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people were pleased to call their "liberties", the new
governor was roundly censured.



Governor Kieft

[Period III

The Swedes on the Delaware^ 1638.— In the
same month that Governor Kieft arrived at
Manhattan, ex-Governor Minuit entered
Delaware Bay with a colony of
Swedes. Smarting under the
disgrace of his dismissal
from the service of the
West India Com-^
pany, he deter-
mined to profit by
his knowledge of
Dutch manage-
m e n t in X e w
Xetherland. For
this purpose he
went to Sweden
and offered his
services to Gusta-
vus Adolphus,
then t h e most'
powerful military
leader in all Eu-
rope, proposing tO'
lead a Swedish
colony to Ameri-
ca. While negotiations were pending, Gustavus Adol-
phus died, and the government descended to his
daughter Christina, a child of six years.

On this account, his proposal was not acted upon un-
til 1638, when, a regency having been established with
the illustrious Axel, Count of Oxenstiern, at its

1638] Fort Christina 63

head, a colony of fifty, accompanied by a man-of-war,
was dispatched in care of Minuit. He knew of the
construction of the Dutch fort on the Delaware and
of the advantages offered there, both for trade and
lagriculture. Ignoring the little garrison still main-
tained at Fort Xassau, he boldly landed fifteen miles
below that place, purchased land of the Indians, and
proceeded to build a fort*, which in honor of the
x3hild queen of Sweden, he named Fort Christina.

Kieft at once sent out one of his " proclamations "
•against this encroachment of the Swedes, to which
Minuit paid not the slightest attention. The colony
remained, with varying fortunes, the first permanent
settlement in the State of Delaware.

Complaints against the West India company^
1638. — Even before Kieft's arrival complaints of
mismanagement on the part of the company reached
Holland, and an investigation was ordered. The facts
came out that, so far the company had managed affairs
solely in its own interests; that few settlers were going
to New Xetherland ; and that the states-general were
reaping no benefit from all that had been done in

The patroons, too, grew more grasping year by year,
and brought little or no revenue to the company.
They even demanded that their already enormous pow-
ers and privileges be still further enlarged. They
wanted to monopolize more territory, to have longer
time in which to settle colonies; to become entirely
independent of the company; to have a vote in the

* About when Wilmington now stands.

64 Governor Kieft [Period III

council; to be supplied with negro slaves as laborers;,
and, lastly, they demanded that " private persons "■
should not be allowed to purchase land from the In-
dians, but should be obliged to settle within the-
domains of these manorial lords.

Proclamation of free trade. — It was now de-
termined to attempt the experiment of opening to free
competition the internal trade of New Netherland.
The Amsterdam chamber proclaimed " that all inhabi-
tants of the United Provinces, and of friendly coun-
tries might freely convey in the company's ships any
cattle and merchandise they desired," and " might
receive whatever returns they or their agents may be
able to obtain in these quarters therefor."

A more liberal policy toward immigrants was forced
upon the company, and under this system a desirable
class of settlers began to arrive in New Netherland.
Small farmers came, and for the first time in the his-
tory of the colony fruit trees were planted and gardens
were cultivated. Commercial privileges which had
been confined to the patroons were extended to all free
colonists*, and trade began to revive f.

Dutch and English claims to Long Island. — The

New England colonists each year narrowed more and
more the frontier of New Netherland to the east, and

* Those not bound to service.

fin the midst of the general depression one colony
prospered. This was the Van Rensselaer patroonship
at Fort Orange. It embraced most of the present
counties of Albanv, Rensselaer and Columbia, more
than 1,000 square miles, extending twenty-five miles
along the Hudson river.

1640] First English Settlement IN Kew York 65

slowly but surely circumstances were shaping the
future State of New York.

The Dutch settlements on Long Island had up to
this time been confined to the vicinity of Brooklyn.
Kieft now extended the possessions of the company by
purchase from the Indians of all that portion west of
Oyster Bay, although the Dutch had always considered
the entire island theirs by right of discovery and

The Council of Plymouth laid claim to the eastern
portion of Long Island and granted charters to parts
of the same. The first grant was made in 1039 to
one Lyon Gardiner, of an island which the Indians
called Machonack, but which was afterward known as
Gardiner's Island. Here, in 1640, was planted the first
English settlement within the present limits of the
State of Xew York.

Kelations with the Indians. — The opening of
trade with its benefits brought its troubles also. The
old, cautious policy of the company was no longer
enforced, and greedy traders furnished the Mohawks
with guns and ammunition so freely that they began to
levy tribute from the surrounding tribes, — at once
arousing jealousy against the Dutch.

The hatred of the river tribes was still further
aroused by Kieft, who, alleging " express orders from
Holland ", exacted contributions of corn and furs from
them. These tribes were soon entirely estranged, and
their vindictive manner led Kieft to order all residents
of Manhattan to arm themselves and at a given signal
to repair to the fort.

66 Governor Kieft [Period III

For a petty theft*, Kieft at once undertook to pun-
ish the Raritans. In this "punishment" several In-
dians were killed, and all hope of regaining the good
will of the savages was lost.

Trouble with the Raritans. — The cruelties in-
flicted upon the Raritans had aroused their animosity,
and they only awaited the time when they might avenge
their injuries. Before long they laid waste De Vries's
settlement on Staten Island. Kieft, learning of this,
determined upon their destruction, and oiiered a reward
for the heads of all who had been concerned in the
affair. De Vries, though the real sufferer, remon-
strated with Kieft, and insisted that the Indian troubles
were the result of bad faith on the part of the whites.
He said to him, "You wish to break the Indians'
mouths, but you will also murder our own people."

The murder of Claus Smits. — The Indian troubles
grew more threatening. In revenge for an injury done
him when a child, an Indian murdered a poor inoffens-
ive wheel-wright, Claus Smits. Immediately Kieft
sent out to the Weckquaesgeeks, demanding the mur-
derer. Their sachem refused to deliver him up. With
his usual hasty spirit, Kieft proposed to punish this
tribe as he had punished the Raritans, but was fearful
of the consequences should a general Indian war result.
From this circumstance grew the first attempt at a
representative government in ^ew York.

^^The council of twelve", or^ ^^ The twelve
inen^" 1641. — In his perplexity Kieft summoned
"all the masters and heads of families to meet him

* On De Vries plantation on Staten Island.

1641] The Council of Twelve 6?

in Fort Amsterdam to resolve on something of the
first necessity." This was the first popular meeting
ever held in Xew K'etherland, the first recognition of
the right of the people to a voice in the affairs of the
colony, and, as such, should be placed to the credit of
Governor Kieft. The question he proposed to the
meeting showed that his own mind was already made
up, and that he only wanted the sanction of the
people to what he was about to undertake. But even
this was a concession to the growing demand for a
share in the government*. This assembly chose
^'Twelve select men" to consider the question sub-
mitted, and the "twelve" elected David Pietersen De
Vries as their presidentf.

Their answer to the governor contained one re-
markable sentence; " God and the opportunity ought
to be taken into consideration."

The " twelve" assented to the hostilities proposed,
but advised the hot-headed governor to proceed

*This is the question he proposed: "Is it not just
that the murder lately committed by a savage upon
Claus Smits be avenged and punished; and in case
the Indians will not surrender the murderer, is it not
just to destroy the whole village to which he belongs?
In what manner ought this to be done?"

fDe Vries, who was competent to speak, and not
likely to give Kieft undue credit, says they were
selected to aid in the management of the affairs of the
colony; but Van der Donck, in his " Yertoogh " writ-
ten soon after Kieft's recall says they had " neither vote
nor advice in judicial matters", but "were chosen to
serve as cloaks and ' cats-paws ' in time of war ".

68 Governor Kieft [Period III

Demands of the ^^ twelve '% 1642.— The next
year Kieft called the " Council of Twelve" together,
and while it was agreed that war should begin at once,
they insisted that Kieft should lead the expedition in

They were bold enough to demand also some re-
forms in the government of the colony. They com-
plained of the arbitrary constitution of the govern-
ment; they asked that four persons be chosen from
their number (two to retire each year), " 'who shall
have access to the council so that taxes may not be
imposed on the country in the absence of the twelve " ;
and they reminded him that while in Holland the
smallest village had a board of from five to seven
schepens, Manhattan had none. They also asked
that all freemen should be allowed to visit vessels
arriving from abroad, as was the custom in their
native country; and that all colonists should have the
right to go and come freely and to trade where they
pleased, provided they paid the company's duties.

Kieft was grieved at the unsolicited advice given by
the " twelve", and plainly told them that their duties
ended with the case of the murdered Smits. A few of
their requests were granted, and to save himself from
their further meddling in his affairs, the governor
issued a proclamation in which he thanked the
*' twelve", dismissed them, and forbade the calling of
other assemblies, " without express orders of the direc-
tor". Thus for the time, ended popular governoient
in New Netherland.

The governor now having the sanction he desired
did not delay the campaign. Fortunately the Indians

1643] The Year of Blood 69

submitted in time to save both parties from the conse-
quences of their folly, and a temporary peace was
made which postponed, but did not avert the war.

The year of bloody 1643.— In the early annals of
JS'ew Xetherland the year 1643 was always known as
*'the year of blood ". In Xew England there was
general alarm over reports of an intended rising of all
the Indian tribes in those colonies, while in ]S"ew
:N'etherland there was a feeling of insecurity among
all the outlying settlements. The almost universal
fear was soon realized. The trouble began with a
drunken Indian who murdered a Dutch settler.

De Vries, the peace maker, undertook to prevent an
outbreak. After giving his personal promise of their
safety, he persuaded the sachems of the Hackensacks
to go to the fort, see the governor, and offer full
atonement, according to their standard, in money.
This they did, but Kieft was inexorable; the guilty
Indian must be delivered up*.

Before Kieft had time to take this matter in hand a
more serious e^ent occurred, which drove the first
from men's minds.

One winter's night, some neighboring Indians hav-
ing been attacked by another river tribe, sought refuge
among the whites. De Vries and others were trying to

* The Indians would not do this, but they read the
governor a temperance lecture which has rarely been
equalled. " Why do you sell brandy to our young
men ? They are not used to it; it makes them crazy.
Kyen your own people sometimes become drunk and
fight. Sell no more strong drink and you will save

70 Governor Kieft [Period III

protect these savages, when Kieft ordered his soldiery
to assault them, and in spite of the protests of their
protectors, they were murdered.

Such an act could bring but one result; all the tribes
were at once in arms. The farms were laid waste, the
farmers murdered, and many of the smaller settlements
entirely destroyed. Kieft was now bitterly reproached,
and his life was in danger from the people he had
come to govern.

De Vries had suffered much from the Indians, but
he was opposed to Kieft 's policy of going to war with
them. When his colony of Swansdaie had been de-
stroyed he had not retaliated, but had made peace with
the guilty tribe, which had became his friends. When
the Raritans had laid waste his settlement on Staten
Island, he was still for peace, but Kieft offered a re-
ward for the Raritans who had been concerned in the
matter. The war which followed nearly depopulated
the colony. The Indians on Long Island, hitherto
always friendly, made common cause with the other
savages. Tribes that had never agreed before united
to drive the Dutch into the sea. Eleven tribes were
in the league. The attacks came from every side;
they came by day and by night; they swarmed on the
settlers from swamps and thickets.

Vriesdale was destroyed, and De Vries himself was
in danger. He was in his manor house when, in the
midst of the attack, word was passed to the besiegers
that he was a friend to the Indians, and instantly the
seige was raised. Going down to Manhattan, De Vries
entered the fort where Kieft was safely housed, and
indignantly reminded the governor of his warning.

1643] The Eight Men 71

'' Did I not tell you that you were only helping to
shed Christian blood ? " he demanded.

Kieft was humbled. The colony was rained, and
the people charged all their woes upon his head. Only
after much bloodshed was a peace arranged which lasted
till the following August (1643). Then the hatchet
was dug up and again war raged from the Connecti-
cut to the Hackensack. It spread to Xew Jersey and
even invaded the island of Manhattan.

The eight men, 1643.— The governor had dis-
banded the " twelve men " and in his extremity asked
the people to appoint eight men as a council. The
"eight" were very determined men*. They recom
mended the enlistment of as large a force as the colony
could equip. Fifty Englishmen enlisted and were
placed under, command of Captain Underbill, a veteran
of the Pequod war.

Little was done during the winterf. De Vries, hav-
ing lost everything and being weary with the constant
warfare with which he was surrounded, sailed for Hol-
land. As he was leaving, he called on Governor Kieft
and gave him solemn warning. "The murders," he
said, " in which you have shed so much innocent blood
will yet be visited on your own head."

Again the "eight men" came together and this
time they sent a most pitiful appeal to the states-

*The "eiglit men" suggested that a little less
" taverning" and more preaching would be good for
the people.

t It was this year that the palisade, or fence, with
a wall was built across Manhattan Island, marking
what is now known as Wall street.

72 Governor Kieft [Period III

general, describing the condition of the colony and
making complaint against the governor. In the spring
of 1644 the campaign was pushed with all the vigor
that was possible from the ruined colony. Captain
TJnderhill went to Connecticut and reduced the savages
there, then returned and pursued those nearer Man-
hattan. Unexpected aid now came. One hundred*
and thirty Dutch soldiers from the West Indies arrived
in time to be of real service.

The governor.and the '' eight men" now quarrelled
over the conduct of the campaign, and Captain Un-
derbill, with his English soldiers were dismissed. At
the close of 1644 the "eight men" sent another ap-
peal to Holland, and also begged for the recall of Gov-
ernor Kieft.

It is difficult, in oar time, even to imagine the
deplorable condition to which the colony was reduced.
For four years Xew Xetherland had hardly known rest
from Indian wars. Manhattan was nearly depopulated,
scarcely one hundred able-bodied men remained,
while 1,600 savages had been killed.

With the return of spring, the Indians again desired
peace, and Kieft most eagerly acquiesced. Rest was
at last brought to the distracted colony, and gradually
the people returned to their desolated farms.

Kieft recalled, 1647.— The demand for Kieft's
recall was now stronger than ever, and in 1647, he
took his departure, carrying with him the dislike of
the colony, but consoling himself with £20,000 which
he had been able to accumulate. In the same ship
sailed good Dominie Bogardus, who with Kieft and

1647] Summary of his Admii^^istration^ 73

eighty others perished in the wreck of their vessel on
the home voyage.

Soon after Kief t's departure came Peter Stuyvesant,
the sixth and last Dutch governor.


1. Governor William Kieft. His character.

2. Some improvements made.

3. The Swedes on the Delaware. Fort Christina.

4. Complaints against the West India Company.

5. Complaints against the Patroons.

6. The opening of trade. ESect of.

7. Controversy over Long Island.

8. Extent of the Kensselaer patroonship.

9. Indian troubles; origin of.

10. Kieft's unwise policy.

11. Troubles with the Pari tans.

12. The Claus Smits trouble.

13. Origin of "The Council of Twelve". Their

14. The action of the twelve.

15. The complaints of the twelve and their discharge.

16. The "year of blood", 1643; De Vries; the
*' eight men ".

17. Captain John Underhill.

18. The complaint of the " eight men ".

19. Effects of Kieft's wars.

20. Fate of Kieft and Dominie Bogardus.


The Lart Dutch Governor, Peter Stuyvesant,

Peter Stuyvesant. — The new governor was a gal-
lant soldier who had seen
much service in the wars of
Holland, but he was very in-
experienced in administrative

It being now the sincere
wish of the West India Com-
pany to improve the condi-
tion of their colony, Stuyve-
sant's duties were outlined

Peter Stuyvesant, 1602-1682 x- i, • j! ii xr

lor him as lollows: He was
to keep peace with the Indians; to repair the fort; to
make sure the English did not further encroach on the
territory of Xew Netherland ; to induce the settle-
ment of desirable colonists; to prevent the sale of
arms to the Indians; to maintain a permanent garri-
son; and to open trade to all the inhabitants.

This was work enough to tax the wit of a wiser man
than Governor Stuyvesant. Fortunately for him, the
Iroquois kept their early treaties, and gave little
trouble, while, thanks to Kiett's blood-thirsty policy,
the neighboring tribes had been nearly exterminated
and were incapable of doing much harm.


1647] Demand for Self-Government 75

Settlers were ready to come to the colony at any
time whenever its affairs ga^e promise of being peaceful
and Its proprietors were willing to allow a laboring man
the Irmts of his industry. The English problem
promised to give trouble and the Swedes, now well
established on the Delaware, evidently intended to
maintain their position in spite of Stuyvesant's

The people of Manhattan were rejoiced when their
new governor came, and they wished to pay him their
respects. When they had been kept waiting bare-
headed in the sun for an hour, and were told by Stuy-
vesant that he had come to govern them "as a father
would govern his children ", some of them went away
m doubt. He soon showed the burghers that, like
Kieft, he regarded them as his "subjects". He de-
clared that it was " treason to appeal from the decision
of one's superiors", and that if any one appealed
from his decisions he " would make him a foot shorter
and send the pieces to Holland ". '

However, he showed himself a despot "with a bite
not so bad as his bark.". He reformed many abuses.
He was tyrannical but jnst, and treated the Indians
with kindness.

A demand for self-govei iinieut, 1647.-Concern-
mg one matter Stuyvesant found the people stubbornly
insistent. They remembered the local self-government
o± Holland. They demanded the same freedom, and
the same share in the government of Xew ^^etherland
that they had enjoyed in the "Fatherland"; while
fetuyvesant, more accustomed to camps than courts,
had no likmg for free institutions, and preferred good

76 Governor Stuyvesant [Period III

dividends for the stockholders to the advice of the
common people, whom he held in great contempt.
But these demands finally became so imperative, they
could be no longer ignored.

An election was therefore held in which Manhat-
tan, Breuckelen, Amersfort (Flatlands), and Pa^^onia
participated. Eighteen '' of the most notable, reason-
able, honftst, and respectable" persons among them
were selected, from whom, according to customs in the
*' Fatherland ", the " director and his council" were
to choose " Nine Men'^ to " advise and assist the gover-
nor when called upon^\ A small concession to the
popular demand for a share in the government! It
was, however, a recognition that the people existed,
and as such they accepted it.

The ^^nine men". — Stuyvesant ambiguously de-
fined the powers and duties of the " nine " as follows:
They were " to promote the honor of God and the wel-
fare of our dear Fatherland;" to "preserve pure Re-
formed religion;" "to meet only when convened in a
legitimate manner; " and " whencalled upon " they were
" to bring forward their advice." Three of the nine
were to have seats by rotation in the council once a
week, to whom, as arbitrators, civil cases "might be
referred". It would be difficult to hedge about more
completely the powers of any body of public offices.

One of the first matters recommended by the " nine "
was the reorganization of the public school, thus prov-
ing their genuine interest in the concerns of the colony.

Stiiyvesant's intolerance. — For a time this small
share in the government was accepted with good grace,

1649] The A^ine Mei^ 77

but soon, having plenty of proofs that the governor
would in no sense be bound by their opinions, the
^' nine " thought it wise to preserve in a proper jour-
nal the transactions of his council*.

Stuyvesant was even more intolerant in religious
matters. Until this time there had been absolute
freedom of religious worship in the colony. The new
governor proposed to allow none except the Dutch
Reformed services. In 1656 he imposed a fine of one
hundred Flemish pounds on any who should preach
without a license. For this he was rebuked by the
company. In the next year some Quakers, driven from
Plymouth, came to Manhattan. Enraged beyond
measure at their advent, Stuyvesant scourged, impris-
oned, and finally drove them from the colony.

The memorial of 1649. — Stuyvesant's efforts at
repression only excited to a greater degree the growing
sentiment in favor of popular government. This
resulted in 1649 in a memorial to the states-general in
which the "nine men" plainly stated the wishes of
the colonists.

They made three requests which were ably enforced
with earnest arguments :

1. Xew Xetherland should be peopled at once with
•colonists from Holland, brought over in public vessels.

2. The states-general should immediately establish
& " suitable burgher government resembling that of
the Fatherland".

*This duty they imposed on Adrian Von der Donck
one of their number. Stuyvesant arrested him and
lodged him in jail.

78 Governor Stuyyesant [Period III

3. The boundaries of Xew Xetherland should be
established so that the people might "dwell in peace
and quietness".

These were the chief points in the memorial, but
the " nine men " explained in marginal remarks the
organization of the Xew England colonies wheVe
" neither patroon nor lord was known but only the

With this went a popular remonstrance in which
complaint was made of the mismanagement of the
West India Company, concluding with these memor-
able words: "In our opinion this country will never
flourish under the government of the honorable com-
pany, but will pass away and come to an end. There-
fore it would be more profitable for them and better
for the country that they should be rid thereof and
their effects transported hence."

This " vertoogh ", or remonstrance, and the
memorial were intrusted to three men, who with

Online LibraryWilliam Reed PrenticeHistory of New York state (Volume 1) → online text (page 4 of 34)