Copyright
Schuyler Van Rensselaer.

History of the city of New York in the seventeenth century online

. (page 26 of 48)
Online LibrarySchuyler Van RensselaerHistory of the city of New York in the seventeenth century → online text (page 26 of 48)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


were not to be compared in ostensible importance with the
similar bodies that served the cities of the fatherland. Yet
in their persons New Netherland saw the beginning of an elec-
tive judiciary; and although their power, outside of their
slender judicial functions, was merely a power of influence,
it was bestowed by charter as that of the Twelve Men and the
Eight Men had not been. Much more often the governor
hindered than helped them. They were chosen, says the
Remonstrance, to represent the entire commonalty,

. . . and it was in the commission and instructions declared that
what these men did should be the act of the whole people, and, indeed,
it was when it accorded with the Director's opinions and views. . . .
But when it happened otherwise, then they were boobies, usurpers,
rebels, and such like.

Nevertheless they proved themselves what their commission
bade them be the ' good spokesmen and agents of the com-
monalty.' They were really, as they were sometimes called,
the people's tribunes. And using them as a mouthpiece pub-
lic opinion in New Amsterdam soon demanded and secured
wider rights, more substantial privileges.



REFERENCE NOTES

PRINCIPAL PUBLISHED DOCUMENTS : Col. Docs., I, XIII, XIV (398) ;

Laws and Ordinances of New Netherland (270) ; Van Rensselaer

Bowier Manuscripts (513) ; Cal. Hist. MSS., Dutch (390).
GENERAL AUTHORITIES : Breeden Raedt (76) ; O'Callaghan, Hist, of

New Netherland, I, II (382) ; Brodhead, Hist, of New York, I

(405).

WEST INDIA COMPANY : see Reference Notes, Chap. I. REPORT OF
ITS BOARD OF ACCOUNTS: in Col. Docs., I, and in O'Callaghan,
Hist, of New Netherland, I, Appendix.

UNITED COLONIES OF NEW ENGLAND : Acts of the Commissioners of
New England (364) ; histories of New England. WINTHROP
(cited) : his History of New England (368) .

CORRESPONDENCE WITH NEW HAVEN : Records of the Colony and
Plantation of New Haven (372) ; Hazard, Historical Collections
(102) ; Extracts from Hazard in N. Y. Hist. Soc. Collections, 1809
(214). EATON TO WINTHROP: in Winthrop Papers in Mass.
Hist. Soc. Collections, 4th Series, VI.

SWEDES ON THE DELAWARE : see Reference Notes, Chap. V.

NEW HAVEN AND THE DELAWARE : Hazard, Historical Collections;
Winthrop, Hist, of New England.

PLOWDEN : see Reference Notes, Chap. I.

CASTELL'S SHORT DISCOVERY OF ... AMERICA: Extracts in N. Y.
Hist. Soc. Collections, 1857.

LUCINI MAP: Reproduced in Doc. Hist., I (397). Critical Essay
accompanying Fernow, New Netherland (383).

RENSSELAERSTEYN : Col. Docs., XIV ; Van Rensselaer Bowier Manu-
scripts; O'Callaghan, Hist, of New Netherland, I, Appendix.

MEGAPOLENSIS (quoted) : his Mahakuase Indianen (323).

INSTRUCTIONS TO THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL AND COUNCIL : Col. Docs.,
I ; O'Callaghan, Hist, of New Netherland, I, Appendix.

KIEFT AND BOGARDUS: Ecc. Records, I (167).

TOWNS IN NEW NETHERLAND : Col. Docs., XIV ; Elting, Dutch Vil-
lage Communities on the Hudson River (166) ; Stiles, Hist, of
Brooklyn (293) ; Thompson (291), Flint (287), and other histories
of Long Island ; Osgood, The American Colonies in the Seventeenth

275



276 HISTORY OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK

Century, II (116) ; Werner, New York Civil List (129) ; Pearson,
The Schenectady Patent (461).- -TowN PATENTS in Col. Docs.,
XIV, in Laws and Ordinances, in Documents Relating to Long
Island (286), and in Riker, Annals of Newtown, Appendix (300).

-GRAVESEND: Stockwell, Gravesend Old and New (297).-
BROOKLYN : Putnam, Origin of Breuckelen (292) ; Stiles, Hist, of
Brooklyn; histories of Long Island.

VAN DER DONCK: Shonnard and Spooner (538), and other histories
of Westchester County ; Allison, Hist . of Yonkers (542) ; Bunker,
Long Island Genealogies (201) ; Delancey, Manors in New York
(306).

REMONSTRANCE (quoted ) : Van der Donck, Vertoogh van Nieu-Neder-
Land (423).

STUYVESANT : Col. Docs., I ; Breeden Raedt; Tuckerman, Peter Stuy-
vesant (493) ; Dunlap, Hist, of New York, II, Appendix (401) ;
A Few Particulars Respecting the Dutch Governors in N. Y. Hist.
Soc. Collections, 1841. JOSSELYN (quoted) : his Voyages to New
England (529). - STUYVESANT 's CORRESPONDENCE : chiefly in Col.
Docs., I, II, XII, XIII, XIV.

BAYARD FAMILY : Wilson, The Bayard Family of America (64) ;
Schuyler, Colonial New York (395).

BACKERUS (quoted) : Ecc. Records, I.

MELYN AND KUYTER: Col. Docs., I, XIV; Van der Donck, Vertoogh
van Nieu-Neder-Land; Breeden Raedt. JUDGMENT AGAINST
MELYN : in Notes to Murphy's trans, of Vertoogh and Breeden
Raedt (423).

SHIP PRINCESS : Col. Docs., XIV ; Breeden Raedt. WINTHROP
(quoted) : his Hist, of New England.

THE NINE MEN : their CHARTER in Laws and Ordinances. - - Reg-
ister of New Netherland (386) ; Werner, New York Civil List;
North, Constitutional Development of the Colony of New York
(128) ; Jameson, Origin and Development of the Municipal Govern-
ment of New York City (327) ; Elting, Dutch Village Communities;
Fowler, Constitutional . . . History of New York (127).

AUGUSTINE HERRMAN : Innes, New Amsterdam and Its People (357) ;
Mallery, Ancient Families of Bohemia Manor (70) ; Glenn, Some
Colonial Mansions (107) ; Anon., Augustine Herrman in TV. Y.
Genea. and Bio. Record, XXII ; James, The Labadist Colony in
Maryland (262) ; Bankers and Sluyter : Journal of a Voyage to
New York (530).



CHAPTER IX

THE REMONSTRANCE OF NEW NETHERLAND

1646-1650

(GOVERNOR STUYVESANT)

We humbly solicit permanent privileges and exemptions which
promote population and prosperity and which consist, in our opinion,
First : In suitable burgher government such as your High Mightinesses
will consider adapted to this province and somewhat resembling the
laudable government of our Fatherland. Petition of the Commonalty
of New Netherland to the States General of the United Netherlands. 1649.

THE Nine Men held their sessions, not within the precincts
of the fort where the West India Company's officials sat, but
in the schoolroom of David Provoost. Director Stuyvesant,
laid low by an epidemic of influenza which was sweeping over
the country and afflicting Dutchmen, Englishmen, and Indians
alike, could not superintend their first deliberations. One of
their first acts was to refuse his request for aid in repairing
the fort. The Company, they said, had promised to defend
its colonists and should meet the cost from its customs dues,
the tolls at its grist-mill, and the excise that the governor
had imposed. They were willing, however, to raise part of
the money needed to complete the church and to reinvigorate
the public school.

A vendue-master was appointed to take charge of all public
sales, and fire-wardens to oversee all the houses between
the fort and the Kalck Hoek Pond. Adriaen Keyser the
Company's commissary, Martin Cregier, Thomas Hall, and
Joris Wolsey were the first members of Manhattan's first
fire department, taking office in January, 1648. Two church
services, it was prescribed, must be held every Sunday.

277



278 HISTORY OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK [1646-

Owners of town lots must improve them under penalty of
being forced to sell them to those who would make better use
of them. All traffic in firearms was again strictly forbidden.
To prevent evasions of the excise, brewers were forbidden
to retail beer, tapsters to brew it; and a strict license system
was established. All existing inns, taverns, and 'tippling
places' might continue for four years but must be kept in
decent buildings 'for the embellishment and improvement
of the town/ No new place of the kind was to be opened
without the unanimous consent of the governor and council.
No dealer was to transfer his license. Again the selling of
liquor to Indians directly or indirectly was prohibited. A
supplementary ordinance issued in the following year spoke
of conditions oddly analogous to those resulting from a no-
torious New York law of our own day. Certain brewers, it
said, were in despite of the laws acting as tapsters also, thus
depleting the excise and hurting the trade of the regular tap-
sters; therefore:

... no inhabitants who make a business of brewing shall out
of meal times tap, sell, or give away by the small measure any
beer, wine, or liquor, not even to boarders who, they pretend, go
to eat with them ; under which guise, we remark, no trifling fraud is
committed.

Although all these things were decreed by the governor in
council it is probable that with regard to some of them he
consulted the Nine Men, less probable that he deferred to
their judgment when it varied from his own. It was, however,
by command of the West India Company transmitting orders
from the States General that he issued an ordinance giving
all ' private inhabitants' of New Netherland liberty to ex-
port their ' country produce' in their own or in chartered
ships to Brazil, upon payment of duties, of course, and upon
certain conditions respecting return cargoes, and, provision-
ally, to bring negroes from Angola. In February the Nine Men
themselves ventured to propose that the people of the province
should be protected against the roving traders who came in



1650] THE REMONSTRANCE OF NEW NETHERLAND 279

search of furs. ' Interlopers ' they were called; or, as the
merchants of Germany complained for generations of the
intrusions of 'Scotch and Nuremberg peddlers/ so those in
New Netherland spoke of 'Scotch merchants and petty
traders' or sometimes, more queerly, of 'Scotchmen and
Chinese' (Schotten en Chinezeri). Such an ever-growing
plague were these itinerant traders that the provincial gov-
ernment consented to pass stringent rules limiting to persons
who had for three years been actual residents of the province
all inland traffic and all retail trading in New Amsterdam
except at the weekly markets which Stuyvesant had estab-
lished and at an annual kermis or fair to be held on the Plain
in front of the fort. Undoubtedly the Nine Men and the
governor and council were alike encouraged to adopt these
regulations by the fact that the Company had said, in the
instructions framed when Stuyvesant was appointed, that it
hoped soon to free the province from the intrusions of inter-
lopers. Nevertheless, when the Company learned of the
new rules it promptly vetoed them, fearing, doubtless, that
they would impair its receipts from the customs. They were
' impracticable/ it said, especially in a 'first-budding state/
and it would be 'servile and slavish' to compel people to
reside in any given place. The governor, however, might
well restrict trading in the city to persons who would keep
an 'open shop' there.

Busy though he was with domestic affairs Stuyvesant did
not forget that he had been ordered to prevent the English
from encroaching farther upon his territories and to try to settle
their boundary lines. He made short work of such unfriendly
claimants as approached Manhattan. One was a Scotchman
named Forrester who, assuming on the strength of credentials
from the widow of Lord Stirling the title of governor of Long
Island and all the other islands within five miles of it, came
to New Amsterdam and demanded a sight of Stuyvesant's
commission. Stuyvesant arrested him and packed him off
in the first ship that sailed for Holland. Another such visitor



280 HISTORY OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK [1646-

was Plowden, making now his last appearance. Little heed
was paid to him. The book which was published to advertise
his schemes, and which started the story that Argall had
visited Manhattan in 1614, seems to have made small impres-
sion in England. He never planted a colony in America, yet
as late as the time of the Revolution persons to whom his heirs
had sold his claims tried to revive them in New York and
New Jersey.

How to deal with the New Englanders was a harder problem
for Governor Stuyvesant, compelled at once to meet a com-
plicated situation. The courteous letters in which he an-
nounced his arrival to the federal commissioners and the
governors of the colonies and their equally courteous re-
plies revived the old questions in dispute and opened new
ones. The commissioners complained that the Hollanders
sold arms to the savages, and asked why high customs dues
were exacted at Manhattan and why ' heavy fines and seizures '
followed all 'omissions or mis-entries' there while the har-
bors of New England stood 'open and free' to all comers.
Stuyvesant's own letter to Governor Winthrop, written in
English on June 27 and carried to Boston by George Baxter,
said that he would try to give satisfaction, always provided
that there should be no encroachment upon the 'indubitable
right ' of the Dutch to the lands between the Connecticut and
the Delaware, and asked Winthrop to fix a time and a place
where Stuyvesant might meet with him and other impartial
persons and 'friendly and Christianly agitate concerning
past occurrences.' Winthrop's reply, dated August 17, says
that he had acquainted the commissioners of the United
Colonies with Stuyvesant's letter, that they readily embraced
his 'friendly motion,' but that nothing could be arranged
before the winter which would soon approach. He himself
was too ill to travel and, he added, 'the craziness of my head
and the feebleness of my hands' prevented him from writing
as he would desire. Speaking in his history of the same
incident Winthrop says that when the Dutch governor's
letter was laid before the commissioners,



1650] THE REMONSTRANCE OF NEW NETHERLAND 281

Some advised that, seeing he made profession of much good will
and neighborly correspondency, we should seek to gain upon him by
courtesy and therefore accept his offer and tender him a visit at his
own home or a meeting at any of our towns where he should choose.
But the commissioners of those parts thought otherwise, supposing it
would be more to their advantage to stand upon terms of distance, etc.
An answer was returned accordingly, only taking notice of his offer
and showing our readiness to give him a meeting in time and place
convenient. So matters continued as they were.

In regard to New Haven, however, matters took a turn for
the worse during this same summer. A Dutch ship called
the San Beningo was trading at New Haven and intending
to go from there to Virginia, without Stuyvesant's license
and without regard to the trading laws of New Netherland.
To capture this smuggler, as he called it, Stuyvesant put some
soldiers on a vessel that had been bought at New Amsterdam
for the deputy-governor of New Haven, Samuel Goodyear,
and was about to be delivered to him. By Stuyvesant's
orders they cut the San Beningo out of the harbor, on a Sunday
when there was no one at hand to interfere, and brought it
to Manhattan where he confiscated ship and cargo, the cargo
including muskets and ammunition which were contraband
wares. Governor Eaton wrote severely of this proceeding.
Stuyvesant excused it by citing European precedents, and
declared that all Dutch vessels trading along the coasts of
New Netherland must pay the recognizances due at Man-
hattan. His conduct, Eaton answered, was ' unneighborly
and injurious'; the Dutch were inconsistent in their claims,
extending them sometimes only to the Connecticut River,
sometimes as far as Cape Cod; in any case the claims were
unwarrantable; and Stuyvesant would be wholly responsible
should peace be broken. What Stuyvesant most wanted,
he averred, was a meeting with the commissioners of New
England to take place at any time that Eaton himself might
appoint. Goodyear, meanwhile, was writing friendly letters
about commercial transactions to the Dutch governor and
in November congratulated him on the birth of his first ' little
one' a boy who was named Balthazar.



282 HISTORY OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK [1646-

Before the end of the year New Haven refused to surrender
three runaway servants of the West India Company and,
after a sharp correspondence with Eaton, Stuyvesant decreed
in reprisal that Manhattan should shelter all refugees from
New Haven, bond or free, 'the lowest prisoner included/
This 'atrocious proclamation' displeased his own people as
much as their neighbors. They did not want to see Manhat-
tan a refuge-place for scoundrels; they wished, as John
Underbill wrote to Winthrop, for peace and good feeling
between themselves and the English; and they realized that
their commerce was suffering because traders all along the
seaboard and even in the West Indies were alarmed by Stuy-
vesant's severe enforcement of the Company's rules and his
own strict harbor regulations.

During the year 1648 the New Englanders repeatedly
accused the Dutch of nefarious dealings with the Indians.
Undoubtedly they were provoked to make such charges by
a keen sense that the Dutch and the French were getting the
fur trade wholly away from them. In the most solemn man-
ner Stuyvesant denied that he was exciting the Mohawks
against them, promised to do his best to suppress the traffic
in firearms, and more than once asked for an interview so
that the white men might form a defensive league against the
savages. He wanted also to submit the whole quarrel be-
tween New Netherland and New Haven to the judgment
of the governors of Massachusetts and Plymouth, but no
meeting could be arranged, none of his proposals was accepted.
Finally, in deference to the continual outcry about the 'in-
sufferable burthens' laid upon trade at Manhattan, he re-
moved temporarily the duties from all goods brought in by
English vessels excepting malt and beer. Eaton then asking
whether Englishmen were to have 'full freedom' of trade
in every respect, and if not why not, Stuyvesant replied that
he had already granted as much as he dared without direct
orders from his superiors in Holland. Again Eaton brought
charges against the Dutch traders who frequented the ports
along the sound and especially against Govert Lockermans



1650] THE REMONSTRANCE OF NEW NETHERLAND 283

and David Provoost who, he said, were not only selling arms
to the Indians but also threatening that the Dutch would
fight the English and engage the savages to help them.

Up the North River also old troubles were growing more
acute. During the sixteen years that elapsed between the
establishment of Rensselaerswyck and the death of the patroon
in 1646 he had sent out only two hundred and ten settlers.
A few had joined them who had immigrated in other ways,
but the American-born among them were not yet grown and
the settlement was still small. It was still administered from
Holland by the two trustees of Kiliaen's son Johan, known
as the second patroon. One of these trustees was Wouter
Van Twiller. To take control on the spot they sent out
Brandt Van Slechtenhorst. He boldly denied Stuyvesant's
right to any authority within the patroonship. Stuyvesant
insisted that the Company had the same rights there as in
the other communities that had been formed within the
province. In the spring of 1648 he went up to Fort Orange,
forbade the patroon's officials to pass any trading regulations
without his sanction, and ordered that no building in the little
village of Beverwyck should stand within musket-shot of the
fort which could not be protected if closely encircled. The
site was part of the patroonship, Van Slechtenhorst main-
tained, adding that under any conditions the fort was a use-
less semblance of a stronghold. Giving orders for its repair
Stuyvesant returned to Manhattan and sent up a few soldiers
with directions to demolish any houses that might be begun
on the forbidden tract. More wise than he, the soldiers re-
frained from violence; but they quarrelled so with the local
authorities that the Indians marvelled and, highly indignant
at the presence of 'Wooden Leg's dogs/ could hardly be
kept from doing them hurt.

On Manhattan Wooden Leg's people more and more loudly
complained that he did not impartially administer the laws
against smuggling, exacted tariff dues to the amount of thirty
per cent, which was much more than the Company had pre-



284 HISTORY OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK [1646-

scribed, unduly favored the traders from New England at their
expense, and was trying to engross the ' trade of the whole
colony' for himself, having shops of his own, brew-houses,
and shares in ships. When he condemned to death three
persons whom he accused of trafficking in firearms 'many
good men' protested so strenuously that he commuted the
sentence. When he tried to collect the debts owing to the
Company, including the tenths from the harvests which were
to be paid after ten years' occupancy of land and were now
falling due, the people cried that he was not discharging
the Company's own debts and the Nine Men pointed out to
him the 'desolate and ruinous' condition of his province. He
consented to postpone the collection but otherwise, he said,
could do no more than obey the Company's orders. Then the
commonalty decided to appeal over the Company's head to the
States General. Stuyvesant commended the idea but said that
it must be carried out as he should prescribe. The English
settlers, whom the Dutch had expected to support them, de-
cided to stand aloof, and for the moment the project dropped.
Evidently, Stuyvesant's intention that six of the Nine Men
should retire each year was not carried out. Only three new
members- -Adriaen Van der Donck, Oloff Stevensen, and
Elbert Elbertsen who took the places of Damen, Bout, and
Thomas Hall - - were sitting in 1649. The board then asked
the governor's permission to consult with the commonalty
about sending delegates to Holland. He himself, he answered,
must be the channel for all communications with the home
authorities. The Nine Men promised to give him copies of
whatever they might write but said that to appeal through
him would be detrimental to the welfare of the province.
Forbidden to call a public meeting they instructed their
president, Van der Donck, to take the opinions of their con-
stituents separately and secretly and to keep a journal from
which an appeal could be compiled. Jansen, a member of
the board in whose house Van der Donck was lodging, and
Thomas Hall the ex-member told the governor what was
going on. Then General Stuyvesant 'burned with rage.'



1650] THE REMONSTRANCE OF NEW NETHERLAND 285

In person he searched Van der Donck's room and seized a
rough draft of his journal. Upon its evidence he arrested
and imprisoned the writer on a charge of crimen lesce majes-
tatis; he also arrested another of the Nine Men, Augustine
Herrman; and to stop the agitation he revived Kieft's decree
that no documents should be legal unless drawn up by Secre-
tary Van Tienhoven, and forbade Domine Backerus to read
from the pulpit without express permission anything that
touched upon public affairs.

In spite of the Company's orders he had not mustered the
burgher guard at regular intervals, Yet its organization per-
sisted and its officers were looked upon as in some sort repre-
sentatives of the people. Jacobus Van Couwenhoven was at
this time captain of the company, Martin Cregier lieutenant,
and Augustine Herrman one of the ensigns. Wishing to get
support for himself Stuyvesant summoned these and the
other officers and three or four delegates chosen by the com-
monalty to consult with his council, and told them that he
meant to call two deputies from each ' colony, ' including
the English towns on Long Island, so that they might con-
sider the sending of a ' mission ' to the fatherland to promote
the welfare of the province. As Vice-Director Van Dincklagen
protested because all this was done without his concurrence
and demanded the release of Van der Donck on bail, the gov-
ernor released him but deposed him from the Board of Nine
Men until such time as he should either prove or recant cer-
tain of the statements in his journal.

Meanwhile it was discovered that Stuyvesant, who had
thought that transgressions of the law against the selling of
arms deserved capital punishment, had himself imported a
small consignment for the up-river Indians. He asserted that
it was by the Company's orders, but popular feeling grew
very hot and the return of Cornelis Melyn from Holland
fanned it into a flame.

Although the West India Company had secured a renewal
of its charter its prospects were darker than ever. The Treaty



286 HISTORY OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK [1646-

of Miinster, concluded by the United Netherlands with Spain
in 1648, formally and finally established their independence.
Spain kept the Flemish provinces; but as by the treaty
the river Scheldt remained closed to commerce, a provision
that held good until the time of the Napoleonic wars, and as
Antwerp thus lost all hope of resuming its old rank among the



Online LibrarySchuyler Van RensselaerHistory of the city of New York in the seventeenth century → online text (page 26 of 48)