History of St. Martin

More than five hundred years ago, a sea captain was commanded by the Spanish’s king to find new land. The mission of the sea captain is to conquer the land or claim it. During his voyage, he comes across an island. He named the island St. Martin. The sea captain is Saint Maarten or Saint Martin is a Spanish name for the founder of the island. The name of the founder of the island is St. Martin of Tours. He found the island on the 11th November 1493. It is not known whether Columbus discovered this island. The island’s name was pronounced in the same way as the English pronounce it. St. Martin lived between 330 – 397. He was a bishop in Gaul. He is also the head of the monastery in Gaul. He is one of the most important saints who live in the western Europe. He is one of the figures who is not martyr by the pagan and yet called saints by the public.

When Columbus set sail in the sea, the island of St. Martin was already colonized by the Arawak and Caribbean Indians. The Arawaks were being dominated by the fiercer Caribbean Indians. The Caribbeans Indians came from the South America. They arrive at the St. Martin island a short period before the Spanish came. The Caibbeans Indians is also called canibal. Later, the word canibal was evolved into the English word cannibal, which means indigenous people who eat human flesh as food.  The Arawak people are rich in their own cultures. They cultivate the land to earn a living. Besides, they make pottery. The families of the Arawak have leaders called Chieftan. According to the Arawak people, the chieftan receive the power from their deity called Zemis.

The Caribbean Indian men are fierce in warfare. When they first arrived at the island, they saw the Arawak people were already settled there. To claim the land as their own, they force the Arawak people to move northward. During the war, many Arawak people are killed by the Caribbean Indian. The Caribbean Indian cooked the Arawak men and eat them for their meals. They married the Arawak women and have children by them. The feelings of the Arawak women are not recorded. No scientists have found any evidence regarding whether the Arawak women fight back against the Caribbean Indian.

One day, the Spanish vessels arrived at St. Martin Island. They conquered the island by attacking the Indians who settled there. In 1550, some Arawak people live in Cuba and Trinidad. The settlements of the Carib Indians are not destroyed until the mid 1600s. During the mid 1600s, the settlements of the Carib Indians are being destroyed by the French, English and Dutch people.  The Dutch people extract salt from the pond water in 1620.

The Spanish troops reconquered the island in 1633.  After a year, a fort was constructed at Pointe Blanche by the Spaniards. The Spaniards carry slaves from Africa to the St. Martin in the 17th century. However, most numbers of slaves were being brought into the island during the 18th century. The slaves were brought to the St. Martin Island to work on the sugar plantations. During the early 19th century, it becomes illegal to use the African as slaves. Despite that, the culture of slavery was not stopped. The English people use the Chinese and East Indians as slaves for the sugar plantations in St. Martin Island. Therefore, the island contains a mixture of American Indian and Asian people. The St. Martin Island is rich with the West Indian culture. In fact, the island has the richest West Indian culture in the world.

During the mid 16th century, many pirated eyed on the shipping cargo. They wanted to attack the ship because of the Mexican silver in the cargo. The Spaniards were not able to prevent the pirates from attacking the ship. Some of the popular English buccaneers include Sir John Hawkins, Sir Francis Drake and Sir Henry Morgan. During those days, the Sea Beggers called Geuzen are active in raiding ship. The colonists face obstacles in developing a new navy because there are thousands of privateer in the United States.  Privateering was somewhat abolished after the Declaration of Paris took placeon 1856. Privateering is completely abolished by the 20th century during the Seventh Hague Convention. Many people claimed there is a treasure chest on the island. However, no one had found it up to this day. Bucanners is a term derived from the French word called boucan. The French privateers used to grill the meat. The grilled meat is called boucans.

Privateering is quite common because several countries fought for the Caribbean. Some of the countries who are fighting for the Caribbean include England, Spain, Portugal and Denmark. The Netherland and France are also fighting for the dominion of the islands in the Caribbean. Dutch had conquered several islands in the Caribbean in between 1630 – 1649. The islands which are being conquere by the Dutch include Curacao, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Martin. The Dutch use these islands as smuggling depots. The French formed its own navy in 1635. The French navy is called “Compagnie des Ilsles d’Amerique”. The French and the Spanish rule the St. Martin in 1649. For the last 15 years, the Spain had taken control of the St. Martin island. The Spanish domino over the St. Martin Island lasted for two years, which is from 1631 – 1633. The Spanish seized the St. Martin Island when the Dutch was ruling over it. St. Martin was dominated by the Dutch for seven times during the period between 1631 – 1816. The shortest period the Dutch control St. Martin is for 10 days. The longest period the Dutch rule St. Martin is 180 years plus.

The English had conquered St. Martin for 3 times.  The first conquer conducted by the English people occur in 1718. The English dominion over St. Martin lasted for 10 months. The second conquer took place in 1801. The English manage to gain control over the island for 1 year and 8 months in between 1801 and 1802. The British conquered St. Martin again in 1810. The English dominion over the St. Martin Island lasted for 6 years from 1810 – 1816.  The French people have conquered St. Martin Island for 4 times. The French colonization in St. Martin occurs in between 1672 – 1801. St. Martin was not dominated by any forces for thirteen years and three months. The period during which St. Martin Island was not controlled lasted from January 27, 1690 to April 10, 1703.  The Dutch have been conquering St. Martin Island now and then since 1620s. Peter Stuyvesant broke his leg on the St. Martin Island when he was attempting to conquer the Portuguese soldier. The incident of Peter Stuyvesant losing his leg caused him to receive a nickname called Peg Leg. At that time, Peter anchored his ship at the bay in St. Martin Island. The bay which Peter anchored his ship is Cay Bay. He led his soldiers up to Little Bay Hill to charge a surprise attack against the Portuguese. The Portuguese soldiers were taking turns to guard the Fort Amsterdam. The Portuguese soldier won the battle. Peter accidentally broke his leg during the battle. Later, Peter traveled to America and rule as a governor over Nieuw Amsterdam. After many years, the British conquered Nieuw Amsterdam and called it New York.

In the early days, the main industry in St. Martin Island is the tobacco plantation. The slaves that work in the tobacco plantation are mostly European prisoners. The tobacco plantation did not proliferate in St. Martin Island. As a result, the small land lords are moving away to other places in the mid 1700s. At that time, sugar plantation was setup throughout the St. Martin Island. Sugar production causes the land owners to become very rich. Many slaves were imported to St. Martin Island to work on the sugar plantation. Soon, there are more slaves than the employed European workers. Due to the profitable sugar production industry, many countries are fighting for St. Martin Island. Many peace treaties that include the transfers of the Caribbean islands are being conducted.

The sugar plantation in the Caribbean slowly becomes less profitable because many countries also have sugar plantations. With the increasing supply of sugar, the price drops so that sugar becomes very cheap. The abolition of slavery in St. Martin Island on the 27th April 1848 causes the European forces to leave St. Martin Island alone. Nobody was at the island to work the sugar plantation. By the 19th century, the West Indian Islands become poverty stricken and neglected.

Later, airplanes were invented by the Wright Brothers. When the technology of airplane becomes more advanced, tourists started to visit the St. Martin Island. Two governments have help to make the people in St. Martin island settle in peace. Today, St. Martin Island has a vibrant tourism industry. Every year, St. Martin Island received thousands of visitors from around the world.

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