SUITABLE BURGHER GOVERNMENT We have already connived as much as possible at the many imperti nences of some restless spirits in the hope that they might be shamed by our discreetness and benevolence. . . . Yet to stop the mouth of all the world we have resolved . . . to permit you to erect there a Court of Justice formed as much as possible after the custom of this city. . . . And we presume that it will be sufficient at first to choose one schout, two burgomasters, and five schepens. Directors of the West India Company to the Governor and Council of New Netherland. 1652.
New Amsterdam was growing more and more disconsolate. It was not left without spiritual helpers : Domine Megapolen sis who had finished his term of service at Rensselaerswyck and was about to go home consented to fill the place that Domine Backerus had vacated, the classis of Amsterdam sent out a schoolmaster to replace Jan Stevensen and another for Fort Orange, and there was even talk of founding an academy. But enterprise of every kind was checked by doubt regarding the political future, by Stuyvesant's 'prompt ness in confiscation' on charges of smuggling, by the lack of any circulating medium except wampum, by the threaten ing and sometimes murderous conduct of the restless Indians, and by winter weather so cold that the approaches to Man hattan were impassable and, as one letter-writer explained, the ink froze in the pen. Stuyvesant asked the Company for ten thousand guilders' worth of small coin but got none at all. Food supplies ran so short that he prohibited the exportation of grain and bread and the use of wheat in brewing; yet by the Company's orders he was obliged to send provisions to its colonists at Curacoa. Moreover, the commissioners of the United Colonies now struck the hardest blow yet given to the traffic of Manhattan, declaring that, as the Dutch and French forbade all aliens to trade with the Indians within their borders, New England would do the same.
In June, 1650, the prospect brightened. Two of the people's envoys, Bout and Van Couwenhoven, then returned in triumph bearing a copy of the Provisional Order, and New Amsterdam rejoiced as for a victory surely won. Disap pointment followed fast. Stuyvesant refused to publish the Order of which his superiors did not approve, and his people soon knew as well as he did that the directors of the Am sterdam Chamber were fighting with all their force against its adoption. He could judge from its tenor, the directors wrote him, . . . how much trouble we have had and how dangerous it is to draw upon yourself the wrath of a growing community. We must suppose that you have trusted too much to some of these ringleaders or become too intimate with them. Now that their ingratitude and treachery have come to light you must still act with the cunning of a fox and treat them in regard to the past conformably with the above mentioned resolutions, to prevent that a new mistake may make mat ters worse than the first one did, and that we may not be troubled any more with such contemptuous bickerings, the more so as the Com pany is already sufficiently embarrassed.
Even before the Provisional Order was drawn up many would-be emigrants had applied for passage to New Nether land, and it was proposed that several hundred charity chil dren should be sent out. The Company did not supply ships to meet these demands, and when the delegates of New Am sterdam asked permission to take out two hundred farmers the States General decided first to hear what the Amsterdam Chamber had to say. Now, however, the directors them selves wrote to Stuyvesant that many `free people' had taken passage in the ship that was to carry their letter, . . . and we hope that a greater number shall follow by every vessel. As people here encourage each other with the prospect of becoming great lords there, if inclined to work, it may have a good result.
As a sop to its critics the Amsterdam Chamber issued a new Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions. Confirming the enlargement of the trading rights of New Netherland it also confirmed the autocratic powers of the director and his council. Of course this increased the arrogance of General Stuyvesant. He refused to obey the order of recall from the States General unless the Company should release him from his oath of office, knowing that it had told the States that his return was ' entirely unnecessary' ; and even if he had been willing to try he would hardly have been able to display the `cunning of a fox.' So, as the Nine Men wrote to the com mittee appointed by the States General to examine into the affairs of the province, the commonalty lived 'in fear and anguish,' all men conscious that the governor could still injure them, and all afraid to associate with their neighbors because 'one friend' could not speak to another `without being suspected.' Persistently the governor flouted and insulted the Nine Men, descending even to trivial persecutions like taking their pew in the church for his own use. This treatment gradually shook the faith of the people in their representatives, who wrote again to Holland: The people are greatly imposed on; men will fain hang and burn the Selectmen and, moreover, while duly observing our honor and oath etc. The affliction which the poor Commonalty here live under cannot be any longer endured; they are more and more oppressed. . . . We are obliged to listen every day to scoffs and sneers from many because their High Mightinesses have done nothing in the matter of the Re . . .
Van Dincklagen wrote to Van der Donck that from these High Mightinesses every one was anxiously expecting 'abso lute redress': I have enough to do to keep the people quiet. The abuses and faults are as notorious as the sun at clear noon. . . . To describe the state of this government to one well acquainted and conversant with it is a work of supererogation. 'Tis to wash a blackamoor white. Our great Muscovy Duke goes on as usual, with something of the wolf ; the older he gets, the more inclined he is to bite. He proceeds no longer by words or writing but by arrest and stripes. We daily ex pect redress and a remedy.
Augustine Herrman wrote, also to Van der Donck: We are not only threatened, plagued, obstructed, and affronted but shall be also totally ruined. Covert Lockermans is totally ruined because he will not sign that he knows and can say nothing of Director Stuyvesant but what is honest and honorable. . . . That infernal wind-bag, Van Tienhoven, has returned here and put the country in a blaze. . . . Your private estate is going all to ruin, for our enemies know how to fix all this and to obtain their object. There is no use in complaining; we must suffer injustice for justice. At present that is our wages and thanks for devotion to the public interests. Yet we shall trust in God.
Even the governor's council took its turn in finding fault with the Company. There was not a man in New Amster dam, it wrote, but believed that the heavy customs dues were the cause of the 'intolerable scarcity and disorder' and the want of population in the province.
In Holland Cornelis Van Tienhoven had got himself into the courts of law by his licentious course of life. Against the express commands of the States General he returned to America, and he took with him a 'basket-maker's daugh ter' whom he had seduced under promise of marriage al though he had a wife in New Amsterdam. When he arrived Stuyvesant trusted and favored him as before, and as before he 'scattered firebrands through the community.' Know ing how the Company resented all interference by the States General in the affairs of its province Stuyvesant ignored their order to muster the burgher guard at regular intervals and confiscated two hundred muskets and a stand of colors that they had sent out for it; and he forbade to practise a notary public, one Dirck Van Schelluyne, to whom they had given a commission when they learned that New Netherland had no functionary of the kind. Vice-Director Van Dincklagen he deposed and thrust from the council because he had joined with Van Dyck in sending a protest to Holland, and when he would not retire bade the soldiers drag him away and lock him up in the guard-house. Van Dyck, now the schout-fiscal, who seems to have been as intemperate as the Remonstrance de clared, he punished in unworthy ways, charging him to keep the pigs out of the fort and beating him upon occasion with his cane; and when at last he removed him on charges of drunkenness he put a worse man, Van Tienhoven, in his place, promoting him thereby to a seat on the 'supreme council' of three. So, he said, the Nine Men had desired. They had desired, said the Nine Men, nothing of the kind.
Only his English subjects spoke up on Stuyvesant's behalf. Those at Gravesend had sent a letter to the Company by the hands of Van Tienhoven, and now they despatched an other signed by George Baxter, who was schout of the town, and a number of others. Asking for a supply of ammunition and a detachment of soldiers for their protection they declared that they desired to 'remain residing without any change' under the authority of the Company. They would be 'un worthy,' they said, `to enjoy the benefits and freedoms' it had kindly granted them if they could wish to abridge its rights. Being intrusted with the government of their own town they knew how easily 'manifold troubles' might arise; they were deeply grieved to hear that complaints had been uttered in Holland, and they begged that the Company would take pains to prevent such things in the future, ex plaining: This in our opinion, we humbly conceive, will best be done by maintaining and upholding our present governor against all malignant persons, our superiors in Holland paying no attention to the reports of dissatisfied persons; for we have had such experience of his affec tion for the general welfare of this place, and of his carefulness over us in the execution of the public service committed to him, that we are anxious that he be still continued so that we may live under his government.
By this time Stuyvesant had arranged with the New Eng landers for a conference about boundary lines. In Septem ber he went, by water of course, with a 'large suite' to Hart ford where the commissioners of the United Colonies were in session. His hosts greeted him with great civility and honor but, when the negotiations began in writing, refused to re ceive a letter which he dated 'New Haven in New Netherland,' insisting that he should write 'in New England,' compro mising upon 'in Connecticut.' All the lands between Cape Cod and Cape Henlopen, Stuyvesant declared, were Dutch `for matter of title' and those around Hartford were the proper demesne' of the West India Company, having been bought and paid for and duly surrendered by 'the then right proprietors, the natives.' After much correspondence the commissioners agreed to his proposal that 'indifferent per sons' should serve as arbitrators, choosing Simon Bradstreet of Massachusetts and Thomas Prince of Plymouth, both notable personages, while Stuyvesant also chose two English men his secretary George Baxter and Captain Thomas Willett of Plymouth. This was the Willett who in earlier years had signed the contract about building the church in Fort Amsterdam, and who was to serve in later years as the first mayor of the city of New York. It has been thought that he was one of the eighteen children of Andrew Willett of Barley in Hertfordshire, an Anglican clergyman widely known in his day as a theological writer. The records of Robinson's Separatist congregation at Leyden show, how ever, that he was one of its members and give Norwich as his place of birth or residence in England. He came to Plym outh not with the first band of Pilgrims but twelve years later, in 1632, and, engaging in trade with Holland as well as in coastwise traffic, at least as early as 1639 was a familiar figure on Manhattan.
It was agreed, again on Stuyvesant's motion, that the treaty to be drawn up by the four arbitrators should deal with four matters: 1. A composing of differences; 2. A provisional limit of land; 3. A course concerning fugitives; 4. A neighborly union.
As finally drafted it settled only two of these matters, postponing the neighborly union for protection against the savages until the authorities in Europe could be consulted and referring to them the settlement of differences that is, of the many wrongs complained of by both parties. On the other hand it pledged the New Netherlanders to observe the regulations about fugitives from justice that were laid down for the United Colonies. This clause has a special historic interest as marking the one and only instance in which, at this or at any other time, the legislative enactments of New Netherland were influenced by those of its neighbors. It has also been regarded by some historians as the prototype of the fugitive slave laws of much later times.
Furthermore, the treaty left open the question of Dutch and English rights in the Delaware region, but elsewhere drew definite boundary lines. The English, it said, were to possess all the eastern parts of Long Island to a line running northward from the ocean to `the westernmost part of Oyster Bay.' On the mainland the dividing line was to begin west of Greenwich Bay, thence to run northward for twenty miles, and beyond that to be left for future determination by the governments of New Netherland and New Haven, with the provisos that it should nowhere come within ten miles of River Mauritius and that the Dutch should nowhere build within six miles of it. Also, the Dutch were to keep their fort and little plot of ground at Hartford. These `bounds and limits' were to be kept inviolate . . . both upon the island and the main . . . both by the English of the United Colonies and all the nation without any encroachment or molestation until a full and final determination be agreed upon in Europe by the mutual consent of the two states of England and Hol land.
This Hartford Treaty laid down the first international boundary lines agreed upon for any territories in North America. It was not concluded between any New England colony and New Netherland but, as its own words say, . . betwixt the delegates of the honored commissioners of the United English Colonies and the delegates of Peter Stuyvesant Gov ernor-General of New Netherlands.
It was signed by these four 'delegates' on September 29 according to the New Style calendar which the Dutch had used since 1582, on September 19 according to the Old Style mode of reckoning adhered to by the English until 1753. Four days later, spread with other documents upon the records of the federal commissioners, it was 'agreed to and subscribed' by them. The two 'umpires,' as they called themselves, who had acted for the Dutch said in a 'relation of the negotiations' which they prepared in the following year to be sent to Holland that it was also agreed at the time that all persons who might afterwards settle on either side of the determined boundaries should 'absolutely depend on and belong under' the government there existing and `not have any dependency on the other.' No translation of the treaty exists among our Dutch documents.
In accepting this treaty Governor Stuyvesant granted everything that the New Englanders had yet distinctly claimed except the right to settle on the South River. He sent no word to his people of what he had done, and told them when he returned to Manhattan that 'nothing special was transacted.' The true story came in a letter labelled News from New England which was secretly brought to New Amsterdam and thrown in at the window of an English resident. It showed that Stuyvesant himself had hoped for better terms, saying: He made a great complaint against his two chosen agents, crying out, 'I've been betrayed, I've been betrayed !' Which hearing, some of the English who were waiting outside supposed that he had run mad and were disposed to go and fetch people to tie him. It seems he never imagined that such hard pills would be given him to digest. . . . New England is thoroughly united with the Dutch governor to her satisfaction, and is well content with him, and speaks of him in terms of great praise especially because he is so liberal and hath allowed himself to be entrapped by her courtesy and hath con ceeded Greenwich.
Stuyvesant's disappointment seems to be attested also by the fact that he sent no copy of the treaty to Holland. Prob ably he could not have got better terms even if he had chosen Dutchmen as his 'umpires.' Naturally his people did not think so. It would have been well for his province if the terms he did get had been ratified at once in Europe, for the wide and valuable tracts he surrendered were too thickly populated by Englishmen ever to be reclaimed for Holland, while the treaty formally asserted that those actually occupied by Dutchmen composed the 'Dutch province of New Nether land.' But, again, Stuyvesant's people could not understand these truths. They felt that a boundary still unsettled would have been better than one which, depriving them of the great 'wampum factory' at Oyster Bay, forced them `to eat oats out of English hands,' and which surrendered not only the Fresh River and the Red Mount that the Eng lish called New Haven but even Greenwich, the English settlement nearest their own, the one that Governor Kieft had compelled to acknowledge his jurisdiction.
When the news of the treaty reached Holland Van der Donck was quick to explain, in a careful Memorial on the Boundaries of New Netherland, how the Englishmen had `pulled the wool' over Stuyvesant's eyes. This was only one of his many efforts to keep the affairs of the province fresh in the mind of the fatherland and to force the granting of 'redress.' He greatly desired to return with his family to New Netherland but the Amsterdam Chamber, against the advice of the other chambers of the Company, forbade its skippers to receive him on any ship. It might better have let him go. Standing now alone at the Hague he con tinued with intelligence and valor to fight the battle of New Amsterdam as well as to further in all possible ways the despatch of emigrants from Holland. The ink at New Amster dam was certainly not frozen at this time, and Van der Donck laid before the States General all the official letters he received with many private ones bearing witness to the governor's vio lent words and tyrannical deeds.
Cornelis Melyn sailed from Holland again under a safe conduct from the States General and in charge of some sev enty colonists sent out by a wealthy merchant, Jonkheer Van der Capellen tho Ryssel, who had bought a half-share in Melyn's Staten Island patroonship. The Company had instructed Stuyvesant that he need not respect safe-conducts given by the government, so he felt free to arrest Melyn, who was forced to put into a Rhode Island port to repair his ship, on a charge of illegal trading. Melyn rebelled. The gov ernor confiscated and sold his property on Manhattan and also sold the vessel and cargo which belonged to Van der Capellen, finding a purchaser for the ship in Thomas Willett. For this outrage Van der Capellen afterwards obtained in Holland heavy damages from the West India Company.
Fearing to show himself in New Amsterdam Melyn forti fied his house on Staten Island and guarded it with Raritan Indians, and Van Dyck took refuge with him when he was released from confinement in the fort. Thus actual resistance was added to almost universal opposition, there were 'up roars' in the streets of New Amsterdam, the council thought best to give the governor a guard of halberdiers, and letters of complaint from the selectmen and from private individuals flew in flocks across the sea.
Orders from Holland had soon reinstated Van Dincklagen as vice-director, but he refused to serve and the governor was now acting with a council of only two or three mem bers. In December the Nine Men wrote complaining of the Hartford Treaty and describing the 'sorrowful and utterly prostrate condition' of the country. They themselves, they informed Van der Donck, could undertake naught for they were `nothing more than ciphers and esteemed as a scoff.' Stuyvesant even refused to act on their nomination of new members to take the place of those whose terms were ex piring. Yet they remained in office and continued to do what they could to supply Van der Donck with fresh ammu nition.
Before he left Holland Van Tienhoven had drawn up a reply to the people's Remonstrance which consisted chiefly of abuse of their leaders. To rebut their complaints he did indeed bring forward one valid reason why the Company should collect customs dues, saying that, although the New Englanders paid none, all their 'property and means' were taxed in other ways to support their government, civil and military, while the Company assumed this burden for New Netherland. Speciously, however, he argued that of the three taxes levied in New Netherland which, he said, were an excise on wine of one stiver per can, an excise on beer of three guilders per tun, and a duty of eight per cent on beavers only the first fell upon the burgher, the tapster paying the second and not the colonist but the merchant in Holland the third. More intelligently the people's spokesmen had said that however taxes were laid and collected the colonist even tually paid them. In general the policy of the Amsterdam Chamber and its spokesmen all through this long contention was not to argue and not to try to refute arguments but boldly to maintain that all its acts had been right and wise, that no better director-general than Peter Stuyvesant could be found, and that the remonstrants were a 'mutinous rabble' whose appeals were unlawful because neither the other chambers of the Company nor the States General had 'the least authority over New Netherland.' Excepting the employees of the Company the only people in its province who echoed its words were still the English residents. Far from being the planters of the first seeds of liberty in New Netherland, in 1651 they actually opposed the demand of the Dutch .residents for a share in the govern ment. The men of Gravesend then wrote to the West India Company: We willingly acknowledge that the frequent change of government, or the power to elect a governor from among ourselves which is, we know, the design of some here, would be our ruin and destruction by reason of our factions and the difference of opinion obtaining among us ; as there are many here who are unwilling to submit themselves to any sort of government be it mild or strong. It must be one of compulsion and force until the governor's authority be finally estab lished. For such persons will not only scorn and contemn or disobey authority and by their bad example seduce others, whereby the laws will become powerless, but everyone would desire to do just what pleased himself. In fine, the strongest would devour the weakest. As for elections, we should be subjected to many inconveniences, in asmuch as we are not provided nor supplied with persons fit or quali fied for such an office.
'Tis not with us as in our fatherland or as in kingdoms and republics which are established and settled by long and well-experienced laws and fundamentals, best agreeing with the condition of the people. But in our little body made up of divers members, namely, folks of different nations, many things occur in the laying of a foundation for which there are no rules or examples, and therefore must be fixed at the discretion of a well-experienced government; for we are as a young tree or little sprout now for the first time shooting forth into the world, which, if it be watered and nursed by your Honors' liberality and attention, may hereafter grow up a blooming Republic.
This early prophecy of a possible republic in America would be more interesting if it had a more genuine ring. It was spoken to please republicans in Holland by men who, thinking that they had made themselves indispensable to the owners and rulers of New Netherland, hoped for special trad ing privileges such as no Dutch settler had ever asked. That is, in the same letter these Englishmen begged, for themselves alone, for such an exemption from customs dues as would have given them a practical monopoly in the importation of all kinds of merchandise including negro slaves. In a similar strain their compatriots at Hempstead also wrote to the West India Company.
William Coddington, the head of one of the factions that were disputing in Rhode Island, asked the Dutch governor at this time to lend him military aid, and for a moment Stuyvesant seems to have thought of consenting. One thing that he had made plain at the Hartford meeting was that he would never consent to any intrusion in the South River country, yet the New Haven people now tried again to get a foothold there. The ship that they sent down touched at Manhattan, and Stuyvesant kept the fifty intending colo nists under arrest until they pledged themselves in writing to abandon their enterprise. Of course they complained to the federal commissioners and these protested to Stuyvesant, calling his conduct 'unjust and unneighborly.' Once again he informed Governor Eaton that he would resist any such attempt `even unto blood.' The West India Company, he knew, was now trying to induce the queen of Sweden to settle boundary lines on the much-disputed river. It had instructed him meanwhile to maintain its rights there 'in all justice and equity.' The desire of the New Englanders to intrude there, he thought, merely foreshadowed their intent to overrun the whole of New Netherland; nor had his emissaries been able to settle matters with Governor Prinz as he thought they should be settled. His inability to travel far by land, he once wrote to the gov ernor of New Haven, must be well known. But in spite of his years and his wooden leg, in spite of frequent illnesses, and in spite of the difficulties and dangers of seventeenth century voyaging along unlighted, unbuoyed, and almost un charted shores, he was always eager to make any journey on inland or on ocean waters which he thought the interests of his province demanded; and he never felt bound to wait for the consent of his superiors. So now he started for the South River with several vessels and a hundred and twenty men, meaning to get from Governor Prinz a clear recognition of the Dutch title and to make a pact with him to exclude the English. His methods were more energetic than tactful. He pulled down the old Dutch Fort Nassau and built another which he called Fort Casimir farther down the river, below the Swedish Fort Christina. Thus he got control of the navigation of the river, and under the walls of the new fort he settled a number of families whom he had brought from New Amsterdam. Prinz resented all this as a trespass upon his territories, but after much parleying the two governors parted on friendly terms.
The Company reproved Stuyvesant when it heard what he had done, fearing that it would embroil the Republic with Sweden. The cost of his expedition was so heavy that during the year 1652 he could pay only fifty per cent on his official obligations at Manhattan; and this fact increased, of course, the impatience with which his people were awaiting `redress.' In 1650 the Company declared that the owners of Rens selaerswyck had no right to the Catskill region which they were trying to annex and that, in spite of their pretensions, there must be free traffic up and down the North River to Fort Orange. In 1651 Stuyvesant demanded a subsidy from Rensselaerswyck toward the cost of his South River expedition. The director of the patroonship, Van Slech tenhorst, went to New Amsterdam to arrange the matter. Stuyvesant detained him four months under arrest. Then he escaped and, returning to his post, called upon the house holders and freemen of his colony to take an oath to defend its rights. Among the two score persons who complied was a recent comer, Jan Baptist Van Rensselaer, a brother of the second patroon (who had succeeded his father Kiliaen in 1646) and the first member of the family to set foot on the great estate acquired twenty years before. Disputes and broils continuing between the settlers and the garrison, in the spring of 1652 Stuyvesant went up the river again, for mally declared the village of Beverwyck to be outside of the patroon's jurisdiction, and established for it a court of justice in Fort Orange the germ of the now existing mu nicipal government of Albany. Van Slechtenhorst tore down the governor's proclamations. Stuyvesant again arrested him and kept him at New Amsterdam, vainly begging for a trial, until Jan Baptist Van Rensselaer assumed the directorship of the colony.
In Holland the Company was carrying on the same dispute with the managers of the patroonship. Although it had denied Stuyvesant's assertion that it had authorized him to import arms for the Indians it now confessed to the fact, saying that it deemed it 'prudent' to make such sales 'now and then' fearing, as has been explained, that altogether to deny the Mohawks what they coveted most would drive them into open enmity.
A number of colonists were brought out to Rensselaerswyck at this time by Johannes De Hulter who had an interest in the patroonship, his wife being the daughter of one of the early co-partners, the historian De Laet. On the other hand, some enterprising planters left the vicinity of Fort Orange and settled farther down the river on its western bank, in the hitherto unoccupied rich farming region, called `the Esopus,' where Kingston is now the chief town.
From the first the States General had wished to better the condition of New Amsterdam, and the popular party throughout the fatherland had sympathized with its appeals. But its demand for 'suitable burgher government' was tangled up with others which did not seem as indisputably just; and its request that the government should abrogate its traditional colonial policy and assume the direct control of the province came at too critical a time to be seriously considered. The Republic was being rapidly forced into a war with England.
When Charles I of England was brought to the scaffold in 1649 his friends in Holland were the Orangists whose leader was his son-in-law, the stadholder William II. Before the affiliations and the ambitions of this young prince could affect the course of history he died, leaving only the posthu mous son destined to become William III of England. The great partisan struggle that had seemed to come to an end in 1619 with the expulsion of the Arminians from the estab lished church and the execution of Barneveld had really, as Sir William Temple explained, lurked in the veins of the Republic. The `only disease' that had afflicted the body politic of the United Netherlands since they had declared their independence, in 1650 it broke out afresh, the question of local rights as against a strong central government now undisguised by any screen of theological quibbles. This time the Orangist party, lacking a leader, fell into factions, the party of decentralization triumphed. As the province of Holland declared that the office of stadholder should stand vacant, the confederation lacked a visible head. Supreme power was nominally lodged in the hands of the States General while it actually fell into the hands of John De Witt who became in 1653 Grand Pensionary or chief magistrate of the province of Holland and for nineteen years thereafter was in fact if not in name prime minister of the Republic. This eclipse of the Orangist family and party was conspicu ously marked by a change in the flag which floated over the Netherlands and their American province: its orange stripe gave way to the red stripe that the flag of the kingdom of Holland still displays.
At once the Dutch Republic had acknowledged the republi can Commonwealth of England and tried to form an alliance with it but was offered terms which meant the sacrifice of its independence. Meanwhile Cromwell and the parliament found causes for deep resentment: Holland was sheltering the fugitive children of Charles I, and, owing to the influence of the Orangists, certain adherents of the Stuarts who in the streets of the Hague murdered the ambassador of the Com monwealth escaped all punishment. Moreover, English men of all parties were growing more and more envious and afraid of the mercantile preeminence of Holland. The Dutch were then at the apogee of their prestige and their power. While the civil war in England and the Thirty Years' War on the continent had depleted the commercial strength of the nations engaged in them they had aug mented the resources of the Republic, driving within its borders thousands of desirable refugees. As a commercial nation Holland stood supreme. Between 1649 and 1655 was built at Amsterdam the imposing Stadt Huis which now serves as a royal palace; and not without justification did its builders choose for its crowning feature, for a symbol of the city's commerce, the figure of Atlas bearing the globe on his back. The Dutch now almost monopolized the whale fisheries of the Arctic Ocean, the herring fisheries of the North Sea, the grain trade of the Baltic, the spice trade with the Orient, and the carrying trade of the world even the trade of the English with their own West Indian islands, the traffic across their Channel, and much of their local coasting trade.
As a direct blow at this proud supremacy and a step to ward making England also a great 'staple' or 'mart of ex changes' the first of the famous English Navigation Acts was put forth by the Rump Parliament in October, 1651, when the Dutch had just obtained special and exclusive trading concessions from the king of Denmark. Following close upon ordinances that regulated in a protectionist spirit the trade of the English West Indies, it said that foreign wares should be procured for importation into England and its dominions only in their place of growth or manufacture or in the ports whence they were usually first shipped after transportation; it said that the products, raw or manu factured, of Asia, Africa, and America should be brought to England only in vessels of which the owners, the masters, and a major part of the mariners were English, those of Europe only in the same manner or in vessels belonging to the country of production or manufacture; and it alto gether forbade the importation of fish by foreigners.
The Hollanders, who produced and manufactured little but fished more than any other people and carried the wares of the world, were so alarmed by this blow at their activities in home, in colonial, and in foreign waters that they pro posed to England a treaty to maintain free trade to the West Indies and the North American continent and to settle a 'just, certain, and immoveable boundary line' for the Dutch and English colonies. The English replied that free trade had never existed in the colonies of Holland, that the new trade laws could not be abrogated, that the whole of North America belonged by right to England, and that, as they knew of no plantations of Netherlanders there ex cept a small number up Hudson's River, they did not think it necessary to settle the limits, a thing which might be done at a more convenient future time. So failed the first attempt
made by the States General to secure fixed boundaries for New Netherland. England then proposed a general free trade agreement for the two nations but to this the Republic would not accede.
Meanwhile the West India Company was spending most of its energies in the effort to get the subsidies so long over due. In 1648 the provincial States tried to pay the arrears of which Holland had as yet paid only one-half, the other prov inces one-third. In 1649 there was question of a war with Por tugal which, however, was for some years delayed. The Company, it was plain, must somehow be assisted : formerly its shares had stood at 150, now they were valued at 40 or less. In 1651, when the new English laws promised to close to its ships the ports of all English colonies, it was granted a million guilders but in the old fashion that did not mean immediate payment or even certain future payment. It was not in a position to give New Netherland effectual aid in any way that would cost money, yet more and more in sistently the claims of the province to aid of some sort were urged by Adriaen Van der Donck and, owing to his per sistence, by the States General who now for the second time referred the Provisional Order of 1650 to all the chambers of the Company. All except the Amsterdam Chamber ex pressed their approval; and at last, fearing that it would be deprived of its authority over the province, early in 1652 this chamber unwillingly granted a few of the benefits out lined in the Order.
As the population of Manhattan was increasing it sent out another minister to assist Megapolensis Domine Samuel Drisius who had served a Dutch congregation in England and could preach in English, French, and Dutch, and who wanted to escape from the 'turbulent state' of Europe. It authorized the governor to appropriate annually 250 guilders as the salary of a master for the public school. It removed the export duty from tobacco. It promised to reduce the price of transatlantic passage. And it directed the governor to set up in New Amsterdam a suitable burgher government. Many other things which it wished to do, it explained, it dared not attempt for the seas were unsafe. Holland and England were at war.
Cromwell wanted no war with a Protestant power, and Holland knew that it had much to lose, little to gain, from any war. The great naval war which nevertheless began was the natural outcome of a long-existent, ever growing antagonism between the two nations, an antagonism that had a political element but was preponderantly commercial in character. It sprang not only from the feeling that England had expressed in the Navigation Act of 1651 but also from the renewal of old disputes about the fisheries and the dominion of the sea. These had been in abeyance during the English civil war but revived with the waxing power of the Commonwealth and were then accentuated by the in sistence of the English upon the right to search neutral ships and their denial of the Dutch doctrine, set forth by Grotius early in the century, that a neutral flag protected all goods except contraband of war.
The first effect of the war upon New Netherland was to secure General Stuyvesant in the governor's chair. The States General had again summoned him home, to give an account of his administration of his province and his dealings with the New Englanders, and had intrusted the mandate to Adriaen Van der Donck who thought that at last he was to be permitted to return with his family to the country which to him was home. But, upon the urgent prayer of the Company that its seasoned old soldier might be left to defend a province now in imminent danger of invasion, the States General rescinded their order, directing the Company to take all possible steps for the defence of New Netherland. Sending out some soldiers and some ammunition the Com pany ordered Stuyvesant not to embroil his colony with its stronger neighbors but to cultivate trade with them all and, now that tobacco was on the free list, especially with Vir ginia. Such efforts would be worth while, it said, because it felt sure that when 'the Manhattans' were well established and prosperous, . . . when the ships of New Netherland ride on every part of the ocean, then numbers now looking to that coast with eager eyes will be allured to embark for your island.
These directions, sent in the first instance by a ship that was captured by the English, did not reach New Amsterdam until the year was near its close. Then Stuyvesant proceeded to obey them in his own active but domineering fashion. Although some words that the directors wrote him imply that he had recently advised the erection of a municipal government in his little capital, he did all that he could to minimize its importance.
The directors themselves had given the much-desired per mission in an ill-tempered way, 'to stop the general talk and gabble.' But they had said that the 'court of justice' of New Amsterdam should be formed as much as possible after the custom of the mother-city, that to further this end they were sending out printed copies of 'all the law courts here and their whole government,' and that it would suffice at first to 'choose' one schout, two burgomasters, and five schepens from whose judgments an appeal should lie to the `supreme council' which should pronounce 'definite judg ment.' Evidently they meant that the people should at the outset elect their magistrates and that these should afterwards fill, by the nomination of a double number, the vacancies that would annually occur. _ Not so, said General Stuyvesant. He appointed the new officials himself, choosing some of them from the now-to-be-abolished Board of Nine Men.
The first burgomasters of New Amsterdam were Arendt Van Hattem and Martin Cregier. Its first schepens were Allard Anthony, Maximilian Van Gheel, Peter Van Cou wenhoven a brother of the more conspicuous Jacob, Willem Beekman a native of the province of Overyssel who had been long in New Netherland, and Stuyvesant's quondam naval officer Paulus Leendertsen Van der Grist who, as the Re monstrance of 1649 explains, was the only person in the province able to make Stuyvesant listen to what he wished to say. These were all good men and so was Jacob Kip whom Stuyvesant chose to serve as their secretary and to receive the revenues of the city. But with the office of city schout, the sheriff and public prosecutor whose duty was also to convoke and to preside over the meetings of the magistrates and formally to report upon them to the governor and council with this important office Stuyvesant dealt in a way that the people deeply resented. He decided that the city should not have a schout of its own but should share with the provincial government the services of the schout fiscal already in office; and this incumbent, promoted by himself in the stead of Van Dyck, was the 'public whore monger and perjurer' Cornelis Van Tienhoven.
All the new officials were Netherlanders. The Company had written that they ought to be 'as much as possible of the Dutch nation,' believing that thus they would give 'most satisfaction' to the people at large. Never before had the owners or the local officials of New Netherland discriminated between men of different nationalities. But now that Eng land and Holland were at war the Company doubted the loyalty of the English in its province despite Van Tienhoven's assurance that, as they had all taken the oath of fidelity, they were `to be accounted fellow-citizens of the country.' It warned Stuyvesant to watch all Englishmen narrowly and not to be deceived by a 'show of love,' as had been its own experience through their 'sinister machinations.' It directed him to enclose all letters from New Amsterdam in a bag addressed to the Company instead of confiding them as in the past to private hands; it said that it would send all letters in the same way; and it ordered him to open all addressed to Englishmen in his province as they might `irritate' these persons against himself and thereby the Com pany might discover that it had 'fostered a serpent' in its bosom. The States General were less suspicious, merely commanding Stuyvesant to employ in the civil service or the militia only persons whose 'fidelity and affection' for the Republic could be fully counted upon. The opening of private letters of suspects by the hands of authority was a common practice at this time and, as the records of the English colonies show, was not always thought to need justification by the existence of war or of rumors of war.
On February 2, 1653, Candlemas Day when the magis trates of Amsterdam were always installed, the first magistrates of New Amsterdam received their commissions and were sworn in, and the little town on Manhattan took rank as a full-fledged city. Thus the greatest of American cities is also the oldest. It had no rival in the English colonies. Some years before its birth, indeed, Sir Ferdinando Gorges had organized municipal governments for Agamenti cus and Kittery in the district of Maine, renaming Agamenti cus Gorgeana; but when Massachusetts brought Maine under its jurisdiction in 1652 these cities became mere towns again and Gorgeana was again rechristened, York. On the other hand the government is still alive which was es tablished in 1653 for the city that was to become New York. More than once it has been modified in form, and during the Revolution its functions were suspended; but at no time has it been dissolved. The court composed by its members is now extinct but survived for nearly two centuries and a half. Called at first the Court of the Schout, Burgomasters, and Schepens of New Amsterdam, after the English occupation it was known as the Mayor's Court of the City of New York, and after the city was formally incorporated by Governor Dongan in 1686 as the Mayor's Court or the Court of Common Pleas. As the Court of Common Pleas of the City and County of New York (its criminal part known as the Court of Sessions, and the name Mayor's Court obliterated in 1821) it continued to exist until, merged in the Supreme Court by the State constitution adopted in 1894, it expired with the year 1895. It was then the oldest judicial tribunal in the State of New York, the oldest with an unbroken record in the United States.
The City Inn which Governor Kieft had built was turned into a Stadt Huis or City Hall for the use of the new magis trates. In front of it a platform was erected where, when the bell had been tolled three times to bring the people to gether, new laws, ordinances, and proclamations were read aloud before they were affixed to the wall of the building so that all might read them. This practice continued during colonial years.
The municipal court, which had jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases, held its sessions every Monday morning at nine o'clock, opening them with a solemn form of prayer specially composed for the purpose and inscribed in the first volume of the court records. The limits of New Amsterdam were now more strictly defined than in earlier days, embrac ing only the city proper which appears to have meant from the first what it meant until English times the part of Manhattan below the line of the fence that Kieft had built across the island to protect the people's live stock during the Indian war. Within these limits the magistrates held the primary authority with legislative and executive as well as judicial powers, regulating municipal affairs after the manner of a modern board of aldermen. Not at once, however, not until after several years of opposition from Governor Stuyvesant, did they gain these powers in a degree that satisfied the people. Moreover, Stuyvesant insisted that he had a right to preside at their meetings, and that in spite of their existence he and his council could make, even for the city, whatsoever laws they chose.
The people greatly respected their magistrates and called them by sonorous titles. At church they occupied pews set apart for their use and sat upon cushions of state which were ceremoniously carried before them as they came and went through the streets.
What the city had gained by the creation of this municipal board it owed chiefly to Adriaen Van der Donck. For nearly three years he had stood homesick and alone, dis tressed by his detention in Holland while his patroonship in America was running down the road to ruin, yet loyally trying to win justice and liberty for his fellow-colonials. Even when their new magistrates were installed he was not at hand to receive their thanks. The enmity of the West India Company detained him in Holland for many months after he sent his family back to New Netherland. When at last he was permitted to depart, in the autumn of 1653, the Company made him promise not to meddle again in public affairs. It denied his request that he might practise law at New Amsterdam otherwise than by 'giving advice' because, it said, there were probably no other lawyers there who could plead against him And it warned Stuyvesant that although he might be a less dangerous person than he seemed it would be well to keep an eye upon him.
The men on Manhattan who strove to uphold the hands of this tribune of the people had suffered almost as much as he. Any one of them might have secured personal peace and advancement by currying favor with Peter Stuyvesant. But the records show only one who had embraced the people's cause thus falling away from it. This was the Dane, Jochem Pietersen Kuyter, who joined at first in Cornelis Melyn's appeal in Holland but soon returned to Manhattan and began again to cultivate his bowerie on the Muscoota Flats with money obtained from three persons to whom in September, 1651, he ceded an undivided three-fourths share in the property. One of these persons was Governor Stuyvesant, another was the governor of Curacoa who, as he also signed the contract, must have been at this time in New Amsterdam.
When the city magistrates began their sessions the danger of war was, of course, the pressing concern. To the gov ernors of the English colonies Stuyvesant wrote amicable letters informing them that their people might continue unmolested to trade at Manhattan. In concert with the magistrates he proclaimed a day of fasting and prayer, ordered that all the inhabitants without exception should work on the fortifications, and at last mustered and drilled the burgher guard and detailed its members for constant guard-duty. It included one hundred and fourteen men divided into four squads commanded by the captain and the lieutenant who were a burgomaster and a schepen of the city, Arendt Van Hattem and Paulus Van der Grist, an ensign and the senior sergeant. The fort, it was ordered, should be repaired. As it was impossible to protect the set tlements where people lived at a distance from each other, it was decided `to concentrate the forces of New Nether land for the better protection of the place' ; and as Fort Amsterdam could not hold all the inhabitants or defend all the houses in the city, . . . to surround the greater part of the City with a high stockade and a small breastwork to draw in time of need all inhabitants behind it and defend as much as possible their persons and goods against attack.
This was the wall that gave its name to Wall Street. About 180 rods in length, it ran for a short distance along the East River shore and crossed the island above the end of the ditch or canal, following the line of Kieft's fence a little to the north of the present line of Wall Street and cutting through the southern part of the old Damen Farm. The North River shore it left to the protection of a natural bluff which was levelled in much later times. The committee appointed to supervise the works of defence, La Montagne of the council and the schepens William Beekman and Paulus Van der Grist, decided that the wall should be built of pali sades twelve feet high, sharpened at the upper end, supported by posts, one to each rod of length, and reenforced on the inner side by a sloping breastwork of earth four feet high, behind which again should run a ditch. From these speci fications and a little explanatory sketch that accompanied them have usually been compiled the descriptions and the pictures of the wall in its original estate. But the city records go on to say that the committee soon reported that, having asked for proposals for constructing the wall in this manner and finding nobody willing to do it except at a great price, they had therefore decided to 'set off' the wall with planks laid longitudinally and supported by three hundred or more oaken posts, the planks to be fifteen feet long and three or four inches thick and nine of them to form the height of the wall. A notice asking for proposals to furnish the lumber, to be paid for in 'good wampum,' was then 'publicly cried out through the city' ; and the contract was taken by Thomas Baxter, an Englishman who had been living on Manhattan since the time of Governor Kieft. The wall was soon defended at its East River end, now the corner of Wall and Pearl streets, by a blockhouse with a gate called the Water Poort, and at the intersection of the path which is now Broadway by another called the Landt Poort.
While the building of the wall was under discussion, in March, the magistrates asked the government whether it was not advisable to despatch, in addition to the letters already sent, some delegates to the New England colonies whose commissioners were to meet on April 1, to learn how they were affected by the war in Europe and to offer `good and binding conditions' for the continuance of `former intercourse and commerce.' To this suggestion the governor and council agreed, saying that when they had drawn up proper credentials and instructions they would so notify the magistrates; and a few days later the magistrates elected two of their own number as 'delegates to New England.' It does not appear that the proposed mission was actually sent; but the incident is interesting as showing how promi nent a part the city magistrates were at the very outset permitted to play even in those intercolonial affairs with which, according to modern ideas, a municipality could have no concern.
At once the city incurred its first public debt. As there was no money to meet the cost of the wall the richest citizens, forty-three in number, lent the new corporation at ten per cent interest 5050 guilders in sums varying from 50 to 200 guilders. The list of them the earliest extant list of resi dents of New Amsterdam begins with the Honorable Cornelis Van Werckhoven who had recently brought out a number of settlers, obtained the rights of a patroon, and established colonies at Tappaen and at Navesink behind Sandy Hook, and whom Stuyvesant had placed at his council board. Another newcomer, also of good birth and worldly substance, who figured on the list was Johannes De Paistre or De Peyster. A native of Haerlem of French or Flem ish descent, who had come to New Amsterdam in 1645, he founded a family which has always been prominent and influential in New York. Among the other names are those of all the city magistrates, of Jacobus Van Couwenhoven, Hendrick Kip, Govert Lockermans, and Oloff Stevensen, of Jacob Steendam, remembered for his poems in praise of New Netherland, and of the eldest son of Manhattan, Jan Vinje.
The Company had instructed Stuyvesant to try again to form a league with his English neighbors so that the `mischief-making barbarians' might be held in check, but not to give them a preponderance in any general council as that would be dangerous. It was not a time, however, when any one on the spot could think of such a pact. Fear of actual invasion by its much stronger rivals was growing so keen on Manhattan that many persons, it was rumored, thought of returning to Holland. The Hartford Treaty had not satisfied the New Englanders while the success of the Commonwealth party had brought them into more friendly re lations with their mother-country, now at war with Holland, and had freed them from all dread of interference with their own policies or conduct. For a time they seemed to respect the treaty, telling the Canadians, for example, when they asked aid against the Mohawks that `Aurania' (Fort Orange) was 'in the Dutch jurisdiction.' But while all that the Dutch governor wanted and asked for, as Endicott wrote to Win throp in 1652 when he had just had a letter from Stuyvesant, was a `continuance of peace and trade,' the main result of his persistent efforts to placate his neighbors was to convince them that he himself, the West India Company, and the States General were all alike doubtful of their strength. So by the year 1653 the New Englanders were saying that the Dutch called their territories New Netherland although they were `within that part or tract of America called New England ' ; they were loudly complaining of Stuyvesant's attitude on the Delaware; and they were ready to believe the assertion of Connecticut that Stuyvesant and Van Tien hoven were exciting the eastern Indians 'to kill all the English.' Meeting at Boston in April, 1653, to consider this last charge the commissioners of the United Colonies were told of ' probable rumors' that the Dutch had urged the savages to cut them off then and there by poisoning the waters and burning the buildings of the town. Writing to the govern ors of New Haven and Massachusetts Stuyvesant solemnly asserted his innocence of all inimical schemes, and suggested that he should come to Boston to prove it or that a com mittee of investigation should be sent to Manhattan. John Underhill, who was now sheriff at Flushing, wrote to John Winthrop that he believed the Connecticut story and to the federal commissioners that he could produce evidence to support it. The sachems of the Narragansett tribes, to whom the commissioners put eleven specific questions, denied all knowledge of it, demanding the names of their accusers; and the chief among them, Ninigret, sachem of the Niantics, said that they were loth to 'invent any false hood' of the Dutch governor to please the English though these were their nearer neighbors. Stuyvesant, he said, had never proposed 'any such things' and the Indians had never heard of any plot. He himself had, indeed, gone to Manhattan with a letter from Winthrop to be treated by a French physician and had spent the winter there but instead of being cajoled had been most unkindly ignored by the governor.
In May the commissioners sent the committee for which Stuyvesant had asked, a committee of three members one of whom was Captain John Leverett, in later years governor of Massachusetts. Stuyvesant, they said, ought to go to New England to defend himself. His people, forgetting their own grievances, stood loyally by him; and with some of the chief among them, including Jan Baptist Van Rens selaer, he asked in writing for a full inquiry to be conducted at New Amsterdam in presence of the envoys, of himself and his council, and of three New Netherlanders versed in the English and Indian tongues Dr. La Montagne, David Provoost, and Govert Lockermans. The envoys refused, saying that two of the indicated persons were not qualified to serve in such a way. Lockermans and Provoost they meant, for Provoost had been in command at Fort Good Hope while the contentions with the Hartford people were hot, both he and Lockermans had afterwards been accused of selling firearms to the New England Indians, and for this offence Lockermans had been convicted and punished at New Haven. These facts, however, were used as an excuse for avoiding a formal inquiry of any sort. The envoys went to Long Island, to Underhill's house, and collected such testimony as they could get from the English who were now developing into Stuyvesant's most active enemies. They secured no valid evidence to support the charge brought by Connecticut. It seems to have been based wholly on gossip and the statements of a few ill-intentioned savages, chief among them the notorious Uncas, always a bitter foe of the Narragansetts and an unscrupulous ally of the New Englanders. Such charges were not infrequently brought and believed in colonial times. On the Delaware River, for example, an Englishman had recently been accused of conspiring with the Indians to cut off the Swedes and Dutch but exonerated after an inquiry conducted by Englishmen, Swedes, and Dutchmen. Nothing that now exists on paper gives the story about Stuyvesant a color of truth. The only words that can be twisted toward its support are some in a letter from the West India Company telling Stuyvesant to secure the help of the natives if New England should take part in the 'broils' of the time and injure his 'good inhabit ants,' and his own open assertion that he was preparing to strengthen himself with Indian alliances if the English should come against him; and these words expressed no more than a policy which was always pursued not only by the French in America but also by the English even as late as the time of the War of 1812. In fact, Peter Stuyvesant showed at his best in this episode, when he had a real danger to meet, real enemies to deal with, and the New Englanders showed at their worst.
Before the envoys left Long Island Stuyvesant again asserted his innocence in a letter that Augustine Herrman carried to Boston. The Dutch, he confessed, were not guiltless of selling arms to the savages, but the English also supplied them at second and third hand.' This was emi nently true. In its early days Massachusetts permitted the arming of Indians employed by the whites. The laws against the traffic which it afterwards enacted were relaxed in 1642 and renewed only in times of special danger. Con necticut and New Haven, being in greater peril, tried to be stricter but were as impotent to prevent transgressions as was the government of New Netherland, as has been the government of the United States in modern times. In 1649 the federal commissioners, when declaring the guilt of the Dutch, confessed that 'some English are conceived to be deeply guilty.' Roger Williams, writing to the general court of Massachusetts in 1655, said that the Indians got ammunition `openly and horridly' from the Dutch and `from all the English over the country by stealth.' To lamenta tions upon the same theme Governor Bradford devoted a section of his versified account of New England saying, in part, that he knew the nefarious traffic was . . . laid upon the French and Dutch, And freely grant that they do use it much, And make thereof an execrable trade Whereby these natives one another invade; By which also the Dutch and French do smart Sometimes, for teaching them this wicked art; But these both from us more remote do lie, And ours from them can have no full supply.
In these quarters it is English guns we see, For French and Dutch more slight and weak they be: Fair fowling pieces and muskets they have, All English, and keep them both neat and brave; And of the English so many are guilty And deal underhand in such secrecy, As very rare it is some one to catch, Though you use all due means them for to watch.
John Underhill was active at this time in working against the government to which he had sworn allegiance, and openly accused Secretary Van Tienhoven in especial of plotting with the Indians. Stuyvesant arrested and imprisoned him but dismissed him without a trial, presumably because he did not dare to provoke the English within or beyond the bor ders of his province. Underhill then hoisted the flag of the parliament of England at Hempstead and at Flushing and addressed to the commonalty of New Amsterdam a pompous letter explaining that their rulers were too 'iniquitous' to be tolerated any longer by any `brave Englishman and good Christian,' and declaring that the Dutch had no title to their province as they held no patent from King James 'the right ful grantor thereof.' The Englishmen at Hempstead and at Newtown begged the commissioners of the United Colonies to protect them, and Underhill, ordered to leave New Nether land, offered to assist the commissioners in coercing the Dutch. Spurned in this quarter, in June he induced Providence Plantations to undertake a campaign to relieve the English Long Islanders from the 'cruel tyranny of the Dutch power at the Manhathes' and to bring their Dutch neighbors 'to conformity to the Commonwealth of England.' A com mission issued to Underhill and William Dyer empowered them to go against the Dutch or any enemies of the crown of England. Underhill, accordingly, sailed up the Con necticut River, seized the little old fort at Hartford which by this time the Dutch garrison had vacated, and sold it twice over, giving his personal deed. The Connecticut au thorities, resenting his intrusion, locked him up for a while. At a later time he asserted in a letter to Winthrop that he had been imprisoned simply because he would not suffer his men to despoil the well-affected' Dutch farmers of the neighborhood, and had sold the fort to avoid further trouble. One useful thing, however, he had accomplished before leav ing New Netherland. Acting probably by virtue of his Rhode Island commission he led an attack upon one of the strongholds of the Long Island Indians, who had grown very troublesome, and effectually chastised them. This so-called battle at Fort Neck was the last fought between white men and red men on Long Island.
Another adventurer with a Rhode Island commission turned pirate and preyed impartially upon the vessels of New Netherland and New England. This was the Thomas Baxter (not to be confounded with his namesake George) who had recently supplied New Amsterdam with the lumber for its transinsular wall.
Meanwhile New Haven, Connecticut, and Plymouth were longing to attack the Dutch province in proper form. The Commonwealth of England had not actually authorized such a move but had instructed the New Englanders to treat the Hollanders as their enemies and had issued letters-of-marque for some of their ships. In May, while the investigation of the alleged Dutch and Indian plot was under way, the federal commissioners considered how many soldiers they would need if 'God should call the colonies to make war against the Dutch.' Five hundred, they decided, would suffice; and to command them they appointed Captain John Leverett because he was just then serving on the committee that had been sent to New Amsterdam and therefore was enjoying a chance 'to observe the situation and fortifications at the Monhatoes' a singularly frank expression of a singular view of the duties and obligations of an accredited envoy.
Massachusetts blocked these plans for war. One of its representatives on the federal board of commissioners, Simon Bradstreet who had been one of the 'umpires' that drew up the Hartford Treaty, dissented from the corporate decision, and the general court of the colony refused to abide by it although the articles of union prescribed that the votes of any six of the eight commissioners should be binding upon all. While the 'proofs and presumptions' alleged, said the general court, were of much weight in inducing it to believe in the `reality of the plot of the Dutch and Indians' yet they were not 'so fully conclusive' as to justify the drawing of the sword now that the plot had been discovered and the peril prob ably averted. This occurrence holds a prominent place in the annals of New England, for the independent action of the strongest of the allied colonies put so hard a strain on the bond between them that it was barely saved from rupture.
Connecticut and New Haven hoped that they might pro ceed without Massachusetts but, as the records of New Haven say, instructed their commissioners to deal warily lest they bring into nearer connection 'Rhode Island or any of that stamp or frame.' Without the concurrence of Rhode Island . or of Massachusetts they appealed for aid to the Council of State in England. In support of this request the Reverend William Hooke of New Haven, Cromwell's cousin and in after years his chaplain, wrote him a letter which gave a reason for the reluctance of Massachusetts: The truth is the decliners fear their own swords more than Dutch or natives or the displeasure of the Commonwealth of England, con ceiving that if the sword be once drawn it will bear rule no less in our England than in yours.
Describing the New Netherlanders as 'an earthly genera tion of men whose gain is their God,' Hooke also explained to Cromwell that the ' intestine discontents' then so hot among the New Englanders had arisen chiefly from their 'not enter prising against these earthly-minded men.' Trade, said the spiritually-minded minister, was obstructed in New England, all commodities were scarce, 'mutiny and sedition' were rais ing their heads against the theocratic governments, and, . . . it is strongly apprehended . . . that our case is desperate if the Dutch be not removed, who lie close upon our borders westward, as the French do on the east, interdicting the enlargement of our borders any farther that way, so that we and our posterity, now almost prepared to swarm forth plenteously, are confined and straightened, the sea lying before us and a rocky rude desert unfit for culture and desti tute of commodity behind our backs, all convenient places for accom modation on the sea-coast already possessed and planted.
Although Massachusetts would not fight it forbade the selling of provisions to Frenchmen or Dutchmen. Even the smallest of the other colonies contained as many people as New Netherland, Connecticut a much larger number, but none ventured to move upon it. All thought best to delay until Oliver Cromwell should send assistance.