General represented the Dutch Empire and Monarch and was the most influential party in the colony. Until 1815 the Governor-General had the absolute right to ban, censor or restrict any publication in the colony. The so-called Exorbitant powers of the Governor-General allowed him to exile anyone regarded as subversive and dangerous to peace and order, without involving any Court of Law. [3]

Until 1848 the Governor-General was directly appointed by the Dutch monarch, and in later years via the Crown on advice of the Dutch metropolitan cabinet. During two periods (1815–1835 and 1854–1925) the Governor-General ruled jointly with an advisory board called the Raad van Indie (Indies Council).

Overall colonial policy and strategy were the responsibility of the Ministry of Colonies based in The Hague. Often headed by a former Governor-General. From 1815 to 1848 the Ministry was under direct authority of the Dutch King. In the 20th century the colony gradually developed as a state distinct from the Dutch metropole with treasury separated in 1903, public loans being contracted by the colony from 1913, and quasi diplomatic ties were established with Arabia to manage the Haji pilgrimage from the Dutch East Indies. In 1922 the colony came on equal footing with the Netherlands in the Dutch constitution, while remaining under the Ministry of Colonies. [4] [5]

The Hague City and municipality in South Holland, Netherlands

The Hague is a city on the western coast of the Netherlands and the capital of the province of South Holland. It is also the seat of government of the Netherlands.

Saudi Arabia Country in Western Asia

Saudi Arabia, officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is a country in Western Asia constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula. With a land area of approximately 2,150,000 km2 (830,000 sq mi), Saudi Arabia is geographically the largest sovereign state in the Middle East, the second-largest in the Arab world, the fifth-largest in Asia, and the 12th-largest in the world. Saudi Arabia is bordered by Jordan and Iraq to the north, Kuwait to the northeast, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates to the east, Oman to the southeast and Yemen to the south; it is separated from Israel and Egypt by the Gulf of Aqaba. It is the only nation with both a Red Sea coast and a Persian Gulf coast, and most of its terrain consists of arid desert, lowland and mountains. As of October 2018, the Saudi economy was the largest in the Middle East and the 18th largest in the world. Saudi Arabia also enjoys one of the world's youngest populations; 50% of its 33.4 million people are under 25 years old.

During the tenure of Governors-General who were proponents of the Ethical policy a People's Council called the Volksraad for the Dutch East Indies was installed in 1918. The Volksraad, an infant form of democratic council, was limited to an advisory role and only a small portion of the population were able to vote for its members. The Council comprised 30 indigenous members, 25 European and 5 from Chinese and other populations, and was reconstituted every four years. In 1925 the Volksraad was made a semilegislative body; and the Governor-General was expected to consult the Volksraad on major issues. [6]

See also


  1. Occupied by Japanese forces between 1942 and 1945, followed by the Indonesian National Revolution until 1949. Indonesia proclaimed its independence on 17 August 1945.

Related Research Articles

Batavia, Dutch East Indies Capital of the Dutch East Indies

Batavia, also called Betawi in the city's local Malay vernacular, was the capital of the Dutch East Indies. The area corresponds to present-day Jakarta. Batavia can refer to the city proper, as well as its suburbs and hinterland, the Ommelanden, which included the much larger area of the Residency of Batavia in today's Indonesian provinces of DKI Jakarta, Banten and West Java. In Betawi Malay, the area constituting the former Residency of Batavia is called Tanah Betawi.

Hubertus van Mook Dutch colonial governor

Hubertus Johannes "Huib" van Mook was a Dutch administrator in the East Indies. During the Indonesian National Revolution, he served as the Acting Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies from 1942 to 1948. Van Mook also had a son named Cornelius van Mook who studied marine engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also wrote about Java - and his work on Kota Gede is a good example of a colonial bureaucrat capable of examining and writing about local folklore.

Dutch Empire overseas territories controlled by the Dutch Republic and, later, the modern Netherlands from the 17th century to the mid-1950s

The Dutch colonial empire comprised the overseas territories and trading posts controlled and administered by Dutch chartered companies and subsequently by the Dutch Republic (1581–1795), and by the modern Kingdom of the Netherlands after 1815. It was initially a trade-based system which derived most of its influence from merchant enterprise and from Dutch control of international maritime shipping routes through strategically placed outposts, rather than from expansive territorial ventures. With a few notable exceptions, the majority of the Dutch colonial empire's overseas holdings consisted of coastal forts, factories, and port settlements with varying degrees of incorporation of their hinterlands and surrounding regions. Dutch chartered companies often dictated that their possessions be kept as confined as possible in order to avoid unnecessary expense, and while some such as the Dutch Cape Colony and Dutch East Indies expanded anyway, others remained undeveloped, isolated trading centres dependent on an indigenous host-nation. This reflected the primary purpose of the Dutch colonial empire: commercial exchange as opposed to sovereignty over homogeneous landmasses.

Budi Utomo, meaning "Prime Philosophy", was the first native political society in the Dutch East Indies. The political society is considered instrumental on the beginning of the Indonesian National Awakening.

History of Jakarta

Jakarta is Indonesia's capital and largest city. Located on an estuary of the Ciliwung River, on the northwestern part of Java, the area has long sustained human settlement. Historical evidence from Jakarta dates back to the 4th century CE, when it was a Hindu settlement and port. The city has been sequentially claimed by the Indianized kingdom of Tarumanegara, the Hindu Kingdom of Sunda, the Muslim Sultanate of Banten, and by Dutch, Japanese and Indonesian administrations. The Dutch East Indies built up the area before it was taken during World War II by the Empire of Japan and finally became independent as part of Indonesia.

Willem van Outhoorn Dutch colonial governor

Willem van Outhoorn was Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies from 1691 to 1704. He was born and died in the Dutch East Indies.

Willem Anthony Engelbrecht Dutch politician

Willem Anthony Engelbrecht, also known as Willem Anthonie Engelbrecht, was a Dutch jurist and colonial administrator. He was one of the originators of the so-called "Dutch Ethical Policy" in the Dutch East Indies.

National Archives of Indonesia national archives of the republic of Indonesia

The National Archives of Indonesia is the non-departmental government institution of Indonesia responsible for maintaining a central archive. It holds the largest archive collection related to the Dutch East India Company (VOC). In 2003, Indonesia introduced a joint submission to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register with the Netherlands, South Africa, and Sri Lanka for their archival collections related to the VOC. The National Archives collection traces its origins to the work of Jacob Anne van der Chijs, who was appointed the first archivist of the Dutch East Indies in 1892 by the colonial government.

Indo Europeesch Verbond

The Indo Europeesch Verbond (IEV) or Indo European Alliance was a social movement and political organisation founded in 1919 by the Indo-European (Eurasian) community of the Dutch East Indies that fought for race equality and political say in late colonial Indonesia during the early 20th century.

Indos in colonial history

Indos are a Eurasian people of mixed Indonesian and European descent. The earliest evidence of Eurasian communities in the East Indies coincides with the arrival of Portuguese traders in the 16th century. Eurasian communities, often with distinct, specific names, also appeared following the arrival of Dutch (VOC) traders in the 17th and 18th century.

Dick de Hoog Dutch politician

Frederik Hermanus "Dick" de Hoog was the Indo (Eurasian) President of the Indo European Alliance, member of People’s Council and professional politician in the Dutch East Indies. He was also a Grand Master (Masonic) of the Dutch East Indies Freemasonry.

Colonial architecture of Indonesia

Dutch colonial architecture in Indonesia were built across the archipelago that once was known as Dutch East Indies. Most of the better and permanent colonial era structures were located in Java and Sumatra, which economically were considered more important during the Dutch imperial period. As a result, there are more surviving colonial buildings in the two island. Plenty of old VOC era forts and warehouses are scattered throughout the archipelago, particularly around Maluku Islands and Sulawesi. There are three Dutch colonial architectural styles:

Volksraad (Dutch East Indies) advisory semilegislative council in the Dutch East Indies

A People's Council (Volksraad) for the Dutch East Indies was provided for by law in 1916, but its establishment was procrastinated until the actual installation of the Council in 1918. It was a hesitant and slow attempt at democratisation of the Dutch East Indies. The power of the Volksraad was limited as it only had advisory powers. Although part of the council was elected only a small proportion of the population had voting rights.

Mohammad Husni Thamrin was an Indonesian political thinker and National Hero.

United States of Indonesia former country (1949–1950)

The Republic of the United States of Indonesia, abbreviated as RUSI, was a federal state to which the Netherlands formally transferred sovereignty of the Dutch East Indies on 27 December 1949 following the Dutch-Indonesian Round Table Conference. This transfer ended the four-year conflict between Indonesian nationalists and the Netherlands that was fought over for control of Indonesia. It lasted less than a year, before being replaced by the unitary Republic of Indonesia.

The Indo people or Indos are Eurasian people living in or connected with Indonesia. In its narrowest sense, the term refers to people in the former Dutch East Indies who held European legal status but who were of mixed descent, that are descendants of various indigenous peoples of Indonesia and Dutch settlers. In the broadest sense, an Indo is anyone of mixed European and Indonesian descent. Indos are associated with colonial culture of the former Dutch East Indies, a Dutch colony in Southeast Asia and a predecessor to modern Indonesia after its proclamation of independence shortly after World War II. The term was used to describe people acknowledged to be of mixed Dutch and Indonesian descent, or it was a term used in the Dutch East Indies to apply to Europeans who had partial Asian ancestry. The European ancestry of these people was predominantly Dutch, but also included Portuguese, British, French, Belgian, German, and others.

Aneta (news agency)

Aneta was a Dutch news agency founded 1 April 1917 by Dominique Willem Berretty. It was the first news agency in the Dutch East Indies, and a predecessor of the Antara news agency.

Loa Sek Hie Sia was a Chinese-Indonesian colonial politician, parliamentarian and founding Voorzitter or chairman of the controversial, ethnic-Chinese self-defense force Pao An Tui. In his political career, he campaigned against racial discrimination and demanded better healthcare and education for ethnic Chinese in the Dutch East Indies.

Gedung Antara

Gedung Antara is a Dutch colonial landmark in Jakarta. It is located in the vicinity of Pasar Baru area. The building is currently Antara's Institute of Journalism.


  1. Ricklefs, M.C. (1991). A History of Modern Indonesia Since c.1300, 2nd Edition. London: MacMillan. p. 110. ISBN   0-333-57689-6.
  2. Cribb, R.B., Kahin, A. Historical dictionary of Indonesia (Publisher: Scarecrow Press, 2004) P.108
  3. Cribb, R.B., Kahin, A. Historical dictionary of Indonesia (Publisher: Scarecrow Press, 2004) P.140
  4. Cribb, R.B., Kahin, A. Historical dictionary of Indonesia (Publisher: Scarecrow Press, 2004) P.87
  5. Cribb, R.B., Kahin, A. Historical dictionary of Indonesia (Publisher: Scarecrow Press, 2004) P.295
  6. Harry J. Benda, S.L. van der Wal, "De Volksraad en de staatkundige ontwikkeling van Nederlandsch-Indië: The Peoples Council and the political development of the Netherlands-Indies." (With an introduction and survey of the documents in English). (Publisher: J.B. Wolters, Leiden, 1965.)