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colonists having been released from their oaths, of his lots being taken
from him, or of the establishment of a court at Fort Orange. As to
cutting timber, it was taken from so limited a section that no one was
injured, while the claim that the jurisdiction of Fort Orange had been
extended was without foundation, as that jurisdiction was fixed "before
the colony of Rensselaerwyck was granted." Gerrit Swart, it was held,
had not been discharged from his oath to the patroon, but was simply
compelled to take a second oath to the company. The demand for the
rolls and other papers was authorized by the charter, and as Van
vSlechtenhorst would not toll the bell for publication of the placards,
it was clear that some other person had to do it, while his arrest was
justified as a necessary disciplinary measure. Authorizing the sale of
arms to the Indians was admitted.

On the heels of this attempt at justification of all their acts, the di-
rectors for the company now assumed the offensive and presented to
the Amsterdam government counter-charges against the Rensselaerwyck
authorities, rehearsing all the stock complaints with which the reader
is now familiar. They had exceeded their limits; had unlawfully ex
tended their trade along the North River; had refused passage to ves-
sels by a " certain house called Rensselaers-Stein;" had exacted seven
per cent, duty on each beaver and five per cent, on other goods, " en-
forcing these pretensions with cannon shot, whjch they discharged into
yachts which refused to come to;" they had endeavored " by perverse
machinations " to possess themselves of Fort Orange, and when un-
able to accomplish this purpose, illegally leased lots in its vicinity for
the building of houses thereon ; had forbidden colonists to move within
the company's limits on pain of corporal punishment, confiscation of
property and banishment; or to cut wood for the inhabitants of Fort
Orange. They had declined to furnish records of their proceedings or
judgments, or to make returns of writs of appeal; to. publish placards;
and, above all, the oath which the colonists were compelled to take was
"seditious and mutinous," for no notice " is taken therein, either of
their High Mightinesses or of the company." Continuing thus:




ISAAC W. VOSBURGH.



From all which flow, as a natural consequence, an insolent and overbearing de-
meanor, on the part of their commanders, to their inhabitants; insuiTerable protests,
injuries, menaces, disputes and provocations against the Company's ministers; and,
la.stly, a general disobedience of all the Company's commands and ordinances, to
such a degree that they would not permit the Director and Council to proclaim even
a day of prayer in the colony in the same manner as in other parts of New Nether-
land.

It will be seen from the foregoing that it was the same old difficulty
and although from this distance it seems somewhat insignificant and
largely fought on paper, it was, nevertheless, in those times and to
those people a struggle of serious import.

The Fort Orange limits were still undetermined in l(i54, and again
Stuyvesant called on the agents of the patroon to fix on their " point of
departure," so that he might allow them the charter stipulation of four
miles on one side or two miles on both sides of the river, "without the
limits of Fort Orange." The settlement of this matter was further de-
layed for instructions from Holland. Fresh fuel was about this time
added to the old fire by an order from Stuyvesant to his Fort Orange
court to collect the duties on all wine^, beers, and spirituous liquors
sold at retail "within a circuit of 1,000 rods of the fort." The area in
dispute was extending, and the colony was thus to be deprived of a very
important source of revenue. Counter orders were given by the pa-
troon's officers for the tapsters to refuse to pay the duties, as the gen-
eral government had defrayed none of the local expenses.

By this time Commissary Dyckman had become insane, as his pre-
vious conduct would seem to have foreshadowed, and he was succeeded
in office byjohannesde Decker, vice-director, "to preside in Fort Orange
and village of Beverwyck, in the Court of Justice of the Commissaries
aforesaid, to administer all the affairs of police and justice, as circum-
stances may require, in conformity with the instructions given by the
Director-General and Council, and to promote these for the best service
of the country and the prosperity of the inhabitants."

To enforce the collection of the liquor duties alluded to, the director
and council issued orders for the arrest of the tapsters. The new offi-
cial, De Decker, accordingly invited one of them to his house and there
made him prisoner. Officer and prisoner occupied the same bed the
ensuing night, but through the connivance of the soldier guard, the
tapster escaped the next morning and proceeded to the house of the
patroon. De Decker followed and ordered his return to the fort,
which was refused. The other tapsters now armed themselves and



43

joined in the common cause. Just as the vice-director was preparing'
to execute the orders of arrest by force, John B. Van Rensselaer came
forward and volunteered to go to Manhattan and arrange the matter
satisfactorily. To avoid possible bloodshed De Decker agreed to this:
but a few days later another order reached him to send down the taps-
ters without delay. He now proceeded to the dwellings of the offend-
ers with an armed squad, where he was met by Van Rensselaer and
others whom he summoned in the name of the director and council to
accompany him to the fort. All the tapsters referred the officer to
Van Rensselaer, who again pledged himself to produce the tapsters
whenever required. Van Rensselaer now went to New Amsterdam
and protested against the course pursued by the government, going-
over all the old ground and adding such new complaints as came to his
mind. However, to prevent further disturbance he would submit to
the payment of the excise under protest, but would not accede to the
payment of the tenths demanded, unless the director and council would
refund the money if a decision against them was ultimately given.
This remonstrance and proposal were pronounced frivolous by the
director and council: their "high office and quality would not permit
them to stoop so low as to enter the lists with their subjects and vas-
sals, much less to answer their frivolous and unfounded protests with
a pusillanimous diffidence." Their duty was rather " to correct such
absurd assertions, and to punish the offenders," wherefore, as an ex-
ample, the protestor was fined twenty guilders. They informed Van
Rensselaer that his colonists were bound equally with other settlers in
the province to contribute to the public revenue, and the excise due,
amounting to fifteen hundred guilders, must be paid, with all damages
accrued from the delay. The tapsters must, moreover, submit to the
periodical guaging of their liquors as often as required, and as John
Baptiste Van Rensselaer was to blame for the resistance of the tavern
keepers, he was commanded to give a bond of 3,000 guilders for the
appearance of the "contumacious tavern keepers," or otherwise to
remain at Manhattan under arrest. The council also insisted on the
payment of the tithes (tenths), but a stipulated sum would be ac-
cepted from Mr. Van Rensselaer in lieu of these until instructions could
be received from Holland. Other items in Van Rensselaer's remon-
strance were denied in general terms by the director and council, from
whom a proclamation was at once issued ordering all the towns and
colonies in the province not to remove their crops until the tenths were



43

paid to the company's commissaries. When this document reached the
Rensselaerwyck authorities they refused to publish it.

At about this time some of the tapsters who had been guarantied
against loss by Mr. Van Rensselaer, proceeded to Manhattan and were
there fined, one two hundred and another eight hundred guilders; both
of these fines were subsetiuently made good by the patroon. The ques-
tion of payment of tenths was not finally setted until 1658, when the
colony compounded for them by the annual payment of three hundred
schepels of wheat.

Father Isaac Jogues, one of the Jesuit missionaries mentioned in an
earlier chapter, had labored among the Mohawks for three or four years
during the period treated in the foregoing pages, but was treacherously
murdered by the Indians in October, 1G4G. This chapter may be
appropriately closed with his written description of Fort Orange and
Rensselaerwyck.

There are two things in this settlement . . : 1st, a wretched little fort, called
Fort Orange, built of stakes, with four or five pieces of cannon of Breteuil and as
many swivels. This has been reserved, and is maintained by the West India Com-
pany. This fort was formerly on an island in the river; it is now on the mainland
towards the Iroquois, a little above the said island. 2d, a colony sent here from
Rensselaer, who is the patroon. This colony is composed of about 100 persons, who
reside in some twenty or thirty houses built along the river, as each one found it
most convenient. In the principal house resides the patroon's agent. The minister
has his apart, in which service is performed. There is also a kind of bailiflf who ad-
ministers justice. All their houses are merely of boards and thatched. As yet there
is no mason work, except the chimneys. The forests furnish many large pines, they
make boards by means of their mills, which they have for the purpose. They found
some pieces of ground all ready, which the savages had already prepared, and in
which they sow wheat and oats for their beer and horses, of which they have a great
stock. There is little land fit for tillage, bemg crowded by hills, which are a bad
.soil. This obliges them to be separated one from the other, and they occupy already
two or three leagues of territory. Trade is free to all. This gives the Indians all
things cheaper, each of the Hollanders outbidding, and lieing satisfied, provided he
can gain some little profit.



CHAPTER VI.

Important changes were now imminent. Jeremias Van Rensselaer
succeeded his brother, Jan Baptiste, as director of the colony in I65S
and during the succeeding sixteen years conducted its affairs with dis-
cretion and justice as far as he was able. He fostered the amicable
relations of the settlers with the Indians, and gained a large influence
with the French who were then firmly establishing themselves to the
northward, thus laying the foundation of those conditions that in later
years averted many of the disastrous consequences of the war between
France and England. Stuyvesant's use of power had been just what
might have been foreseen from a man of his attributes and sentiments.
He was a stickler for the law, his rights and his dignity. To his mind all
power lay in the executive, and on every occasion he checked the lean-
ings of the Dutch towards that partial freedom which they craved and
to which they had been accustomed at home. He denied the right of
the people to assemble for the propagation of measures for the protec-
tion of public liberty. "Magistrates alone, and not all men," he con-
tended " are authorized so to assemble. We derive our authority from
God and the Company, not from a few ignorant subjects, and we alone
can call the people together." He thus assumed power and authoritv
which he could not maintain.

Since 1654 English encroachments upon the D.utch, dating almost
from the landing on Plymouth Rock, had constantly advanced. Con-
necticut was consolidated in April, 1662, under a charter confirming
the system already established. This charter came from Charles II
soon after his restoration, and defined boundaries and enlarged privileges.
In March, 1664, this sovereign granted a patent to his brother James,
Duke of York and Albany, for a large part of the present .State of
Maine, with Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, and Long Island, and the
territory from the west side of the Connecticut River to the east side
of Delaware Bay. Stuyvesant resisted the pretensions of the English
as long as he was able, but was finally forced to accept a compromise
embodying mutual forbearance and freedom for both the English and
the Dutch towns respectively from interference from either government.



45

This merely strengthened the claim which England had never once re-
linquished and left her in possession of all she had thus fargained.

In April, 1664, a fleet of four ships, with a force of three to four
hundred men, under command of Col. Richard Nicolls, acting as lieu-
tenant-governor for the duke, sailed for New England. Nicolls was
accompanied by Sir Robert Carr, Sir George Cartwright, and Samuel
Maverick, commissioned to settle all the New England difficulties, and
to take possession of the Dutch province and reduce its inhabitants t"
obedience. Arriving in Boston in July, the expedition sailed thence
a month later for New Amsterdam. When the English flag ship sailed
up the beautiful bay, Stuyvesant was at Fort Orange. He hastened
down the river and on the 39th sent a deputation to Nicolls demanding
an explanation of his intentions. These he very soon learned. New
Amsterdam was practically defenseless against the invasion and surren-
dered on the 8th of September, and vStuyvesant returned to Holland in
the following year.

While warring with the Indians, vainly endeavoring to subjugate
Connecticut, resisting the claims of the patroon of Rensselaerwyck and
ipiarreling with his immediate officers, Stuyvesant had been steadily
sacrificing his own welfare and tenure of office. Nothing now remained
for the English but to take possession, and the colonial interests
of Holland in the New World substantially ceased. When Stuyvesant
came into power in 1047 the population of New Netherland was only
about 1,000, a falling off of about 2,000 due to Kieft's folly, while the
New England colonies had increased in the preceding five years to nearly
60,000. They came slowly on toward Manhattan, though more rapidly
than the increase of the Dutch, and began the work that culminated in
American freedom a hundred years later.

The province now had a population of full I0,00(i. New Amsterdam
was given the name it has since borne — New York, while Fort Anistei-
dam was called Fort James. A trifling effort was made to resist the
English on the upper Hudson, Johannes de Decker having come u]) the
river and endeavored to persuade the garrison at Fort Orange to refuse
to surrender, but was unavailing. While the settlers were satisfied
with their trade and their farms, they did not like the previous gov-
ernment and its opposition to the patroon. They were ready for a
change. On the 10th of September Nicolls sent Sir George Cartwright
with a small company of soldiers to Fort Orange with the following
orders :



46

/(' the prest-nl Dfpuly Govtinor or the magistrates and hihahitants of Ffort

.1 tirania:

'J'hese are to will and require you and every of you to bee ayding and assisting
Col. George Cartwright in the prosecution of his Majesty's interest against all such
of what nation so-ever as shall oppose the peaceable surrender and quiet possession
of the flfort Aurania, and to obey him, the said George Cartwright, according to such
instructions as I have given him in case of the Mohawks or other Indians shall at-
tempt anything against the lives, goods or chattels of those who are now under the
protection and obedience of his Majesty of Great Brittaine; wherefore you nor any
of you are to fayle as yon will answer the contrary at your utmost perills.

Given under my hand and seal att Ffort James in New Yorke on Manhattans
Island, this lOth day of September, 1664. R. Nu oi is.

This document was presented to the vice-director, John de la Mon-
tague, on the 24th of that month, who quietly surrendered the fort,
and names of Beverwyck and Fort Orange at once gave way to Al-
bany, while the fort was manned by English soldiers with Capt. John
Manning in command. Dirck Van Schelluyne, who had held the office
for Beverwyck, was made clerk of the Court of Albany which Stuy-
vesant has established, and Jeremias Van Rensselaer took the oath of
allegiance to King Charles II of England and the proprietor, James.
("Governor Nicolls reorganized the government himself, calling a con-
vention for the purpose at Hempstead in March, UiOo.

Upon this change in the government some difficulty was met in ob-
taining a patent for Rensselaer manor from the duke. Mr. Van Rens-
selaer was counseled by influential friends to take out a patent in his
own name, he being qualified as a British subject to hold real estate.
To his honor it is recorded that he rejected the offer, for he was only
co-heir and would not thus defraud his brothers and sisters. He was
a man of great industry and high intelligence, and it was he who com-
municated to Holland an account of various occurrences in this country
under the name of the "New Netherland Mercury." He died on the
12th of October, 16S4.

On the 7th of August, 1Im3, a fleet of twenty-three Dutch ships in need
of wood and water, anchored just below Staten Island, the fleet being
under command of Commodores Cornelius Evertsen and Jacob Benckes.
Before such a fleet Manhattan Island was apparently defenseless, infor-
mation of which fact was conveyed to the vessels by the Dutch inhabi-
tants. The port was then under command of Capt. John Manning,
captain of an independent company, who on the 9th communicated to
the fleet a proposal to surrender, whereupon the vessels sailed up the
harbor, anchored under the fort landed their crews, and entered the



47

works without the firing of a shot on either side. For this surrender
Manning was afterwards tried and condemned.'

On the 13th of August the commodores organized a council of war
consisting of Capts. Anthony Colve, Nicholas Boes, and Abraham Ferd.
Van Zyll. In the next month Captain Colve was appointed temporary
governor and the fleet proceeded to its destination. The inhabitants
rejoiced, but only for a short time, for while Colve was hurriedly re-
storing the Dutch system, his government came to an abrupt close.
New Netherland was conceded to the English by the peace of West-
minster, March 6, 1(574, and in June a new patent was issued to the
Duke of York. On the 11th of July Colve officially announced that he
must surrender the province on a duly authorized demand. Articles
of capitulation were signed September 7; Fort Orange surrendered
October 5, and the Dutch and Swedes on South River capitulated Octo-
ber 12, and on the 10th of November Colve formally gave "New Nether-
lands and dependencies " over to "Governor Major Edmund Andros,.
on behalf of His Brittanic Majesty."^

The administration of Andros was exceedingly unpopular. When a
demand was made for popular assemblies, the Duke of York wrote
Andros that such assemblies were dangerous, and when he attempted
to force upon the colonists a law of his own manufacture establishing
the customs rate for three years, his subjects were bitterly incensed,
and on the expiration of this law the merchants refused to pay further
duties. The Duke of York was now fearful that the expenses of the
colony would come out of his own purse and sent out Colonel Don-
gan as governor, with power to convene a General Assembly, which
met at Fort James (New York) October 17, IGSiJ, Dongan having
arrived in August. The first act of this assembly was entitled " Char-
ter of Liberties and Privileges granted by His Royal Highness U) the
Inhabitants of New York and its dependencies." which was a ste]) on-
ward in the march of important events. The charter, in reality, "burst
the shell of feudalism," and set forth the rights for which the Dutch
and English colonists had striven for nearly half a century. The death
of the king raised doubt in Governor Dongans mind as to the legality
of the first assembly, and he therefore issued writs for the election of a
new one, but King James II, however, abolished the (General Assembl)'

■ The volurainuus papers relating to this trial may be found in Vol. Ill of Uoeumentarv His-
tory, pp. m-



Online LibraryAmasa J. (Amasa Junius) ParkerLandmarks of Albany County, New York → online text (page 3 of 138)