Blanche McManus.

How the Dutch came to Manhattan: online

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Colonial Monographs



Other books in the

. • . Series of Colonial Monographs

.' . by Blanch McManus are


Small 4to, with 80 illustrations,



Small 4to, with 80 illustrations,



Small Ifto, with 80 illustrations.




\i5i i^\^

Copyright, 1897,


E. R. Herrick & Ca


THE Story of the Dutch of New Amsterdam
has often been told in scholarly prose, but the
picturesque feature of romantic fact has seldom, if
ever, received the acknowledgment which it seems to
deserve and require.

As a nation of sea-farers and traders, the Dutch
acquired an enviable reputation, and for them to
have so successfully founded a commercial colony
was but to have been expected.

The history of the city of New York has been
ably and exhaustively treated by many notable writers,
and to them, as well as to other prolific sources, we
are indebted for the verification of our facts.

The arrangement herein follows no previously
conceived plan or outline, except that it supplements
the first book of the series, " The Voyage of the
Mayflower," but forms in itself a true chronicle of
the events of the early Dutch occupation of Man-
hattan Island from its beginnings to its final reversion
into English hands.

Personalities have been avoided, except so far as


has seemed necessary and advisable in order to
retain the point and purpose of the text ; namely,
that it shall appear pleasing and attractive as well
as truthful and correct ; for the same reason general-
ities mostly have been dealt with, and a detailed
statement only expressed where it commemorates
some especially significant event.

Supplementing this, the drawings have been made
with a like regard for fidelity and authenticity, and
idealized only where deemed permissible and ap-

As is true of the other older cities in America,
abundant evidence still exists in New York to
remind one of the early days ; the peculiar formation
of the island has made any radical change in the
laying out of the city impossible, hence any his-
torical account must bespeak with praise in reference
to the judgment and foresight of its founders and

" A noble tale well told, of valiant deeds well
done," is an epigram from an ancient tome, which it
is to be hoped will be merited in some measure by
the contents of this book.



The Discovery of Manhattan 9

The Settlement 23

The Dutch Governors 29

English Control 65

The Second Occupation of the Dutch 75






THE GLORY OF Manhattan
has ever been its prestige
in tlie world of commerce and of
trade ; a metropolis where the
merchants of the world might
find a market for their wares.
Amid these conditions and the
influences acquired at the de-
mands of commerce, a mighty
and glorious city has arisen.

Relatively, it was the same
state of affairs which existed in
the early days when the traffic
with the Netherlands, in the furs
and skins of the Indian trader,
made necessary its rise from a
mere trading post to the leading
city of the American continent.

Its dealings with the foreign
world made its aspect truly cos-


mopolitan, a condition which
did not exist in reference to any
of the other colonies then estab-

Jamestown was practically a
farming, home-making settle-
ment, and Plymouth at that
time merely a refuge for a per-
secuted people. Hence it is but
small wonder that a city of trade
should be established and prosper
in a location midway between the
two. Geographically Manhattan
Island occupies the natural loca-
tion where such a commercial
venture could but prosper, and
which has since received the
recognition, as was its due — a
fact which, shorn of all its view
of sentiment, is still romantic :

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from the days of Hendrik Hud-
son's venture - seeking voyage ;
through the occupation of the
various Dutch governors ; the
rule of Great Britain ; the sec-
ond tenure of the Dutch ;
again to revert to English con-
trol ; and, finally, the era of
American independence, under
which the present city of New
York has thriven and advanced.
The island of Manhattan was,
at this time, a mass of wood-
crowned hills and grassy valleys,
extending northward from the
bay through a gently rolling
region of marsh and glade, and
peopled by Indians who, although
savages, were supposed to be of
a superior class to the average



red man encountered by the early

In the north were to be found
bear, deer, beaver, and innumer-
able wild fowl, which, as with
the Indian, served the Dutch as
edibles of great relish, as well as
proving valuable for the hides
and pelts.

The Indian inhabitants, known
as Manna -hattoes, paid much
attention to their appearance and
dress, which they fashioned from
the skins of the fur-bearing ani-
mals abounding thereabouts, and
decorated with beads and feathers.
Their crowns were shaven, and
moccasins of soft leather covered
their feet ; thus, with pipe and
tomahawk and bow and arrows.

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was constituted their individual
paraphernalia. They lived com-
monly in huts of a sufficient
size to accommodate comfortably
a half-dozen or more ; and, though
clannish to a certain extent, were
possessed of considerable know-
ledge and acquaintance of the
neighboring tribes. They were
great hunters and traders, and
the peltrie secured by all the
tribes in the vicinity, beyond
what was needed for their own
uses, ultimately found its way
into the store-houses of the Man-
hattan Indians, as soon after as
the first Dutch traders made the
demand therefore.

The standard of value by which
such transactions were bargained

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for was the wampum, the uni-
versal Indian money.

The wampum was made of the
interior of the conch shell, of two
colors, white, and bluish or pur-
plish black, of which the black
equaled in value two of the white ;
three black wampums being about
the value of two cents. The
shells were commonly strung to-
gether in belts of a certain stand-
ard width and six feet in length,
the black being valued at about
five dollars, and the white two
dollars and a half. Thus another
characteristic of the early stamp
of commerce upon the beginnings
of the city is made apparent, and
the seed afterward sown by the
Dutch burgomasters was propa-

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gated to an almost incalculable ex-
tent through the various transi-
tory periods unto the present day.
The discoverer of Manhattan
Island was undoubtedly Verra-
zano, a Florentine, who, under
the patronage of the French,
voyaged for the purpose of ex-
ploration and discovery through-
out the North Atlantic, and who,
in 1504, nearly one hundred and
twenty -five years before the
Dutch were finally ensconced as
proprietors, anchored his ship at
the " mouthe of an exceeding
greate streme of water," landed,
and erected a wooden cross bear-
ing a metal plate inscribed with
the royal arms of France, and
took possession of the land in the

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name of Francis, most Christian
King of France and Navarre.

Later voyagers passed and re-
passed the site of New Amster-
dam, but none thought it of suf-
ficient importance, or were en-
couraged to enter the bay or
prospect in the immediate neigh-
borhood, until the advent of
Hendrik Hudson, a venturesome
navigator descended from ances-
tors high in the circles of English
trade for many generations. Hud-
son was then on a voyage of
discovery for the Dutch East
India Company of Amsterdam,
with orders to locate, if possible,
the long-sought-for new route to
the Orient, a problem which has
since even remained unsolved.



Hudson's previous experience
and acquaintance with other
navigators and explorers seemed
to augur well for his ability to
carry out the plans of his em-
ployers. The expedition was
fitted out in a Dutch galliot, a
clumsy craft of eighty tons bur-
den, with square-sails on the two
forward masts, and a mixed crew
of twenty English and Dutch
sailors. His instructions were
" to search for nothing but a
northwest passage." If he failed
in this, he can hardly be said to
have erred in his final judgment
and report to the Company in
reference to Mannahatta, which
was, in the tongue of that day :

" This a good land to fall in

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with, lads, and a pleasant land to

Meeting with many hardships
and near approach to disaster,
Hudson sought diligently for the
hoped-for channel, but, finally,
after severe buffeting about in
northern waters, he was blown
southward as far as the coast of
Virginia. From here he cruised
northward until was sighted the
hills of Neversink. Here he an-
chored, at the portals of the
gateway to New York, on Sep-
tember 2, 1609.

On the following day the ship
was cautiously propelled up into
the lower bay. At some distance
Indians were observed paddling
about in canoes ; then were the

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first introductions to the original
settlers of Manhattan. The In-
dians soon drew near in their
canoes, and in an attempt at
parley offered tobacco as a peace-

On the eleventh of September
the craft came up through the
Narrows, and anchored in full
view of Manhattan Island, with
the great river stretching north-
ward even beyond the gaze or
knowledge of the explorers, and
which they believed was the long-
looked-for pathway to Cathay.
The following days were occu-
pied by the voyage up the river,
and on the seventeenth they ar-
rived opposite the present city of
Hudson. The final up-river point



which they reached is a mooted
question, although it is generally-
admitted that they got as far as
Castle Island, just below Albany,
and in an open boat proceeded
thence to the head of navigation.
On the twenty - third of the
month the ship dropped down
toward Manhattan Island, and
eleven days later sailed from the
mouth of the great North River
for Holland. Upon his arrival
Hudson reported to the officers
of the Company the results of
his discoveries, which inspired
those worthy officials to further
extend their interests and pro-
vince, and, if possible, to open up
trading relations with the natives.

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THROUGH the result of
some years negotiation a
plan for the development of the
trade was finally put into opera-
tion by the Dutch West India
Company, which was formed for
the purpose. One Adrian Block
in 1613 suffered the loss of his
vessel by fire as she was lying off
Manhattan Island loaded with
skins and about to set sail for

Block and his men were forced,
therefore, to spend the winter on
shore in huts, which they erected
from the timber at hand, sur-
rounding the hamlet by a palisade.
He named the settlement New
Amsterdam, in honor of the first
city of Holland. This is the first

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knowledge we have of actual set-
tlement on the island, and which,
it may be said, formed the begin-
nings of the present city.

Hitherto Manhattan Island
had been looked upon merely as
a trading post, but now, with a
full appreciation of its value and
importance as a settlement and a
province, attention was turned in
that direction, and immigration
set in soon after ; a charter being
granted to the Dutch West India
Company for purposes of trade
and colonization, the foundations
of the city were laid in earnest.

In 1623 the New Netherlands
a ship of two hundred and sixty
tons, brought over thirty Wal-
loon families, who were distrib-



uted at various points along the
Hudson River and the shores of
Long Island Sound, thereby ex-
tending and increasing the Dutch
occupation, under whose direc-
tion and rule they had emigrated.

The following year a treaty
alliance was formed between Hol-
land and Great Britain, which en-
couraged Holland to strengthen
her political, commercial, and
social status in the New World
by sending over still other bands
of settlers.

In this relation it is to be re-
corded, even unto the present
day, the preservation of the
Dutch characteristics of nomen-
clature, manners, and customs
noticeable alike in architecture.



furniture, and dress — in strong
contradistinction to the Eng-
lish influences so marked and
prevalent in the plantations of
Virginia and Plymouth.


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WITHIN a twelvemonth
Peter Minuit was com-
missioned Director -General of
the province, and was granted
power to preside over a council
of five to be appointed to assist
him in the government thereof.

Minuit arrived off New Am-
sterdam in May, 1626, in the ship
Sea Mew, and immediately upon
setting foot on shore inaugu-
rated what appeared at the time
to be a vigorous administration.
Up to now the Dutch had held
possession of Manhattan by right
of occupation only, but Minuit,
with due loyalty and energy,
sought to establish the right be-
yond assail, and accordingly con-
summated a treaty with the
Indians no less noteworthy or

di ill ib di iH m i» Hi


honorable than that of William
Penn with the Indians from be-
yond the Delaware.

The price paid for the full title
to the twenty-two thousand acres,
comprising Manhattan Island,
was sixty guilders, about twenty-
four dollars, in merchandise, con-
sisting of clothing and trinkets.

The territory acquired, with
the surrounding region already
claimed by the Dutch, was now
created a province and county of
Holland, and granted Armorial
distinction, that of an Earl or
Count — a beaver enclosed in a
shield and surmounted by an
Earl's coronet. The provisional
civil government was organized
in 1626, and from this time dates



the actual official recognition and
patronage toward the support of
the colony.

In Minuit's administration was
built a stone fort on the site of
the present Battery, where the
wooden palisade and earthwork
then stood. This fortification
was rectangular in form, built of
earth, and faced with stone hewn
from the extensive deposits in the
vicinity, and of sufficient size as
to be capable of harboring the
entire population in case of need.

Occupying such a strategic po-
sition at the confluence of the
North (Hudson's) and East
rivers, the site could hardly have
been improved upon for the pur-
pose. In the waters adjacent
thereto was the anchorage for



ships and the general rendezvous
of the Indians and traders from
roundabout — the Manna-hattoes
from the north, the Hackensacks
and Raritans from the west, the
Rockavvays, Canarsees, Shinne-
cocks, and Missiqueeges from
Long Island and the eastward.

Around this redoubt grew up
the little village, log huts at first,
and later stone or brick cottages,
which, with the advent of Petrus
Stuyvesant, was incorporated as
New Amsterdam — the name
under which the settlement had
been known since first given it
by Adrian Block in 1 613-14.

The Director also caused to be
built a horse-mill for grinding
corn, a staple article of food with
the Indian, and whose value was

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beginning to be appreciated by
the settlers. On the second floor
of the mill was a room intended
to be fitted up and set apart for
religious services. A stone build-
ing was also erected with a roof
of thatched straw for use as the
company's store-house. These
were all contained within the
walls of the fort, while clustered
beneath outside the walls were
the homes of the people.

During the first year of Min-
uit's regime there were exported
to Holland furs to the value of
nineteen thousand dollars, a state
of affairs which should have be-
tokened well for the future suc-
cess of the Director's administra-

The following year brought up



the question of the boundary line
between the Province and New
England, which for a time caused
some official uneasiness and inter-
course between Minuit and Gov-
ernor Bradford, but which, how-
ever, passed off finally without
serious complication, although
the question was still left in an
undecided and therefore unsettled

In 1632, for cogent reasons and
views held by the home govern-
ment, Minuit's administration
came to an abrupt end ; and in
1633, twelve months or more
after he had sailed for Holland,
Wouter Van Twiller arrived in
the ship Salt Mountain, to con-
tinue the power vested in the title

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of Director-General or Governor
of the Province. Van Tvviller
arrived in State, accompanied by
a troop of one hundred and four
soldiers, who were to form the
military guard and garrison of
the fort. He was empowered
with civil and military authority
to proceed with the government
of the Province as he might
deem necessary for its proper ad-
vancement and improvement.
"Wouter Van Twiller," says Died-
rich Knickerbocker, " was five
feet six inches in height and six
feet five inches in circumference.
His head was a perfect sphere,
which rested sans neck on the top
of his backbone. His legs were
short but sturdy, and his two gray
eyes twinkled in his round face

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like stars in the firmament. His
habits were as regular as his per-
son was rotund, and his four daily-
meals, taken at regular intervals,
occupied exactly one hour each.
He smoked and doubted (he was
not of energetic or active disposi-
tion, be it recalled) in his leath-
ern-covered chair for eight hours,
and slept, or was supposed to have
done so, the remaining twelve."

A weaker, more vacillating, or
more thoroughly incompetent
governor could hardly have been
found. A former clerk in the
company's warehouse in Holland,
Van Twiller had no thought
above the gains of trade, and pos-
sessed absolutely no knowledge
or experience of civil or military



law and government. Hence his
control of the affairs of the Pro-
vince could meet with but scant
favor. He secured the post
through grace of family and
political influence, having married
the daughter of one of the
wealthy Patroons, and, being
himself a person of some means,
was doubtless considered a desira-
ble party for that reason as well.

With Van Twiller came Ever-
ardus Bogardus, a clergyman,
and Adam Roelandsen, a school-
teacher, the first in the Province,
and desirable members of the
community they proved to be.

Van Twiller had still further
work done upon the fortifications
started by the former Governor,
and also built within, a barracks

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for the soldiers, likewise a wooden
church, or rather a separate build-
ing to be used as a church. This
was located on the East River
shore, and nearby a graveyard
was plotted, and an additional
three windmills built — the ever
useful servant of the Dutch, al-
though stigmatized by the In-
dians as a foul spirit, they being
much afraid of its "long waving
arms and grinding teeth."

In addition to these varied im-
provements, several other brick
and stone buildings were at once
erected, producing collectively
evidences of a striking and grati-
fying growth. The houses were
generally of one type, often of
brick imported from Holland,

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and roofed or slated with tiles,
also imported ; gable ends, pictur-
esquely notched, as was the fash-
ion, wooden shutters for each
small window, the doors, gener-
ally divided into an upper and
lower half, as is the custom in
Holland even at the present day.
The whole surmounted, at the
apex of the gable, by a weather-

Two principal roadways were
laid out, one extending north-
ward from the fort through the
interior of the island, the other
running along the shore to the
ferry landing on the East River.

The ferry to Long Island was
attended by a farmer who Hved
near by, and who might be called




from his other occupations by
persons desiring to be trans-
ported across the river, by a blast
from a horn which hung from a
tree near at hand, the rate of fare
for foot passengers being three
stivers of wampum.

Here, too, was the " Cage "
and the Whipping-post, where
Van Twiller was wont to practice
his favorite mode of punishment
for mild offenses, that of hanging
the culprit suspended by a girdle
around the waist in mid-air for
as short or long a time as the
offense might seem to warrant.

During Van Twiller's incum-
bency was inaugurated the system
of Patroons, a sort of manorial
grant or privilege, whereby cer-

ds IK dt m SUB i» oi


tain wealthy persons were al-
lowed to establish colonies inter-
dependent with the provincial
rule, and in consideration of their
being able to influence fifty or
more persons to migrate in a
body and accompany them hither
for purposes of colonization, they
were granted in fee simple the
rights to a tract of land sixteen
miles in length and eight miles
in width. The title of Patroon,
or Lord of the Manor, was be-
stowed upon all who could and
would so found colonies. This
attracted many sturdy burghers
from Holland, as well as noble-
men of wealth and social posi-
tion, who gladly welcomed a
plan whereby they might acquire

ffi ffi IB w ib m ^ ih


still further wealth, dignity, and

Being impressed by the results
attained by the Indians in the
neighborhood in the cultivation
of maize, beans, and such like
truck for food, Van Twiller was
desirous that the community itself
should produce such a sufficiency
of a like product as to be able to
ship it to Holland for home con-
sumption and for export ; accord-
ingly were established a series of
small farms to be known as the
Company's Gardens or Bouwe-
ries. These gardens were located
immediately northward from the
settled portion of the Island ;
four on the Eastern shore and
two on the West shore. Besides



the cornfields and cabbage gar-
dens, here also bloomed in bright
array the native sun-flowers, bell-
flowers and yellow lilies, all in true
keeping with the then distinctive,
though now corrupt and incon-
gruous, name — "The Bowery."

On farm number one was built
a dwelling house, barn, brewery,
and boat-house, the occupancy
and use of which the Governor
himself partook of, also purchas-
ing as his own personal property
Nut Island, now Governor's
Island, which, it may be stated,
has formed a lasting monument
to the memory of the sleek Van
Twiller and the period of his rule
over the city.

Van Twiller soon became the




largest individual land owner in
the Province, acquiring succes-
sively Great Barn and Blackwell's
Islands in the East River, and yet
other tracts on Manhattan Island
and the mainland.

Ere long Dominie Bogardus
proved to be an unruly member
of the settlement, publicly rebuk-
ing the Governor for some appa-
rent laxity, and perhaps justly,
although naturally resented by
Van Tv^iller, after which the
preacher anathematized him from
the pulpit as "a child of the
Devil," resulting in the Govern-
or's being doubly incensed. It
served, however, to rouse the
people to a recognition of the
exact state of affairs, although,

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of course, Van Twiller had his
adherents and partisans.

Two factions sprang up, and
the quarrel continued until it
finally culminated in his (Van
Twiller's) recall to Holland.

In 1638 William Kieft, a man
of far different stamp, although
of far less integrity as well, was
appointed to succeed him. Kieft
came to the post preceded by
various rumors to his discredit,
and was therefore somewhat cool-
ly received. He had previously
failed in business in Hull, and, as
was the custom, his portrait was
hung upon the gallows in the
public square, an ignominy befit-
ting the offense or default, as the
case may have been.

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Such an introduction was
hardly likely to inspire a great
amount of confidence at the start,
even should sanguine conjecture


Online LibraryBlanche McManusHow the Dutch came to Manhattan: → online text (page 1 of 2)