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7. The Plymouth charter, 1606.

8. Sir Ferdinando Gorges, 1609. Thomas Dermer.
Voyage of and report made.

9. The Council of Plymouth; its claim.

10. The AValloons, 1623. Origin, character and sei-

11. Governor May.

12. Joris and Fort Orange.

13. The French in New York Bay and on the Dela-

14. Fort Nassau on the Delaware.

* Fort Nassau on the Hudson had been abandoned.

t Minuit is commonly, but erroneously called the
first governor of New Netherland. He found a popu-
lation of about two hundred people.


GovERXOR Peter Minuit, 1G26-1632

First form of governmeiit. — To assist Minuit in
his administration tliere was appointed a "council"
of five men, besides a " koopman ", or commissary and
secretary, and a " schout ", or sheriff.

This was the first form of government within the
boundaries of our State, for Minuit and his council
were invested with legislative, judicial, and executive
power, subject only to the " chamber of deputies" at

One of Minuit 's first acts was an effort towards hon-
est dealing with the natives. The Dutch had until
this time held Manhattan Island only by the right of
discovery and occupancy. Minuit proceeded to make
a treaty for its purchase. The island contained about
22,000 acres, and the price agreed, sixty guilders
(twenty-four dollars), was paid in such trinkets as the
Indians desired, — beads, rings, and knives being in
special request*.

Fort Amsterdam. — Minuit now began the con-
struction of a fort, — a block house surrounded by a
palisade of cedar posts, which was known as Fort Am-
sterdam. The settlement which soon grew up around
this was called " Manhattan ".

'•^See picture of this purchase in Hendrick's History,
page 18.


46 GovERNOK MiNLiT [Period III

Staten Island was also purchased of the Indians, and
soon the western shore of Long Island^ was dotted
with the farms which the Walloons had cleared and
cultivated, and from wdiich specimens of the harvest
were sent to Holland to show the fertility of the soil.

In the first year of Minuit's administration (1626),
an event occurred which for a time vacated the settle-
ment about Fort Orange, and came very near inter-
rupting the peaceful relations which existed between
the Dutch and the Iroquois. In a stockade village on
the east bank of the Hudson, just above Fort Orange,
dwelt the Mohicans. They had been parties to the
treaty of Tawasentha, and since that time only had
lived in peace with the Mohawks at the west. Xow
this treaty was broken, and the two tribes were at war.
The fort was in charge of one Daniel Van Krucke-
beeck. He foolishly consented to accompany the
Mohicans on an incursion into the territory of the
Mohawks. The party was caught by the latter in am-
bush and defeated, and Kruckebeeck and three of his
men were killed. Fearful of the results of this in-
considerate act, Minuit removed all the families from
Fort Orange to Manhattan, leaving only a garrison of
sixteen men. So great was the distrust that many
other detached settlements on the Hudson were

The Dutch and the Puritans. — Very early in the
history of New Xetherland, the Dutch had pushed
their trading ventures not only southward to Delaware
Bay, but eastward through Long Island Sound to the
Connecticut river, and even as far as Narragansett

'^ This was the beginning of Brooklyn.

1626] Relations with the Puritaxs -1:7

Bay. Here they were destined to come into contact
with the Puritans, to whom they were bound by many
ties of friendship.

On leaving England, the Puritans had settled in
Holland, and had remained there twelve years, this
residence being entirely satisfactory to the Dutch.
Furthermore, when the Puritans at last contemplated
the project of removing to America, they had made
application for permission to settle among their friends
in New Netherland. The prospect of 400 families of
such a character as settlers was gladly considered by
the Dutch merchants, who in 1620 held the Charter of

Application was accordingly made to the Prince of
Orange for authority to enter into an agreement for
their transportation to America, and for one other con-
sideration which they demanded, — " protection " after
they had gone. The Prince referred the question to
the " states-general ". This conservative body had
just learned that England claimed all the coast of
North America, and therefore it doubted the advisa-
bility of planting an English colony within the very
territory over which there was likely to be contention.

So it chanced that the Puritans settled in Xew Eng-
land instead of in New Xetherland. Here after many
hardships they had begun to prosper; here they had
set up a form of government more nearly like that of
Holland than of England; and here they had, in 1629
obtained a charter, which in its westward extension,
included all that portion of New Netherland lying
between Esopus (Kingston) and the Mohawk river.

To this charter was added, however, the saving clause

48 Governor Minuit [Period III

that this grant was to be " utterly void concerning any
parts or parcels thereof actually possessed or inhabited
by any other Christian prince or State before the third
day of Xovember, 1620." This was a remarkably im-
portant reservation. Until 1623 the Dutch had an
entire monopoly of the trade with the region north
of Long Island Sound. They supplied the Indian
tribes with Dutch wares, and received in return furs,
corn, and venison.

Governor Minuit and Governor Bradford.— In

1627 Minuit drew up a let-
ter, " written in a very fair
hand ", which he dispatched
to Governor Bradford at
Plymouth, congratulating
him on the prosperous con-
dition of his people, allud-
ing to the former friend-
ships made in Holland, and
inviting commercial rela-

WlLI.IAM lIllADFORl). 1590-ltio7

To this Governor Bradford replied in the same vein,
in turn congratulating Governor Minuit on the recent
alliance of their respective countries against their
common enemy, the hated Spaniard, and referring
to their happy residence in Holland, "for which we
are bound to be thankful and our children after us,
and shall never forget the same." He declined the
commercial reciprocity proposed, "being fully sup-
plied with necessaries," and then curiously added his
regret that the Dutch should trade within the limits
of New England.

1627] Conference with Gov. Bradford 49

Governor Bradford suggested that by King James's
patent the English possessions extended from the 40th
to the 48th degrees north latitude, and from sea to sea;
to which Minuit replied in substance : " We came here,
we found no English ; we have settled here and shall
be obliged to defend our rights." Bradford wrote to
his government that "for strength of men and forti-
fications, the Dutch far exceed us, and besides spoiling
our trade they continue ' to truck ' guns, powder and
shot with the Indians, which will soon be the over-
throw of us all if it be not looked into*,"

Minuit receiving no answer to his last letter to Gov-
ernor Bradford sent a special messenger with tokens
of good will, "rt rundlet of sugar and two Holland
cheeses,^ ^ and invited the Puritans to come to Manhattan
" to confer ". Governor Bradford kindly entertained
the Dutch messenger, but replied that he could not
send a messenger as " one of our boats is abroad and
ive have much business at home.''^

Governor Minuit, anxious still for peaceful relations,
finally sent a deputation to Plymouth, which was very
graciously received. It was the first meeting in the
new world of representatives from the colonies of the
old world. Each party was most anxious to maintain
friendly relations, yet neither would abate one jot of
what it believed to be its colonial rights.

The Puritans did not forget that their visitors came
from the only land that would receive them, when, as
" Pilgrims" they had left England forever; while the
Dutch, on their part, remembered their own struggles
for religious freedom. But the latter learned a lesson

-'^Massachusetts Historical Collection.

50 Governor Minuit [Period III

which they carried home with them to put in practice
when they at last felt the yoke of the West India
Company to be too heavy. They learned much of
the English form of government, of their annual elec-
tions, and their better means of living.

Currency. — In their dealings with the Indians the
Dutch had one great advantage over the English, by
means of which they had been able to monopolize the
fur trade about Narragansett Bay. The Indians did
not care for European coins. The currency they pre-
ferred was " seawan ", which was of two kinds: " wam-
pum " or white beads, made from the stem of the
periwinkle : and ' ' suckanhock ' ' or black beads, the
value of which was double that of the white. " Sea-
wan " was both used as currency and worn as jewelry.
It distinguished the rich from the poor; it bought
lands and merchandise; it purchased a ransom, it
atoned for an injury, and it was used in various In-
dian ceremonies.

"Wampum" was chiefly manufactured by the In-
dians of Long Island. The Dutch trader was not
slow to avail himself of the advantages derived from
living so near to the source of this valuable medium
of exchange. Governor Minuit went so far as to pro-
pose to Governor Bradford a sort of reciprocity which
would furnish the English traders with this currency,
but his friendly overtures v/ere rejected.

The patroon sjtem^ 1629. — The population of
Manhattan at this time was but 270, and its growth
was very slow. Only a small area about the settle-
ments was under cultivation, and the supply of food was
entirelv insufficient for the use even of the traders who

1629] The Patroon^ System 51

still constituted the greater part of the population.
Settlers did not come. The island of Manhattan had
become by purchase the private property of the Dutch
West India Company, but the revenues of that com-
pany came from the peltries purchased from the In-
dians, and did not at all satisfy the men who were
looking in Xew Motherland not for a future Dutch
State but for an increase in the number of profitable
trading posts.

Their profits they saw would be greatly increased if
there were on this side the Atlantic prosperous colonies
that would purchase cargoes of Dutch wares and in
return furnish products of which European markets
were in need. So it was thought desirable to plant
several distinct colonies within their possessions here.
For this purpose a plan was suggested for transplant-
ing to this country one of the features of the old
feudal system of Europe. This plan was approved by
the college of nineteen*. A " Charter of Privileges "
and exemptions was issued, granting to any member
of the company extensive domains in Mew Nether-
land, outside of Manhattan Island, on condition that
he should within four years place upon the land so
granted, a colony of fifty adult settlers. Those to
whom these grants should be made were to be known
as " Patroons ", i. e., patrons, or defenders.

Each patroon might select sixteen miles frontage on
any navigable water, or eight miles on both sides, and
might extend that tract into the interior as far as he

* The "College of Nineteen" was the executive
committee of the West India Company. In this col-
lege the states-general had one representative.

52 Governor Mi:n^uit [Period III

chose. The patroons must purchase their lands from
any Indians laying claim to them, and must support a
minister and school -master. These colonies were for
ten years to be protected "against all inlandish and
outlanduh wars and powers", but were forbidden to
manufacture any linen or cotton cloth, or "to traffic
in the skins of otters, beavears, and minks".

The patroon system brought to our shores men who
became of great service to the country, and many of
their names linger among us still; but the system was
opposed to the genius of American institutions and
could not long endure. Ultimately it led to those
serious anti-rent troubles which will be treated of later.

The colonists brought over by the patroons were
tenants for a term of years, and when their period of
service expired, they were free to renew the contract
or to go away from the colony.

The patroon estates. — The patroons were active in
securing valuable estates for themselves. In fact, so
many of Governor Minuit's friends became patroons
that his partiality to them ultimately led to his recall.
Killian Van Rensselaer, one of the directors, became
the owner of an immense tract of land near Fort
Orange*. Michael Paauw took a district opposite Fort
Amsterdam, at that time called " Hoboken-Hacking "f.

Even David Pietersen De Vries, one of the wisest
and most liberal of all the directors, perceived the ad-
vantage of these investments, and in company with

* He managed by proxy to secure a tract 48 by 24
miles in one body, and 62,000 acres in another.

f From a corruption of Paauw we get Pavonia.

1632] English Claim to Xew Netherland 53

Samuel Godyn, Samuel Blommaert and John De Laet
(or Laert) acquired an extensive tract of land in Dela-
ware, taking possession in the name of the states-
general and founding the patroonship of Swansdale *.
Hoboken, or Pavonia, gradually spread southward on
the New Jersey shore and finally embraced the whole
of Staten Island f, which afterwards came into pos-
session of De Vries.

Complete feudal rights were granted to these propri-
etors. Within the limits of their patents or charters
they exercised, absolute rule over their domains.

They made laws and executed them, even inflicting
the death penalty. They did not prosper, and when
the English came in 1664, Rensselaerwick was the
only patroonship remaining.

The English claim New Netlieiiand. — In 1632

Governor Minnit was recalled. It so happened that the
ship on which he took passage was by a storm driven
into Plymouth harbor. Here it was seized on the
charge of illegally trading within the king's dominions^
Captain Mason of Plymouth, who made the seizure^
reported to the English government that the Dutch
were "interlopers, having fallen into the middle be-
tween Virginia and New England ". This letter took
no account of Dutch claims or titles, but boldly in-
cluded the territory of New Netherland in the charter
given to the Council of Plymouth in 1620. The West
India Company immediately prepared a strong docu-

* This settlement was in the next year entirely de-
stroyed by the Indians, not one person being left to
tell the tale.

t Staten or Staats Island.

54 Governor Mtnuit [Period III

mentary statement of the ground of their rights. It
was clear, explicit, truthful and dignified. The
ground of their claim was as follows :

1. The discovery in 1609.

2. Their occupancy in 1610.

3. The grant of a trading charter in 1614.

4. The maintenance of a fort and garrison.

5. The failure of the English to occupy the territory

These were indeed strong claims. King Charles
could not refute them, neither would he concede their
justice. Fearing his foreign relations might be en-
dangered by its further detention, he ordered the re-
lease of the ship, " saving any prejudice to his Majesty's
rights". This was another postponement, not a set-
tlement of the dispute.

Review of Minuit's Administration. — ^Notwith-
standing the abuses complained of and which finally
secured his recall, Minuit's administration was, on the
whole, a wise one. He had made an honest purchase
of Manhattan Island, had improved the settlements
about the Island, and had maintained peaceful relations
with the Indians and with the English. The patroon-
ships of Rensselaerwick and Swaansdale had been
founded and both the exports and imports of the col-
ony had been greatly augmented. For two years after
his recall the little colony was without a governor, its
affairs being managed by the " Council ".


1. The coming of Minuit, 1626. His government.
The purchase of Manhattan.

1632] Summary of his Administration 55

2. Fort Amsterdam.

3. Indian troubles at Albany.

4. The Dutch and the Puritans. Why the Puritans
did not settle in New Xetherland.

5. Their charter and the Dutch possessions.

6. Minuit and Governor Bradford. Minuit's efforts
for peace.

7. Wampum ; nature and value.

8. The patroons (1629); their privileges and obiga-
tions. Character of patroons.

9. Prominent patroons.

10. Defects of the system.

11. Departure of Minuit; arrest of; Plymouth com-

12. Dutch statement of the ground of their rights.

Governor Wouter Yax Twtller, 1633-1(538

In the spring of 1633 Wouter (Walter) Van Twiller
came as governor. Be was ignorant of public affairs
and wholly unfitted for so responsible a position.
Whatever may have been his good qualities, he will al-
ways, to the New York school-boy, be seen as repre-
sented by Washington Irving *.

But this is in no sense a true picture of him, nor
must Irving's description of the times during which
Van Twiller was governor be taken at all seriously.
Lazy and bibulous the governor doubtless was, but as
we have seen, the people among whom he came were
poor, and there were no such scenes of plenty on the
island of Manhattan as Irving depicts.

Van Twiller brought with him a hundred soldiers
as a garrison for the fort, the first to be stationed in
the colony. The good Dominie Bogardusf, and Adam
Roelandson, the first schoolmaster in the colony, came
with Van Twiller. While we know little of Roeland-
son, we find much recorded of Dominie Bogardus.
He frequently thought he ought to reprove the governor,

* Irving's '' Knickerbocker's History of Xew York".

t Bogardus is usually spoken of as the first minister
ill Manhattan, but Mrs. Schuyler Van Rensselaer tells
of one Rev. Jonas Michaelius who was there in 1628,
and was both minister and schoolmaster.

1633] " Staple Rights " 57

and did not fear to do his duty. On one occasion to
Governor Van T wilier 's face he called him a " child of
the devil", and threatened to give him a "shaking
from the pulpit". Later, it was Dominie Bogardus
who called Governor Kieft to account for his cruelties
to the Indians, and from his pulpit declared that " our
great men are but vessels of wrath and fountains of

Manhattan invested with ^^ Staple Rights",

1638. — In the management of Kew Motherland the
AVest India Company looked only for quick returns from
their investments. They view^ed the colony from a
commercial standpoint; for its political future, they
cared very little. Consequently Van Twiller's whole
purpose as governor was to extend the monopoly of
the company. For this reason the little village of
Manhattan, now containing about 300 whites, was in
1633 invested with " Staple Rights ", by virtue of
which act, all merchandise passing up or down the
river became subject to such duties as the company
saw fit to impose, thus giving it a monopoly of all the
trade of the colony.

Fort Good Hope and the Puritans. — Among the
enterprises entrusted to Van Twiller was the protection
of the interests of the West India Company on the
East river (Connecticut). At this point a danger still
threatened. Here the Dutch were constantly coming
into contact with the Puritans, under conditions
greatly to their own disadvantage.

The early Dutch were a race of merchants; and so,
unfortunately, their American possessions were almost

58 Governor Van Twiller [Period III

entirely occupied by traders. These men were enter-
prising; they pushed their ventures east, west, north
and south; but they neither cleared the forests nor
tilled the soil. As a result, at the east they had early
come into contact with a race who were both traders
and agriculturists, who were as keen for traffic as
themselves, but who were followed at once by an army
of farmers who cared less for furs than for choice
lands; who had come to this country to stay; who had
transplanted all their earthly possessions, and who
were setting up new homes in a western wilderness.

The Dutch traders had observed the Puritans' thrift
and especially their tendency to colonize farther and
farther to the west. Their keen commercial instinct
told them something must be done to check this west-
ward tendency of their enterprising neighbors.

80, relying upon their right by virtue of Block's
discoveries (1613), they determined to take formal
possession of the valley of the Connecticut. In 1633,
Van Twiller sent commissary Jacob Van Curler out in
charge of a small expedition for that purpose. Van
Curler set up the arms of Holland at the mouth of the
Connecticut river, and, sailing north to what gave
promise of being a good location, bought land of the
Indians and began the construction of a fort which he
called "Fort Good Hope", on the site of the city of

This fort was but half finished when Captain Wil-
liam Holmes of Plymouth came sailing boldly up the
river. He was ordered to halt, but paid no attention;
nor did he give any more heed when Van Curler
threatened^to fire on him. He pushed on past the

1633] A^ E]!^CtLisb Ship in New York Bay 59

Dutch fort and established a rival trading post where
Windsor now stands, a few miles above Hartford.

Here matters rested until two years later, when a
colony from Dorchester, Mass., half the population of
that town, came and settled at Windsor, making clear-
ings and establishing a town, while Good Hope re-
mained only a trading post.

Other settlements followed, and in a few years the
Dutch found themselves crowded out of the valley of
the Connecticut.

Eelkens and the ^MVilliam".— In 1633 another
incident occurred to show the determination of the
English to gain possession of New Netherland. One
Jacob Eelkins, a former employe of the West India
Company who had been dismissed from their service,
arrived from London in the English ship William and
attempted to sail up the Hudson to trade with the In-
dians. This was the first English ship to enter New
York Bay. The vacillating Van Twiller remonstrated,
swore, and finally allowed Eelkens to proceed. The
real head of the colony was a director, David Pieter-
sen De Vries. He proposed that Eelkens should be
driven out, and he carried his point. The William
was brought down to Manhattan and forced to sea.
Eelkens returned to London entirely foiled in his pur-
pose of interfering with Dutch trade.

Tan Twiller recalled. — At last complaints against
Van Twiller began to reach Holland. It was not just
to charge to his incompetence all the troubles of the
colony, but it did not prosper.

There were reasons for this. The patroons brought

60 Governor Van Twiller [Period III

a number of colonists to our shores, but they kept
more away. There was really nothing to invite thrifty,
industrious people to emigrate to New i^etherland, as
there was on the other hand little to tempt the lazy
and vicious.

The West India Company decided that Van Twiller
must be recalled, and in 1638 he was replaced by Wil-
liam Kieft.


1. The coming of Van Twiller, 1633. Character of
the man.

2. Roelandson and Bogardus.

3. Staple rights; nature of.

4. English and Dutch contrasted.

5. Van Curler and Port Good Hope.

6. Captain Holmes of Plymouth.

7. The conflict for the possession of the Connecti-
•cut Valley.

8. Eel ken's visit to New York.

Governor William Kieet, 1638-1647

Much that is ujjcomplimentary has been written of
the early life of William Kieft, and the character of
his administration did not redeem the reputation that
preceded him. He truly found the affairs of the com-
pany in a bad condition and he set about reforming
abuses so vigorously as almost to destroy the semblance
•of liberty among the people. While Van Twiller
had governed too little, Kieft governed too much. He
soon concentrated power as much as possible in his
own hands, and at once spoke of the people as his
'' subjects ".

The morals of the community under the easy rule
of the good-natured Van Twiller had grown lax.
Kieft instituted a rigorous police system, and threat-
ened evil doers with fines and imprisonment. Sailors
were for the first time required to be on their ships
after night-fall. The promiscuous sale of liquors was
prohibited, and the "tapping of beer during divine
service'''' was forbidden. He reformed the court by
requiring that all complaints should be written in
proper form by the colonial secretary.

For these and many other restraints on what the

Online LibraryWilliam Reed PrenticeHistory of New York state (Volume 1) → online text (page 3 of 34)