NEW START This country and its position are much better and more convenient than that occupied by the English, and had not self-interest and private speculation been considered, assuredly the North or New England would not have outstripped us so much. Remonstrance of New Netherland. 1649.
Although the West India Company gave its colonists no aid during the Indian war it was not indifferent to their trials and dangers, or at least to the loss it would suffer thereby. Its neglect was now due, not as in earlier years to absorbing ambitions and triumphs in other quarters, but to poverty and weakness.
It had done a wonderful work in crippling the power of Spain and increasing the wealth of the Republic. But Captain De Vries spoke truly when he said that its success in getting booty by conquest would undermine the founda tions of legitimate trade. The influx of wealth suddenly and easily gained fostered an almost frantic spirit of speculation, conspicuously displayed in the famous 'tulip mania' that was at its height in 1637. Reaction followed. Then in 1641 Portugal, revolting against Spain, signed with Holland a ten years' truce. This confirmed to the Company its Brazilian possessions but excited their Portuguese inhabitants to hope eventually to free themselves from Dutch control and, of course, lessened the Company's privateering opportunities. As meanwhile it had been declaring reckless dividends, and as it could get but a small part of the subsidies promised by the government, it was almost bankrupt when, in 1644, the States General directed it to take prompt action upon the complaints of the Eight Men of New Amsterdam. It replied that it now despaired of getting profit from a province which had cost it half a million guilders in excess of all receipts. It was in honor bound, it said, to keep the province; otherwise it would willingly resign it to the States General. Without aid it could no longer defend or supply any `distant place'; and the special aid for which it asked, pleading its notable public services, was consolidation with its elder sister the East India Company, now far more prosperous than itself. The charters of both companies were soon to expire. The East India Company had reaped all the permanent advan tages of the conflict with Spain; the West India Company had borne all the blows and burdens; and the government would have been glad to discharge its great debts to the poorer association by laying them on the shoulders of the richer. But to consolidation the East India Company would not consent.
In the Assembly of the XIX, Van Rensselaer had recently written to Kieft, opinions still greatly differed respecting New Netherland, some going 'on the principle of commerce, others though fewer on the principle of` But debilitated and was, the Company could no longer ignore the troubles in the province. Referring all the papers it had received from its agents and its colonists to a board of accounts which it had recently established it received in return a careful advisory report. This condemned the suggestion of Director Kieft that a strong band of soldiers should be sent out 'utterly to exterminate all enemies by force.' Kieft's people, it said, had protested against the ' hasty and severe proceedings' which, taking place 'without their knowl edge or consent,' had resulted in the slaughter of about a thou sand Indians and many soldiers and colonists. There could be little hope of peace, it affirmed, . . . so long as the present rulers remain there, because the Indians are in no way to be pacified (as they themselves declare to ours) until the Director is removed thence, calling daily for Wouter, Wouter meaning Wouter Van Twiller.
Lubbertus Van Dincklagen, the report continued ignor ing his long dispute with the Company about his removal from office and the arrears of his pay ought now to be appointed governor for he was a favorite with the Indians. Properly to support the civil establishment in the province and to repair and garrison Fort Amsterdam the Company should expend somewhat more than 20,000 guilders a year. The Director general should be assisted by a vice-director and a schout fiscal and, when criminal cases came before his court, by two `capable members' of the commonalty. The delegates whom the Charter of Freedoms of 1640 had instructed the patroons to appoint for consultation with the director regarding public affairs ought to be summoned for the purpose twice a year a plan which would have established a little semi-popular assembly. Negro slaves should be introduced in numbers because, as in earlier days, Dutch farm servants had to be bribed to emigrate `by a great deal of money and promises.' The colonists should be allowed to trade with the Company's colonies in Brazil, and to them alone should be reserved all traffic with the Indians in their own province; that is, roving traders and hucksters, of whom the settlers had begun to complain since the enlargement of trading privileges, ought not to be allowed to reap hasty harvests of gain and then to sail away, doing nothing to build up the country, bearing none of its burdens, and helping to enrich none of its inhabit ants. The report also said that Holland and England should agree upon the boundaries of their American lands where the English, it added very truly, were daily encroaching more and more upon the Dutch.
The Pequot War had shown the New Englanders the danger of Indian outbreaks and need for concord among them selves in times of trouble. As the mother-country was now in the throes of civil war they knew that they must rely wholly upon themselves and, on the other hand, that neither king nor parliament would interfere with anything they might choose to do. Therefore in May, 1643, Massachusetts (which had annexed New Hampshire), Connecticut, New Haven, and Plymouth formed themselves into a confederacy, calling it the United Colonies of New England. Eight commissioners, two chosen by the general court or assembly of each of the colonies, were to manage such public matters as concerned them all and to have the entire control of Indian affairs. The vote of any six commissioners was to be binding upon all four colonies.
Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, unorthodox and democratic, refused to buy admission to this new con federacy at the price of annexation to Massachusetts or Plymouth; and the settlements in Maine were also excluded somewhat turbulent places as tenacious as Rhode Island of their independence and so unaware of what was fitting that the people of one of them, Winthrop explains, had made a tailor their mayor and an excommunicated person their minister. The Rhode Island settlements, thus left out in the cold, instructed their governor to treat with the New Nether landers to supply them with necessaries, taking their com modities in return. Roger Williams, whom they had recently sent to England by way of Manhattan, succeeded in his errand : in 1644 he obtained for them from the Commissioners of the Long Parliament a very liberal charter.
There were now in Massachusetts about fifteen thousand people, in Plymouth Colony about three thousand; there were three thousand in Connecticut, which in 1644 bought Say brook Fort and took Southampton on Long Island under its wing; and in New Haven Colony there were two thousand. In the Dutch province there were not more than two thousand Netherlanders.
Deep as Kieft was in his Indian war he sent a sloop to Boston with letters congratulating the new federal commissioners and asking whether they intended to indorse the unjust and inimical treatment of his people on the Fresh River. Hart ford, on the other hand, complained of the New Netherlanders and so did New Haven, laying especial stress upon the exclu sion from the Delaware River of the band of settlers it had sent there. The commissioners decided that Hartford's title to its lands was just.
In the summer of 1646 the commissioners met at New Haven. Writing in Latin Governor Kieft vigorously pro tested against their presence in their official capacity at the place called by his people 'the Red Hills in New Netherland,' and explained that the Connecticut people . . . some years past without any occasion given by us and without any necessity imposed upon them but with an insatiable desire of possessing that which is ours, against our protestations, against the law of nations and the ancient league between the king's Majesty and our superiors, have indirectly entered the limits of New Netherland, usurped divers places in them, and have been very injurious unto us, neither have they given satisfaction though oft required. . . .
A new protest was necessary at this time, the governor took pains to say, . . . because you and yours have of late determined to fasten your foot near Mauritius River in this province, and there not only to dis turb our trade (of no man hitherto questioned) and to draw it to your selves but utterly to destroy it. . . .
In their reply, which was also in Latin, the commissioners said: We do truly profess we know no such river nor can conceive what river you intend by that name unless it be that which the English have long and still do call Hudson's River. Nor have we at any time formerly or lately entered upon any place to which you had or have any known title, nor in any other respect been injurious to you.
While the Connecticut men showed no doubt in regard to their possessions, Governor Eaton of New Haven, who stood nearer the headquarters of the Dutch, appears not to have read his title clear, writing to Winthrop : A cloud nearly seems to threaten from the west. We lately built a small house within our own limits, if at least we have any interest in these parts and that the Dutch be not lords of the country, for they write this plantation in New Netherland.
Again the commissioners of the United Colonies wrote to Kieft complaining of the 'strange and insufferable boldness' of his deputy at Fort Good Hope and expressing the wish that he might now send them an answer testifying to his con currence with them in their desire to 'pursue righteousness and peace.' What he answered was that the inhabitants of Hartford had deceived the commissioners, adding: Certainly when we hear the inhabitants of Hartford complaining of us we seem to hear ./Esop's wolf complaining of the lamb or the ad monition of the young man who cried out to his mother chiding with her neighbors, Oh, mother, revile her lest she first take up that practice against you.
Taught by the precedent conduct of the enemies who were so much stronger than his own people, Kieft continued, he had of course expected accusations and reproaches, for 'the eagle always despiseth the beetle-fly.' Nevertheless his people would 'undauntedly continue' to assert their rights and to obey the commands of their superiors; and once more he protested in their name . . . against all you commissioners met at the Red Hill as against breakers of the common league and also infringers of the special rights of the Lords, the States our superiors, in that ye have dared without express commission to hold your general meeting within the limits of New Netherland.
Again the federal commissioners answered lengthily, dwelling upon the unsufferable disorders' at Hartford and declaring: We say no more; we have more cause to protest against your pro testation than you have to be offended at our boldness in meeting at New Haven, and for aught we know may show as good a commission for the one as you for the other. . . .
Later communications show that the commissioners really wanted to induce the rivals at Hartford to live peaceably together and that Kieft promised to do his part therein; but he could not consent when New Haven proposed that the whole matter should be submitted to the arbitration of the king or the parliament of England. When the West India Company learned of these passages it ordered him to do all that he could to prevent further incursions into its territories but again forbade him to use force.
Meanwhile the Swedes had almost annihilated the traffic of the Dutch on the South River, and although Kieft sent down Andries Hudde as commissary his handful of people could make no headway against their more numerous rivals. In 1643 Sir Edmund Plowden, the proprietor of the province on-paper called New Albion, went from Virginia to the South River to make a settlement. The Swedes turned him out. Then he came to Manhattan and laid claim to the districts now called New Jersey. Fully occupied with the Indian war Kieft ignored him, and he departed saying that he would soon try again on the South River. In 1644 some merchants of Boston wanting, like the New Haven people, to exploit the fur trade on the South River got from Governor Winthrop letters-patent and credentials to the Dutch and Swedish commanders and sent down a pinnace with goods for barter. Erelong it returned to Boston, nothing accomplished; and although the agents of the owners laid the blame for the fail ure of the enterprise chiefly upon the drunken skipper of the pinnace, and the owners recovered damages from him, never theless the protests of Governor Kieft and the jealousy shown by the Dutch as well as the Swedes on the river formed another count against New Netherland, long to be remembered and emphasized by the United Colonies.
Vague ideas with regard to these parts of America still prevailed in England. For example, Castell's Short covery of the Coast and Continent of America, which bears the date 1644 and is believed to contain the earliest English description of New Netherland that found its way into print, says that near . . . River Michicham, called the Great North River . . . the Dutch have built a castle of great use to them not only for the keeping under of the natives adjoining but likewise for their more free trading with many of Florida who usually come down the River Canida and so by land to them; a plain proof Canida is not far remote.
A map called Carta particolare della Nuova Belgia a parte della Nuova Anglia, d'America, which was published at Florence in 1647 in Robert Dudley's Arcano del Mare, drawn by an Italian engraver named Lucini, and based chiefly on Jacobsen's map of 1621 and through this on the Dutch Fig urative Map of 1616, shows only the coast regions and makes Long Island, which it calls Matouacs, a group of islands and Sandy Hook a promontory half as large as Cape Cod. It puts New Amsterdam and its fort on Manhattan without naming the island, and calls River Mauritius R. Martins 6 R. Hudson.
Englishmen and Swedes were not the only white men who troubled the distressed and incompetent officials on Manhattan during the war with the red men. Their brethren at Rens selaerswyck were also as thorns in their side.
The latter part of Van Rensselaer's correspondence, which ends with the year 1643, shows that he had grown more and more discouraged about his colony. In 1641 he wrote to a member of the States General that as the Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions permitted patroons to extend their estates as far back from their waterfronts as they might choose, he wished for a commission to extend his from the North to the Fresh River where an English settlement had been set at no more than two or three days' journey from Fort Orange. The English had 'without cause' taken the Fresh River from the West India Company. Therefore, he said, referring to William Pynchon who had founded Agawam (Springfield): I would not hesitate to force a certain Master Pingen, an English man who is nearest me, to retreat across the Fresh River . . . for if the English continue thus they will soon take possession of the whole of New Netherland as the Company does little to come to a determina tion of the boundary, which is generally, it is true, a rather trouble some question.
Other letters show that Van Rensselaer planned to divert `a large part of the furs of the savages who now trade with the French in Canada' and that his agents were actually trad ing with Virginia. But in 1642 he wrote to Governor Kieft that while he could find at least a hundred persons who wanted to go out to his colony as `masters' he could not find `servants, for they must work' that is, farm-hands who were not to work on their own account as in part the master farmers did. The Company, he complained, was exacting higher freight charges and duties than the Charter of Freedoms of 1640 prescribed, and, as he heard, he was in debt to it in New Netherland, chiefly for supplies of wine: Can it be that Fort Orange is a wine cellar to debauch my people, exhausting them as long as they can find something to pay and after wards charging it to my account ? Writing a year later to Adriaen Van der Donck, whom he had sent out in 1641 as `chief officer' or schout of Rensse laerswyck, he lamented the bad conduct of his people who were discontented, impertinent, threatening, and ' slanderous ' about the prices charged for merchandise, so that . . . whereas I have been inclined to have a large number of people in my colony I am become disgusted with it, seeing that the greater the amount the worse the bargain, and the better I regulate every thing the more everyone looks out for himself, from which disorder proceeds.
The patroon had indeed tried to regulate things with the most scrupulous pains, carefully choosing his agents, so dis tributing their duties as to distinguish, `as in all well regu lated governments,' between those who had charge of govern ment, of justice, and of commerce, and prescribing how they should assist yet not interfere with each other. But while his people evidently wanted to regulate themselves his officials disregarded his instructions and thought, he said, too much of their own benefit. Although Van der Donck had shown `zeal and diligence' he had tried to secure lands for himself at a place remote from the one where Van Rensselaer had `intended and instructed' him to settle and had assumed too much power. Young Arendt Van Corlaer, not understanding his business, did not rightly manage the patroon's affairs with the Company the exchange of grain for goods and freight charges or send him proper reports. Answering these reproaches Van Corlaer wrote the patroon that Kieft reckoned freights and charges too high, `contrary to the granted freedoms,' and that the farmers delivered their grain directly to the Company, transgressed the order not to traffic with the savages, and would not or could not render proper accounts, while some other persons who were writing to the patroon lied `like rogues.' Many of his troubles sprang from Van der Donck's opposition or interference. Yet he wanted to re main permanently in the country and had betrothed himself to the widow of 'M. Jonas Bronck.' On the whole, paternal government of the patroon's kind, although more conscien tious, intelligent, and liberal than the Company's kind, was not succeeding much better.
Kieft was attending to much business for Van Rensselaer and seemingly was more indulgent than Crol and Van Twiller had been about the removal of live stock from Manhattan. In 1642 the patroon wrote him that as he had heard he was a lover of fine horses he was sending him a saddle, a rapier plated with gold and silver, an embroidered baldric, plated spurs, and boots with spur-straps. There were three reasons, Kieft replied, why he wished these gifts had not been sent: he was already ' pretty well provided with everything,' he expected to be called home in the ensuing summer, and it was against his oath of office to accept presents. Therefore he thanked the patroon heartily on behalf of the West India Company `as whose effects' the articles had been `entered on the books.' The governor's quarrels with the patroon's people in New Netherland were not only about freights and duties. Dis putes about jurisdiction, which had begun with the planting of Rensselaerswyck, were now aggravated by the fact that a village called Beverwyck, inhabited by the patroon's people and containing his trading post, was growing up so closely around Fort Orange that the Company's officials felt obliged to claim the ground upon which it stood although they had never bought it of the Indians. Here was built the first house of worship for Domine Megapolensis and his flock.
The patroon's people had kept peace with the Mohawks and Mohegans by selling them firearms, but their trade of other kinds was ruined by the ruin of New Amsterdam, their only point of contact with the outer world. The wandering `free traders' from Holland seized the chance to traffic illegally with the savages and encouraged the colonists to do the same. The patroon's agents blamed Kieft for permitting them to come up the river, and the patroon sent out instructions how to prevent such intrusions, commissioning one Nicholas Coorn to establish staple-right for Rensselaerswyck as the West India Company had done for Manhattan and, to enforce this claim as well as to provide a place of refuge in case of Indian outbreaks, ordering him to fortify Beeren Island which lay in the river `at the entrance of the colony.' Tools for this purpose, guns, ammunition, and some small cannon the pa troon sent out. The name of the island, he said, should be changed to Rensselaersteyn. He was entitled to order all this, he explained, as the Charter of Freedoms and Exemp tions gave authority over the river to the first colony that should be established there. Actually the orders were illegal, for the Charter of Freedoms of 1640 secured to all inhabitants of the province free right of way by land and water. More over, Beeren Island lay south of the borders of the patroon ship.
fort he tried to collect tolls from all vessels except those of the West India Company, ordered all others to strike their flags as they passed by, and fired upon one belonging to Govert Lockermans which refused to do so. Governor Kieft pro tested and condemned Coorn to pay damages. Coorn an swered with a counter protest. Fort Orange was indeed, if he may be believed, a wine-shop to ' debauch ' Van Rens selaer's people, drink being sold them there at exorbitant prices for furs which they were forbidden to collect and for wheat which they purloined from their 'lord.' Naturally Kieft's confiscation of the ship bound for Rensselaerswyck which he found to be carrying contraband wares deepened the hard feeling between the two groups of colonists.
Nevertheless, the existence of the patroonship, and even the practice of selling arms to the Indians against the Com pany's orders, had been of great service to the province at large and thus to the Company itself. Nefarious in theory and in many of its results although the traffic in firearms was, it was the only thing that could have kept the Mohegans and the fierce Mohawks so quiet and so friendly that in 1644, when the lower part of New Netherland was running with blood, Domine Megapolensis wrote: These Indians, though they live without laws or fear of punishment, do not kill unless they are in great passion or fighting, wherefore we go along with them or meet them in the woods without fear.
It was the friendship of the Mohawks that saved the prov ince from being overwhelmed by the River Indians. And to refuse them guns and powder would not only have turned them into enemies but would have driven them to beg arms from the English on the Connecticut River who were beginning to come into contact with them and, as the Dutchmen very well knew, would try to win them from their old ties.
Although in 1645 the prospects of the West India Company were bad in New Netherland they were worse in Brazil where its chief executive, Count John Maurice of Nassau, refused to remain at his post and the Portuguese, now in open revolt, were trying to drive out the Dutch. Discouragement in this quarter increased the relative importance of the North Amer ican province. The directors saw the need to take such action upon the complaints of New Amsterdam and the recommenda tions of their own board of accounts as might set New Nether land once more on the road to prosperity. Deciding to ad minister it in future through a 'supreme council' of three high officials a director-general, a vice-director, and a schout fiscal they recalled Governor Kieft and appointed in his stead, not Lubbertus Van Dincklagen as the board of accounts had advised, but General Petrus Stuyvesant who had sent New Amsterdam the reenforcements from Curacoa. Van Dincklagen they consoled with the new office of vice-director or deputy-governor, and as schout-fiscal to replace Van der Huyckens they selected Ensign Van Dyck who had returned to Holland and, undoubtedly, had given convincing evidence against Kieft and his friends. To the Memorials of the Eight Men they returned no direct reply. But that they had in some degree profited by the advice received in the shape of prayer or demand appears from the instructions prepared for the new council by the Assembly of the XIX.
Fort Amsterdam, it was ordered, should be repaired, a permanent garrison maintained, and the militia supplied with weapons. The councillors were to pacify and to satisfy the Indians, absolutely forbidding the sale of arms to them. They were to grant lands to settlers, `first of all' establishing 'colo nies and freemen' on the island of Manhattan, and were to do all in their power to induce the farmers to gather in com pact villages, to prevent further encroachments by the Eng lish, and to settle definite boundary lines. In all criminal cases two capable members of the community where the crime occurred were to sit with the governor's court. The right of the various `colonies' in the province to send delegates to assist the council was confirmed although not made obliga tory as the board of accounts had advised. Moreover, as the Company had now resolved 'to open to all private persons' the trade which it had 'exclusively carried on with New Netherland,' it empowered its respective chambers to give permission to 'all private inhabitants of these countries to sail with their own ships' to its own province, the Virginias, the Swedish, English, and French colonies, and all other places 'situate thereabout' in accordance with certain definite regulations regarding 'duties, tolls, and other rights already imposed and to be hereafter imposed' upon exported and im ported goods regulations which still carefully emphasized the staple-right of Manhattan.
Stuyvesant's commission was given in May, 1645. The instructions were first drawn up in July but were reconsidered in September when Stuyvesant submitted a memorial regard ing the better government of the Company's colonies based, of course, upon his own experience at Curacoa. It was then decided that the island colonies should be joined to New Netherland. Much disputing about questions of trade and of responsibility among the different chambers of the Com pany so prolonged the delay that not until the spring of the year 1647 did the new governor appear in his province. The acting governor and his people utilized the interval to quarrel even more violently than before.
Knowing that he was to be superseded, Kieft was more anxious than ever to assert and to enrich himself, and his people were more eager than ever to oppose and to flout him. Naturally their condition did not improve as rapidly as it should have done after the fear of the Indians was lifted from their minds. Farming lands were again taken up beyond the East River and the North River but trade, depending almost altogether on the beavers obtained from the savages, was at a standstill; the church on Manhattan remained unfinished; and the governor's court was very busy although with many more prosecutions for debt or slander than for theft or darker crimes.
The most prominent of the English residents fell out with each other at this time, John Underhill bringing suit against Isaac Allerton who, he averred, had told him that he would get higher pay from the commonalty than from the West India Company. Allerton denied the charge and Underhill was compelled to promise in court, for himself and his heirs, `nevermore to speak to or trouble' the defendant on the sub ject.
A more flagrant offender was Adam Roelantsen the former schoolmaster. He had come down in the world: at one time he earned his living by washing that is, most probably, by superintending the great semi-annual or quarterly bleach eries of the Dutch housewives. Often he was prosecuted for slander and in 1646, convicted of loose conduct, he was sen tenced to be publicly flogged and banished but was reprieved until a future time because he had four motherless children and the cold weather was approaching. He seems to have ended his career as a wood-sawyer and general drudge in the employ of the West India Company.
With most of the respectable men of the community the governor was on bad terms, persecuting them or disputing with them in one fashion or another, notably with the Rev erend Mr. Doughty, with Arnoldus Van Hardenbergh, and with Cornelis Melyn and Jochem Pietersen Kuyter who loudly blamed him for the destruction of their bouweries. His arch-enemy was Domine Bogardus whom at last he deter mined to prosecute, declaring that in former years the minister had behaved toward Governor Van Twiller in a manner 'un becoming heathens, let alone Christians, much less a preacher of the gospel,' saying that he still indulged in the same sort of 'scattering abuse' and did not even spare his own wife when he was 'in good company and jolly,' reproaching him particularly for his support of the would-be assassin Maryn Adriaensen, and complaining in general that his conduct was stirring up the people to 'mutiny and rebellion' and making their governor a 'scorn and laughing stock' to their neighbors.
The pamphlet called the Breeden Raedt says on the other hand, doubtless with over-emphasis, that Kieft had only `ravens' religion, who rob whatever falls in their way'; he gave himself ' no concern about God or man ' ; to spite Bogar dus he encouraged his soldiers to beat the drum and to perform noisy games near the church during service hours ; his ' illegal administration of justice' was as patent as his impiety, and he was accused of appropriating public money to his pri vate uses even the fund that the people had collected for a schoolhouse. Moreover, Van der Huyckens the schout-fiscal, Councillor La Montagne, Secretary Van Tienhoven, and Deacon Oloff Stevensen who was one of the Eight Men were as godless as the governor, never attending divine service or taking the Lord's Supper. The quarrel between the governor and the minister was finally patched up by their friends, but to the end Kieft seems to have preserved the offensively auto cratic attitude in which La Montagne sustained him while Van der Huyckens worked with him to harass and oppress all who would not bend to his will.
Two results of permanent value remained to the people of New Netherland from this otherwise disastrous administra tion. One was the enlargement of their trading rights, and one was the establishment of villages with local magistracies in the neighborhood of Manhattan.
The Company was well advised to insist in its instructions to Governor Stuyvesant that its people should settle in com pact villages like the English who thereby lived more securely. Land had been so lavishly bestowed upon them and they so distinctly preferred to live and to farm at a distance from each other, partly because they believed that they could thus traf fic best with the Indians, that as yet no Dutch village or even hamlet had grown up except around Fort Amsterdam and Fort Orange.
The first settlers who took advantage of the provisions of the Charter of Freedoms of 1640 to secure town rights were some of the English on Long Island. The earliest town patent was bestowed by Kieft upon Doughty and his friends who founded at Mespath the village of Newtown, also called Middel burg when Dutchmen began to settle there. This patent was given in 1642, after the beginning of the Indian troubles but before the general outbreak during which, as has been told, Doughty's colonists fled to New Amsterdam. Toward the end of the year 1644 a number of families, mostly from Stam ford in New Haven Colony, prompted by their former fellow townsmen Underhill and the Ogdens, migrated to Long Island under the leadership of the Reverend Robert Fordham and settled at a spot which the Dutch called Heemstede, Kieft giving them a patent for a wide tract running from the ocean to the sound and including a large part of what were known as the Great Plains, now Hempstead Plains. They
also were scattered by the Indian raids but, like Doughty's people, returned as soon as possible to their desolated fields. In this settlement was established, with Fordham as pastor, the first Presbyterian church within the limits of the State of New York. In the first division of the lands, effected in 1647, sixty-six freeholders received allotments. In October, 1645, two months after the conclusion of the general peace with the Indians, on the north shore of the island the town of Vlis singen (Flushing) was founded in a similar way with eighteen patentees, all but one of them English. The land in this region, it was said, had been bought by the Dutch authori ties from the Matinicock Indians at the rate of one hoe for fifty acres. In the same year Lady Deborah Moody, her son Sir Henry, George Baxter, James Hubbard, and two score others obtained a town patent for their colony at Gravesend.
All these Englishmen were by charter permitted to admin ister their affairs in town-meeting after the New England fash ion but were pledged to elect, according to Dutch custom, a double number of officials from whom the governor in council should make the final appointment, and to admit a right of appeal from their courts to his at Fort Amsterdam. They were also granted 'according to the custom and manner of Holland,' as the Gravesend charter says, `free liberty of con science' in the broader sense which meant rights of public worship, . . . without molestation or disturbance from any magistrate or magistrates or any other ecclesiastical minister that may pretend to jurisdiction over them.
While the organization of the English towns in New Nether land was thus modified in accordance with Dutch customs that of the Dutch towns was not in any way affected by the neighborhood of the English. The Twelve Men and the Eight Men had asked for New Amsterdam rights and privileges such as Hollanders enjoyed at home; and all the charters given to their compatriots were modelled upon the precedents of the fatherland. The earliest of them, and the only one bestowed while Kieft was in power, incorporated Breuckelen (Brooklyn), named after a little town about eighteen miles from Amsterdam. This, the first Dutch village in the prov ince barring only New Amsterdam and Beverwyck, was founded while the war was still in progress by Jan Evertsen Bout of Pavonia, Jacob Stoffelsen, and a few of their friends who secured the best part of the lands of the Indians, now dispersed, that had been driven into the war by the robberies of the white men. It stood about a mile from the shore southeast of the present City Hall of Brooklyn, on the line of Fulton Street, and afterwards absorbed the neighboring plantations called Gowanus, the Ferry, and the Waal-Boght. The charter given by Kieft no longer exists but is referred to in various documents of contemporaneous and of later dates.
When, soon afterwards, this charter was enlarged the magistrates of Breuckelen, as of later-born Dutch towns, were schepens, usually two or four in number, and a schout who served as sheriff and prosecuting attorney and presided over the court when not acting as prosecutor. In the first instance they were elected by the freemen of the commune by all its inhabitants who were not mere farm laborers but had an interest in the land and of course in double number for final choice and confirmation by the governor in council. Once in office they formed a close corporation, nominating the successors to such members as, after the well-rooted Dutch principle of rotation in office, annually retired. All the decisions of their court, which had civil and criminal jurisdiction, were subject to revision by the higher court at Fort Amsterdam. In every town thus incorporated two hun dred acres of land were reserved for public use, again accord ing to the customs of the fatherland. Any inhabitant who should disobey the local magistrates was to be deprived of all share in these common lands.
To a New Englander such a form of local government would hardly have seemed a form of popular government. Resem bling those to which Dutchmen were accustomed at home it contented them so well in America that they never showed the slightest desire to imitate the New England type with which they grew familiar. The trend toward oligarchy, it is important to note, was controlled, as it was in the close corporations of the cities and towns of Holland, by public opinion to a degree that seems curiously modern by comparison with contemporary New England. If public opinion the unorganized, unofficially expressed opinion of the mass or ma jority of the people had been an effective force in Massa chusetts, theocratic government would have been overthrown or modified long before it came to represent only a fifth part of the adult male inhabitants. If it had not been an effective force in New Netherland, Hollanders could not have borne so long with a provincial government in which they had no overt share. The way in which even a would-be autocrat like Kieft deferred to it has been shown. Plainly, it controlled local magistrates when they nominated their successors. And the records of the Dutch towns on Long Island prove that, although their charters made no provision for action by the inhabitants as a body, nevertheless as a body they did act in church and school affairs and sometimes upon im portant questions of other kinds, while now and again the governor of the province called them together for discussion and counsel.
C In 1646 another patroonship was established. Adriaen Cornelissen Van der Donck, or Verdonck, who had been schout at Rensselaerswyck was the grantee. Good patriot blood ran in his veins: he was the grandson of Adriaen Bergen whose famous turf-boat enabled Prince Maurice to surprise and to capture from the Spaniards the castle of Breda in 1599. Born at Breda Van der Donck was graduated from the University of Leyden and licensed as a doctor of civil and of canon law. Although he quarrelled at Rensselaerswyck with Van Corlaer and, through Van Rensselaer's opposition, failed to get the lands he wanted to establish a patroonship for himself between the Catskill Mountains and the river, he retained his post until the patroon died in 1646. Meanwhile, as the Indian war drew to a close, he helped Kieft in his negotiations with the Mo hawks and Mohegans and lent him money for the gifts he had to bestow upon them. In return Kieft granted him a large tract of land just north of Manhattan, between River Mauri tius, the Harlem, and the Bronx, and the West India Company confirmed his title as patroon. His estate was called Colen Donck (Donck's Colony) and also de Jonkheer's Landt. Jonk heer was the lowest title in use in Holland, resembling the German Freiherr. The letters of Van Rensselaer and the records of his colony show that Van der Donck had not borne it in Holland and that at first it was not given him in New Netherland. Apparently it was in his case a mere courtesy title bestowed by those under his control after he had been for some time the chief officer at Rensselaerswyck. In 1645 he married a daughter of the Reverend Mr. Doughty. Able, intelligent, and public spirited, and with the exception of Van Dincklagen the only lawyer who had yet come to New Amsterdam, he soon grew conspicuous as the leader of its people in their struggle for self-government.
This struggle formed the main feature of the earlier years of Governor Stuyvesant's administration, for while Governor Kieft willingly granted charters to outlying villages he be stowed none upon the town which had demanded a local government of its own the town in which the provincial government had its seat and which the West India Company had reserved with the rest of the island of Manhattan as its peculiar property.
In 1646 the West India Company got from the municipalities a portion of the subsidies so often promised it; and as the reports from Brazil grew worse and worse and the king of Portugal, although in alliance with the Dutch, declared that he could not suppress the revolt there in progress against the Company, the States General decided that for its benefit the rich East India Company should pay, as the price of a renewal of its own charter, almost 1,500,000 guilders. This sum the West India Company received partly in merchandise, partly in promises of annual payments. But as the States General furthermore encouraged it by supplying four thousand men for its fleets and by promising to maintain the 'trade and popu lation' of its American settlements and to inflict as much damage as possible upon the Spaniards, it could go about its difficult tasks in a somewhat more hopeful spirit. Just before the end of the year 1646 it despatched General Stuyvesant to take control in New Netherland. The estimated revenue of the province as there collected, says the Remonstrance of New Netherland, was about 16,000 guilders. It must have cost much more to maintain it in the way the Company seemed now to intend.
Born in 1592, the son of a clergyman of Friesland, Stuy vesant had fought for the Company in Brazil before he was appointed governor of Curacoa. While he was at Curacoa he attacked by sea, unsuccessfully, a Portuguese stronghold on the island of St. Martin. Losing a leg in the battle, he was forced to return to Holland. The Company justified all that he had done and decided that he was the best possible person to pull New Netherland out of the Slough of Despond into which Kieft had plunged it.
In fact, the sturdy soldier, then about fifty-five years of age, had many of the qualities needed for such a task. He was upright and sober in his private life, intelligent in military and diplomatic affairs, impulsive by nature but prudent in the face of difficulties which he understood, and singularly energetic and conscientious in performing his whole duty as he saw it. On the other hand he was an autocrat by convic tion, an enemy on principle to all theories of popular rights, a tyrant by temperament, a dictator by military habit, pas sionate, opinionated, and stubborn. In some ways he ruled his people for their good, in some he worked against their best interests, in many he opposed and angered them. His figure stands out more vividly than any other from the long panorama of Manhattan's first hundred and fifty years. Even to the popular mind it remains vital and distinct while all those of his predecessors and contemporaries and of gen erations of the later-born have faded to shadowy silhouettes. But it is tradition rather than history that has kept the old Dutch governor alive. The Peter Stuyvesant whom New York fancies it remembers is largely mythical. The real one was, indeed, a virile, picturesque, and interesting person with a violent temper that he kept in constant use and a silver bound wooden leg. But he was not the Father Stuyvesant of the story-books wise though stern, warm-hearted though irascible, loving his people, knowing better than they what was good for them, and respected and beloved by them as a kindly despot. This governor never existed.
It is easier, it may be explained, to appraise the character of Governor Stuyvesant than that of either of his predecessors because, beginning with the end of the year 1646, we have much of the official correspondence which for earlier years is wholly lacking in the Dutch records, even the letters of Governor Kieft to the New England colonies existing only in the records there preserved. Only upon tradition, it has sometimes been said, rests the belief that General Stuyvesant stumped about New Amsterdam on a peg-leg. This is a mistake. The Breeden Raedt says that his leg was 'shot off by the first cannon-shot from Fort St. Martin'; the Indians near Albany, it is recorded, called his soldiers 'Wooden Leg's dogs'; and a contemporary English traveller, John Josselyn, spoke of him as the 'governor with the silver leg,' meaning doubtless a wooden leg strengthened and adorned with silver bands. Whether the lost leg was the right one or the left nobody says. No full-length portrait of him exists. A half length owned by his descendants shows him with a stern, clean-shaven face, a long drooping nose, a bald crown partly covered by a skullcap, long side-locks, a steel cuirass, a scarf, and a broad linen collar with a cord and tassels. Sometimes, it may be added, he used the Latin form of his name, Petrus, and sometimes the Dutch form, Pieter. As the opening words of official papers he wrote: I, Petrus Stuij vesant, Director-General of New Netherland, Curacoa, Bonino, Arabi, and the islands adjacent. . . .
At Christmas-time in the year 1646 Stuyvesant and his family, Van Dincklagen and Van Dyck, Adriaen Keyser whom the Company was sending out as its chief commissary, and Brian Newton, an English soldier whom it had employed for twenty years in the West Indies and had now appointed chief military officer for New Netherland, set sail with a little fleet of four vessels carrying soldiers, settlers, trading ad venturers, and merchandise. Making the voyage by way of Curacoa, against the advice of Van Dyck with whom Stuy vesant was already quarrelling, they did not reach Manhattan until May 11, 1647, twenty-one years almost to a day after the arrival of the first director-general, Peter Minuit. Stuy vesant's family included his wife whom he had recently married Judith Bayard, the daughter of a Protestant clergyman of French or Walloon antecedents, his sister Anna, who was the widow of his wife's brother Samuel Bayard, and her four children. Three of these Bayard children were boys named Balthazar, Peter, and Nicholas. From them the American Bayards are descended.
The last of the powder in Fort Amsterdam was spent in a joyous salute to the new governor's ship. But as soon as he landed he gave offence by his bearing. As he passed from the ship to the fort, says the Remonstrance of 1649, he carried himself 'peacock-like with great state and pomposity'; and he kept some of the principal inhabitants standing bare headed for hours while he remained covered as though he had been 'the Czar of Muscovy.' When William Kieft resigned the government to his suc cessor in the presence of all the people he thanked them for their loyalty, says the Breeden Raedt, than was reason able.' He expected in return a grateful address, but some persons 'spoke out roundly' saying that they had no reasons to thank him, and chief among these were Cornelis Melyn and Jochem Pietersen Kuyter. Stuyvesant promised that all should have equal justice and that he would be a father to New Netherland. The people doubted; and the cause of their dubiousness was their rooted distrust of the West India Company's officials accentuated by the favor that the new governor instantly showed to those who had been most glaringly incompetent.
Cornelis Van Tienhoven, whom the people hated even more than William Kieft, kept his place as secretary of the province. This of course was by the Company's orders. As English secretary Stuyvesant retained George Baxter. To the council of which Van Dincklagen and Van Dyck were the chief mem bers he added, says the Remonstrance, Kieft's councillor, La Montagne, who had no commission from the fatherland and was much in debt to the Company, Brian Newton who regarded the governor as his benefactor and, besides, knew nothing of law and could speak no word of Dutch, and Paulus Leendert sen Van der Grist who had come out as 'naval agent' or officer of the port but soon became a `freeman' that is, quitted the Company's service; and he also admitted to the council board the captains of the Company's ships when they were on shore and sometimes its commissary, Keyser, all of whom the people considered improper persons to serve in such a capacity.
Domine Bogardus now resigned and prepared to return to the fatherland. Very unwillingly Domine Backerus, whom Stuyvesant had picked up at Curacoa and who likewise wanted to go home, consented to fill the vacant pulpit. Among the new churchwardens whom the new governor appointed was Van Tienhoven's friend Jan Jansen Dam, one of the signers of the fraudulent petition that had led to Kieft's massacre of the Indians. 'He was a fine churchwarden,' says the Breeden Raedt, `with his bloody hands.' The governor may well have felt that he needed all the help he could get from a large and docile council. Thanks to William Kieft the task of governing and developing New Netherland was even more difficult than when Kieft himself had assumed it. The finances and the trade of the province were in utter confusion. The little capital town was half ruined. The remnant of its people were mostly very poor, and their morals sadly needed reformation in respect to intem perance and the smuggling habits that had been fostered by the Company's heavy customs dues and the general hatred for its officials. Just after Domine Backerus arrived he wrote to the classis of Amsterdam : The congregation here numbers about one hundred and seventy members, most all very ignorant in regard to religion and very much given to drink to which they are led by the seventeen tap-houses here.
This is not quite as bad as Stuyvesant's own assertion that a fourth part of the buildings in New Amsterdam were given up to the sale of liquor. Yet evidently there was need for his very first ordinance, issued a fortnight after his arrival. Emphasizing those issued by Kieft it said that no intoxicants should be sold after the ringing of the town bell at nine o'clock in the evening on any day of the week or on Sundays before two of the clock when there was no afternoon sermon, or otherwise before four of the clock, except to `travellers and daily boarders' who might be provided with what they needed in their lodgings. Innkeepers and tapsters transgressing these rules were to forfeit their licenses and to pay six Carolus guilders for every person found drinking in their houses during the forbidden hours. Stuyvesant also reiterated Kieft's law, forced from him by the complaints of the sachems, prohibit ing under heavy penalties all sales of liquor to the Indians.
In New England, where also liquor selling was controlled by the government, the early laws forbidding sales to Indians had been gradually relaxed, and in 1644 the general court of Massachusetts decided that it was 'not fit to deprive the Indians of any lawful comfort which God alloweth to all men by the use of wine.' The results, however, were so unfor tunate that about ten years after Stuyvesant issued his pro hibition a law of the same kind was enacted in Boston.
All farms, the new governor ordered in council, should be fenced to prevent damage by straying beasts, but no one should enclose land or build upon it in New Amsterdam with out consulting the official surveyor. To prevent 'fraud and smuggling' he directed that all furs should be marked and stamped, and fixed their value in relation to the export tax, saying that fifteen stivers should be paid upon each 'mer chantable' beaver, otter, and elk skin and a proportionate sum upon 'other furs of less value.' He strictly forbade any person to go into the Mohawk country to traffic ; all should `wait at the trading posts for trade.' By harbor regulations he tried to prevent the smuggling in of foreign goods on vessels which ran past Fort Amsterdam at night and the smuggling out of furs to New England and Virginia. As a means toward enforcing these laws he commanded all 'com mercial persons' of every kind `whether inhabitants or foreigners' to keep their books always open for his inspection. And to get money to complete the church and to carry on other desirable public works he imposed an excise on wines and liquors to be paid by tavern-keepers and retailers, mer chants and shippers, and purchasers of a stock for private consumption.
Of course the people resented most of these new rules and especially the revival of the hated and illegal excise. They complained that when they remonstrated with the governor he replied in verbose and stilted papers that simple folk could not understand. They grew more and more impatient of his dictatorial and contemptuous attitude, they saw with alarm that William Kieft had gained his confidence, and they sympathized with Melyn and Kuyter when, very soon, they brought their old dispute with Kieft to a climax.
Following in Kieft's footsteps Stuyvesant also denied the right of appeal to the Reverend Mr. Doughty who was dis satisfied with the decision of the court in a suit about lands between himself and some of his fellow-townsmen on Long Island, and to Arnoldus Van Hardenbergh who had complained about certain trading regulations. He would not let Doughty return to Europe until he promised in writing not to speak there about the treatment he had received from either of the governors of New Netherland ; and he told Van Hardenbergh in public that if any one thought of appealing from his de cisions he would 'have him made a foot shorter' and `pack the pieces off to Holland' so that he might 'appeal in that way.' Cruel words, says the Remonstrance: Oh, cruel words ! What more could a sovereign do? . . . His Honor hath always maintained that no appeal lay or could lie from this country and that he was sufficiently able to prove it.
Both Melyn and Kuyter, apparently, refused to accept the sentence of banishment and to depart, as ordered, in the first vessel that should leave the port. At all events both were sent as prisoners to the fatherland. In the same ship, the Princess, which sailed in August, 1647, went William Kieft, Domine Bogardus, Van der Huyckens the superseded schout fiscal, various servants of the Company whose time had ex pired, and settlers discouraged by the Indian war with the mariners one hundred and twenty persons in all. Badly navigated, the Princess ran up Bristol Channel and struck on the rocks near Swansea. Then, says the Breeden Raedt, the `godless Kieft' turned to Melyn and Kuyter and, . . . seeing death before his eyes and sighing deeply, doubtfully asked both of them, ' Friends, I have done you wrong; can you for give me ?' The ship being broken in eight pieces drove the whole night in the sea till daybreak. The most of them were drowned. . . . There was much wealth lost with Kieft as the ship's return cargo was worth more than 400,000 guilders.
There were also lost collections of plants and minerals and careful surveys of the province prepared by Kieft's order to show its resources. Eighty-one persons perished, including Kieft himself, Domine Bogardus, Van der Huyckens, Dr. Kierstede's brother, and Cornelis Melyn's son. Melyn and a few others floated to a sand-bank whence, with the aid of some planks and their shirts as sails, they made their way to the mainland. Kuyter drifted about alone on the poop of the ship and was finally thrown ashore with it, to the great astonishment of the people who had collected there `by thousands.' For three days these `two true patriots' who had so narrowly saved their lives dragged for the papers on which they depended to save their characters, and finally recovered one box of them from the sea.
Thus the prophecy with which Captain De Vries had parted from William Kieft was amply fulfilled. Governor Winthrop was grateful for the event although not for reasons that De Vries would have indorsed. It was, he wrote, . . . an observable hand of God against the Dutch at New Nether land which, though it was sadly to be lamented in regard of the calam ity, yet there appeared in it so much of God in favor of his poor people here and displeasure toward such as have opposed and injured them as is not to be passed without due observation and acknowledgment. The late governor, Mr. William Kieft (a sober and prudent man) though he abstained from outward force yet had continually molested the colonies of Hartford and New Haven, and used menacings and protests against them upon all occasions, and had burnt down a trad ing house which New Haven had built upon the Delaware River. . . .
Also, Kieft had taken with him on the Princess two refugee criminals from Massachusetts. For these offences by the hand of God he perished. The directors of the West India Company took still another view of the incident. When Melyn and Kuyter reached Holland, says the Breeden Raedt, they were given to understand that the directors regretted that two such ' bandits, rebels, and mutineers' had been saved to trouble the Company `with their complaints' while the ship, its rich cargo, and 'so many fine folks' had perished.
The removal of these two mutineers from New Amsterdam hardly lessened the governor's troubles. He greatly needed money to repair the fort, to finish the church that Kieft had begun, to build a schoolhouse, and to satisfy the River Indians who had not yet received the gifts promised by Kieft when he made peace with them in 1645. But, as Stuyvesant wrote home, he was 'actually unprovided with money or goods'; and while he feared the dissatisfied savages he dis trusted his `wavering multitude' of white men who were all but ruined by Kieft's war and were ready to blame his successor should peace again be impaired, yet resented more and more the restrictions wisely laid upon their trading habits.
In the hope of getting booty from the Spaniards Stuyvesant sent two of the Company's vessels on a privateering cruise to the West Indies. If he wanted to raise money in his province, his councillors assured him, he must allow his people a voice in the matter. Therefore in August, 1647, just after the Princess started on her fatal voyage, he directed the com monalty to elect a new board of representatives. On Sep tember 25 he formally established it and defined its duties, saying that his 'dear vassals and subjects' had duly acted upon his order that `without passion or hatred or envy' they should select from among their number eighteen of `the most notable, most reasonable, most honorable, and most respect able' from whom he himself had then chosen nine, six of them to retire each year and their successors to be nominated by the board itself.
The freemen of the only places where the war had left many Dutch settlers Manhattan, Pavonia, and Breuckelen and Amersfoort (Flatlands) on Long Island joined in the elec tion of this, the first formally constituted board of local officials that assembled in New Amsterdam ; and, according to Stuy vesant's orders, its nine members represented in equal pro portion the merchants, the farmers, and the burghers or citi zens who had chosen them. This classification is another proof of the democratic spirit of New Amsterdam. Mer chants' meant persons who lived altogether by trade (a ' trader' being any one who trafficked with the Indians) ; and ' burghers' included all who were neither merchants nor farmers. The three terms did not indicate class distinctions but differing material interests. In a petition framed at about this time in Boston its people were classified as 'gentle men, merchants, and inhabitants.' The three merchants who sat on the first Board of Nine Men were Govert Lockermans, Arnoldus Van Hardenbergh, and Augustine Herrman, or Heerman; the farmers were Vlachiel Jansen, Jan Evertsen Bout, and Thomas Hall; the burghers were Jacobus Wolfertsen Van Couwenhoven, Jan Jansen Damen (of the `bloody hands'), and Hendrick Hen dricksen the tailor who by this time had added Kip to his name. All were Netherlanders excepting Hall and Herrman. Herrman was a Bohemian, a native of Prague, the son, it is said, of a merchant and a woman of noble birth, highly educated, master of many tongues, and a surveyor by pro fession. He had served in the Thirty Years' War and had been employed by the West India Company in commercial undertakings, frequenting the South River country before he settled at New Amsterdam in 1643. Here he represented the great Amsterdam firm of Gabry and Company and traded with his brothers-in-law in Virginia. In after years he de clared that he had been the 'first beginner' of the important traffic in tobacco between that colony and New Amsterdam. On his farm on Manhattan, near the site of the Astor Library of later years, he seems to have experimented successfully with the cultivation of indigo.
Stuyvesant had agreed unwillingly to the creation of the Board of Nine Men, and in defining its duties he made them as exiguous as possible. Its members, divided into three groups each containing one representative of each class, were in rotation to attend the weekly sessions of the court when civil cases came before it and to act as arbitrators in those that might be referred to them. Otherwise the proclaimed duty of the Nine Men was to originate nothing and to decide nothing but simply to discuss and to advise upon such matters of public moment as the governor and council might choose to lay before them. They were forbidden to meet except when `legally convened.' The governor or a councillor by him deputed was to preside over their deliberations and to take their votes. And they were to exist officially only so long as the charter creating their body should not be 'legally repealed' only so long as General Stuyvesant might see fit.
Thus narrowly fettered the Nine Men of New Amsterdam were not to be compared in ostensible importance with the similar bodies that served the cities of the fatherland. Yet in their persons New Netherland saw the beginning of an elec tive judiciary; and although their power, outside of their slender judicial functions, was merely a power of influence, it was bestowed by charter as that of the Twelve Men and the Eight Men had not been. Much more often the governor hindered than helped them. They were chosen, says the Remonstrance, to represent the entire commonalty, . . . and it was in the commission and instructions declared that what these men did should be the act of the whole people, and, indeed, it was when it accorded with the Director's opinions and views. . . . But when it happened otherwise, then they were boobies, usurpers, rebels, and such like.
Nevertheless they proved themselves what their commission bade them be the 'good spokesmen and agents of the com monalty.' They were really, as they were sometimes called, the people's tribunes. And using them as a mouthpiece pub lic opinion in New Amsterdam soon demanded and secured wider rights, more substantial privileges.