William Reed Prentice.

History of New York state (Volume 1) online

. (page 8 of 34)
Online LibraryWilliam Reed PrenticeHistory of New York state (Volume 1) → online text (page 8 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

12. Leisler's colonial congress; object; action of.

13. The new governor; his non-arrival; effect of.

14. Character of Governor Sloughter.

15. The coming of Ingoldsby.

16. Conflict with Leisler.

17. Arrival of Sloughter, 1691; the fate of Leisler.

18. Estimates of Leisler's character.


Ui^DER THE Ekglish, 1691-1702

Governor Sloughter's administration. — King
William's instructions to Governor Sloughter did not
promise a government very much more liberal than the
preceding ones had been. Indeed, in religious matters,
it was even more narrow. Papists were excepted in
the clause which otherwise granted liberty of conscience,
and in the council which he named not a Catholic was
included. He did however allow the people to be
represented in an assembly which was called soon after
he had secured possession of the fort* and the govern-
ment of the city.

The first royal assembly. — The first general
assembly ever to convene by direct authority of the
crown met on April 9, 1691. It consisted of seven-
teen members and it passed fourteen laws. It reaf-
firmed, substantially, the old " Charter of Liberties",
but illiberally, again, omitted Catholics from its
benefitsf .

From this time for many years, Xew York had con-
stant changes in her government.

In a century preceding the Revolution, there were

* Governor Sloughter'named the fort " Fort William
Henry", in honor of his sovereign.

t Like King James, King AVilliam was afraid of this
charter and disallowed it.


132 Governor Fletcher [Period IV

no less than 33 of these governors coming and going
as in a play, with scarcely time to set in motion any
orderly condition of affairs. Governor Sloughter died
in July, 1691, mourned by no one. He had made no
friends and had incurred the enmity of the whole Leis-
lerian party, now strong in the colony.

Grovernor rietcher, 1691. — Governor Fletcher is
described by early writers as a " man of strong pas-
sions but of inconsiderable talents ". He certainly
was nob fitted to govern the colony in its divided and
threatened condition.

In his administration of affairs he had two ruling

motives: to establish the

Church of England, and to

enrich himself. In one mat-

i y ^ ' ter, he availed himself of the

11 assistance of Major Peter

7 |x ^ \ Schuyler of Albany, who

' .v^ had almost unlimited influ-

'^' ence with the Iroquois. Un-

^# / i - der Schuyler's management

i^' - they remained the firm allies

PETEK Schuyler, 1657-1724 ^f ^j^^ English aS they had

been of the Dutch before them.

The first printing press was set up in Xew York in 1693
by AVilliam Bradford*, a Quaker from Philadelphia.

Soon after Bradford was established in New York
a journeyman printer called on him and asked for
work. Bradford did not need him, but gave him a

*In 1725 he published the first newspaper in the


letter to his son in Philadelphia, to which town the

printer departed on foot.
This was Benjamin Frank-
lin, and thus were his ser-
vices lost to :N^ew York and
transferred to Pennsyl-

The Earl of Bello-
moiit, 1695.— In 16 95
Fletcher was succeeded in
the office of governor by
EE..TAMIX FRAM.LIX, 1706-1790 Richard Coote, Earl of Bel-
lomont. The earl found plenty of trouble awaiting
him. As he frankly told the assembly, his predecesor
had left him as a legacy "a divided people, an empty
purse, a few almost naked soldiers, not half as many
as the king had been paying for, and the fort and gov-
ernor's house in ruins ".

He promised there should be no further misapplica-
tion of public money; that he would pocket none of it
himself nor allow others to do so; and that he would
try to find some way of reconciling their differences
and providing against abuse in elections.

On his arrival, Governor Bellomont had found
Count Frontenac still waging war on the Iroquois.
He sent Colonel John Schuyler and Domine Dellius to
Canada to notify the count of the treaty of Eyswick,
to demand a cessation of hostilities and to ask for an
exchange of prisoners,— " whether christians or In-
dians ". The old count refused to exchange any JS'ew
York Indians on the ground that they were all French
subjects. To this claim Governor Bellomont made a

134 GoYERHOR Bellomont [Period IV

bold answer: "If it is necessary, I will arm every
man in the provinces under my government to redress
any injury you may perpetrate against ojlv Indians.''^
Further, he threatened to retaliate by enforcing the
law against any Jesuit priest found in the colony.
While these negotiations were pending, Frontenac
died and the Indians were exchanged.

Fraudulent laud grauts. — An act of justice which
deserves special mention was Governor Bellomont's
recommendation to the English government that cer-
tain large grants of land on the Mohawk and Hudson
rivers, which were obtained during Fletcher's admin-
istration, should be vacated. One of these grants had
been obtained by Domine Dellius, a clergyman at Al-
bany, another by Nicholas Bayard. It was ordered
that these tracts should go back to the Indians to whom
they rightfully belonged. By subsequent purchase
these lands became the property of the crown, and
were opened to settlement.

Nothing in Bellomont's administration did more for
the future State than the measure by which this mag-
nificent valley was reserved to actual settlers, who soon
occupied it.

Freuch interference.— The French still continued
to meddle with the Iroqouis. This was so largely due
to the Jesuits that the governor persuaded the assembly
to pass a law for hanging every Jesuit priest who should
come voluntarily into the province*.

* It sounds very strange to our ears, but to Governor
Bellomont and the assembly of New York, 200 years
ago, the acts of these priests seemed a part of the
French plan to wrest from the colony of New York a

1695] Captain Kidd 135

The efforts to suppress piracy. — lu these times
private armed vessels, licensed and unlicensed, roved
the seas and robbed as they had opportunity.

Some had commissions from James II; others from
AVilliam III; many had no commissions, but committed
piracy and murder for emolument. The ships of any
nation were rifled and burned, those of England as
well as others, and the English government now began
to consider how to suppress piracy.

The English navy could not at that time spare a ship
for the purpose, so a private vessel was purchased by an
association of prominent Englishmen, together with
Robert Livingston and Governor Bellomont of Xew

The sailing of Captain Kidd. — A competent com-
mander was needed. Livingston knew the right man,
and on his recommendation he was engaged. William
Kidd had commanded a privateer against the French,
and while thus employed had in an engagement once
done the English government good service. He was

large part of its territory. In that light the law be-
comes a political rather than a religious measure.
The following is the act:

'■ Whereas, divers Jesuits, priests and popish missionaries, have of late
come and for Some time have had their residence in the remote parts of
this Province ttc. Ac, who by their wicked and subtle insinuations Indus-
triously labor to Debauch Seduce and withdraw the Indians from their due
obedience unto his most Sacred ma'ty, itc ttc. therefore, be it enacted &c.
that any Jesuit, Seminary Priest, Missionary or other Spiritual or Ecclesi-
astical! made or Ordained by any Authority power or Jurisdiction derived
Challenged or p'tended from the pope or See of Rome i^c i^c — who shall
continue or abide remain or come into this province shall be Accounted an
incendiary and disturber of the public peace and shall be adjudged to suffer
perpetuall imprisonment."

Colonial Laws Vol. I.

136 Gov^ERNOR Bellomont [Period lY

conveniently commissioned as a " privateer against the
French and to capture pirates in the Indian seas and
elsewhere ".

He took command of the '" Adventure ''\ left England
in April, 1696, and going to Xew York recruited his
crew up to 155 men.

Now Captain AVilliam Kidd was a man who did not
need to be told the value of such a commission as he
held and such endorsement as he had been given. He
promised his crew that he would " load the ship with
gold and silver ", and they should all be rich men. Of
course he went to fight pirates, but he could not always
distinguish pirate ships from others, — at least he did
not; and frequently he landed and pursued his occu-
pation on shore. He captured one English ship, and
though its captain offered 30,000 rupees ransom, it
was refused.

After many adventures abroad, he came to Long
Island Sound, and was said to have buried a part of
his vast treasure on Gardiner's Island. He finally ap-
peared on the streets of Boston " dressed as a gentle-
man"; was seen by Governor Bellomont, was arrested
and finally sent to England for trial, where he and
nine of his men were executed.

Of " Captain Kidd and his Treasure " many ballads
have been sung, and a thousand stories written, while,
at lengthening intervals, men still search for the hidden
gold and silver ^'^.

*The treasure hidden on Gardiner's Island was dis-
covered and delivered to Governor Bellomont. It is
known that 738 ounces of gold, 847 ounces of silver,
besides jewels were found.


His story is of importance to us, only as it helps us
to understand the times in which he lived. The effect
then produced is best told in the language of an histo-
rian who wrote in 1839 * " The adventures, piracy,
trial and execution of Captain Kidd made so great a
noise in America and England at the time, besides in-
volving the good fame of many English nobles, that I
must devote a few pages to the subsequent history of
this unhappy man. The Tory party in England,
endeavoring to, destroy the Whig ministry, charged
them with abetting Kidd in his piracies and sharing
the plunder. These gentlemen in conjunction with
Bellomont and Robert Livingston fitted out the 'Ad-
venture Galley' and Kidd had on Livingston's recom-
mendation been placed in command."

Death of Bellomont. — Lieutenaut-Goveruor
Nanfan^ 1701.^Governor Bellomont died in the city
of Xew York in March, 1701. Xaturally, a man of so
positive a nature left behind him many friends and
many bitter enemies. His apparent espousal of Leis-
ler's cause by the tardy act of humanity to his remains,
and the benefits extended to men of that party secured
for him the enmity of the aristocratic element.

He was succeeded by John Xanfan, lieutenant-gov-
ernor. But two events of Xanfan's brief administra-
tion need be mentioned. One was an act appropriating
$2,500 to strengthen the defences of Albany and
Schenectady, and to build a fort in the Onondaffa
country, with $4,000 for presents to the Iroquois f.

* William Dunlap in " History of Xew York ".
tin return the Indians ceded a large tract of land
to the crown.

138 Summary [Period IV

Another was the establishment of a new court of
Chancery, of which William Atwood was chief justice,
and Abraham de Peyster and Robert Walters were


1. Governor Sloughter's instructions.

2. The first Royal assembly, 1691; how convened,
its acts.

3. Death of Sloughter.

4. Governor Fletcher; character.

0. WiJliam Bradford and Benjamin Franklin.

6. Earl of Bellomont, governor, 1695; his charac-
ter; condition of colony; the earl's promises.

7. Justice to Leisler.

8. Bellomont and Frontenac.

9. The fraudulent land grants.

10. Law against Jesuit priests; reason for.

11. Piracy in 1695.

12. The story of Captain Kidd.

13. Bellomont's and Livingston's connection with

14. Lieutenant-Governor Xanfan; the Indians; the



Under the Englh^h, 1702-1708

Queen Anue; Lord Coriibiiry^ 1702. — In 1702

King William died without

an heir, and the crown of

:^^ J England went to Anne, sec-

W^ -o ond daughter of James 11.

1 . With her accession to the

throne fresh trouble came to

the colony. She at once ap-

pointed as governor a rela-

^"^^J^^v ^ ^^ tive, Sir Edward Hyde,

ANN^re^IiTH known as Lord Cornbury.

Reigned. 1702-1714 T h i S SOCmS to liaVC bcCU

done, not on account of his fitness, but to get him out
of the way of his creditors, and to give him an oppor-
tunity to recover his shattered fortunes. He appears
to have had scarcely one redeeming quality, yet the
colony suffered from his mal-administration for seven

Coiulitiou of the colouy of New York.— So many
and such frequent changes had occurred in the gov-
ernment of Xew York since the year 1623, when the
Dutch West India Company undertook the manage-
ment of its affairs, that one may well inquire, what was
the condition of the government in 1702 ? AVhat was
the real form of that government ? AVhat voice or



share had the people in it ? Had the seYeiity-nine
intervening years brought any improvement in the
condition of the people ?

Xew York in passing from the proprietorship of the
Dutch A¥est India Company to that of the Duke of
York, and later to the condition of a royal province
under the duke, afterward James II, had gained little
in the way of self-government. The people had a
small share in the management of their own affairs.
They could levy taxes; could grant or withhold money
intended for colonial purposes; and had a sort of
legislature, although the crown reserved the power of
appointment for two-thirds of its members, and also
an absolute veto power in regard to every law or meas-
ure passed by it.

The governor and lieutenant-governor were both ap-
pointed by the crown, without the consent of the colo-
nists, and as the governor named his own council it
could not be expected in any great degree to represent
the people.

Powers of a colonial gOYernor. — The governor
could convene and dissolve the assembly. He could
suspend members and fill the vacancies. He could
erect courts, appoint justices of the peace, and pardon
all offences, — treason and murder alone excepted.
Singularly enough, his salary was voted by the assem-
bly, but he had many ways of enriching himself and
his friends without the consent of the people.

To us this seems a very travesty on free government,
but it must be remembered that two hundred years
ago the world knew very little about representative
forms of government. The worst feature of all was

1702] Political Freedom ix 1702 141

that the governor was a satrap, so far from his sov-
ereign that there was very little limit to his powers,
particularly as he had a body of soldiers always at his
call. The time came when the people rebelled against
such a governing power. The colonies were then "at
school ", learning by slow degrees the art of self-

In one particular, the colony of Xew York led all
the others; this was in freedom of speech and con-
science. AVhen Peter Stuyvesant was forced to capitu-
late, he insisted on " Liberty of conscience and church
government now and forever". To this demand
NicoUs had agreed. Many attempts had been made to
break down this barrier to tyranny. AVith the coming
of Lord Oornbury, the battle over this sacred right had
again to be fought. The custom of the times was
not tolerance in religious faith, nor the spirit of charity
for others. Men professed to be the followers of
Christ, but few showed his spirit, or practised his
teachings *.

Cornbiiry's attempt to establish Episcopacy. —

Cornbury found the Dutch settlers with scarcely an
exception professing the Protestant faith as they under-
stood it, and acknowledging the authority of the Synod
of Dort. This, to Cornbury, was rank heresy. He set
to work with all his might to establish English Episco-
pacy, and directed that neither teachers nor preachers

* The spirit of the times was well illustrated by the
remark of an Iroquois Indian who, hearing for the
first time of the crucifixion of Christ, exclaimed, "I
wish I had been there ; I'd have taken all their scalps ! "

142 Governor Cornbuky [Period IV

should practise their callings unless licensed to do so

by the bishop of London.

At Hempstead, Long Island, was a Presbyterian
church with a regular minis-
ter. At Flushing and Oyster
Bay the Quakers had socie-
ties, while at Jamaica were
both a Dutch and an Episco-
pal church, between which
there had been an unpleasant

It so happened (a frequent

Edward Hyde, Viscount Corn- OCCUrrenCC, then), that a
BURY, Earl OF Clarendon, 1661-1723 malignant fcVCr broke OUt in

New York, and Governor Cornbury for his own safety
removed to Hempstead. The only good house there
was the. one owned by the Presbyterian church and
occupied by the minister. The governor asked for
this house. No one could refuse the governor, so the
minister moved out and our Lord Cornbury moved in.
Next he turned the church over to the Episcopalians,
justifying himself by that item in his instructions
which directed him " so far as was convenient to favor
the Church of England"*.

It was the custom of the times to construe both the
)aw and the king's orders to one's personal advantage.

East and West Jersey. — A formal commission
directed Lord Cornbury to govern also the whole of
New Jersey, the proprietors having surrendered all

* In 1728 this wrong was set right by the colonial

1T02] Enforcemext of the Navigation" Act 143

their powers to the crown. East and West Jersey were
therefore once more united in one province.

The '' iiarigatiou act " had been promulgated in
1660, but it had fallen into disuse. Lord Cornbury
was now instructed to enforce it, at a time when the
growing commerce of the colony made it particularly

It had been enacted by parliament that no commodi-
ties were to be imported into any British settlement in
'' Asia, Africa or America or exported thence except in
vessels built in England or her colonial possessions,"
and the master and at least three-fourths of the crew
must be British subjects. Also, certain enumerated
articles, such as sugar, cotton, tobacco, wool, etc., etc.,
raised or manufactured in the colonies, could be shipped
nowhere except to England. To this was afterwards
added the requirement that no European articles
should be shipped to any of the colonies unless the
vessels were laden in England.

The enforcement of the act at this time contributed
greatly to the unpopularity of Governor Cornbury,
and it was afterward one of the causes of the Revolution.

Dissatisfaction with the governor. — Lord Corn-
bury's demands for money soon began to be a cause of
dissatisfaction in the assembly. They voted £1,500
for batteries to protect Xew York, but having cause
to suspect that much of the money went to his lord-
ship's own use, they began to scrutinize his expendi-
tures. This oifended him; and in reply to their talk
about their "rights", he told them plainly they had
"no rights but such as her gracious majesty granted
them"! Indeed, under his honor's government, this

144 Governor Cornbury [Period IV

was nearly true. The assembly voted more money;
but instead of handing it over to the governor they
placed it in the hands of a treasurer, who was directed
to look after its disbursement.

Religious intolerance. — As if to make himself
still more unpopular the governor interfered more
actively in religious matters, his instructions making it
discretionary how far it was "convenient" for him
to go. He forbade the Dutch congregation to open
their church to a Presbyterian minister or to listen to
one. He imprisoned two ministers for preaching
without license.

His personal debaucheries might be overlooked or
forgiven, but his interference in matters of religious
belief they would not endure. They protested to the
queen with such vehemence aud in such numbers that
she revoked Cornbury's commission; and when the
royal authority had been withdrawn, his creditors
promptly threw him into prison for debt. Just then
his father died, he became a peer, and from a Wall
street jail he went to the British House of Lords.

But he will always have the reputation of being the
worst governor England sent to her colonies. It was
one of his habits to dress as a woman, as shown in his
portrait, page 142. This he pretended to do in honor
of Queen Anne, whom he thought himself to resemble.

New York in Queen Anne's War, 1702-1713.—

Again the peace of the American colonies was to be
disturbed by the petty quarrels of European sovereigns.
What in 1702 was known in Europe as the " War of
the Spanish Succession " was in this country called
" Queen Anne's War ". It made little difference to

1*708] Queers" Anne's War 145

the colonists who sat on the throne of Spain, but as
both France and England were participants of the
European quarrel, on opposite sides, the traditional
antipathy between Canada and the English colonies
was again fanned to a flame, and for eleven years the
strife went on.

That it fell so lightly on Xew York was largely due
to the efforts of Colonel Peter Schuyler. Through his
influence with the Iroquois, the friendship of those
fickle tribes was secured. Schuyler induced a sachem
from each tribe to accompany him to England. The
mission served a double purpose. The Indians were
deeply impressed with the power and resources of Eng-
land, and returned once more the staunch allies of the
English, while the British ministry authorized a cam-
paign for the conquest of Canada.

Schuyler on his return to Xew York stirred up the
military spirit there. Invasions of Canada were
planned and several expeditions were sent out. The
English fleet which was to have conquered Quebec was
wrecked at the mouth of the St. Lawrence, and the
contemplated invasions of Canada from Xew York
failed also. These operations served one good purpose
however; they prevented those Canadian expeditions
into our own State which fell so heavily year after
year upon Xew England. Canada was not conquered,
but the extraordinary expenses of this war made it
necessary for Xew York to issue bills of credit for
large amounts. This war was finally concluded in 1713
by the treaty of Utrecht.

Lord John Lovelace^ 1708.— In the midst of these
troubles Cornbury had departed, to be succeeded in

146 Governor Lovelace [Period IV

1708 by a new governor. The people felt that almost
any change must be for the better and they extended
a warm welcome to Lord Lovelace. His policy had
scarcely been announced when he died. He had, how-
ever, expressed a desire to have the finances of the
colony carefully examined, that the extravagances of
his predecessors might not be charged to him. He had
asked for an ample appropriation; this the assembly
voted, but they provided safeguards for its expenditure.


1. Queen Anne and Grovernor Cornbury.

2. Condition of colony in 1702; nature of the gov-
ernment; changes in its form; growth of popular gov-

3. Powers of colonial governors.

4. New York leads in " Liberty of Conscience ".

5. Cornbury and religious toleration.

6. East and West Jersey.

7. The navigation act ; trouble from its enforcement.

8. Cornbury's conflict with the assembly.

9. Protests against acts of governor.

10. Cornbury's recall; arrest and release.

11. Queen Anne's war; action of Iroquois.

12. Effect on New York.

13. Colonel Schuyler's mission to England; its ob-
ject and result.

14. Lovelace governor; character.



Governor Hunter. — The Palatines^ 1710.— Xow

came a man of wide experience and more than ordinary
ability. Governor Hunter had served in the English
army as a private soldier, but by his courage and his
manly bearing he had won promotion. He was ap-
pointed governor of Virginia; but while on his way to
that colony was captured by a French privateer and
on his release found himself appointed governor of
New York.

It was through Governor Hunter's influence that
3,000 Germans, natives of the Palatinate, came to the
colony of New York. They had removed to England
on account of the cruel policy of Louis XIV. A
large number settled in Pennsylvania, a few in Xew
York city, and the remainder in Schoharie county and
the valley of the Mohawk*. They proved a valuable
addition to the population of the Xew "World.

Coming as he did in the midst of one of the cam-
paigns against Canada, Governor Hunter had need of
wise counselors. Such men as Gerardus Beeckman,

Online LibraryWilliam Reed PrenticeHistory of New York state (Volume 1) → online text (page 8 of 34)