THE RISE OF LEISLER The eighth of this instant arrived by the way of Boston a messenger with two gracious letters, the one from their Majesties with orders to do and perform all things which to the place and office of his Majesty's Lieutenant-Governor and Commander-in-Chief of New York doth or may appertain until further order. — Jacob Leisler to the Governor of Barbacloes. December, 1689.
Little was known in New York of what had happened in the mother-country, but rumors had come by one channel or another and any acceptable half-truth was welcomed as a fact. It had been proposed in England to send out two com missioners to administer provisionally the affairs of the north ern colonies. Hearing this, both factions daily expected and heartily hoped for their arrival. They did not come nor did any orders. All authority, Van Cortlandt wrote, was `over thrown.' More exactly, it had crumbled away. Yet, says the Dutch letter of 1698, all would have remained quiet if only the officials who had `already given up the administration of affairs' had not tried to disturb everything and to expel from office those who now held `the power of arms in their hands.' From the pulpit Domine Selyns supported the cause of the old officials and with the greatest bitterness and partiality' accused the people of rebellion and riot. This made the breach `incurable'; and the people began ' greatly to hate' their magistrates, feeling that they ought to have been the leaders in what had been done wholly 'in uprightness for a good cause.' Truly, in June, 1689, no one except the militia held any authority on Manhattan; and it was of their own motion that they then shared it with others. Leisler exaggerated when he wrote that 'the most part of the country' had asked the rest to send representatives, two from each county, to form a committee of safety. It was the leaders of the insur gents, who comprised the most part of the people of the city and its vicinity, that had sent out circular letters containing this invitation by the hands of Captain De Peyster and Cap tain De Bruyn, explaining that it was especially needful to prepare an address to the new king and to consider the re pairing of the fort.
On the 26th delegates from six New York counties and from one place in East Jersey assembled in the fort. Two of them, it has often been written in our day, soon withdrew because they saw that the intention was to make Leisler commander-in-chief, ten remained, and these appointed themselves a committee of safety. But Leisler's letter shows that the counties were expected to return the actual mem bers of such a committee; the town of Newtown, it is re corded, sent delegates to Jamaica for the purpose of electing two persons to represent Queen's County on the committee of safety; and an Abstract of the Proceedings of the Committee of Safety of New York which covers almost two months from the time of its assembling says that the delegates from the respec tive counties at once presented their credentials as committee men.
It is not so easy to be sure who all these delegates were. Their names are usually given as Peter Delanoy, Samuel Edsall, Richard Panton, Thomas Williams, William Law rence, Matthias Harvey, Daniel De Klercke, Tennis Roelofse, Johannes Vermilye, and Jean Demarest; and these are in fact the names, denoting five Englishmen and five Dutchmen or Huguenots, signed to the two commissions which the com mittee soon issued to Captain Leisler. The Abstract, however, gives a longer and somewhat different list. It does not men tion Vermilye and Demarest who were old and respected residents of New Harlem; it says, and so Van Cortlandt said, that Edsall and Delanoy represented the city and county of New York, although the histories of Long Island, where Ed sall was then living, say he was sent by Queen's County; and it names as the other committeemen Williams and Pan ton of Westchester; Harvey and Richard Betts of Queen's; Gerardus Beekman and Myndert Coertens of King's; Jacques Puillon of Staten Island (Richmond County); William Law rence and Teunis Roelofse of Hackinsack (in Orange County) ; and Henry Lyon and John Curtis of Elizabethtown (in East Jersey). At all events Englishmen predominated on the com mittee which proceeded to organize the movement that the other faction called a ' Dutch plot.' The most notable of the Dutchmen, barring Delanoy, was Gerardus Beekman, a native born son of William Beekman the early settler. As he held a physician's diploma he had undoubtedly studied in Holland. He and Nicholas Stuyvesant had married sisters. He was living at Flatbush where Dongan had appointed him a lieu tenant-colonel of militia and a justice of the peace.
Three important counties, it will be noticed, stood aloof : Albany and Ulster, and Suffolk which hesitated but decided to try again to annex itself to Connecticut. Dutchess County was also unrepresented but it had scarcely an inhabitant. Cornwall had been lost to New York. And no one at this period seems to have remembered as a part of New York the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket which composed Duke's County. In the counties that were represented, says an opposition letter of the time, some towns had voted, some had not; and the committeemen were the 'greatest Oliverians' in the province, more than one of them openly declaring that since Oliver's day there had not been a lawful king in England.
As its moderator the committee elected Delanoy. As its clerk it appointed not one of its own members but Abraham Gouverneur, a young man familiar with the three languages of New York. He was the son of Nicholas Gouverneur, a French merchant who in Dutch and English times had passed his life partly on Manhattan, partly in France and Holland, and had been one of the three commissioners that signed for the merchants of Amsterdam their appeal on behalf of New Netherland when it passed for the second time to the English crown. Nicholas had married a Dutch New Yorker, a sister of the lady who married first Cornelis Steenwyck and then Domine Selyns; and it was he who carried to the West India Company the message which secured for Steenwyck in 1676 his commission as governor of Acadia. Abraham, born at Amsterdam in 1671, was only eighteen years of age when as secretary to the committee of safety of New York he began a long public career of many vicissitudes.
On June 26 the envoys from Connecticut, Gold and Fitch, addressed to 'Captain Leisler and the other Captains' who had been active in securing the fort in New York for his Majesty's service and the preservation and security of his territories, a letter of approval and advice, counselling them to remember the 'hellishly wicked and cruel' popish attempt on the powder magazine, to disarm all known papists, and to repair the fort and the guns. The writers promised the aid of Connecticut should it be needed, urged the captains to wait patiently for the orders and commands of the 'never equalled, commended, and admired King William, the very best this lower world knows,' and declared that justice re quired them to acknowledge the good service already done this sovereign by . . . noble and loyal Captain Leisler, whose loyalty, courage, prudence, pains, and charge hath been great, and you the other noble, courageous and loyal Captains, Lieutenants, Ensigns, Sergeants, and good soldiers in the train bands that hath been active in this affair, as also loyal Mr. Samuel Edsall and other good and worthy loyal gentlemen. . . .
This letter was dated from the fort — called no longer Fort James but for a while simply 'the Fort in New York' and then Fort William.
says the Abstract of its proceedings, it resolved to enlist a new militia company as a garrison for the fort, the men to be raised and paid 'in proportion' by the several counties rep resented on the committee. The newly arrived Frenchmen who had established the town that they called New•Rochelle in Westchester County sent word that they would contribute toward the outlays for defence. On the 28th the committee resolved to send an address to the crown and to appropriate the king's revenues received since June 1 toward the repairing of the fort. And, continuing the commissions of all the militia captains, it issued to Leisler a special commission declaring: . . . Captain Jacob Leisler shall be captain of the said fort . . . till orders shall come from their Majesties, and the said Captain Leisler shall have all aid and assistance, if need be and demanded by him, from city and country to suppress any foreign enemy and prevent all disorders which evidently may arise.
This was Leisler's first step above the heads of his fellow captains. As captain of the new military company — the first raised on Manhattan as a paid garrison — he had as his lieutenant William Churcher, as his ensign his quondam sergeant Joost Stoll. At once enlisting recruits, he summoned the people to notify him if they thought any of the men unfit to be trusted with the fort. Describing them in a letter to a friend at New Haven he said: There is seventeen born in New York, eight in old England, two French, known Protestants, two Swiss, four Hollanders, and I a Ger man, all known Protestants.
Connecticut promised to send ten men to strengthen the garrison. Massachusetts also expressed its sympathy with the insurgents. After confirming Delanoy as collector of customs and receiving a report on the condition of the forti fications the committee of safety adjourned. On July 1 Leisler began to exercise his newly conferred powers, signing custom-house passes and military orders as 'the Captain am pointed to secure the fort in New York for their Majesties William and Mary, King and Queen of England etc.' Neither Van Cortlandt nor the aldermen who sat with him in the mayor's court would recognize his authority. He told them, Van Cortlandt wrote, that the people were ready to ' hale them by the legs from the Town Hall' and that he would not interfere to prevent; and so the court adjourned for a month, hoping that in the interval the 'fury' might be allayed.
July passed more quietly on Manhattan than the month of June. Its most dramatic incident was the drowning, on his way back from Amboy, of one William Cox whom Leisler had sent to proclaim their Majesties in East Jersey. He was buried in great state wrote Van Cortlandt to Nicholson in England, — the whole town invited, gloves given to every man and woman, the flags at half-mast on the fort and on all the ships in the harbor, the drums beating 'mournfully,' and the guns all firing 'till he was in his grave.' There was `a good rich widow left,' says another account. She soon re married, thrice ; and as her third husband she chose a man destined to go to his grave in a very different way from the first, — William Kidd the pirate.
Meeting, after its adjournment, on July 22 the committee of safety called before it the former collector of customs; and, Van Cortlandt reported, Plowman 'as a madman gave them an account of the money in the fort, upon which they opened it.' This fund of about £770, says Loyalty Vindi cated, was thereafter spent `with great prudence' for the `safety and defence of the revolution.' By order of the com mittee Abraham Gouverneur and another made a list of the books, parcels, rolls, and papers in the secretary's office. It showed more than a hundred items including two copies of the acts of the late assembly. Colonel Bayard now rec ognized the authority of the committee in so far as it might serve, he hoped, his private interests, presenting to it a claim for money he had spent on the fortifications. Of course he asked in vain. Most of the work had been left undone.
Leisler completed it. Acting at first as captain of the fort, afterwards as appointed with Henry Cuyler by the committee to superintend the task, he put the walls of the fort and the buildings within it in good condition and opened a well which for some reason Dongan had filled up — a well which must have been dug since the surrender of 1664 as there was then none in the fort. Also, Leisler renewed and extended the other defences of the city, inspiring the people to long-con tinued diligence and even, says 'one of his own letters, enlist ing the children who in a single day collected more than a hundred loads of stones. Some of the cut stone intended for the fort, he also said, Dongan had used for a pigeon-cote, some James Graham had used in enlarging his house. Much of his own work was finished in August, including the chief of his innovations — a semicircular redoubt bearing six guns and built ' behind the fort on the flat rock to the west ward' where, he wrote, it defended `the landing of both rivers' and was itself defended by the fort. Long known as Leisler's Half-Moon, it was the first of the works which afterwards gave the locality still called the Battery its name.
Thus, says the affidavit of a New York seaman, Leisler provided for the `safety and defence' of the country much better than the deponent had ever known done in the time of the three preceding governors. He put the city in such `full posture of defence,' declares the Dutch letter of 1698, that his name was respected everywhere in the West Indies, and New York had no need to fear any attack from abroad.
Meanwhile, on August 2, Andros escaped from his prison, the castle in Boston harbor, but was soon apprehended at Newport and brought back. As all the colonies were in danger from the Indians, wrote Edward Randolph to the Lords of Trade, the governor had intended to try 'to moderate the minds of the people.' In New York the people thought that he had designs on their city; and they believed that, hoping to meet and to aid him, Colonel Dongan had gone as far as New London while Mayor Van Cortlandt and several others had started on the same errand.
Van Cortlandt and Philipse wrote to Blathwayt in England that the people were now very unruly and insolent, every thing was in confusion, no one paid duties save those who chose to, and the king should be urged to prevent, by send ing speedy relief and orders, the 'utter ruin' of the province and city whose trade and revenue were now `wholly destroyed.' The captains, Van Cortlandt wrote to Nicholson, could no longer control their men, and the self-constituted authorities were seizing and opening all letters, imprisoning whomsoever they saw fit, and releasing imprisoned debtors.
The Leislerian papers say nothing of disorder at this time or of insubordination. But Leisler and the committee of safety had in fact arrested a number of persons — among them Brandt Schuyler, a brother of the mayor of Albany, a brother-in-law of Van Cortlandt — because they spoke against the committee, refused to take their turns in stand ing guard, or otherwise showed what were considered signs of disloyalty to their Majesties. Even the anti-Leislerian Modest and Impartial Narrative does not assert that the prisoners were harshly treated. One was quickly released because his wife and son were sick. Another, sick himself, was sent home in a sedan-chair `by order of the gaoler Leisler.' Others were kept in confinement for as much as three weeks. Eight, wrote Leisler to Governor Treat on August 13, had just been set free upon taking the oath of allegiance, `and about us we are now, God be thanked, very quiet.' A letter written at this time to Nicholson by a Captain McKenzie indicates that Leisler's roughness and insolence were exag gerated by his enemies. To the great surprise of McKenzie, who had been arrested because he had landed on Manhattan secretly at night, Leisler and the committeemen treated him courteously, speaking `with as much smoothness and civility' as ever he had heard.
According to the Abstract the members of the committee had again `adjourned to their several counties' on July 25 after appointing seven of their number to be for the future a quorum. Nevertheless the others did not then disperse.
With the entries for August 15 the Abstract ends, for it was prepared to accompany an address which the committee then resolved to send to their Majesties by the hand of Ensign Stoll. But on the 16th all the ten committeemen who had signed Leisler's commission signed a second one extending his powers. Because, it says, the members who lived at a distance feared that they might not be able to stay in the city through the winter and no one knew when orders from England might come, therefore: . . . to direct all necessary matters touching the ruling and ordering of the inhabitants in the province . . . Captain Jacob Leisler is hereby appointed to exercise and use the power and authority of a Commander in-Chief of the said province, to administer such oaths to the people, to issue out such warrants, and order such matters as may be necessary and requisite to be done for the preservation and protection of the peace of the inhabitants, taking always seasonable advice with militia and civil authority as occasion shall require.
This second promotion of Captain Leisler, say various affi davits, met with popular approval. But, as William Smith wrote at a later day, his 'sudden investiture with supreme power' and the prospect that King William might approve of his course, . . . could not but excite the envy and jealousy of the late council and magistrates who had refused to join in the glorious work of the revolution, and hence the spring of their aversion both to the man and his measures.
The quiet of which Leisler boasted was soon broken. Four young men, coming from Boston without passes and in com pany with John Perry the postman, a suspected person, at once despatched a mounted messenger out of the city. This, Leisler wrote to Governor Bradstreet, excited a fear of a ' bad design,' the people still thinking that Andros was at liberty and in or near New York. Therefore he sounded an alarm and arrested the strangers; and when he released them, finding that they were harmless students from Harvard College travelling for pleasure, the act provoked 'great dis content.' If he did not exaggerate when he added that five hundred men in arms had responded to the alarm, evidently almost the whole population of the little city was on his side. But many Englishmen, his opponents said, were now leaving Manhattan; soon there would be few of any reputation left.
The address to the king and queen, signed on August 17 by Edsall and Delanoy for the committee of safety, declared the loyalty of the province and described the forming of the committee and its determination to defend the fort, which it had thoroughly repaired, against all their Majesties' enemies. With the Abstract and various affidavits and other confirma tory papers it was confided to Ensign Stoll and Matthew Clarkson, a brother-in-law of Captain Lodwyck. Leisler himself sent to their Majesties a long personal letter describ ing in detail the work on the fortifications, reciting the oc currences of the past months, and painting the loyal temper of the people. His commission as captain of the fort he mentioned but not the recent. one as commander-in-chief; probably when this was issued the letter had already been drafted. No one, he explained, now remained in the fort except the committee and the soldiers who had all taken the oath of fidelity. To administer the oath he had had to make use of a justice from Long Island — Gerardus Beekman as the justices of the city refused their services and had not had the `zeal' to tender the oath to the citizens. From other papers it appears that the city magistrates, when asked to swear the soldiers, said that they would do so if the men would come one by one to the City Hall. The men demanded to be sworn as a body.
Before the end of August Jacob Milborne returned from a voyage to Holland. Having recently been in England he assured the insurgents that the course of events there would certainly be held to justify their course in New York. From this time on he was Leisler's chief adviser, often his mouth piece, unquestionably the instigator of many of the words and deeds for which the commander was most severely blamed.
The up-river New Yorkers were managing their own con cerns with small regard to what was passing in the lower counties. On July 1 William and Mary were jubilantly pro claimed at Albany. Nicholas Bayard, fleeing from the threats of the New Yorkers, arrived there on the 5th. It may easily be imagined how his account of what had happened to him and his colleagues was received by his friends in a place which, because of the Bolting Acts, regarded Manhattan with a jealous antagonism. Although messengers sent by Leisler had tried to start a revolutionary movement in Albany and Ulster Counties, the people decided to maintain their old magistrates; and these magistrates declared, so Bayard wrote, that they were in no wise subordinate to the city of New York nor to the power then exercised therein.
On August 1 the Albany magistrates, justices, and militia officers formed themselves into a convention to manage all public affairs in their Majesties' interests. There was great fear of an instant attack from Canada; and there was great reason to fear, if not exactly this, at all events a border war into which New York would be drawn. The savages were again threatening the northeastern settlements of New Eng land where the eleven garrisons set by Governor Andros had either disbanded because they distrusted their officers or been greatly reduced because the revived colonial governments had no money to spend upon them. The New York Indians would not listen to the desire of the eastern tribes that they should lift the hatchet against all Christians of whatsoever nation; but at a time when Callieres, the governor of Mont real, was absent in France and Denonville suspected no danger they struck the French a terrible blow. In the night of August 4 fifteen hundred Iroquois braves fell upon Lachine on the upper point of the island of Montreal, burned the place, killed its sleeping inhabitants, spread over the island almost to the gates of Montreal itself, and when they retired to the mainland left two hundred Christians dead behind them and carried off more than a hundred to be slain by torture. It was the worst disaster that ever befell the French province.
It paralyzed the people and so demoralized Denonville that he forbade his lieutenants to pursue the Iroquois and, yielding to their haughty demands, ordered that Fort Frontenac, the invaluable frontier post on Lake Ontario, be demolished and abandoned.
It was not true, as the Canadians asserted, that the advice of Governor-General Andros, given at a time when France and England were at peace, had provoked this fierce onslaught. It was as false as the counter report, believed for a moment by the Iroquois, that Andros had given the Frenchmen leave to extirpate their tribes. Nor had the Albany authorities en couraged the Iroquois. There was nothing they wanted less than a war for which they were so ill prepared. The Iro quois themselves soon assured the New Englanders that they had not been incited to war by their ' brethren ' at Albany. They had determined of themselves to revenge their injuries and had not even told their brethren of their plans until their braves had been for a fortnight on the march. But by the time when they sent a report of their success to Albany the magistrates knew that France and England were at war and that the eastern Indians, instigated by the French, had taken the fort at Pemaquid and killed or captured some forty persons. So, congratulating the Iroquois on their great victory, they urged them to follow it up without delay ; and, they added, if the French attempt anything, warn us as we shall warn you.
Robert Livingston had lent some money to the convention. It promised to repay him six months after orders should come from England, and, laboring to raise more funds, to put the fort in good condition, and to enlist men for the frontier, it also sought aid from Manhattan. On September 4 it sent an express with a letter to ' Captain Leisler and the rest of the militia officers' asking for ammunition, money, and a hundred men. Returning on the 17th the messenger reported that Leisler had said he had nothing to do with the civil power; he was a soldier and to a soldier would write. Addressing, in fact, two of the militia officers at Albany he explained that there was no public money to give and that no volunteers could be raised in New York, for the people felt that Albany had slighted them. He sent, however, some powder which belonged to Albany merchants with four small cannon and the advice that Albany should choose two representatives to join the government at New York.
Disappointed in this quarter the convention, speaking for the Mohawks as well as the white men, asked Massachusetts and Connecticut to send two hundred men to remain through the winter. Overburdened by the troubles on its own frontier Massachusetts could only promise that, with Plymouth, it would contribute some soldiers toward a company to be raised in Connecticut. Connecticut notified Leisler that the ten it had sent him would be transferred to Albany but that it would instantly give aid should New York be attacked. The Five Nations, refusing the request of the New Englanders that they would join with them against the eastern Indians, declared that they would stand with their lives by the men of Albany should the French come against them.
Writing at this time from Albany to Randolph at Boston Bayard averred that only Edsall and Delanoy were now ad vising Leisler; as even Delanoy would put his name to noth ing, Leisler took everything upon himself ; and many believed that, even if the arrival of a new governor were delayed, never theless the rebels would soon and suddenly fall. In reality the committee of safety was still acting in concert with Leisler, and Jacob Milborne was advising him. And it was Milborne, some of their adversaries affirmed, who in September prompted a new and important move. The city records mention only its outcome, but the anti-Leislerian Modest and Impartial Narrative describes it. By the commander-in-chief and the committee of safety the Protestant freemen of all the counties represented on the committee were directed to hold the annual elections at the usual time and to elect not only such officials as the laws of previous years had permitted them to choose but also the justices and militia officers who should have been appointed by the governor. In the city they duly voted on Michaelmas Day, September 29, the day appointed by the Dongan Charter. And, early in October, another city election was ordered for the choice of the higher officials, mayor, sheriff, and town clerk, whose appointment also had rested with the governor of the province.
On the day of the first election in the city its results were laid before the common council — the old magistrates who were then holding in the City Hall their first meeting since the month of March. The six newly elected aldermen were John Spratt (not to be confounded with John Spragge the former provincial secretary), Captain De Bruyn, three others with Dutch names, and Robert Walters, an Englishman and a son-in-law of Leisler. Leisler, says the Modest and Impartial Narrative, forced Walters' election by challenging the vote of Major Brockholls on the ground that he was a papist, and by proffering with his own vote those of his son Jacob and of Walters himself. All the six assistant aldermen and all but one of the constables bore Dutch names.
The revolutionists must now have got possession of the City Hall, for three common council meetings over which Van Cortlandt presided early in October, before the new magistrates took office, were held at the house of one of the old aldermen. They were devoted wholly to the considera tion of the treasurer's books and of outstanding accounts. After the minutes of the third, on October 7, stands in the same book an entry saying that, the committee of safety having ordered the election of such officers, Peter Delanoy had been returned as mayor, Johannes Johnson as sheriff, and Abraham Gouverneur as town clerk. And then follows an entry signed by Leisler on the 14th saying that, as specially empowered by the committee of safety, he confirmed the election of all the new officials and required all inhabitants of the city to yield them due obedience. Meanwhile the old mayor's court had met, after its adjournment for a month, on October 8. Failing of a quorum it once more adjourned for a fortnight. It did not meet again. So died out in 1689 the last remnant of the government that Charles and James Stuart had established on Manhattan in 1664.
According to Bayard the revolutionists had at first set up in New York without any commission or authority, 'an illegal and arbitrary power ruling by the sword,' and there was nothing to which Captain Leisler was more 'averse . . . than a civil government.' Again he did not speak truth. The chief things that Leisler and his friends had done after secur ing the fort they had asked in vain the councillors or the magistrates to do; and they were under no compulsion to organize a civil government. This proceeding Bayard now made the ground for fresh complaints against them, saying that those who had issued the writs did not seem to know that all inferior officials had been confirmed by royal proc lamation, and that they had violated the royal prerogative. In fact, so far as can be read, no royal proclamation had yet reached New York except the one that related to the kingdom, not the colonies; and although the elections did violate the prerogative there was no other way in which the insurgent leaders could secure a civil government except by a more flagrant violation — by themselves assuming powers of ap pointment.
This 'undue election,' wrote Bayard, had seated 'several malicious, senseless, unfit, and mean persons and some of very ill lives and conversation.' Knowing it to be illegal, says the Modest and Impartial Narrative, 'far the greatest number' of the inhabitants of the city did not appear; for no other reason did they object to it; nor would the writers of the Narrative themselves be `offended' if it should please King William to add unto their former privileges the right to elect all their magistrates. It would be interesting:to know just how large a proportion of the citizens really joined in the election that seated Peter Delanoy as mayor, for no mayor was again seated in New York by a vote of the people until 1834. Then they elected Cornelius W. Lawrence, a descend ant of the William Lawrence who, with his brother Thomas and the more conspicuous John, had settled in New Nether land at an early day.
The William Lawrence who was serving on the committee of safety, it may be noted, was of the second generation, a son of Thomas. His wife was a daughter of Samuel Edsall. He himself, his father, and his brother, John by name, adhered to the popular party. His uncle John stood with the con servatives both before and after he was turned out of his office as alderman by the election of 1689.
Evidently `our Masaniello,' as the Narrative calls Leisler, and the 'unsafe committee' had not banished all papists from New York as William's adherents in England banished them from London. Brockholls, who had married a Dutch New Yorker, had ventured to return and to try to vote at an elec tion to which only Protestants had been summoned ; and Plowman also was in or near the city, writing to England requests for another appointment and advising that two hundred soldiers should be sent out 'to awe these rebellious Dutchmen.' It was at this time that Leisler bought lands for the Hugue nots intending to come over from England. Those of their compatriots who had started the settlement at New Rochelle had bought small properties from John Pell, the second proprietor of Pelham Manor. And this seems to have been the reason why Leisler decided to buy of Pell six thousand acres, two-thirds of the manor, paying a price unusually large for that period, £1625 sterling `in current money of the province,' and promising a yearly rent of `one fat calf.' The deed, signed on September 20, names none of Leisler's military titles; it calls him simply 'Jacob Leisler of the city of New York, merchant.' During the year 1690, while his hands were overfull of public work and trouble, he sold off the whole of the tract to incoming Frenchmen. It now forms the township of New Rochelle.
The new magistrates were sworn in on the day when Leisler certified to their election — October 14, the birthday of James Stuart but the day set by the Dongan Charter for municipal installations. At once they appointed a high constable and a marshal and ordered that to the constable the late mayor should deliver the seal of the city, its charter, and all other public papers in his keeping. The constable reported that he had presented this mandate to Mrs. Van Cortlandt who ' did throw it out the doors.' Van Cortlandt should be constrained to do his duty, the magistrates soon reported to Leisler, for he always absented himself, and his wife declared that if they wanted the charter and seal they must take them by force. According to Bayard their emissaries had used force, trying to constrain 'Mrs. Mayoress' and `grossly abusing, assaulting, and battering' her in her own house ; and 'the mayor,' mean ing of course Van Cortlandt, had been so threatened that he had to leave the city secretly. He and Bayard, William Smith explains, finding it 'impossible to raise a party' against Leisler at New York turned their attention to `fomenting the opposition' to him at Albany.
At Albany also elections were held at the proper time but in accordance with the terms of the city charter, the appoint ive officials holding over. The oath of allegiance to their Majesties was administered to magistrates and militia-men, and also to the citizens at large because `divers persons' had falsely spoken as though the people of the city were more affected to King James than to his successors.
Bayard now wrote from Albany to some of the militia captains in New York directing them as their colonel and as a king's councillor to cease abetting Leisler and the others who had subverted the government without any shadow of author ity from their Majesties, and to submit themselves to the commands of the civil government which had been established by law; for even though a governor were imprisoned, 'yea, dead,' he was but an inferior officer while the commissions were `matter of records.' Of course the only effect of these orders was to deepen the suspicion with which the Leislerians looked upon Bayard. It had been discovered, Leisler said, that he was engaged in a plot to retake Fort William. In the hope of securing the ringleaders in this plot several houses in the city were searched including those of Bayard, Van Cortlandt, and Domine Selyns. Some of the country folk came in to aid the citizens in watching the fort. And the oath of fidelity to the king and queen was again administered to all who would take it, together with an oath of obedience to the committee of safety `as the supreme authority' and to Leisler as commander-in-chief. Nevertheless the New York ers were not too much alarmed to disport themselves in loyal fashion, lighting bonfires and roasting whole oxen on Novem ber 4 and 5 — the one day being the anniversary of King William's birth and of his marriage, the other a customary holiday, Guy Fawkes' Day, and the anniversary of William's landing in England.
Toward the end of October it was reported at Albany that Leisler meant to send armed men to turn its government upside down and to make themselves masters of the fort. This, it was felt, would create divisions and so alarm the Iroquois that they would be tempted to make friends with the French. The convention sent an agent to New York to investigate and if needful to protest, saying that it would gladly receive reenforcements if put under its own control but could not pay the men and would not yield to anybody the control of the fort. Returning, the messenger confirmed the reports. The convention then summoned the people to the City Hall — as the old magistrates on Manhattan had never had the will or the wit to do. Forty of them signed a paper indorsing the course of the convention. And with less formality than had attended the promotion of Leisler to a similar post of responsibility, Mayor Schuyler was now appointed to the chief command in the fort.
On November 9 three sloops arrived from Manhattan flying the king's flag and bearing some fifty soldiers under command of Jacob Milborne. Refused admittance to the fort but in vited to explain himself at the City Hall, and there welcomed by some members of the convention, he addressed himself not to these but `with a high style and language' to the `common' people who thronged in, telling them that, as everything done during the reign of James II had been illegally done, even the charter of Albany was null and void, its magistrates had no right authority, and the people should proceed to a `free election.' He was asked for his credentials. The mayor had thought best to remain on guard in the fort. To the
recorder acting in his stead Milborne presented a letter which showed that Leisler certainly was not, as Bayard had asserted, taking everything upon himself. It was signed by twenty four persons calling themselves the committee chosen by the freemen and a council of war. The first names appended to it were Edsall's and Delanoy's. Among the others stood Leisler's as undistinguished by any title or sign of official superiority as the accompanying name of his young son. And so also stood the names of the militia captains De Peyster and De Bruyn and of some of the members of the committee of safety.
The signers of the letter, it said, were sending fifty men in arms who, they felt sure, would be useful, for they believed that all willing to be thought `of the Reformation' would agree in the measures which, following the example set in Eng land, they had taken in New York to prevent the `raging interest of the Roman Catholic party,' and the fruits of which New York was now reaping in 'tranquillity and peace.' To Jacob Milborne they gave `full power to consult, order, do, and perform' all that might be requisite for the king's service; and they desired that he might be amicably treated so that there would be no occasion for the enemy to take advantage of any disputes especially at a moment when they were 'upon such good terms of breaking the papist and arbitrary yokes from our necks forever.' Although Albany was just as well pleased as New York to be free from the yoke of James Stuart, its magistrates saw no reason why they should bend their necks to what they considered the yoke of the larger city. Nor was Jacob Mil borne the man to persuade them. Whatever verbal instructions may .have supplemented his letter of credence he • assumed a tone which the letter itself hardly warranted. Writing to the people of Schenectady and the other settlements in the county he advised and required them to repair at once to Albany to secure their rights and liberties 'in such manner as if the government of King James the Second . . . or any of his arbitrary commissions' had never existed ; and this, he said, he did by virtue of his own commission `to arrange and settle the affairs of .the city and county of Albany according to the constitution of the other counties of the province.' With the letter to Schenectady went one from Henry Cuyler which promised, apparently on no authority except his own, that the people of that town should have wider trading rights meaning that right to trade with the Indians which had been reserved to the people of Albany — and would undoubtedly `be preferred to those of Albany in the approaching new government.' Meanwhile on November 10 Milborne, invited by Mayor Schuyler to explain himself again before the convention, showed his commission signed by the signers of his letter of credence. The recorder informed him that a commission granted by a `company of private persons' was of no au thority. Milborne again addressed the `common people' in the same strain as before. There had been a free election according to the city charter, he was told; with his 'smooth tongue and pretended commission' he aimed at nothing but to raise mutiny and sedition; if he should have his way everything would 'run into confusion' especially as concerned the Indians; therefore he should desist from such discourses, for the magistrates would no longer dispute with S him. Nevertheless the convention decided to meet again on the following day to discuss methods of quartering the men sent for its assistance who were suffering hardship by lying on board their vessels.
On the following day the City Hall was so full of a multitude of people gathered 'in an illegal manner,' largely country folk, that the convention had to meet at the recorder's house. Thrice it ordered the people to disperse; but about a hundred of them, 'most youths and them that were no freeholders,' chose Lieutenant Jochim Staats of the Albany militia to be captain of the soldiers from New York. Staats was a relative of Dr. Samuel Staats, a prominent Leislerian at New York. `Contrary to the order of the convention of which he was a member' he accepted the proffered post. So `raging and mutinous' were the people that some members of the con vention withdrew in fear of their lives, `all which was oc casioned by the instigation of Jacob Milborne' who had come `with no other design than to overthrow all.' So reads the record of events kept for the Albany magis trates by Robert Livingston. Unfortunately it cannot be checked by any account written from Milborne's point of view. It is evident, however, that Milborne was exasper atingly aggressive, probably much more aggressive than those who sent him had intended, while the magistrates showed a praiseworthy desire to compromise, to preserve harmony, and to restrain popular excitement. After various confer ences they said that if the New York troops would recognize the authority of eight designated members of the convention, one of them being Mayor Schuyler, the convention would recognize Staats as their captain, would take them into service until March, 1690, or until orders from the king should come, and would feed and lodge them and treat them well. Mil borne's ultimatum was that some one unconnected with the civil power should have control of the fort and that an account of its munitions and stores should be rendered to himself. Bringing his soldiers into the town where `the burghers of that faction' received them in their houses without 'lawful authority,' he marched them to the fort and demanded ad mittance. Schuyler bade him depart with his `seditious company.' A band of Mohawks, gathered near by, threatened to fire upon the strangers should they disturb their friends in the fort. After much parleying and reading of papers Milborne led his men away. The next day he signed a con tract regarding their support with certain `private but extreme active men in these revolutions.' Then he departed for New York leaving his men in `confusion,' for only after much persuading had they consented to accept Staats as their captain. On his way down the river Milborne stopped at Kingston but there also 'accomplished nothing,' the people knowing of his ill success at Albany. The chief thing he had accomplished at Albany and at Schenectady was to foster into open outbreaks dissensions which before he came the magistrates had been able to keep in hand.
A few days later Captain Bull of Connecticut and eighty seven men marched into Albany and were received by the magistrates with much honor, `orderly quartered in the city, and extremely well accepted.' These reenforcements from New England were put under command of the convention which promised to pay the officers. To Bull and to Staats it now presented the needs of the `out plantations' like Sche nectady where the foe from the north might first be expected. After much discussion Bull detailed thirty of his men for their protection. Staats refused to divide his smaller force but pledged himself to act in no way against the orders of the convention.
Nothing, William Smith explains, could have been more `egregiously foolish' than the conduct of both parties in New York in 1689. Leisler should have been content when Albany declared for King William, but he was 'inebriated with his new-gotten power.' On the other hand the Albany magis trates ought 'in prudence' to have given their fort into his hands rather than sacrifice peace and concord to 'the trifling honor of resisting a man who had no evil designs,' but they could not ' brook a submission to the authority of a man mean in his abilities and inferior in his degree.' The reader of to day, with much more contemporaneous evidence before him than Smith can have had, sees excuses for both sides. The men of Albany knew that the Five Nations trusted them as they trusted no one else; and they understood, much better than Leisler and his friends, the vast importance of keeping the savages faithful, and the consequent need to keep them in a confident and an amiable temper. The excuse for the Leislerians is that they rightly felt that to consolidate the province and its military and pecuniary resources was the only way to prepare it for an attack from the north or from the sea, and the best way to enlist the sympathy and the aid of the other colonies. It would be easier, however, to weigh the justifications of the one party against those of the other were it known in how far Milborne's manners and methods misrepresented the intentions of those who had sent him.
During these autumn months Leisler was corresponding on friendly and equal terms, as the commander-in-chief of his Majesty's forces in New York, with the governors of Con necticut and Massachusetts, of Pennsylvania and Barbadoes, and with the new assembly of Maryland and its new governor, John Coode. From Philadelphia he got much-needed sup plies of powder, from Maryland and Barbadoes much-desired European news. Lieutenant-Governor Nicholson's adver saries in New York had believed, since the time of his secret departure, that he would not dare to show his face in England but would turn privateer or, as Leisler wrote to Barbadoes, would join with other persons popishly and evilly affected' in some plot against the Protestants of New York. With such fears the Marylanders sympathized. While Leisler wrote to Coode that he had heard that some of the `papist grandees' of Maryland were at Philadelphia and meant to come nearer to confer with those of their kind `for some bad design,' Coode assured him that three popish priests who had fled from Maryland with three small vessels certainly had `a design towards' New York, and asked for any further information about them which might lead to a discovery of the great scheme that was evidently on foot. Such confirmations of Leisler's worst fears, coupled with the general acknowl edgment of his new station and responsibilities, go far to explain why he felt it both necessary and proper to do what ever he could to bring all parts of the province together under his own control.
Late in November Coode wrote that a packet-boat had arrived from England bringing the formal announcement that the king had declared war against France and the promise of a ' great squadron of ships' to protect the West Indies and the other English plantations. Then, early in December, the Voice of the king speaking directly to New York was heard at last, but in such a way that it merely deepened discord.
An almost unsupportable burden lay upon William III. He had to contend with the distrust and the misunderstandings which the rule of a foreigner, and of one who was the military head of a rival state, naturally aroused in the minds even of those Englishmen who had most deeply felt the need to ask his aid. He had to guard against the intrigues and to suppress the open assaults of a large minority in England and Scotland, of a great majority in Ireland, and to try to win over multi tudes of the wavering, to hearten multitudes of the lukewarm. He had to care for the interests of the United Provinces as sedu lously as for those of England while in each country soothing or overriding jealousies of the other and of its claims upon his attention. And all this was but part of the preparation he was making for the great effort to which his life was vowed — the effort to destroy or effectually to cripple the power of Catholic France. The other part was the task of bringing together and holding together not only monarchical England and republican Holland but also as many as possible of the other major and minor powers of Europe, individually selfish and shifty, mutually envious and jealous.
In September, 1688, Louis XIV had moved his armies upon Alsace and Lorraine, impelled, it seems, less by the reasons he published than by a wish so to absorb the attention of the Prince of Orange that he would be unable to go to the aid of England. When later in the year he heard that the prince had landed in England, he declared war against Holland but attacked the borders of Germany, sanctioning that dreadful devastation of the Palatinate which is one of the blackest blots upon the name of war. In March, 1689, a month after William assumed the crown of the exiled James, James landed in Ireland with a French army; and, joined by his lord lieutenant, Dongan's uncle Tyrconnel whom William had not yet tried to displace, he entered Dublin on the 24th. Thus began in Ireland a struggle between the supporters of the old king and the new which lasted for two years and a half. For the crushing of an insurrection that broke out in Scotland a few months sufficed.
Two months after the soldiers of Louis entered Ireland, on May 7, William as king of England declared war against him. This was the time when Louis decided to attempt the conquest of New York and gave his cruel instructions to Count Frontenac. By the end of the year William as stad holder of Holland had formed against France an alliance, defensive and offensive, which included almost all the princes of Europe, Catholic as well as Protestant ; and into this Great Alliance England soon entered. The great war thus initiated continued until the peace of Ryswick was signed in 1697; and it spread into America where it is remembered as King William's War, a name that it might well have borne in Eu rope. It was the first European war in which the colonies were involved.
William might be held excusable if, during the years when the destinies of all Europe depended more upon him than upon any one else, he had paid scant attention to the colonies on the other side of an ocean wider in that day than is half the circuit of the earth in our own. From the beginning, however, he gave them much attention. He professed for them, says Chalmers, 'a particular care.' The same is true of his advisers. It is one of the most curious facts in the history of the writing of histories that Lord Macaulay's long and laudatory record of William's reign scarcely indicates that the king or his councillors knew that English colonies existed.
In April, when Phips was carrying to Boston the orders so long delayed that they found Governor-General Andros fast in jail, the privy council had directed that those most interested in colonial affairs should present the names of persons suitable for the offices of governor and lieutenant governor in the plantations. On May 2 the king, upon the advice of the Lords of Trade, instructed them to frame at once such a government for the northern colonies as would enable them to present a united front to the French with whom war was then imminent. In June the packet-boat whose arrival Coode in due time announced to Leisler was despatched with letters to the governors of Virginia, Mary land, and Pennsylvania. By the middle of July the first prayer for instructions from the councillors at New York, the testimony of the messenger who brought them (one John Riggs who had served as an ensign under Andros in New England), a petition from Andros himself, the constant pres sure from New England, and the counsels of its Nonconformist sympathizers in England had worked together to decide the king and his advisers not to try to perpetuate the great Do minion created by James II. Lists of the names of persons thought suitable to govern one colony or another were sub mitted to the king — for New York at first the names of a Colonel Slingsby and a Colonel Sankey but in a 'final list' drawn up by the Lords of Trade those of Colonel Henry Sloughter and of Captain Nicholson, no one yet knowing that Nicholson had quitted his post. Before, however, a choice was made, the secretary of state on behalf of King William signed on July 30 a personal letter of instructions addressed : To our trusty and well-beloved Francis Nicholson, Esquire, our Lieutenant-Governor and Commander-in-chief of our Province of New York in America. And in his absence to such as for the time being take care for preserving the peace and administering the laws in our said Province of New York in America.
As the king, he wrote, understood from the letters of Nicholson and the 'principal inhabitants' of New York that they were ready to receive his orders, he now informed them that he was taking such resolutions concerning their province as would insure the welfare of its inhabitants. Meanwhile he authorized and empowered the addressee . . . to take upon you the government of the said province calling to your assistance in the administration thereof the principle free holders and inhabitants of the same or so many of them as you shall think fit. Willing and requiring you to do and perform all things which to the place and office of our Lieutenant-Governor and Com mander-in-Chief of our Province of New York doth or may appertain as you shall find necessary for our service and the good government of our subjects according to the laws and customs of our said Province until further orders from us. . . .
With these instructions the privy council sent an order to proclaim their Majesties at New York if this had not already been done, addressing it, except for a necessary change in pronouns, as the instructions were addressed.
Another royal letter, also dated July 30, authorized those who had taken upon themselves the government of Massachu setts to continue in the same until the king should give direc tions 'for the more orderly settlement of the government.' With this went a requisition that Andros, Randolph, and the other officials then in confinement at Boston be sent to Eng land by the first ship, to answer before the king what might be charged against them. And on these papers the super scription read : To such as for the time being take care for preserving the peace and administering the laws in our colony of the Massachusetts Bay in New England in America.
Increase Mather, still acting as agent for New England, was content with the king's orders, believing that the bill to revive all charters that had been valid in 1660 would soon become law. In fact, it failed to become law before the letters were actually despatched. On December 4 they reached Boston. Those for New York had been intrusted to John Riggs. Before he started, Nicholson had arrived in London. Nevertheless Riggs was not detained nor were the instructions altered even by a change in the superscription. Coming by way of Boston Riggs reached New York on Sunday, De cember 8. What then happened may best be told in words that Nicholas Bayard wrote to Leisler a few weeks later when he was begging for his release from jail and therefore wrote respectfully. At the time in question, he explained, he had come secretly from Albany to New York to see his son who was very ill. Riggs, believing that in Nicholson's absence the packets should be delivered to the other council lors, notified Philipse of his arrival. Philipse took him to Bayard's house where the matter was discussed. Riggs said that he did not believe Leisler would receive the packets even if they were tendered him, and promised to give them to the councilors when Van Cortlandt should join the others. But the next morning, before they could meet, Bayard was in formed that upon Leisler's demand the packets had been delivered to him.
At the moment Bayard did not content himself with so simple a statement as this. On December 10 he dated and a few days later he finished letters to Andros, to Nicholson, and to Shrewsbury, William's secretary of state, all of which he sent by the hand of John Riggs to Sir Edmund at Boston, sending also the Deduction and Narrative that he had prepared for Nicholson to use in England as evidence against the Leis lerians. In one or another of these papers he said that Riggs had suffered himself to be overhectored by the grand robber Leisler,' had been cajolled' by `that villain Leisler.' In con sequence the condition of himself and his friends was much worse than ever, for the rebels were now `as proud as Lucifers,' pretending to `some glimpse of authority from their Majes ties' though in reality usurping powers which their Majesties had meant to bestow upon the councillors. Had the coun cillors secured the packets they would undoubtedly have `resettled the government,' for most of the people had grown sensible of their errors. Now, however, Leisler was entitled `Lieutenant-Governor and Commander-in-Chief by command from their Majesties.' He had already seated himself in the governor's pew in the church 'with a large carpet before him.' Henry Cuyler 'that betrayed the fort, a silly fool and coward,' was made major of the soldiers. Moreover, Leisler had formed a council, and the committee of safety was 'laid aside.' Other documents show that Van Cortlandt, who was evi dently not far away, had hurried to the city when he heard of Riggs's arrival. Leisler had sent a lieutenant and two sergeants to bring Riggs to the fort. By Riggs's desire Philipse and Van Cortlandt accompanied him or met him there. Whether or not Bayard was asked and refused to go can only be conjectured. Although all who were present knew what the king had written to Boston none. knew what he had written to New York. The councilors claimed the packets, believing that William was aware that Nicholson had left the province in their charge. Leisler also claimed them, believing that the king understood that, here as in New England, James's appointees had been cast down and that he therefore intended to sanction, here as at Boston, the people's provisional ar rangements. After the matter had been debated, says the affidavit of Isaac De Riemer who was present, Riggs said that he would deliver the packets to Leisler if Leisler would give him a receipt for them, which was done `without any force or compulsion used to the said Mr. Riggs.' Another affidavit says that just after Riggs had landed in Massa chusetts he told the, deponent that ' he knew not better' than to give his packets to Mr. Leisler ' being he was governor in New York.' A sworn statement signed by Philipse and Van Cortlandt tells how they had tried in vain to get the packets, adding that Leisler had called them papists and used many other opprobrious words. But when the question was settled, say Bayard's letters, Philipse submitted to all the 'irregularities' imposed upon him by `those villians' ; and thus leading them to think that his colleagues should be `regulated by his scandalous submission to avoid a little trouble and charge' hd was doing the other councillors and the old magistrates ' much hurt.' The rebellion, Bayard now averred, had been first contrived by Leisler and some few others not only out of ambition but chiefly in the hope of destroying the revenue and thereby reaping personal advantage. The most part of the inhabitants of New York, King's, Queen's, and West chester counties and of Bergen County in East Jersey were `concerned in the rebellion' while the rest of the people in both provinces abhorred it. Orders from England, Bayard hoped, might reach New York before his letters could reach England—orders `for the subduing and punishment of the chief rebels' and for the `relief and reward of all their Majesties' loyal and suffering subjects that have done their duties.' Meanwhile, he explained, he thought it best for himself to ' abscond ' again.
It cannot now be divined whether, when the king's instruc tions were sent unchanged although Nicholson's flight from New York was known, it was intended that they should reach the hands of the councillors or of the revolutionary leaders. Probably the question was not even debated, the precise fate of the orders was thought unimportant. The desire of the king, based on the advice of the Lords of Trade, was simply to have things go as quietly as possible in the northern colonies until he could make for them permanent arrangements. The contingent form of address devised as well for the letters to Massachusetts as for those to New York shows that he and his advisers did not wish to indorse any local faction to the exclusion of a possible rival faction. Arty, they may well have thought, might have fallen from a dominant to an op position party before the king's instructions could arrive; and in such a case a definite superscription might provoke the very troubles they wished to prevent. To this neutral policy they adhered until a new governor set sail for Man hattan, making no response to the conflicting reports and appeals that were pouring in from the province. But, owing to the long delay in sending the governor, a policy which seemed the wisest and safest proved for New York the worst that its sovereign could have adopted.
Although the three councilors so affirmed, it is not probable that if they had secured the packets from the king they would have been able to ' resettle ' a government which they had been powerless to maintain. They had not shown the courage or the intelligence needed to master a populace which, while really willing to submit to the king's commands, would not easily have believed that he meant to support officials who, in New York as in Massachusetts, had been set aside by the popu lar hand. It seems possible that if the councillors had secured the letters, and even if Leisler had then recognized their authority, civil war might have broken out.
On the other hand no one who believed that Leisler was justified in retaining the letters could doubt his right to as sume the title, duties, and powers of a lieutenant-governor, not as by mere force of circumstances Nicholson's successor but as King William's actual if unknown and provisional appointee. William had ordered those who might be in power in Massachusetts to `continue' the conduct of public affairs. But he had directed the recipient of the letter to New York to `take upon' himself the conduct of affairs and to consider himself for the time being lieutenant-governor and commander-in-chief. Leisler's only logical course, his only possible course, was either to acknowledge that the instructions were not meant for him and to yield all authority into the hands of Frederick Philipse as the senior councillor or else to assume at once the new titles and the full powers that they implied. This he did, all testimony indicates, with the entire approval of the committee of safety which he had thus far recognized as being the `supreme authority' in the province until royal commands should come.
In deference to the commands that now had come, and speaking as their Majesties' appointee, on December 10 he caused them to be again proclaimed according to the form that had been enclosed with the king's letter. On the 11th he proceeded to call to his aid some of the principal inhabit ants. Summoning in consultation a number of his immediate supporters, upon their recommendation, so the record runs, he accepted and established eight councillors. Three were of English origin, five of Dutch. From Queen's County Samuel Edsall was selected, from King's Dr. Gerardus Beek man, from Westchester Thomas Williams, from Orange William Lawrence, and from the city and county of New York Peter Delanoy the new mayor, Hendrick Jansen Van Veurden one of the newly elected aldermen who was as often called simply Jansen, Dr. Samuel Staats a New Yorker by birth who had studied medicine in Holland, and Johannes Vermilye one of the original patentees of New Harlem. Most of them had been members of the committee of safety. Before the end of the year three more councillors were putting their names to public papers : Johannes Van Couwenhoven who was another alderman, Hendrick Cuyler, and Captain Blagge an English-born shipmaster of long transatlantic experience. In after years Edward Antill, a prominent merchant who was always an anti-Leislerian, declared that when Leisler was brought to trial in 1691 he asked him to act as his counsel. Because of the careless orthography of the time this has sometimes been read to mean that Antill was once offered a place on Leisler's council.
Many orders issued by Leisler and his council are preserved but only a few fragments of the minutes of their proceedings. The first of these is the record of a resolution that Jacob Mil borne be appointed secretary of the province and clerk to the council and that Mayor Delanoy be commissioned as collector. A goodly family party was thus gathered at the council board, for four who had seats there — Milborne, Delanoy, Lawrence, and Blagge — were sons-in-law of another, Samuel Edsall.
Up to this time Delanoy had merely taken from the mer chants, in the stead of customs dues, notes to be paid when required; now he began to collect the dues in the king's name. And now in the king's name Leisler began to issue civil and military commissions — to high sheriffs, justices, and militia officers for all the southern counties including Suffolk. They said that the appointees were 'thus to continue until I receive further orders from his Majesty King William.' English names are many on the civil list but appear only once or twice on the list of the twenty-one militia officers of the city. Among the six captains who had been elected by the people in September were only two of those who had led the uprising, De Peyster and De Bruyn. One of the new captains was Leisler's English son-in-law Robert Walters.
Leisler did not publicly proclaim his appointment as lieu tenant-governor and, his enemies declared, would not show the royal instructions to any except his own partisans. To the governors of other colonies, however, he announced that he had received the king's commission, giving no sign that he felt the slightest doubt of the legality of his course. All the southern parts of the province accepted his authority except the eastern half of Long Island ; and even here in Suf folk there was no preference for his opponents — only a desire for annexation to Connecticut.
The feeling of the opposition leaders need not be imagined. It is plainly recorded. Leisler was 'an incorrigible brutish coxcomb' and a `villainous usurper.' The godmother in the bestowal of his new title, says the Modest and Impartial Narrative, was ambition, the godfather was Mr. Milborne, and both promised on his behalf that he would faithfully serve and `cleave to the Infernal Prince and his works' as long as 'the many-headed beast the multitude' would stand by him William Nicolls, justifying the Leislerian epithet ' passionate Mr. Nicolls,' wrote : Out of hell certainly never was such a pack of ignorant, scandalous, false, malicious, impudent, impertinent rascals herded together; they are the shame and infamy of all that may be called government.
And Matthew Plowman did not confine himself to words, for an order of arrest issued at this time charged him with using scurrilous language about the king's officials and with beating a justice on Staten Island.
Writing on the 12th to Randolph, still in jail at Boston, Van Cortlandt said that Leisler had sent for the seal of the province. This meant the old one given by James as duke, for the later one Andros had broken when the province was gathered into the Dominion of New England. After alter ing the ducal coronet it bore into a royal crown Leisler used it in signing commissions and land patents, evidently in ignorance that he was thus infringing the royal prerogative.
On December 14 the new government, in insistent need of money, directed that the customs and excise dues be col lected according to the revenue act passed by the assembly of 1683. The order was torn down from the door of the custom-house and a contemptuous paper affixed in its stead by persons signing themselves English freemen of the province. As the revenue act of 1683, they said, had never been ap proved by James either as duke or as king its imposition violated Magna Carta and the liberties of English subjects. Those who thus spoke, said Leisler's government, falsely construed `the wholesome laws of England' and ignored that act of the freemen of New York which had declared that supreme authority should forever reside, under the crown, ' in a Governor, Council, and the people met in General As sembly.' He might have added with truth that James as duke had approved both this act, embodied in the Charter of Liberties, and the revenue act, and that he had let the revenue act stand when, as king, he repealed the Charter.
In accordance also with the acts of the assembly of 1683 Leisler ordered the erection in the several counties of local courts to try small cases. On December 28 he issued to Captain Staats at Albany an order to take possession in the king's name of the fort there, to discipline his soldiers strictly, and to consult upon all occasions with the civil magistrates `in what may concern them' regarding the interests of the king and the welfare of the people. As he informed Staats, he had directed the magistracy to order a free election for new magistrates, and he was willing that certain persons, whom he named, should be chosen `if the people will elect them.' Furthermore he directed all persons in the province who held commissions from Andros or Dongan to deliver them to the justices of their respective counties upon pain of being con sidered ill-affected to the existing government.
While he was thus trying to consolidate his own authority he was thinking of broader colonial affairs. To one Nicholas Rust he issued a commission to attempt with twenty-five volunteers the reduction of Kaderockqua,' the far-distant Fort Frontenac, not knowing that it had already been aban doned. The fort was to be 'razed down to the ground' to insure so far as possible that it would never be rebuilt, the Frenchmen were to receive ' Christian quarter . . . if desired,' and none were to be given to the Indians 'to exercise their cruelty over them.' It was the desire to possess the wide rich lands in the valley of the Ohio that eventually precipitated the war between French and English for continental dominion. Leisler and his generation had long passed away before either English men or Frenchmen seriously thought of exploiting these lands; but there is in existence a paper attributed to the month of December, 1689, which shows that certain individuals already coveted them, for reasons which in part were sensible although in part fantastic enough. The paper is headed: ' Account of a country for which a patent is desired in North America.' The country is described as lying in the centre of the continent between thirty-six and a half and forty-six and a half degrees of north latitude and between the western skirts of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania and 'the Pacific or South Sea.' In it there were two vast lakes, the lesser six thousand miles in circumference and as navigable as the ocean. Between them ran a great river, navigable for great ships almost fifteen hundred miles from the sea but barred by many great falls. To annex this country would deprive the French of some of the richest branches of their commerce, for the fur trade, worth to them at least £50,000 a year, would be cut off should the English settle on the hither side of 'the cataract.' More over, there was great mineral wealth, the iron being better than in England. There were cinnabar and several kinds of dye-woods. Silk-worms and the cochineal fly could be raised. There were vast quantities of cotton and flax growing wild, fruits and timber, innumerable birds and beasts. And among the beasts were 'infinite numbers of Pesikions or Sibils,' a species, unknown till recently to Europeans, which had hair of the nature of Spanish wool and fit for many manufactures. May this be thought an early glimpse of the bisons of the West ?