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Dominie Backerus departed for Holland, July 6, 1G49.

The commission to Holland, 1(>50. — The three
commissioners sent to the fatherland performed their
duty faithfully. For the first time in the history of
the colony its affairs were truthfully presented to the
home government, while an agent whom Stuyvesant
also sent over presented the governor's side of the
matter in complaint.

So much had never before been heard of Xew Xeth-
erland. A member of the Amsterdam chamber of
deputies wrote to Stuyvesant, "The name 'Xew
Xetherland ' was hardly ever before mentioned here ;,
now it would seem that heaven and earth are inter-

1650] The Commission to Holland 79

ested in it." Interest in the almost forgotten colony
across the Atlantic was excited, and the states-general
reported a remedy which they thought should give
satisfaction to all parties.

In the "order" which they issued, the following
important directions were given:

1. They condemned Kieft's Indian wars, and directed
that thereafter no hostilities should be Avaged against
the Indians except by the approval of the states-general.

2. Trade in guns with the Indians was to be discon-

3. Three additional clergymen should be provided
and schools established.

4. The adininistratioa and collection of taxes should be
regulated by the people.

0. Two members of the council should be chosen by
the commonalty, and a burgher government established
in Manhattan.

(5. The "nine men" should continue three years
longer and have jurisdiction in cases between "man
and man '\

7. Private ships sailing from Holland to New Xether-
land should be compelled to carry emigrants, for which
purpose 15,000 guilders should be annually expended *.

The plan of the commissioners did not meet the

* Three other matters of complaint were also regu-
lated. All sales ot real estate were made void unless ap-
proved by the director and council ; bread was required
to be made of a standard weight and quality; and the
currency was regulated. For lack of current specie,
wampum was made lawfully current, at the rate of
three black or six white beads for one " stiver".

80 Governor Stuyvesant [Period III

fond expectations of the commonalty, while the Am-
sterdam directors on their part, prepared to resist as
far as possible even these small concessions to the
popular demands.

The Hartford treaty. — One of the most impor-
tant events of Stuyvesant's administration also oc-
curred in IGoO.

In the midst of his controversies at home, he under-
took a settlement of the long standing difficulty on
Long Island and on the Connecticut river.

For this purpose he visited Hartford, undertaking,
as he explained, " this long and troublesome journey '^
for the purpose of arranging a definite and final un-
derstanding with the English. All the points in con-
troversy were reviewed, and at last it was agreed that
the question in dispute should be submitted to four
commissioners, two to be appointed by each party.
Stuyvesant chose two Englishmen, citizens of Man-
hattan, to act for him.

The decision of this commission was that the
Dutch should retain their lands in Hartford (trading
post only), and that the bonnda^^y between the two
colonies should be a line drawn across Long Island
from the west side of Oyster Bay to the sea; also a
line from the west side of Greenwich Bay, north
twenty miles and after that, not less than ten miles
from the Hudson river*.

Fort Nassau and New Sweden. — In July, 1651,

* It will be noticed that this line north of the
Sound is substantially the division between the States

1655] The Hartford Treaty; Fort Casimek 81

Stuyvesant went to Xew Sweden to look after the
interests of the West India Company on the Delaware.
He visited Fort Xassau (see page 62), and, finding it
too far up the river fur any practical purpose, he had
it demolished and caused another to be constructed on
lands purchased of the Indians, just below the Swed-
ish Fort Christina near the present site of Xew Castle.
This he named Fort Casimer.

Stuyvesant 's action brought on a crisis. Three
years later, in 1654, the government of Sweden sent
over a strong force under command of a new gover-
nor, John Rising. These appeared before Fort Casi-
mer on Trinity Sunday. The Dutch commander had
no means of defence, so he w-ilked out, leaving the
gates of the fort wide open. The Swedes occupied it,
and called it Fort Trinity.

Recapture of Fort Casimer.— When the news of
this event reached Stuyvesant he was expecting an
attack from an English force, and was perplexed as to
what course of action he should follow. The English
did not come; Stuyvesant was therefore ordered by
the states-general to re-take Fort Casimer, and en-
tirely destroy the power of the Swedes on both sides
of the Delaware. In September, 1655, the governor
sailed from Xew Amsterdam for the Delaware with a
fleet of seven ships and seven hundred men. The
landing was made near Fort Christina. Stuyvesant
placed a force between the two forts and demanded the
surrender of lort Casimer and all forts in the colony.
The demand was soon complied with, and the rule of
the Swedes on the Delaware was ended. The next day,
Sunday, Dominie Megapolensis, who had accompanied

82 Governor Stuyvesakt [Period III

the expedition, preached a sermon to the troops, and
Stuyvesant despatched an account of his bloodless
victory to Manhattan and ordered a day of thanks-
giving. ,

The burglier act. — When, in answer to the memo-
rial of 1649, the states-general had directed the estab-
lishment of a burgher government at Manhattan, it was
intended that this should be done at once.

Opposed as this concession was both by the directors
of the West India Company, who saw in it their ulti-
mate downfall, and by Governor Stuyvesant, who op-
posed it on principle, it was too much to suppose that
it would be done while it could on any excuse be de-
layed. Three years had now passed during which the
people had continued to plead for their rights. At
last the company yielded, and in April, 1(352, it was
directed that the citizens be allowed to elect two bur-
gomasters, five schepens, and a schout^ "as much as
possible after the custom in Amsterdam."

These officers were to constitute a municipal court
of justice, subject only to the right of appeal to the
supreme court of the province. The concession for
which the people had so long prayed had been granted,
and there was general satisfaction over the event. The
joy with which it was heralded was somewhat cooled,
when on Candlemas day, February 2, 1653, the day the
new government was to be established, Stuyvesant to
whom self-government was an unknown term, himself

* A burgomaster was a governing magistrate ; a schepen
was an alderman, and a schout was a prosecuting attor-
ney, a judge, and a sheriff.

1653] Mai^hattai*^ becomes New Amsterdam 83

named the municipal officers, and defined their duties.
At the same time he informed those worthies that their
existence did not in any way limit his powers.

Manhattan becomes the city of New Amsterdam,
1653. — A few days afterward, the newly appointed
officers met and gave notice that their ordinary meet-
ings would be held every Monday morning at nine
o'clock, in the building hitherto called the " City Tav-
ern and now known as the Stadt Huys or City Hall ".
A solemn form of prayers was adopted with which
their meetings were thereafter to be opened, a record
book was prepared, and the village of Manhattan had
become the city of Kew Amsterdam.

The colonies prepare for war. — It is easy now to
see how rapidly events were drifting toward the final
overthrow of the Dutch power in America. In 1653
England and Holland were again at war. Stuyvesant
proposed to the English colonies that the commercial
relations which had existed between them and New
Netherland should continue; but at the same time he
prepared for possible war by strengthening the forti-
fications and compelling people of all classes to mount
guard and be ready to defend the city day or night.

The New Englanders had received a report from
some mischief-maker that Stuyvesant was inciting the
Indians in their colonies to re-open hostilities. This
was denied by the Indian chiefs, but the denial did
not satisfy the English, and they determined that
Stuyvesant must answer for himself. For this pur-
pose a peace commission was appointed to go to New
Amsterdam and question the governor, but at the

84 Governor Stuyyesant [Period III

same time an expedition against the Dutch was made
ready, " in case God called the colonists to war."

John Leverett, one of the peace commissioners, had
been chosen to command the expedition on his 'return.
It was evident that these commissioners were not anx-
ious to bring about a settlement, and nothing came of
their mission. After much parlying, and a warning to
Governor Stuyvesant, not to " offer any injury to any
English in these parts" the commission departed for

The general convention of 1653. — This meeting
sprang from two causes: First, the contention between
the Dutch and English on Long Island; second, op-
position of all parties to what they were pleased to call
"the arbitrary conduct of the governor".

It was the most important convention that had ever
been held in 'Hew Netherland. It met at New Amster-
dam, Dec. 10, 1653. Xineteen delegates were present
from eight villages. The principal action of this con-
vention was the preparation of an address setting forth
their complaints, which may be summarized as follows:

1. The establishment of an arbitrary government is

2. The provincial government does not protect the
people against the savages.

3. Officers and magistrates are appointed without
the consent of the people.

4. Old orders and proclamations of the director
and council, of which the people are ignorant, are
forced upon them.

1. Promised patents on which improvements have
been made are delayed.

1653] Threatened War WITH Xew Ek^glain^d 85

6. Large grants of lands have been made to

Stiiyvesant's answer.— To this indictment Stuy-
vesant made a lengthy answer, showing how much had
already been granted, charging the people with ingrati-
tude, and telling them he derived his power "from
God and the company". He then ordered them to-
disperse, on pain of his "highest displeasure".

The people again sent their complaints to the states-
general, this time by the hand of Francois C. Bleeuw,
an advocate.

Gradually small concessions were now made; grudg-
ingly by the company, grumblingly by Stuy vesant ; but
until 1658 were the burghers and schepens appointed
from the men selected by the municipality, and it was
two years later still that the people were allowed to
elect their own schout.

The New England colonies threaten war. — Most
startling rumors now disturbed Xew Amsterdam. In

1663 it was reported that an
English fleet would soon come
to subdue Xew Xetherland.
'^ ^^ HS '^^® New England colonies

f WiW^ MS'^ were at once aroused and pre-

pared to join in an expedition
against the Dutch. They en-
trusted the command of their
forces to Miles Standish and
Oliver cro^ll, 1599-1658; Captain Thomas Willctt (the

Protector 1653-1658 Jitter being OUe of the mCU

whom Stuyvesant had so generously ^ chosen as his

86 Governor Stuyvesant [Period III

agents to negotiate the Hartford treaty). There were
grounds for this rumor, for at that very tikie the plot
against Holland was being matured.

Cromwell had in 1654 made a treaty of peace with
Holland and this had been
observed by both countries
until the accession of Charles
II to the throne of his father
in 1660. One of Charles's
first acts was to send as a min-
ister to The Hague George
Downing, who had lived in
Massachusetts, and had been
chaui.ks u, i('.:?()-i685: educated at Cambridge. He
Reigned 1661-1685 ^^g ambitious and uuscrupu-

lous. He went to Holland fully charged with hate
against the Dutch colony and intent on accomplishing
its ruin. In the same year Charles added more stringent
regulations to the enforcement of the first navigation
act of Cromwell's administration, which aimed a direct
blow at the commerce of Holland and her colonies. For
two years a treaty of commercial alliance was in nego-
tiation between the two countries. After many days
this was signed at Whitehall, September 14, 16 02.

The Dutch accepted the terms of this treaty in good
faith and loyally carried out their part. King Charles,
however, entirely ignoring this transaction, at once
granted to Connecticut a charter which included all
the territory from Xarragansett Bay westward to the
Pacific ocean. He thus set aside the treaty of Hart-
ford (1650) and gave to Connecticut the very heart of
New Netherland. For a year Stuyvesant carried on

1663] Difficulties Multiply 87

negotiations with the Xew England colonies in a sin-
cere effort to bring about a settlement, but to no

Trouble with the Esopus Indians. — The Dutch
, had for a year been carrying on war with the Indians
about Esopus. These savages had given trouble be-
fore, but a peace had been made with them and for
three years the village had prospered.

In June, 1663, with scarcely any warning they were
again on the "warpath". They burned the village
of Esopus, mui'dered a large number of the inhabi-
tants, and carried away many women and children.
A party of friendly Mohawks interfered and recovered
a part of the captives. Then an expedition was sent
out against the Indians and after four months of de-
termined warfare they were at length subdued.

Stnyvesant asks advice.— Stuyvesant for the first
time sought advice from the municipal authorities.
They loyally supported him, at the same time declar-
ing that they held the West India Cox'npany responsible
for the troubles of the colony. They recommended
that the city be completely fortified; that a loan of
30,000 guilders be raised; and that two hundred militia
and one hundred and sixty soldiers be enlisted.

A temporary arrangement was patched up with the
English in Connecticut and on Long Island, but the con-
ditions were so serious that the burgomasters advised
that a " Landt-tag " or assembly be called.

The *' Landt-tag" of 1664. Close of Stuyve-
sant'S rule. — On April 10, 1664, the delegates met
in the city hall. Eepresentatives appeared from New

88 Governor Stuyvesant [Period III

Amsterdam, Rensselaerwick, Fort Orange, Breuckelen,
Midwout, Xew Utrecht, Xew Haerlem, Bergen, and
Staten Island. Governor Stuvyesant met with them.
The assembly thought it the duty of the provincial gov-
ernment to protect the people against the Indians and
*' those malignant English". Stuyvesant informed
them that the government of New Amsterdam had
even exceeded its powers in that direction. He also
stated that the company had already expended 1,200,-
000 guilders more than it had received.

The assembly being unable to suggest a remedy
adjourned for one week. Meantime the states-general
for the first time took action. That body promised
intervention at London against the encroachments of
the English. While this was in progress, a treaty was
ratified with the Esopus Indians. Everything seemed
to be so serene that the assembly again adjourned, and
the governor proclaimed another day of thanksgiving.
A month later, King Charles made his grant to his
dissolute brother, the Duke of York.

Thus were the last days of Stuyvesant's administra-
tion mainly taken up with the petty cares of his office.
The people of New Amsterdam still persistently de-
manded the possession of those political rights to
which they felt themselves entitled, but the fulfillment
of which he had as persistently obstructed.


1. Character of Governor Stuyvesant.

2. His duties. The condition of the colony.

3. The demands of the people.

4. The first popular meeting.

1664] Summary of his Admhtistration 89

5. The "nine men"; how chosen; their duties.

6. Stuyvesant's intolerance.

7. The "memorial of 1649"; its demands.

8. Effect of memorial in Holland.

9. Action of the states-general.

10. Better regulations in Xew Amsterdam.

11. The Hartford treaty, 1650. Result of. The
line drawn.

12. Fort Xassau and the Swedes. Fort Casimer.

13. Stuyvesant on the Delaware, 1655.

14. The burgher act; nature of.

15. Stuyvesant's action.

16. City of Xew Amsterdam, 1653.

17. Dominie Megapolensis.

18. The New England peace commission.

19. The convention of 1653. Object of.

20. The address ; its nature.

21. Stuyvesant's answer.

22. King Charles II and New Netherland.

23. The J^sopus Indians.

24. The Landt-tag of 1664; character and object of.

25. Its recommendations.


^"^Ew York in Stuyvesant's Time

The city, which then contained a population of less
than a thousand, would not be recognized by the most
loyal New Yorker of to-day. The houses were mainly
clustered about the fort, rather than arranged on
streets. Such streets as existed were narrow, crooked,
unpaved, without sidewalks, and not lighted at night.
Broadway was a country road, straying north from the
battery, up hill and down dale, until it was lost in the
forests which still covered most of the island. The
fort was not a formidable affair, but was built for pro-
tection against too familiar Indian neighbors.

Bricks were still brought from Holland, and were so
costly that for the most part the houses were constructed
of wood, many of these having the imposing front and
steep gables of yellow brick, after the fashion then
common in Holland. The roofs of the poorer houses
were of thatch, others of shingles, a few of tiles.

The front door was made of oak, often in two parts,
an upper and a lower, and ornamented with a great
brass knocker in the shape of a dog's or lion's head,
which must be burnished every day.

Inside the house, the most prominent features were
the sanded floors of hewn oak, the great yawning fire-
places, the heavy carved furniture, the high-posted
beds, the tall Dutch clock, the great cupboards filled


1650] The Minister AKD THE Schoolmaster 91
with Delft ware,-never brought out except on state
ocoas,ons. The most important room in'the ho^Ise
was the great kitchen, really the living room of the
fam,]y, where the women worked by day and where
the men gathered to smoke at evening.

The people were simple in their tastes, their liring
was plain, their food wholesome and abundant. Labor
was honorable, and idleness was accounted a crime
It the income was small, the expenditures were less'
The women were particularly domestic ; and every house-
wife was expected to know how to card wool and tlax
to spin, to weave, to bake and brew.

There were few who could not read and write; edu-
cation ,f not broad was general. Schools were com-

Dutch: They were free, and had celebrated their
greatest m.htary victories by founding universities,
and hey had opened elementary schools for the rich
and the poor together. " Motley says of Holland : " It
was a land where every child went to school; where
almost every individual inhabitant could read and

Into New Netherland the minister and the school-
master came together. The people had few books,
but the family bible and prayer-book were in ever^
no use. -^

All in all, it is probable that the early Dutch col-
onists left as marked and as healthful an impress on
the character of N,^ y^^^ ^^ ^.^ ^^^ p^^.^^^^ ^^

the character of New England. To them the home
was the foundation-stone of the State. In those early
homes dwelt virtue, honesty, industry, frugalty, and

92 New York in^ Stutvesant's Time [Period III

loyalty; and it is these qualities in the hearts of her
citizens, not great navies nor high battlements, that are
the strength of a State.

The simple habits of the people gave them more
leisure than their descendants have known, and this
often gave the impression that they were indolent.
Their housekeepers were as neat as those of Xew Eng-
land, but their more quiet ways gave time for repose
and sociability.

In their observance of the Sabbath they were quite
as strict as were the Puritans, but in a different way.
'No work must be done and all must go to church; but
they had no " Blue Laws ", and could enjoy them-
selves, even on that day.

Christmas early became a deeply religious festival,
but w^s at the same time a merry-making day. St.
Nicholas's image was the figure-head of the first emi-
grant ship that came to New Netherland, and for him
they named the first church they built.

Much was made of Xew Year's day. Visits were
exchanged and receptions held, when cake and wine
were offered to every guest.

In the church, a pew was set apart for the city
officials. Early on Sabbath morning those good men
gathered at the city hall, from which, preceded by the
bell-ringer with their cushions, they went in solemn
procession to the church.

The bell-ringer was, perhaps, the most useful man
in town, as he certainly was one of the most important
in appearance. He was a court official, the chorister
and reader at church, the grave-digger and sometimes
the schoolmaster; while in addition to these duties he

1650] Religious Tolerance 93

was a general waiter and factotum for the city magis-
trates. Those Dutch officials were serious men, and
could no more approve a joke than could a Puritan
minister. Their meetings were first opened with
solemn prayer, and they then proceeded to levy taxes,
impose fines, and lecture the governor.

Dutch tolerance. — In religious matters, the early
Dutch acknowledged but one church, the " Reformed
Church of Holland ", and but one ecclesiastical author-
ity, the " Synod of Dort", but in practice they toler-
ated all.

Until Stuyvesant's time there was no proscription,
and even he was rebuked for his interference. As a
natural result, many who could not endure the strict
Puritanical discipline of Xew England fled to Xew
Amsterdam. Hither came Anabaptists and Quakers,
Catholics and Huguenots, and all were made welcome.

Xew Amsterdam contained as great a mixture of
races as of religions. While the Plymouth colony
would not permit an Irishman even to land on their
shores, he passed into Xew Amsterdam unquestioned.
Father Jogues, who visited Xew Amsterdam at this
time, said he had counted 18 languages among its

The Waldeiises. — It has been said that God sifted
the old world to obtain seed with which to plant the
new. It would seem that in the seventeenth century
all the monarchs of Europe were insane in their
efforts to drive from their possessions the people who
were most needed here. The English Puritans came,
and were followed almost immediately by the Walloons,

94 New York ik Stuyvesant's Time [Period III

who may well be called the French " Pilgrims ", for
like the Puritans they fled from the country of their
birth to find a refuge in Holland, and like them crossed
the ocean to find a home m the American wilderness.

In 1657, hundreds of Waldenses, escaping from per-
secution, left the mountain valleys of Piedmont to
find a welcome and a home in 'New Netherland. Many
of these went to the Delaware, but others located on
Staten Island and Long Island where their descendants
have since remained.

The Huguenots. — The same description with
change of name would answer for the Huguenots.
They were French adherents to the cause of the Refor-
mation, and as such were subjected to the severest
persecution from 1560 to the promulgation of the
"Edict of Xantes ", in 1598. During these years
hundreds of thousands of the very best citizens of
France fled to England, Germany, Holland, the West
Indies, and to New York and the southern colonies,
while many thousands more had been put to death.
From 1598 to 1685 they were allowed comparative
peace and security, but in the latter year, Louis XIV
revoked the famous edict. Again the fires of persecu-
tion blazed forth, again the exodus began and continued
until France had lost fully one million of her very
best people.

Many of these French Protestants located in New
Netherland. They settled New Rochelle and other
early towns, bringing with them, as the Waldenses had
done, the church and the school, and names that,
somewhat modified, are to-day found scattered all over
our State.

1657] A Blending of Peoples 95

New ^etherland and New England. — It will not
-do to draw the inference that Dutch ideals were the
best, for the tide of English immigration which came in

Online LibraryWilliam Reed PrenticeHistory of New York state (Volume 1) → online text (page 5 of 34)