THE FOUNDING OF NEW AMSTERDAM After these countries had passed into the hands of the Incorporated West India Company . . . said Company purchased from the Ind ians, who were the indubitable owners thereof, the island of the Manhathes, situate at the entrance of the river, and there laid the foundations of a city. The West India Company to the States Gen eral of the United Netherlands. 1634.
IN 1624 a Dutch writer named Baudartius quoted in a his tory of the remarkable events of recent years a letter from New Netherland, the earliest of which any words are now remembered: Here is especially free coming and going without fear of the naked natives of the country. . . . Had we cows, hogs, and other cattle for food (which we daily expect by the first ships) we would not wish to return to Holland, for whatever we desire in the paradise of Holland is here to be found. If you will come hither with your family you will not regret it.
These first settlers, farmers and artisans brought to the New World from a land that under long cultivation had acquired a semi-artificial, garden-like character, had to learn how to make use of the wealth of wild lands and woods for food. And they had to learn how to grow food where the freaks of an unfamiliar and uncertain climate must often have thwarted them and where the soil was encumbered by virgin forests in which, as they once naively wrote, the trees grew `without order as in any other wilderness.' Yet the first letters they sent home were so cheerful and hopeful that, says Baudartius, many persons among those of foreign origin who had been forced to take refuge in Holland now resolved to emigrate . . . in the hope of earning a handsome livelihood, strongly fancy ing that they will live there in luxury and ease whilst here, on the contrary, they must earn their bread by the sweat of their brow.
The yacht Mackerel, soon sent out again by the Amsterdam Chamber of the West India Company with a cargo of 'neces saries' for its settlers, fell a prey to privateers. Then one of the directors, Pieter Evertsen Hulft, fitted out three ships at his own expense, and the Company supplied an armed yacht as their convoy. Two of them carried farming imple ments and seed with swine, sheep, and more than a hundred head of horses and cattle, some for breeding purposes. In the third ship, says Wassenaer's account of this year 1625, there went to Manhattan . . . six complete families with some freemen, so that forty-five newcomers or inhabitants are taken out to remain there.
With the coming of this party `to remain there' founda tions for the city of New York were laid. It was then nearly five years since the Pilgrims had landed at Plymouth, one year since they had received their first consignment of cattle from England.
The first white woman born in New Netherland Sarah Rapelye, as the family name is now most often written was born on June 9, 1625. She was the daughter of the Joris Jansen Rapelje, supposedly a Walloon, and his wife, Catelina Trico the Parisian, who had come with the first band of immi grants on the ship New Netherland. Her birth is the first entered on a family register unquestionably authentic although not written by either of her parents. Like Sarah herself they never learned to write, signing their names with marks. The register does not mention the place of Sarah's birth, but the depositions made by the mother in later years say that for three years after her arrival she lived at Fort Orange, and there undoubtedly her eldest child was born. Soon afterwards the family moved to Staten Island, then to New Amsterdam where Rapelye kept an inn, and later to Wallabout on Long Island. Sarah was twice married first to a ship-carpenter, Hans Hansen Bergen, whose surname denotes his place of birth in Norway, and secondly to Teunis Gysbert Bogert. Her father's and also her husbands' surnames are still well known in New York and Brooklyn. A silver tankard that she owned is preserved by her descendants. In 1656, in a petition asking for a grant of land, she described herself as the Christian daughter in New Netherland.' She did not say the first-born white child. The eldest white son of the province, the first white child born on Manhattan, was probably her senior.
His name was Jean Vigne or, in the spelling of the Dutch, Jan Vinje, Vinge, or occasionally Vienje, Finje, or Van Gee. His parents, Guleyn (William) Vigne and Adrienne Cuville, were Walloons from Valenciennes. The year of his birth is not known. Two Dutch travellers, remem bered as the Labadist Fathers, who visited Manhattan in 1679 wrote that they had seen this oldest white native, and that he was about sixty-five years of age. It is hardly need ful, however, to assume on such casual testimony from travellers who proved themselves at many points inaccurate observers that Jan Vinje was born in 1614 that there was even one white woman on Manhattan as early as the year when Adriaen Block was building the Restless. Moreover, had their guess been accurate Jan Vinje would have been eighteen years of age in 1632 when his mother married a second time, whereas a prenuptial contract shows that he was still a child for whose schooling she and the stepfather promised to care. Yet it is probable that his birth antedated that of the town where, as long as the Dutch were in control, he took an active although not very prominent part in public affairs. He died in 1689 leaving no descendants.
These were not the first infants of pure white blood born within the limits of the Thirteen Colonies. Virginia Dare was born about 1587 in Raleigh's unlucky settlement on Roanoke Sound, Peregrine White in 1620 on the Mayflower while it lay off the point of Cape Cod, and the first-born Christian daughter of New England, the child of John Alden and Priscilla Mullen, at Plymouth in 1624.
Willem Verhulst succeeded Cornelis Mey as the director of the nascent colony which grew a little during the year that he served. On December 19, 1625, his successor, Peter Minuit, embarked at Amsterdam in the ship Het Meewtje (The Little Sea-Mew) but was detained for nearly a month by ice in the Texel and did not reach Manhattan until May 4, 1626.
Minuit was the first director who bore a formal title Di rector-General of New Netherland. Other duly appointed officials came with him, and in accordance with instructions which we know only by their results he established a gov ernment for his province. Thus he heads the long list of the governors of New Netherland and New York, although throughout Dutch times not governor but director-general was the title attached to the office.
Minuit was of French Huguenot descent but his birthplace was Wesel, a city then in the Duchy of Cleves, now in the Rhine Province of Germany which was a great gathering place for Protestant refugees. He probably left Wesel in 1624 when it was taken by the Spaniards. His name is now written as he himself wrote it. By virtue of the happy orthographic freedom that then prevailed his contempora ries sometimes made it Menuet, Minuict, Minuyt, or Men ewe, which is evidently a Dutch transliteration of its French sound, and sometimes Germanized it into Minnewit or Minnewitz.
In the government established for New Netherland, as in those of early New England, there was no separation of legis lative, judicial, and executive powers. All were delegated by the Amsterdam Chamber to the director-general, a council of five members, a koopman, and a schout-fiscal. The coun cillors served in a double capacity, as advisers of the governor in his executive tasks and as a court of justice over which he presided. The koopman was the Company's `bookkeeper of wages' as well as secretary for the province. The schout fiscal, the chief law officer of the province, was charged with such important and varied duties that he ranked next to the governor. He was both sheriff and public prosecutor; under the orders of the council he arrested, guarded, and arraigned all accused persons and superintended their trials, bringing out (of course in accordance with practice in the fatherland) the evidence for as well as against them. He transmitted accounts of all court proceedings to the West India Company, and was responsible for the publication and execution of all laws and orders issued by the local or the home authorities, and thus for the enforcement of the customs regulations and the examination of ships' cargoes. Both he and the koop man reported not through the governor but directly to the Company an arrangement which, encouraging meddlesome ness in them, suspicion in the governor, did not work for official harmony.
With the councillors when they sat as the court were associated such captains of the Company's ships as might be in the port, on certain occasions some of the principal in habitants or servants of the Company, and, in an advisory capacity, the schout-fiscal when he was not acting as prose cutor. Appeals from the decisions of the court lay to the executive committee of the Company, the Assembly of the XIX.
Jan Lampo was the first schout-fiscal of New Netherland, Isaac De Rasieres its first koopman and secretary. The names of Minuit's councillors, as appended to the earliest document now extant, dating from July, 1630, were Bylvelt, Wissinck, Brouwer, Pos, and Harmensen.
At some time during the summer of 1626 Minuit bought from the Indians the island of Manhattan. This is told in a letter written from Amsterdam to the States General at the Hague by the delegate who represented them in the Assembly of the XIX. It is the oldest known manuscript that relates to the local history of Manhattan, and the oldest manifest of a trading vessel cleared from the port. It runs: High and Mighty Lords, Here arrived yesterday the ship Arms of Amsterdam which on the 23d September sailed from New Netherland out of the Mauritius River. They report that our people there are of good cheer and live peaceably. Their wives have also borne children there. They have bought the island Manhattes from the savages for the value of sixty guilders. It is 11,000 morgens in extent. They had all their grain sown by the middle of May and harvested by the middle of August. They send small samples of summer grain, such as wheat, rye, barley, oats, buckwheat, canary seed, beans, and flax.
The cargo of the aforesaid ship is : 7246 beaver skins, 36 wildcat skins, 178 half otter skins, 33 minks, 675 otter skins, 34 rat skins, 48 mink skins, Much oak timber and nut-wood.
Herewith High and Mighty Lords, be commended to the grace of Almighty God.
At Amsterdam, the 5th of November, A° 1626.
Your High Mightinesses' Obedient P.Schaghen.
It has sometimes been said that Minuit cheated the sav ages, buying as they thought only a plot for a garden and then claiming the whole of the island. Schaghen's letter disproves this, and so does the record of the prices willingly accepted by the Indians elsewhere in New Netherland for great stretches of their soil. Even though money at that period was much more valuable than it is to-day, sixty guild ers (about $24) may seem a small price for an island almost twenty-two square miles in extent thirteen miles and a half in length and two and a half in width at the broadest part. But it would have been an absurd price for a garden plot. Land, it should be remembered, was the Indians' one plentiful possession. Moreover, they were not dispossessed of their island but were only pledged, like tenants-at-will, to yield from time to time such portions of it as the white men might need if, indeed, many of them used Manhattan as an actual abiding-place. Here and there on the island sites of Indian villages have been somewhat doubtfully identified; for the most part it seems to have been unin habited although constantly frequented by the savages who lived on the neighboring shores. Of course Minuit gave, instead of useless money, articles that had an immense value in the Indians' eyes. Their character may be guessed from a list of the things paid seven years later for an extensive tract in the Connecticut Valley : One piece of duffels twenty-seven ells long; six axes, six kettles, eighteen knives, one sword-blade, one shears, and some toys.
In after days such purchase lists included a greater variety of articles needles, for instance, combs, petticoats, boxes, looking-glasses, pipes and tobacco, fishing hooks, jews'-harps, and small bells reckoned by the hundred.
At the time when Manhattan was bought the first building of which any authentic record remains was begun, the building that gave its name to the nascent town. 'A fort was staked out,' says Wassenaer, by 'Master Kryn Frederycke, an engineer'; it was to be 'of large dimensions' and to be called `Amsterdam'; it was to have four points' and to be faced outside entirely with stone 'as the walls of earth fall down.' The Hollanders now understood that while Fort Orange must be the headquarters for their traffic with the savages some spot on the great harbor must be their depot for trans atlantic intercourse and the administrative centre of the province. The very best spot they could have chosen was the southern end of Manhattan. It commanded the mouth of the river and supplied a vantage-point whence a watchful eye could sweep the whole circuit of the harbor down to its far-off ocean gateway. It was low, not thickly wooded, and broken by beaches and little inlets where vessels could easily unload. So here the walls of the fort began to rise, and the rude cabins clustered which housed the settlers for a while.
It needs a lively effort of the imagination to reconstruct the aboriginal aspect of an island which the hand of man has so radically transformed denuding, draining, and blasting it, raising its surfaces in many places and lowering them in others, to fit it for the enormous burden of iron, brick, and stone that it supports to-day.
Everywhere, in 1626, the surface of Manhattan was undulat ing or much more abruptly broken into heights, valleys, and swamps. Beyond its southern end, which was then much narrower than it is now, lay low wooded hills and grassy vales clotted with many ponds, the largest of them spreading its clear deep waters over and around the spot where the Tombs prison now stands. The Dutch called this beautiful sheet of water the Kalck Hoek (Chalk Point) Pond because of the great heaps of shells accumulated by the Indians on its shore. Corrupting this term, the later-coming English said Collect Pond. A little isle rested on the bosom of the pond and green hills encircled it. For generations it was a favorite resort for pleasure seekers, fishermen, sportsmen, and skaters; and on its waters Fitch experimented with his steamboat in 1796 and 1797. Gradually its beauty and its usefulness waned; it became unsightly and unwholesome, and early in the nineteenth century it was drained and filled in.
Fed by perennial springs, the Kalck Hoek Pond discharged its overflow into both rivers into the East River by a stream which the Dutch called the Fresh Water (a term applied by the English to the pond itself) and into the North River by the one which in modern times gave Canal Street its name. This longer rivulet connected the pond with a great marsh seventy acres in extent; just north of it lay two smaller ponds; and, joining with these, other marshes, pools, and brooks formed a continuous chain of watery places from the point where James Street now meets the East River to the one where Canal Street meets the Hudson. By means of these tortuous little channels the Indians often approached New Amsterdam when they came in their canoes to trade.
Hills were interspersed among these waters. One that was high enough to afford a fine view of all the lower part of the island rose where Grand Street now intersects Broadway. Beyond, there were sandhills toward the northwest, and a stream, called Bestavaar's Killtje (Rivulet), Minitie Water, or Minetta Brook, which drained another marshland lying where Washington Square lies now. North of this point the ridges of rock grew apparent which form a backbone for the island, like the keel of a very long and narrow inverted boat, and have determined where the principal north-and-south streets of the modern city should run. Here were higher hills, dense forests, and many little watercourses winding among rough ledges. A reach of low flatland formed the northeastern corner of the island. It was flanked toward the west by precipitous cliffs and the table-land, in some places two hundred feet above the Hudson, which grew famous in Revolutionary times as Harlem Heights and is crowned to day by Morningside Park, the Episcopal cathedral, and the buildings of Columbia University. All the narrow elongated northwesterly end of the island was likewise high and rocky and densely wooded.
Soon after Minuit's arrival the colonists sent to the South River were brought back to Fort Amsterdam; and as the director at Fort Orange had foolishly embroiled himself in a war between the Mohawks and Mohegans, losing his own life thereby, all the families were brought down from this place in order, says Wassenaer, to strengthen the colony `near the Manates who were becoming more and more accustomed to the strangers.' Sixteen fur-traders remained at Fort Orange, and on the South River a single vessel.
Minuit had brought a band of settlers from Holland, and more colonists must soon have followed for in 1628, says Wassenaer, the people at Fort Amsterdam numbered two hundred and seventy. It was then the largest settlement in the northern parts of America except Plymouth which by 1626 had three hundred inhabitants. By 1620 about five thousand persons had been carried to Virginia, and in 1626 twelve hundred and seventy-five were counted there, but only one hundred and eighty-two of them were gathered together at Jamestown. The French post which in 1608 Champlain had founded and named Quebec contained only one hundred and five, almost at the point of starvation.
The settlers at Fort Amsterdam, says Wassenaer, mostly lived by farming, and the West India Company supplied, at a price of course, the needs they could not meet by their own labor. Of the town he writes : The counting house there is kept in a stone building thatched with reed ; the other houses are of the bark of trees. Each has his own house. The Director and Koopman live together; there are thirty ordinary houses on the east side of the river which runs nearly north and south. . . . Men work there as in Holland; one trades upward, southward, and northward ; another builds houses, and a third farms. . . . The houses of the Hollanders now stand without the fort, but when it is completed they will all repair within so as to garrison it and be secure from sudden attack.
Before long the director-general and some of the other officials did move into houses within the walls of the fort, but the rest of the settlers did not because, as we read on another page, the natives lived ' peaceably ' with them. The houses of the settlers were not, as Wassenaer's statement may seem to mean, on the eastern bank of the Hudson. East ward of the fort they stretched along the shore of the East River where it met the harbor, forming a little street which, although now greatly lengthened, still keeps one of its original names, Pearl Street (Perel Straet). It was also called the Strand, but it is now well removed from the docks and wharves. Water, Front, and South Streets have been laid out beyond it upon reclaimed land, as Washington and West Streets have been added along the North River Shore.
Houses 'of the bark of trees' were adaptations of Indian cabins or were built after a fashion described in later years by Cornelis Van Tienhoven, then the secretary of the province with floors sunken for the sake of warmth some feet below the level of the ground and laid with planks, plank walls sheathed inside with bark, and a roof of beams covered with bark or sods. In houses of this sort, Van Tienhoven describes as even more common in New England than in New Netherland, families could live 'dry and warm for two, three, and four years.' They were, indeed, better dwellings than the caves and the cabins of mud in which, in England as well as on the continent of Europe, many peasants were still compelled to live.
The fort, which was not finished until almost ten years had gone by, was about three hundred by two hundred and fifty feet in diameter and stood at the extremity of the island between the Bridge, Whitehall, and State streets and the Bowling Green of to-day, overlooking a reef of rocks which at a later time was filled in, extended, fortified, and called the Battery. The new Custom House stands upon its site, now at some distance from the shore. Its sally-port, guarded by a small redoubt or horn, opened toward the north on the Bowling Green which for generations was an unadorned space called the Plain and used for military exercises, for markets, and for public gatherings. Long the centre and focus of local life it is now a little green oasis in the business district of the city.
A windmill to grind grain for the Company's employees stood close to the fort. One for general use upon the pay ment of fees to the Company stood north of the Plain on the present line of Broadway, then an Indian path. The upper floor of the Company's counting-house was a storage place for furs; the lower held the supplies that it sold to the people. This was Manhattan's first 'general store.' At the other end of the rudimentary street which began at the fort a dock was built by the mouth of a small creek that offered good facilities for the discharge of cargoes. Thus the commercial centre of the town was established; and it has never shifted its place, for the Broad Street of to-day, where the Stock Exchange stands, follows the course of the creek which the Dutchmen soon turned into a canal. Beaver Street got its name from a little branch of the creek called Beaver Canal.
While the people were awaiting a clergyman, says Was senaer, two `comforters of the sick' read to them on Sundays `from texts of Scripture with the creed.' One Francis Molemaecker was busy building a horse-mill; over it was to be 'a spacious room sufficient to accommodate a large congregation,' and on it a tower ' where the bells brought from Porto Rico' would be hung. This is one of the very few touches of picturesqueness in the early accounts of Man hattan this mention of church bells that were evidently military trophies also, captured from the Spaniards in 1625 at Porto Rico where the same flag now flies that flies on Man hattan. Comforters or visitors of the sick were, among the Dutch, authorized helpers of the clergy who did missionary work when a minister was not available and were commonly schoolmasters also.
An undated letter about the affairs of New Netherland written by Secretary De Rasieres is to be attributed to the year 1628 when he had returned to Holland. Addressed to Samuel Blommaert, a member of the Amsterdam Chamber of the West India Company who seems to have been De Rasieres' special patron, it says that Manhattan was inhabited by 'the old Manhatesen . . . about two hundred to three hundred strong, women and men,' and explains that although it was `full of trees and in the middle rocky' in several places there was very good land to be tilled without much clearing. Six farms, four of which lay 'along the River Hellegat stretching to the south side of the island,' contained at least one hundred and twenty acres ready to be sown with winter seed, and 'at the most' had been ploughed eight times.
These six farms or bouweries' belonged to the West India Company. On the western shore of the island, extending from the fort to the present site of Trinity Church, lay the Company's garden and beyond it, as far as the Duane Street of to-day, stretched what was called its Bouwerie No. 1, reserved for the support of its officials and workmen. This, called successively in English times the Duke's Farm, the King's Farm, and when Queen Anne was on the throne the Queen's Farm, formed part of the broad tract that has since grown famous as the property of Trinity Church. Farther north another large bouwerie named the Bossen Bouwerie or Farm in the Forest, occupied the fertile tract on the shores of the North River, called by the Indians Sapponikan, where the village of Greenwich afterwards grew up.
The other farms, also prepared for cultivation by the ser vants of the West India Company, were leased to individuals on terms which are explained in a petition addressed to the Amsterdam Chamber by Kiliaen Van Rensselaer in 1634 when he had himself planted a colony far up the North River. Speaking of contracts signed in 1630 he says that the Company leased to each farmer for a term of six years and for a rent which he does not specify 'a suitable farmstead provided with house, barn and granary with about fifty morgens' (one hun dred acres) of land, and that for 600 guilders to be paid in six instalments it sold to each four horses and four cows with their foals and calves, two heifers, six sheep, six pigs, and ' wagons, ploughs, and the like implements.' Thus the settlement on Manhattan was not a colony as we now understand the term primarily a settlement of men; it was in the strict sense a colonial plantation an invest ment of capital. It was established and nurtured not for its own sake but for the sake of a European trading company. No settler had as yet a personal title, formal or informal, to a foot of land and none traded over seas for his personal account.
Other descriptions of New Netherland besides the one in Wassenaer's general history were now getting into print and exciting a practical interest in the province. Possibly the most important of them was written with this end in view the New World of Johan De Laet, published in 1625 and con taining nine pages about the Dutch province for De Laet was a member of the Amsterdam Chamber of the Company. It said little of the colonists but described the country and the aborigines at length, quoting Hudson's journal and, it may be assumed, also making use of the reports drawn up by Block, Christiaensen, and Mey. It was in 1625 also that Juet's log of the Half Moon's voyage was printed in England. In 1630 a second edition of De Laet's book appeared with the first map of New Netherland that is known to have been printed, a map entitled Nova Anglia, Novum Belgium et Virginia. In preparing this the Figurative Maps may have been used, although there are many divergencies, and also one called Jacobsen's Map, drawn in 1621, which showed little more than the coast-lines. De Laet's gives their names to the North, South, and Fresh rivers, Hellegat, and Block's Island, locates the Manhattes on Manhattan Island and the western shore of the Hudson, and calls the town on the isl and not Fort Amsterdam but New Amsterdam the ear liest known use of this name. Fort Amsterdam continued to be the official designation of the seat of the provincial government while the town was New Amsterdam or Am sterdam in New Netherland. De Laet's map formed the basis of many others included in atlases published in later years.
More interesting than anything printed in Europe at this time are two letters written on Manhattan by the first clergy man sent to the province, Jonas Michaelius. Fortunately preserved in the original manuscript, they are the earliest autograph papers of any kind written in the province that are known to exist.
Domine Michaelius to use the Dutch title for a clergy man, still often used in New York had ministered to con gregations in Holland, Brazil, and Guiana before the classis of Amsterdam, at the request of the West India Company, sent him to Manhattan for a term of three years. With his wife and three little children he sailed from the Texel on Janu ary 7, 1628, coming by way of Bermuda and arriving on April 7. The first of his letters was addressed to Johannes Foreest of Hoorn, a man of patrician birth who was secretary to the executive council of the provincial States of North Holland and West Friesland and a member of the West India Company. Preserved by Foreest's descendants but forgotten until their books and papers were sold in 1902, it was then bought by an American collector and was published with a translation in 1904. It is dated August 8, 1628, 'From the Island of the Manhates in New Netherland.' The voyage from the fatherland, it says, had been 'difficult and perilous' and the treatment of the passengers 'rather severe and mean,' the cook being 'very wicked and ungodly' and the skipper 'as unmannerly as a buffalo.' The clergyman's wife suffered greatly and died five weeks after her arrival, which was the more to be deplored as both she and her hus band were `well pleased with the country.' Manhattan was somewhat less fertile than other places and was trouble- , some to till on account of 'the multitude of roots of shrubs and trees.' Food was scarce and dear, but ten or twelve more farmers `with cattle and land in proportion' would I have sufficed to help the settlers out of 'all difficulties.' The people were building new houses in place of the 'hovels and holes' in which they had 'huddled rather than dwelt.' They were cutting wood and erecting a sawmill so as to ex port to the fatherland ' whole cargoes of timber fit for build ing houses and ships.' Sawmills driven by the wind, it may be noted, were as yet unknown among the English. Vines that Foreest had given Michaelius had been planted and had sprouted; 'nut trees and currants' had failed to take root. In return for these gifts Michaelius was sending home, to be turned by a silversmith into the shanks of spoons, certain little bones of the beaver which the Indian women wore 'as finery and ornament.' Other parts of the letter are repeated in a more detailed and informing fashion in the clergyman's second epistle, written only three days later, on August 11, which was discovered in Holland in 1858 and is now in the New York Public Library.
This, addressed not to a social superior but to a fellow clergyman, the Reverend Adrianus Smoutius, is more inter esting because more free and intimate in tone. It gives Michaelius's opinion of those 'devilish men' the aborigines, and of their manners, customs, and language. It says that by the death of his wife he was greatly 'hindered and distressed' as his daughters were yet small, white maid servants were not to be had, at least none whom he was advised to employ, and the 'Angola slaves' negresses fresh from Africa were `thievish, lazy, and useless trash.' He was not satisfied with the way the Company had treated him: The promise which the Honorable Directors of the Company had made me of some acres or surveyed lands for me to make myself a home, instead of a free table which otherwise belonged to me, is void and useless ; for their Honors well know that there are no horses, cows, or laborers to be obtained here for money. . . . So I shall be compelled to pass through the winter without butter and other neces saries which the ships did not bring out with them to be sold here. The rations which are given out, and charged for high enough, are all hard, stale food as they are used to on board ship, and frequently not very good ; and even so one cannot obtain as much as he desires. . . .
In consequence of this hard fare of beans and gray peas, which are hard enough, barley, stock-fish etc., without much change, I cannot fully recuperate as I otherwise should. The summer yields something, but what of that for one who has no strength? The savages also bring some things, but one who has no wares, such as knives, beads, and the like, or seawan, cannot come to any terms with them. . . . I have now ordered from Holland most all necessaries, but I expect to pass through the winter with hard and scanty food. The country yields many things for the support of life but they are all too unfit and wild to be gathered. . . .
Coarse fare, no doubt, but it would have seemed luxury indeed to the starving Pilgrims at Plymouth during their first winter when they were thankful for meals of shell-fish and water. More cheerfully Michaelius continues : . . . As to the waters both of the sea and rivers they yield all kinds of fish ; and as to the land it abounds in all kinds of game, wild and in the groves, with vegetables, fruits, roots, herbs, and plants both for eating and medicinal purposes, working wonderful cures. . . . The country is good and pleasant and the climate is healthy notwith standing the sudden changes of cold and heat. The sun is very warm ; the winter is strong and severe and continues full as long as in our country. The best remedy is not to spare the wood, of which there is enough, and to cover oneself with rough skins which can also easily be obtained. . . . Until now there has been distress because many of the people were not very industrious and also did not obtain proper sustenance for want of bread and other necessaries. But affairs are beginning to put on a better appearance, if only the directors will send out good laborers and exercise all care that they be maintained as well as possible with what this country produces.
A humble and prosaic little outpost in the wilderness was Governor Minuit's New Amsterdam. Its inhabitants, Domino Michaelius bears witness, were 'good people,' but they were `for the most part simple' and had had 'little experience in public affairs.' There was no thought as yet of political rights in any shape, and no talk, like the Reverend John Robinson's, of the propagation of 'pure' forms of faith. Yet the pastor tells that he had formed a congregation and at the first service had had fully fifty communicants . . . Walloons and Dutch,' a goodly number in a community of less than three hundred souls. The Walloons, he explains, understood but little Dutch so he administered the Lord's Supper to them in French and read them a French sermon. One of the comforters of the sick who had preceded him, Bastiaen Janssen Crol, or Krol, had been sent to Fort Orange as director of that post; the other, Jan Huyck, or Huyckens, Governor Minuit's brother-in-law, was the West India Com pany's storekeeper. Both served as elders in the church organization that Michaelius at once effected, and so did the governor himself who had held a similar position in the French or Walloon church at Wesel. The little consistory that thus took shape is still alive the consistory of the Collegiate Church of the City of New York. The communion of which it formed the corner-stone, called in early English times the Reformed Dutch Church in New York, after wards the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church in America, or in popular parlance the Dutch Reformed Church, unfortu nately saw fit to strike the 'Dutch' from its name in 1867. It is the oldest communion in the Western world that repre sents the Presbyterian branch of Protestantism. Its bap tismal and other records as now preserved begin with the year 1639.
The first of its pastors, it may be noticed, spoke the earliest recorded words which foreshadow, dimly though it be, the most radical reform that the North American colonies were destined to work in the world-old art of government the separation of church and state. In his second letter Michael ius said : And although our small consistory embraces at the most . . . not more than four persons all of whom, myself alone excepted, have also public business to attend to, I still hope to separate carefully the ecclesiastical from the civil matters which occur, so that each one will be occupied with his own subject. And though many things are still mixti generis, and political and ecclesiastical persons can greatly assist each other, nevertheless, the matters and offices belonging together must not be mixed but be kept separate in order to prevent confusion and disorder.
Of course the meaning of this passage must not be pushed too far. But even if it be taken in the most restricted sense it expresses an attitude of mind fundamentally different from that of the clergy of the young New England colonies.
The people of Manhattan and New Plymouth had met on Buzzard's Bay where, at Manomet, both colonies had trading houses. Manomet Creek, running southward into this bay, and Scusset Creek, running northward into Cape Cod Bay, were navigable for small boats, and the portage between them was not more than six miles in length. By this route the Plymouth people could go southward without sailing around the dangerous cape; and they saw that it was a desir able place for that ship canal which, always under discussion since their day, has not yet been built.
As early as the year 1623 the governor of Plymouth, Wil liam Bradford, and the assistant governor, Isaac Allerton, sent by Edward Winslow to the backers of the colony in Eng land a letter saying that its traffic with the Indians had fallen off and probably would not revive, . . . seeing the Dutch on the one side and the French on the other side, and the fishermen and other plantations between both, have and do furnish the savages, not with toys and trifles, but with good and substantial commodities, as kettles, hatchets, and clothes of all sorts.
Four years later Governor Minuit opened direct communica tion between the two colonies, sending to Governor Bradford by a special messenger a letter congratulating the people of Plymouth on the successful planting of their colony and offer ing on behalf of his own people to trade with them in furs or other commodities. Prepared by Secretary De Rasieres in two versions, Dutch and French, this letter is now accessible only as Bradford preserved it, the elaborately courteous form of address, which excited his surprise, standing in Dutch and the rest in an English translation. Bradford answered civilly; other messengers passed to and fro bringing him, as he re corded, other 'kind letters,' likewise preserved for us in his Letter-Book, and on one occasion pleasing Dutch gifts, `a rundlet of sugar and two Holland cheeses' ; and before the end of the year Secretary De Rasieres went himself to Plymouth. He and his companion, says Bradford, 'came up with their bark-to Manamete to their house there.' From this house overland to the Pilgrims' settlement was a six hours' journey. De Rasieres, he himself relates, had not `gone so far this three or four years,' wherefore he feared his feet would fail him. So by his request the Plymouth people sent a boat to meet him at the head of Scusset Creek, and thus he came to Plymouth 'honorably attended with a noise of trumpeters,' these being a part of his own little suite. Kindly entertained for a few days, he then returned with a number of Englishmen to his bark and sold them some of the goods with which it was laden.
Bradford's Letter-Book tells us that he and his people understood that the masters of these Dutch envoys . . . were willing to have friendship with us and to supply us with sundry commodities, and offered us assistance against the French if need were. The which, though we knew it was with an eye to their own profits, yet we had reason both kindly to accept it and make use of it.
In his History of Plymouth Plantation the governor adds that after this beginning the Dutch sent often to the same place 'for divers years,' exchanging tobacco for linen cloth, stuffs, and so forth, which was of 'good benefit' to the Plymouth people until the Virginians found out their plan tation: But that which turned most to their profit, in time, was an entrance into the trade of wampumpeake; for they now bought about £50 worth of it from them. . . .
That is, the Plymouth men bought wampum of De Rasieres and his companions who told them how much the Hudson River Indians valued it and persuaded them that it would prove just as 'vendable' at Kennebec whither they went for peltry. This proved so true, says Bradford, that soon the Plymouth traders 'quite cut off' the traffic of the fishermen and largely that of the 'straggling planters' along the New England coast. Less happy results followed in later years. The Indian neighbors of the Englishmen had not known about wampum till the Dutch brought knowledge of it, and it wrought a great change in them. Condensing Bradford's longer explanation, Nathaniel Morton says that they grew `rich and proud and powerful' by its use; previously 'they could not attain English ammunition' ; but as they learned `to make store of wampum they furnished themselves with guns, powder, and shot.' Neither the English nor the Dutch could be prevented by the most stringent ordinances from selling these dangerous wares; and thus the root was planted of the worst troubles that New England was to know.
In writing his history Governor Bradford did not refer to the most important matter under discussion between himself and Governor Minuit. In fact, from a transcript, professedly complete, of one of his letters to Minuit he omitted a passage bearing upon this matter. The full text in his Letter-Book, other letters there preserved, written to Minuit and to the Council for New England, and the Dutch accounts of the incident tell that he had questioned at once the right of the Hollanders to live or to trade in regions covered by the patents given by the Council for New England to the Plymouth people and others. The Council, he explained, had empowered its colonists to expulse or make prize of ' any strangers or un authorized Englishmen who should intrude within their limits, which extended clown to the fortieth parallel; and although his people would not ' go about to molest or trouble' Minuit's but hoped to live in good correspondence with them, he desired them to forbear from trading in Buzzard's Bay, Nar ragansett Bay, and the vicinity. Minuit's answer, says Bradford's summary, was very friendly but maintained the Hollanders' `right and liberty to trade' in those parts which they had frequented undisturbed for many years, declaring that as the English had authority from their king so they themselves 'had the like from the States of Holland which they would defend.' Minuit asked that a commissioner to dis cuss the question might be sent to Fort Amsterdam, Bradford that one might come to Plymouth. This was the reason why De Rasieres made the journey and was received with so much formality. Bradford then urged the New Netherlanders to have the home authorities `clear the title' of their 'planting in those parts' lest it become `a bone of contention in these stirring evil times' and lest in after days an arrangement might be `with more difficulty obtained . . . and perhaps not without blows.' Finally both governors referred the matter to their superiors in Europe.
In spite of its tenor this correspondence was couched in the friendliest words, and at the moment the home governments were not only friends but allies. In 1624 James I had entered into a defensive alliance with the Dutch; and in 1625 Charles I, soon after his accession, signed with them a. treaty of defence and offence against Spain. This Treaty of Southampton opened the harbors of each country freely to the ships of the other; and in 1627, on petition of the West India Company, its benefits were extended to cover all colonial ports. No protest about the Dutch occupation of New Netherland was then uttered by England.
These European arrangements, however, did not quiet the uneasiness that Bradford's words had awakened in the prov ince itself. As the West India Company informed the States General in November, 1627, The last letters from New Netherland bring word that the English of New Plymouth threaten to drive away those there or to disturb them in their quiet possession and infant colony, notwithstanding ours heretofore had tendered to them every good correspondence and friendship. They therefore request the aid of forty soldiers for their defence. We would rather see it secured by friendly alliance.
De Rasieres soon fell out with Governor Minuit and returned to Holland. There he wrote for Samuel Blommaert the long letter or report already quoted in regard to the bouweries on Manhattan. Describing also his visit to Plymouth it paints a more detailed picture of that place in its early days than has come down to us from any English pen, and it ex plains even more clearly than do Bradford's letters why the New Netherlanders felt afraid of Bradford's people. When De Rasieres reached Manomet, he says, the Englishmen there had just built a shallop to seek for wampum among the Nar ragansett Indians but he had prevented them for that year by selling them fifty fathoms of it because he feared that . . . the seeking for it would lead them to discover our trade in furs which, if they were to find it out, it would be a great trouble for us to maintain, for they already dare to threaten that if we will not leave off dealing with that people they will be obliged to seek other means ; if they do that now while they are yet ignorant how the case stands, what will they do when they do get a notion of it? Another mile-stone in the history of New Netherland was set in the year 1629.
At this time, six years after the organization of the West ' India Company had swept all the profits of traffic with the province into its coffers, its directors reported to the States General that, although the trade was 'right advantageous,' one year with another it returned at the most 50,000 guilders, while the expense of maintaining the plantations was very great for as yet the settlers were not a profit but a loss to the Company. In 1624, it appears, the Amsterdam Chamber ' had exported to Manhattan something more than 25,000 guilders' worth of goods while the returns, wholly in furs and timber, were valued at 27,000 guilders; and in 1627 the imports like the exports amounted to about 56,000 guilders. Meanwhile, the cost of the little colonial establishment and of transatlantic carriage was borne, of course, by the Chamber.
A more considerable trade in commodities of various kinds might be built up with the province, the directors asserted, probably on the witness of Dc Rasieres; but the soil being full of 'weeds and wild productions' could not be properly cultivated because of the scantiness of the population. A wish to own land seems to have been awakening among the settlers; at least, Michaelius begged that the directors would inform him how he might 'possess a portion of land' and at his own expense support himself thereon. And according to Kiliaen Van Rensselaer the Company had so neglected and mismanaged the affairs of its province that it was now driven to invite the cooperation of individuals.
There were, it appears, two parties among the directors, one favoring the colonization of the province, the other advocating its maintenance as a mere station for trade in the belief that colonists would prove a burden rather than a source of profit and would despoil the Company of the fur trade. After much discussion, however, a scheme to further and to regulate colonization was agreed upon and, as embodied in a so-called Charter of Freedoms (or Privileges) and Exemptions, was ratified by the States General in June, 1629, and in printed form distributed through the fatherland.
By the terms of this charter the Company reserved for itself the island of Manhattan. Elsewhere persons of any sort of whom the director-general and council approved were to be permitted to take up, on their own account or that of some 'master,' as much land as they could properly cultivate and were to enjoy 'free liberty in hunting and fowling . . . in private and public woods and waters about their colonies.' Such persons were called 'freemen' or 'free merchants.' Much greater privileges were secured to any member of the Company who should engage to take out within four years at his own cost and risk fifty adult settlers. He might claim lands stretching sixteen English miles along the seacoast or one side of a navigable river, or eight miles along both sides of a river, and might exchange them for others should they prove undesirable. The introduction of more settlers would entitle him to more land; and within his domain he was to be a semi-independent `patroon' or 'lord' with gaming and fishing rights, mill rights, tenths from the harvests and other privileges such as the great landowners of the fatherland enjoyed, with civil and criminal jurisdiction, the power to appoint all magistrates, and the right to send a delegate annually to Fort Amsterdam to consult with the director general and council regarding affairs of common interest. These provisions marked the first step toward local self government in New Netherland.
The people whom a patroon should send out were to bind themselves for a term of years and during this term were to be his subjects, swearing fealty to him and pledging them selves not to leave his land and control. The Company promised to supply the patroons with African slaves if pos sible; and to encourage immigrants to become their tenants. it exempted their people but not the 'free' merchants or colonists for ten years from all obligation to pay taxes to the provincial government. No free colonist was to claim land within twenty-four miles of a patroonship.
On the other hand the Company strictly ordered all colonists including the patroons to satisfy the Indians for their lands. It forbade them upon pain of banishment to manufacture cloth or stuffs of any kind lest, of course, its own profits from the exportation of necessaries be diminished. It directed the patroons to render formal annual reports upon their colonies, and enjoined them to establish churches and schools. The most hotly debated point when the charter was framed had been the question of the fur trade. The final decision was that the patroons might trade the produce of their farms for furs in places where the Company stationed no commis sary but must pay a tax of one guilder on each skin. In other commodities they might trade along the coast from Newfound land to Carolina upon condition that they would bring their cargoes to Manhattan and there pay a duty of five per cent before reshipping them, and would send fish not to Holland but only to neutral countries upon payment of an export duty of three guilders a ton. All these prohibitions and limitations were set because the Company intended 'to people the Island of the Manathes first.' But as it had reserved Manhattan for itself this simply meant that its aim in trying to people any part of its province was to draw commercial profit from the settlers' enterprises. It was to transport colonists and goods at reasonable rates, cattle and farm implements free. If no Company ships were ready patroons might use their own, tak ing on board an official of the Company; and for ten years they were to pay no import duties. Furthermore the Com pany promised to finish at once the fort on Manhattan and to put it in good posture of defence.
Possibly the West India Company got the idea of establish ing patroonships in New Netherland from the great estates called ' captaincies ' created by the Portuguese in Brazil. It can hardly be doubted that one of the reasons for creating them was a belief that the desire not merely for wealth but also for rank and power based upon the ownership of land would be a potent spur to effort in the New World as it was in the Old, and that it might here be gratified by arrange ments similar to those which the Old World had inherited from feudal times; for in Holland the great landed estates shared with the cities and chartered towns those rights of local self-government upon which the whole structure of the provincial and federal governments reposed. Nevertheless, the oft-repeated statement that the establishment of patroon ships in New Netherland transplanted feudalism to its soil is not true except in a much modified sense. It is not true as it would be if applied to French arrangements in Canada; it is less true than it would be of the original arrangements in Maryland. The New Netherland patroonships were seign iorial but not feudal properties; estates of the kind called in Holland new fiefs, nova feuda ; estates divested of all burdensome attributes, hereditary allodial lands. Their owners were soon empowered to sell them in fee in whole or in part and, in whole or in part, to devise them as they might desire. They were given no military power and were directed to rule their people in accordance with laws which the Assem bly of the XIX should frame. And their people were not serfs but tenants; they were bound by their own free act and only for short specified terms, and they had a right of appeal from the patroon's court to that of the director-general at Fort Amsterdam in all cases involving more than fifty guild ers. Nor did these patroonships influence the development of New Netherland and New York as profoundly as is often said. They did not multiply and flourish as the West India Company expected or as tradition vaguely but persistently affirms. In fact only one patroonship succeeded and survived.
This was established by Kiliaen Van Rensselaer who be longed by birth to the landed gentry of the fatherland, having an ancestral estate near Nykerk in the present province of Guelderland, but was educated as a merchant and in 1629, when he was about fifty years of age, was well known as a dealer in pearls and jewels at Amsterdam. Next to the directors of the West India Company stood a body of large stock-holders called Chief Participants. They were not en gaged in the daily management of the Company yet their consent was needed for any important decision, annual re ports and accounts were submitted to them, and it had been agreed that the first two vacancies in the board of directors should be filled from their ranks. Van Rensselaer was the first director received into the Amsterdam Chamber in ac cordance with this rule and also, apparently, the first of the special commissioners appointed from time to time from among the directors to attend to the affairs of New Nether land. He seems to have been active in furthering the despatch of Jesse De Forest's pioneer band of emigrants; and certainly from the beginning he was the leading spirit in the party that favored the colonizing of the province by agricultural settlers.
His Letter-Book, a Memorial that he addressed to the West India Company in 1633, and a number of other papers, private and official, relating to the concerns of the province were pre served by his descendants in Holland but were made known to students only about twenty years ago and were not pub lished in their entirety until the State of New York issued them in an English translation in 1908. They throw new light not only upon Van Rensselaer's own activities but also upon the attitude of the Company toward its province and upon the character and conduct of some of its employees; and they add another name to the list, long supposed complete, of the governors of New Netherland.
It had been stipulated that directors intending to plant colonies under the Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions might send two agents to examine the country; in January, 1629, six months before the charter was ratified, Van Rens selaer, Samuel Blommaert, and Samuel Godyn announced their intention to do so ; and during the summer of this year sites for several patroonships were actually claimed. Michiel Paauw, Lord of Achtienhoven, an estate near Utrecht, claimed lands on the west shore of the North River opposite Manhat tan an advantageous place as the Indians frequented it who came to trade their furs with the Dutchmen and an island in the West Indies. Blommaert chose lands on the Fresh River, Godyn lands on the south shore of the bay of the South River, and Albert Conraedtsen Burgh a tract on the opposite shore of this bay and also the island of St. Vin cent. And in this and the following year Van Rensselaer secured great tracts on the North River above and below Fort Orange, buying them of the Indians through his agents one of whom was Bastiaen Janssen Crol, the Company's com missary or director at the fort.
To legalize such acquisitions of territory Director-General Minuit in council signed and sealed deeds which pledged the savages to abide by their compacts and confirmed the pur chasers in their rights. The oldest document preserved in the archives of the State of New York is the deed which thus ratified Paauw's purchase of the lands called Hobocan Hackingh' opposite Manhattan, now covered by the city of Hoboken. It defines boundaries as precisely as was possible with an unsurveyed tract, and says that certain Indians act ing for the other joint owners' were present when it was signed, on July 12, 1630. The deed attesting Godyn's right to the South River tract was given in the same month, Van Rensselaer's deed for the first of his purchases in August. Thus Paauw, Godyn, and Van Rensselaer became respectively the first landowners within the borders of the present States of New Jersey, Delaware, and New York.
Deeds of this kind sanctioning purchase from the Indians are usually referred to as 'land patents.' Deeds which in after years confirmed a colonist in the possession of lands already occupied for some time, or granted him by the provincial government from those in its own hands, are called 'ground briefs' from the Dutch term grondbrief. Both kinds were public records essential to validity of title. 'Transports' or transfers, mortgages, and all other private compacts in which real estate was involved were also officially attested and recorded; and records of this sort, as well as land patents and ground briefs, were preserved in the office of the secretary of the province but in a separate series distinct from those relat ing to transactions in which the government figured. Thus immediately and systematically the Dutch introduced into the New World practices assuring the validity of titles and facilitating transfers of land which had prevailed in various parts of the Netherlands for generations before they were perfected and made general in the time of Charles V, but which were utterly unknown in the England of the seventeenth century and, indeed, are still to be desired in the England of to-day.
Michiel Paauw, latinizing his surname which in English would be Peacock, called his patroonship Pavonia, a name still kept alive by the Pavonia Ferry. Although there is a village near Antwerp called Hoboken and a surname thence derived was known in New Netherland, Hobocan Hackingh, which survives as Hoboken, seems to have been an Indian name, a belief corroborated by the fact that the Dutchmen spelled it variously with no apparent memory of the Flemish village in mind.
Paauw kept in his own hands the settlement, management, and possible profits of his patroonship. But before Van Rensselaer, Blomrnaert, and Godyn obtained their lands they agreed to develop them on joint account, each patroonship under the personal direction of one of the four who should have a two-fifth share therein (his associates having each a one-fifth share) with the title Patroon and the right to expend on his own responsibility sums of less than 2000 guilders. In this fashion Van Rensselaer retained the management of the North River patroonship to which he gave the name of his estate at home, Rensselaerswyck.
None of these Amsterdam investors ever came to America but they and others continued to take up lands. Van Rens selaer, Blommaert, and Godyn each claimed a West Indian island, and six members of the Zealand Chamber likewise declared themselves as patroons in the West Indies or on the coast of Guiana. Before the end of 1630 Paauw enlarged Pavonia by securing the adjoining tract where Jersey City stands and the whole of Staten Island. A deposition made in 1659 by Cornelis Melyn who had then for some years owned the greater part of Staten Island says, without mentioning Paauw, that on July 12, 1630, it was bought by Minuit for the West India Company and that the Indians received for it `some duffels, kettles, axes, hoes, wampum, drilling awls, jews'-harps, and divers other small wares.' Van Rensselaer at once enlarged Rensselaerswyck, purchas ing lands on both banks of the river. In some ways his site was even better than Paauw's. If the fact that Fort Orange was a Company fur-trading post forbade him to gather pelts near by, on the other hand the fort promised protection for his people, and he could hope for profit in selling provisions to the garrison. The Company's commissary, Crol, not only acted as his agent in buying lands but also supervised the laying out of farms when, before the end of 1630, the first settlers arrived ; and, with Governor Minuit's permission, the Company's laborers aided in the work. In January, 1631, Van Rensselaer sent out another band of settlers tobacco planters, two Scandinavians to run a sawmill and a grist mill, and some laborers. Brick and tile kilns were soon started, and thus was established in New Netherland the only patroonship that was destined to exist for more than a few precarious years.