This paper delves into the world of colonial officials in Maluku in the period 1700-1870 and asks how they justified and conceived their own role within the Dutch colonial world. For local inhabitants in the Indonesian archipelago, these officials were the face of colonialism, embodying the power of the colonial state. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, when sending mail still took months, these now-forgotten colonial officials were the men on the spot, often operating like autocrats, combining legislative, executive and judicial powers. They were responsible for collecting taxes, maintaining public order and political relations in their regions. Coercion, mediation and diplomacy formed the major means to achieve this. By shedding light on how these officials operated in both the VOC period and the colonial period, this paper tries to highlight continuities between these periods. This paper makes use of the memories van overgave and the dagregisters. These memories were written by outgoing officials for their successor and informed them about local society, political relations and colonial planning. These can be used to study how officials made sense of colonial societies and what categories they used to engage in colonial rule. These memories will be supplemented with dagregisters, which contain information on how daily practices and encounters fed into this colonial self-legitimization; and correspondence, which is used to investigate how these ideas spread into the broader colonial realm. These sources together show how these concepts and practices became part of colonial knowledge production.