The seasons are the same as in the Netherlands, but the summer is warmer and begins more suddenly. The winter is cold, and further inland, or towards the most northerly part, colder than in the Netherlands. It is also subject to much snow, which remains long on the ground, and in the interior, three, four and five months; but near the seacoast it is quickly dissolved by the southerly winds. Thunder, lightning, rain, showers, hail, snow, frost, dew and the like, are the same as in the Netherlands, except that in the summer sudden gusts of wind are somewhat more frequent.
The land is adapted to the production of all kinds of winter and summer fruits, and with less trouble and tilling than in the Netherlands. It produces different kinds of woods, suitable for building houses and ships, whether large or small, consisting of oaks of various kinds, as post-oak, white smooth bark, white rough bark, gray bark, black bark, and still another kind which they call, from its softness, butter oak, the poorest of all, and not very valuable; the others, if cultivated as in the Netherlands, would be equal to any Flemish or Brabant oaks. It also yields several species of nut wood, in great abundance, such as oil-nuts, large and small; walnut of different sizes, in great abundance, and good for fuel, for which it is much used, and chestnut, the same as in the Netherlands, growing in the woods without order. There are three varieties of beech—water beech, common Beech, and hedge beech—also axe-handle wood, two species of canoe wood, ash, birch, pine, fir, juniper or wild cedar, linden, alder, willow, thorn, elder, and many other kinds useful for many purposes, but unknown to us by name, and which we will be glad to submit to the carpenters for further examination.
The indigenous fruits consist principally of acorns, some of which are very sweet; nuts of different kinds, chestnuts, beechnuts, but not many mulberries, plums, medlars, wild cherries, black currants, gooseberries, hazel nuts in great quantities, small apples, abundant strawberries throughout the country, with many other fruits and roots which the savages use. There is also plenty of bilberries or blueberries, together with ground-nuts and artichokes, which grow under ground. Almost the whole land is full of vines, in the wild woods as well as on the maize lands and flats; but they grow principally near to and upon the banks of the brooks, streams and rivers, which are numerous, and run conveniently and pleasantly everywhere, as if they were planted there. The grapes comprise many varieties, some white, some very fleshy, and only fit to make raisins of, others on the contrary juicy; some are very large and others small. The juice is pleasant, and some of it as white as French or Rhenish wine; some is a very deep red, like Tent,(1) and some is paler. The vines run much on the trees, and are shaded by their leaves, so that the grapes ripen late and are a little sour; but with the intelligent assistance of man, as fine wines would undoubtedly be made here as in any other country. In regard to other fruits, all those which grow in the Netherlands also grow very well in New Netherland, without requiring as much care to be bestowed upon them as is necessary there. Garden fruits succeed very well, yet are drier, sweeter, and more agreeable than in the Netherlands; for proof of which we may easily instance musk-melons, citrons or watermelons,(2) which in New Netherland grow right in the open fields, if the briars and weeds are kept from them, while in the Netherlands they require the close care of amateurs, or those who cultivate them for profit in gardens, and then they are neither so perfect by far, nor so palatable, as they are in New Netherland. In general all kinds of pumpkins and the like are also much drier, sweeter and more delicious, which is caused by the temperateness and amenity of the climate.
The tame cattle are in size and other respects about the same as in the Netherlands, but the English cattle and swine thrive and grow best, appearing to be better suited to the country than those from Holland. They require, too, less trouble, expense and attention; for it is not necessary in winter to look after such as are dry, or the swine, except that in the time of a deep snow they should have some attention. Milch cows also are much less trouble than they are in Holland, as most of the time, if any care be requisite, it is only for the purpose of giving them occasionally a little hay.
The wild animals are principally lines,(3) but they are few; bears, of which there are many, elks and deer in great numbers, some of which are entirely white, and others wholly black. The savages say that the white deer are of very great consequence in the estimation of the other deer, and are exceedingly beloved, regarded and honored by the others, but that the reverse is true of the black deer. There are various other large animals in the interior, but they are unknown to the Christians. There are also wolves, dangerous only to small cattle, beavers, otters, weasels, wild cats, foxes, raccoons, minks, hares, musk-rats, about as large as cats, pole-cats and squirrels, some of which can fly. There are also ground-hogs and other small animals, but they are for the most part, as we have said, not known to the Christians.
(1) A deep-red Spanish wine.
(2) The original has water-limoenen, water-citrons, for the watermelon, little known in Dutch gardens at this time, was regarded rather as a citron than as a melon.
Of birds this country is by no means without its share. There are great numbers of birds of prey, as eagles of two kinds—the bald-headed, which has the head, tail and principal wing-feathers white, and the common kind; hawks, buzzards, sparrow-hawks, crows, chicken-hawks, and many others, yet all are birds of prey and capable of being trained and used for hunting, though they differ somewhat in shape from those in the Netherlands. There is also a bird which has its head like a cat, and its body like a large owl, colored white.(1) We know no name for it in the Netherlands, but in France it is called grand duc, and is esteemed very highly.
(1) The cat-owl or great barred own, bubo Virginianus. It is not white, but neither is the grand duc, the European bubo. Van der Donck, in his Beschryvinge, says, "of a light ash color."
The other birds found in this country are turkies, the same as in the Netherlands, but they are wild, and are plentiest and best in winter; several kinds of partridges, some smaller than in the Netherlands, others larger, curlews, wood and water snipes, pheasants, heath-hens, cranes, herons, bitterns, multitudes of pigeons resembling ringdoves, but a little smaller; quails, merlins, thrushes, shore-runners, but in some respects different from those of the Netherlands. There are other small birds, some of which sing, but the names of most of them are unknown to us, and would take too long to enumerate. Water fowl are found here of different kinds, but all very good and fit to eat; such as the swans, similar to those in Netherlands and full as large; three kinds of geese, gray geese, which are the largest and best, bernicles and white-headed geese, ducks of different kinds, widgeons, divers, coots, cormorants and several others, but not so abundant as the foregoing.
The river fish are almost the same as in the Netherlands, comprising salmon, sturgeon, twelves, thirteens,(1) shad, carp, perch, pike, trout, roach, thickhead, suckers, sunfish, eel, nine-eyes or lampreys, both much more abundant and larger than in the Netherlands, besides many other valuable fish which we are unable to name.
(1) Striped bass and drum-fish.
In the salt water are caught codfish, haddock, weakfish, herring, mackerel, thornbacks, flounders, plaice, sheepshead, blackfish, sea-dogs, panyns and many others; also lobsters, crabs, great cockles, from which the Indians make the white and black zeewant, oysters and muscles in great quantities with many other kinds of shell-fish very similar to each other, for which we know no names, besides sea and land tortoises.
The venomous animals consist, for the most part, of adders and lizards, though they are harmless or nearly so. There are snakes of different kinds, which are not dangerous and flee before men if they possibly can, else they are usually beaten to death. The rattlesnakes, however, which have a rattle on the tail, with which they rattle very loudly when they are angry or intend to sting, and which grows every year a joint larger, are very malignant and do not readily retreat before a man or any other creature. Whoever is bitten by them runs great danger of his life, unless great care be taken; but fortunately they are not numerous, and there grown spontaneously in the country the true snakeroot, which is very highly esteemed by the Indians as an unfailing cure.
The medicinal plants found in New Netherland up to the present time, by little search, as far as they have come to our knowledge, consist principally of Venus' hair, hart's tongue, lingwort, polypody, white mullein, priest's shoe, garden and sea-beach orach, water germander, tower-mustard, sweet flag, sassafras, crowfoot, platain, shepherd's purse, mallows, wild marjoram, crane's bill, marsh-mallows, false eglantine, laurel, violet, blue flag, wild indigo, solomon's seal, dragon's blood, comfrey, milfoil, many sorts of fern, wild lilies of different kinds, agrimony, wild leek, blessed thistle, snakeroot, Spanish figs which grow out of the leaves,(2) tarragon and numerous other plants and flowers; but as we are not skilled in those things, we cannot say much of them; yet it is not to be doubted that experts would be able to find many simples of great and different virtues, in which we have confidence, principally because the Indians know how to cure very dangerous and perilous wounds and sores by roots, leaves and other little things.
(2) Probably the prickly pear.
It is certain that the Indigo silvestris grows here spontaneously without human aid. It could be easily cultivated if there were people who would undertake it; at least, the other species would grow very well and yield a good profit. We have seen proof of this in the colony of Renselaerswyck, though it was all sown too late and upon a barren rock where there was little earth. It came up very well, but in consequence of the drought turned very yellow and withered, and was neglected; nevertheless it was evident that if it were well covered it would succeed. Madder plants also would undoubtedly grow well both in field and gardens, and better than in Zeeland.
There may be discovered casually or by little search, different minerals, upon some of which tests have been made according to our limited means, and which are found good. We have attempted several times to send specimens of them to the Netherlands, once with Arent van Corenben by way of New Haven and of England, but the ship was wrecked and no tidings of it have ever been received.(1) After that Director William Kieft also had many different specimens with him in the ship the Princess, but they were lost in her with him.(2) The mountains and mines nevertheless remain, and are easily to be found again whenever it may be thought proper to go to the labor and expense. In New England they have already progressed so far as to make castings of iron pots, tankards, balls and the like out of their minerals, and we firmly believe all that is wanting here is to have a beginning made; for there are in New Netherland two kinds of marcasite, and mines of white and yellow quicksilver, of gold, silver, copper, iron, black lead and hard coal. It is supposed that tin and lead will also be found; but who will seek after them or who will make use of them as long as there are not more people?
(1) Arent Corssen. Van der Donck says that he and Kieft saw an Indian painting his face with a shining mineral. They had it assayed, and it proved to contain gold. Arent Corssen, sent to Holland with a bag of it, embarked early in 1646 in the "great ship" of New Haven, Captain George Lamberton, for whose return into the harbor as a phantom ship, months afterward, see Cotton Mather's Magnalia, I. 84 (ed. of 1853), and Longfellow's poem, "The Phantom Ship."
(2) In August, 1647, some months after Stuyvesant's arrival, Kieft sailed for Holland. With him sailed his enemy Domine Bogardus, and the chief victims of his and Stuyvesant's persecution, Kuyter and Melyn. The ship was wrecked on the Welsh coast. Kieft was drowned; his opponents escaped.
Fuller's earth is found in abundance, and [Armenian] bole; also white, red, yellow, blue and black clay very solid and greasy, and should be suitable for many purposes; earth for bricks and for tiles, mountain-chrystal, glass like that of Muscovy,(1) green serpentine stone in great abundance, blue limestone, slate, red grindstone, flint, paving stone, large quantities of all varieties of quarry stone suitable for hewing mill-stones and for building all kinds of walls, asbestos and very many other kinds applicable to the use of man. There are different paints, but the Christians are not skilled in them. They are seen daily on the Indians, who understand their nature and use them to paint themselves in different colors. If it were not that explorers are wanting, our people would be able to find them and provide themselves with them.
Of the Americans or Natives, their Appearance, Occupations, and Means of Support.
The natives are generally well set in their limbs, slender round the waist, broad across the shoulders, and have black hair and dark eyes. They are very nimble and fleet, well adapted to travel on foot and to carry heavy burdens. They are foul and slovenly in their actions, and make little of all kinds of hardship; to which indeed they are by nature and from their youth accustomed. They are like the Brazilians in color, or as yellow as the people who sometimes pass through the Netherlands and are called Gypsies. The men generally have no beard, or very little, which some even pull out. They use very few words, which they consider well. Naturally they are very modest, simple and inexperienced; though in their actions high-minded enough, vigorous and quick to comprehend or learn, be it right or wrong, whenever they are so inclined. They are not straightforward as soldiers but perfidious, accomplishing all their enterprises by treachery, using many strategems to deceive their enemies, and usually ordering all their plans, involving any danger, by night. The desire of revenge appears to be born in them. They are very obstinate in defending themselves when they cannot run, which however they do when they can; and they make little of death when it is inevitable, and despise all tortures which can be inflicted upon them while dying, manifesting no sorrow, but usually singing until they are dead. They understand how to cure wounds and hurts, or inveterate sores and injuries, by means of herbs and roots, which grow in the country, and which are known to them. Their clothing, both for men and women, is a piece of duffels or leather in front, with a deer skin or elk's hide over the body. Some have bears' hides of which they make doublets; others have coats made of the skins of raccoons, wild-cats, wolves, dogs, otters, squirrels, beavers and the like, and also of turkey's feathers. At present they use for the most part duffels cloth, which they obtain in barter from the Christians. They make their stockings and shoes of deer skins or elk's hide, and some have shoes made of corn-husks, of which they also make sacks. Their money consists of white and black zeewant, which they themselves make. Their measure and valuation is by the hand or by the fathom; but their corn is measured by deontas, which are bags they make themselves. Ornamenting themselves consists in cutting their bodies, or painting them with various colors, sometimes even all black, if they are in mourning, yet generally in the face. They hang zeewant, both white and black, about their heads, which they otherwise are not want to cover, but on which they are now beginning to wear hats and caps bought of the Christians. They also put it in their ears, and around their necks and bodies, wherewith after their manner they appear very fine. They have long deer's hair which is dyed red, and of which they make rings for the head, and other fine hair of the same color, to hang from the neck like tresses, of which they are very proud. They frequently smear their skin and hair with difference kinds of grease. They can almost all swim. They themselves make the boats they use, which are of two kinds, some of entire trees, which they hollow out with fire, hatchets and adzes, and which the Christians call canoes; others are made of bark, which they manage very skilfully, and which are also called canoes.
Traces of the institution of marriage can just be perceived among them, and nothing more. A man and woman join themselves together without any particular ceremony other than that the man by previous agreement with the woman gives her some zeewant or cloth, which on their separation, if it happens soon, he often takes again. Both men and women are utterly unchaste and shamelessly promiscuous in their intercourse, which is the cause of the men so often changing their wives and the women their husbands. Ordinarily they have but one wife, sometimes two or three, but this is generally among the chiefs. They have also among them different conditions of persons, such as noble and ignoble. The men are generally lazy, and do nothing until they become old and unesteemed, when they make spoons, wooden bowls, bags, nets and other similar articles; beyond this the men do nothing except fish, hunt and go to war. The women are compelled to do the rest of the work, such as planting corn, cutting and drawing fire-wood, cooking, taking care of the children and whatever else there is to be done. Their dwellings consist of hickory saplings, placed upright in the ground and bent arch-wise; the tops are covered with barks of trees, which they cut for this purpose in great quantities. Some even have within them rough carvings of faces and images, but these are generally in the houses of the chiefs. In the fishing and hunting seasons, they lie under the open sky or little better. They do not live long in one place, but move about several times in a year, at such times and to such places as it appears best and easiest for them to obtain subsistence.
They are divided into different tribes and languages, each tribe living generally by itself and having one of its number as a chief, though he has not much power or distinction except in their dances or in time of war. Among some there is not the least knowledge of God, and among others very little, though they relate many strange fables concerning Him.
They are in general much afraid of the Devil, who torments them greatly; and some give themselves up to him, and hold the strangest notions about him. But their devils, they say, will have nothing to do with the Dutch. No haunting of spirits and the like are heard of among them. They make offerings to the Devil sometimes, but with few solemnities. They believe in the immortality of the soul. They have some knowledge of the sun, moon and stars, of which they are able to name many, and they judge tolerably well about the weather. There is hardly any law or justice among them, except sometimes in war matters, and then very little. The nearest of blood is the avenger. The youngest are the most courageous, and do for the most part what they please. Their weapons formerly were the bow and arrow, which they employ with wonderful skill, and the cudgel, but they now, that is, those who lives near the Christians or have many dealings with them, generally use firelocks and hatchets, which they obtain in trade. They are exceedingly fond of guns, sparing no expense for them; and are so skilful in the use of them that they surpass many Christians. Their food is coarse and simple, drinking water as their only beverage, and eating the flesh of all kinds of animals which the country affords, cooked without being cleansed or dressed. They eat even badgers, dogs, eagles and such like trash, upon which Christians place no value. They use all kinds of fish, which they commonly cook without removing the entrails, and snakes, frogs and the like. They know how to preserve fish and meat until winter, and to cook them with corn-meal. They make their bread of maize, but it is very plain, and cook it either whole or broken in a pestle block. The women do this and make of it a pap or porridge, which some of them call Sapsis,(1) others Enimdare, and which is their daily food. They mix this also sometimes with small beans of different colors, which they plant themselves, but this is held by them as a dainty dish more than as daily food.
(1) Probably a misprint for sapaan. For the next word, the manuscript has Duundare.
By whom New Netherland was first Possessed and what its Boundaries are.
That New Netherland was first found, claimed and possessed by Netherlanders, has already been stated; but inasmuch as a dispute has arisen, not only with the Swedes (which is of little moment) but especially with the English, who have already entered upon and seized a great part thereof, it is necessary to speak of each claim in particular and somewhat at large. But because this matter has been treated upon by various ingenious minds in its length and breadth, and as those claims are so absurd as to require only a few reasons in answer to them, we will be as brief as in any wise practicable.
After Their High Mightinesses, the Lords States General, were pleased, in the year of our Lord 1622,(1) to include this province in their grant to the Honorable West India Company, their Honors deemed it necessary to take into possession so naturally beautiful and noble a province, which was immediately done, as opportunity offered, the same as in all similar beginnings. Since the year of our Lord 1623, four forts have been built there by order of the Lords Directors,(2) one on the south point of the Manhatans Island, where the East and North Rivers unite, called New Amsterdam, where the staple-right(3) of New Netherland was designed to be; another upon the same River, six-and-thirty Dutch miles [leagues] higher up, and three leagues below the great Kochoos(4) fall of the Mohawk River, on the west side of the river, in the colony of Renselaerswyck, and is called Orange; but about this river there a been as yet no dispute with any foreigners. Upon the South River lies Fort Nassau and upon the Fresh River, the Good Hope. In these four forts there have been always from the beginning to the present time some garrisons, although they are all now in a very bad condition, not only in themselves but also as regards garrisons.
(2) Heeren Majores, the managers or directors of the Company.
(3) Staple-right is a privilege granted to the inhabitants of a place, whereby the masters of vessels or merchants trading along their coasts are compelled to discharge their cargoes there for sale, or else pay duties.
These forts, both to the south and north, are so situated as not only to close and control the said rivers, but also to command the plantations between them, as well as those round about them, and on the other side of the river as far as the ownership by occupation extends. These the Honorable Company declared they owned and would maintain against all foreign or domestic powers who should attempt to seize them against their consent. Yet, especially on the northeast side of New Netherland this has been not at all regarded or observed by the English living to the eastward; for notwithstanding possession was already fully taken by the building and occupation of Fort Good Hope, and there was no neglect from time to time in warning them, in making known our rights, and in protesting against their usurpation and violence, they have disregarded all these things and have seized and possessed, and still hold, the largest and best part of New Netherland, that is, on the east side of the North River, from Cape Cod, (by our people in 1609 called New Holland, and taken possession of [if we are correctly informed] by the setting up of the arms of their High Mightinesses,)(1) to within six leagues of the North River, where the English have now a village called Stamford, from whence one could travel now in a summer's day to the North River and back again, if one knows the Indian path. The English of New Haven also have a trading house which lies east or southeast of Magdalen Island, and not more than six leagues from the North River, in which this island lies, on the east bank twenty-three and a half leagues above Fort Amsterdam.(1) This trading post was established for no other purpose than to divert the trade of the North River or to destroy it entirely, for the river is now quite free. They have also endeavored several times, during eight or nine years past, to buy of the Indians a large quantity of land, (which would have served more than any other thing to draw off the trade), as we have understood from the Indians; for the post is situated not more than three or four leagues from the eastern bounds of the colony of Renselaerswyck.
(1) See De Laet, p. 37, supra. The words in square brackets appear in the manuscript, but not in the printed pamphlet.
(2) Magdalen Island is in the Hudson near Annandale. It appears that the nearest post to the lower Hudson possessed hitherto by the New Englanders was that which the New Haven people established in 1646 on the Housatonic near the present Derby, Connecticut; and that their nearest post to the upper Hudson was that which Governor Hopkins, of Connecticut, set up in 1641 at Woronoco, now Westfield, Massachusetts.
This and similar difficulties these people now wish to lay to our charge, all under the pretence of a very clear conscience, notwithstanding King James, of most glorious memory, chartered the Virginia Companies upon condition that they should remain an hundred miles from each other, according to our reckoning.(1) They are willing to avail themselves of this grant, but by no means to comply with the terms stipulated in it.
(1) The hundred miles of the Virginia patent of 1606 were English miles.
All the islands, bays, havens, rivers, kills and places, even to a great distance on the other side of New Holland or Cape Cod, have Dutch names, which our Dutch ship-masters and traders gave to them.(1) These were the first to discover and to trade to them, even before they had names, as the English themselves well know; but as long as they can manage it and matters go as they please, they are willing not to know it. And those of them who are at the Fresh River have desired to enter into an agreement and to make a yearly acknowledgement or an absolute purchase, which indeed is proof positive that our right was well known to them, and that they themselves had nothing against it in conscience, although they now, from time to time, have invented and pretended many things in order to screen themselves, or thereby to cause at least delay.
(1) An exaggeration, yet the number of such names is considerable, as may be seen by consulting the appendix to Asher's Bibliography of New Netherland.
Moreover the people of Rhode Island, when they were at variance with those of the Bay,(1) sought refuge among the Dutch, and sojourn among them. For all these things, and What we shall relate in the following pages, there are Proofs and documents enough, either with the secretary of the Company or with the directors.
(1) Massachusetts Bay. The most conspicuous instance is Mrs. Anne Hutchinson.
In short, is it just this with the English, they are willing to know the Netherlanders, and to use them as a protection in time of need, but when that is past, they no longer regard them, but play the fool with them. This happens so only because we have neglected to populate the land; or, to speak more plainly and truly, because we have, our of regard for our own profit, wished to scrape all the fat into one or more pots, and thus secure the trade and neglect population.
Long Island, which, on account of its convenient bays and havens, and its good well situated lands, is a crown of the province, they have also seized at once, except on the west and two Dutch villages—Breuckelen and Amersvoort,(1) not of much importance—and some English villages, as Gravesande, Greenwich and Mespat, (from which(2) the people were driven off during the war, and which was afterwards confiscated by Director Kieft; but as the owners appealed therefrom, it remains undecided.) There are now a very few people in the place. Also, Vlissengen, which is a pretty village and tolerably rich in cattle. The fourth and last village is Heemstede, which is superior to the rest, for it is very rich in cattle.
(1) Brooklyn and Flatlands.
(2) I.e., from Mespath or Newtown. Gravesend had been settled by Lady Deborah Moody, Greenwich in 1639 by Captain Daniel Patrick and Robert Feake, Mespath by Francis Doughty in 1642, Flushing and Hempstead by other English in 1645 and 1644.
As we are now on the subject of Long Island, we will, because the English claim it, speak of it somewhat particularly. The ocean on the south, and the East River on the north side of it, shape this island; and as we have said, it is, on account of its good situation, of its land, and of its convenient harbors, and anchoring places, a crown of New Netherland. The East River separates it from Manathans Island as far as the Hellegat. It is tolerably wide and convenient; and has been inhabited by our freemen from the first, according as opportunities offered. In the year 1640 a Scotchman, with an English commission, came to Director William Kieft. He laid claim to the island, but his pretension was not much regarded; for which reason he departed without accomplishing anything, having influenced only a few simple people. Director Kieft also afterwards sent and broke up the English who wished to begin a settlement at Oyster Bay, and thus it remained for a long time.(1)
(1) James Farrett, as agent for Lord Stirling, made grants at Oyster Bay to a company of men from Lynn, who began a settlement there. Stirling had received a grant of Long Island from the Council of New England in April, 1635.
In the year 1647, a Scotchman came here, who called himself Captain Forester,(1) and claimed this island for the Dowager of Sterling, whose governor he gave himself out to be. He had a commission dated in the eighteenth year of King James's reign, but it was not signed by His Majesty or any body else. Appended to it was an old seal which we could not decipher. His commission embraced the whole of Long Island, together with five leagues round about it, the main land as well as the islands. He had also full authority from Mary, dowager of Sterling, but this was all. Nevertheless the man was very consequential, and said on his first arrival that he came here to see Governor Stuyvesant's commission, and if that was better than his, he was willing to give way; if not, Governor Stuyvesant must yield to him. To make the matter short, the Director took copies of the papers and sent the man across(2) in the Falconer; but as this vessel put into England, the man did not reach Holland, having escaped there, and never troubling the captain afterwards. The English have since boasted of this very loudly, and have also given out that he had again arrived at Bastock,(3) but we have not heard of him. It is to be apprehended that if he came now, some new act would be committed, for which reason it would be well to hasten the redress of New Netherland.
(1) Andrew Forester, of Dundee.
(2) Across the ocean.
Of The Fresh River.
After Fort Good Hope, begun in the year 1623,(1) on the Fresh River, was finished, some time had elapsed when an English bark arrived there. Jacob van Curler, factor of the Company, by order of Director Wouter van Twiller, protested against it, but notwithstanding his protest they did, a year or two afterwards, come there with some families. A protest was also made against them; but it was very manifest that these people had little respect for it, for notwithstanding frequent protests, they have finally seized and possessed the whole of the Fresh River, and have proceeded so far in their shameless course as, in the year 1640, to seize the Company's farms at the fort, paying no regard to the protests which we made. They have gone even still further, and have belabored the Company's people with sticks and heavy clubs; and have forcibly thrown into the river their ploughs and other instruments, while they were on the land for the purpose of working, and have put their horses to the pound. The same things happened very frequently afterwards. They also took hogs and cows belonging to the fort, and several times sold some of them for the purpose, as they said, of repairing the damage. Against all these acts, and each one in particular, protests were repeatedly made, but they were met with ridicule. Several sharp letters about this were written in Latin to their governors; of which letters and protests, minutes or copies remain with the Company's officers, from which a much fuller account of these transactions could be made. But all opposition was in vain, for having had a smack of the goodness and convenience of this river, and discovered the difference between the land there and that more easterly, they would not go back; nor will they put themselves under the protection of Their High Mightinesses, unless they be sharply summoned thereto, as it is desirable they should be at the first opportunity.
(1) A misprint for 1633. The narrative below relates to the English settlers at Hartford, founded in 1635. See De Vries, pp. 203, 204, supra.
Of the Right of the Netherlanders to the Fresh River.
To speak from the beginning, our people had carefully explored and discovered the most northerly parts of New Netherland and some distance on the other side of Cape Cod, as we find it described, before the English were known here, and had set up our arms upon Cape Cod as an act of possession. In the year 1614 our traders(1) had not only traded at the Fresh River, but had also ascended it before any English had ever dreamed of going there, which they did first in the year 1636, after our fort, the Good Hope, had been a long time in esse and almost all the lands on both sides the river had been purchased by our people from the Indians, which purchase took place principally in the year 1632. Kievets-hoeck(2) was also purchased at the same time by one Hans den Sluys,(3) an officer of the company. On this cape the States' arms had been affixed to a tree in token of possession; but the English who now possess the Fresh River have torn them down and carved a ridiculous face in their place. Whether this was done by authority or not, cannot be positively asserted; it is however supposed that it was. It has been so charged upon them in several letters, and no denial has been made. Besides they have, contra jus gentium, per fas et nefas,(4) invaded the whole river, for the reason, as they say, that the land was lying idle and waste, which was no business of theirs and not true; for there was already built upon the river a fort which continued to be possessed by a garrison. There was also a large farm(5) near the fort, belonging to the Dutch or the Company. Most of the land was bought and appropriated and the arms of their High Mightinesses were set up at Kievets Hoeck, which is situated at the mouth of the river, so that everything was done that could be done except that the country was not all actually occupied. This the English demanded in addition, just as if it were their right, since they were in greater numbers, to establish laws for our nation in its own purchased lands and limits, and direct how and in what manner it should introduce people into the country, and if it did not turn our exactly according to their desire and pleasure, that they have the right to invade and appropriate these waters, lands and jurisdiction to themselves.
(1) Adriaen Block.
(2) Saybrook Point. Kievit, or kiewit, is the bird pewit.
(3) Hans Eencluys in the manuscript, according to N.Y. Col. Doc., I. 287.
(4) "Contrary to the law of nations, regardless of right or wrong."
(5) Brouwerye, brewery, in the printed pamphlet, but bouwery in the manuscript.
Of the Roden-Berch,(1) by the English called New Haven, and other Places of less Importance.
The number of villages established by the English, from New Holland or Cape Cod to Stamford, within the limits of the Netherlanders, is about thirty, and they may contain five thousand men capable of bearing arms. Their cattle, cows and horses are estimated at thirty thousand; their goats and hogs cannot be stated; neither of them can be fully known because there are several places which cannot well pass for villages, but which nevertheless are beginnings of villages. Among all these, Roden-Berch, or New Haven, is the first. It has a governor, contains about three hundred and forty families, and is counted as a province or one of the members of New England, of which there are four in all.(2)
(1) Red Hill.
(2) I.e., of the United Colonies of New England, the confederation formed in 1643.
This place was begun eleven years ago, in the year 1638, and since then the people have broken off and formed Milford, Stratford, Stamford and the trading house before spoken of, etc.
Director Kieft has caused several protests to be drawn up, in Latin and in other languages, commanding them by virtue of his commissions from the Lords States General, His Highness the Prince of Orange and the Most Noble Directors of the Chartered West India Company, to desist from their proceedings and usurpations, and warning them, in case they did not, that we would, as soon as a fit opportunity should present, exact of them satisfaction therefor. But it was knocking at a deaf man's door, as they did not regard these protests or even take any notice of them; on the contrary they have sought many subterfuges, circumstances, false pretences and sophistical arguments to give color to their doings, to throw a cloud upon our lawful title and valid rights, and to cheat us out of them. General Stuyvesant also has had many questions with them, growing out of this matter, but it remains as it was. The utmost that they have ever been willing to come to, is to declare that the dispute could not be settled in this country, and that they desired and were satisfied that Their High Mightinesses should arrange it with their sovereign. It is highly necessary that this should be done, inasmuch as the English have already seized, and are in possession of, almost half of New Netherland, a matter which may have weighty consequences in the future. It is therefore heartily to be desired that Their High Mightinesses will be pleased to take this subject into serious consideration before it shall go further, and the breach become irreparable.
We must now pass to the South River, called by the English Delaware Bay, first speaking of the boundaries; but in passing we cannot omit to say that there has been here, both in the time of Director Kieft and in that of General Stuyvesant, a certain Englishman, who called himself Sir Edward Ploeyden, with the title of Earl Palatine of New Albion, who claimed that the land on the west side of the North River to Virginia was his, by gift of King James of England,(1) but he said he did not wish to have any strife with the Dutch, though he was very much piqued at the Swedish governor, John Prins, at the South River, on account of some affront given him, too long to relate. He said also that when an opportunity should offer he would go there and take possession of the river. In short, according to the claims of the English, it belongs to them, and there is nothing left for the subjects of Their High Mightinesses—one must have this far, and another that far, but they all agree never to fall short.
(1) Plowden claimed under a patent from the viceroy of Ireland under Charles I., June, 1634. The history of his shadowy principality of New Albion is best accounted by Professor Gregory B. Keen in Winsor's Narrative and Critical History of America, III. 457-468. The best account of the Swedish colony in the South River is by the same writer, ibid., IV. 443-500.
Of the South River and the Boundaries there.
As we have now come to speak of the South River and the most southerly portion of New Netherland, we will, although this is well performed by others, relate everything from the beginning, and yet as briefly as is practicable. The boundaries, as we find them, extend as far as Cape Henlopen, many miles south of Cape Cornelius, to the latitude of thirty-eight degrees. The coast stretches, one course with another, west-southwest and west, and although this Cape Henlopen is not much esteemed, it is nevertheless proper that it should be brought to our attention, as very important, not only in regard to the position of the country, but also as relates to the trade with the Indians at the South River, which the English and Swedes are striving after very hard, as we will show. If the boundaries of this country were settled, these people would conveniently and without further question be ousted, and both the enjoyment of the productions of the land and the trade be retained for the subjects of Their High Mightinesses.
Of the South Bay and South River.
The South Bay and South River, by many called the second great river of New Netherland, is situated at the latitude of 38 degrees 53 minutes. It has two headlands or capes—the more northerly bearing the name of Cape May, the more southerly that of Cape Cornelius. The bay was called New Port-May, but at the present time is known as Godyn's Bay. These names were given to the places about the time of their first discovery, before any others were given them. The discovery, moreover, took place at the same time with that of the North River, and by the same ship and persons, who entered the South Bay before they came to the North Bay, as all can read at length in the Nieuwe Werelt of Johannes de Laet.
At the same time that the forts were laid out on the North and Fresh rivers, since the year 1623, Fort Nassau was erected upon this river, which, in common parlance, is called the South River. It was the first of the four, and was built with the same object and design as all the others, as hereinbefore related. It lies on the east bank,(1) but it would have done as well on the west bank, fifteen leagues up the river. The bay runs for the most part north and south; is called New Port-May or Godyn's Bay; and is nine leagues long before you come to the river, and six leagues wide, so that from one shore you cannot see the other. On account of certain bars it is somewhat dangerous for inexperienced navigators, but not so for those who are acquainted with the channels. This bay and river are compared by its admirers with the river Amazon, that is, by such of them as have seen both; it is by everyone considered one of the most beautiful, and the best and pleasantest rivers in the world of itself and as regards its surroundings. Fourteen streams empty into this river, the least of them navigable for two or three leagues; and on both sides there are tolerably level lands of great extent. Two leagues from Cape Cornelius, where you enter on the west side, lies a certain creek, which might be taken for an ordinary river or stream, being navigable far up, and affording a beautiful roadstead for ships of all burdens. There is no other like it in the whole bay for safety and convenience. The main channel for navigation runs close by it; this place we call the Hoere-kil. From whence this name is derived we do not know;(2) it is certain that this place was taken and colonized by Netherlanders, years before any English or Swedes came there. The States' arms were also set up at this place in copper, but as they were thrown down by some mischievous savages, the commissary there very firmly insisted upon, and demanded, the head of the offender. The Indians not knowing otherwise brought a head, saying it was his; and the affair was supposed to be all settled, but some time afterwards, when our people were working unsuspectingly in their fields, the Indians came in the guise of friendship, and distributing themselves among the Dutch in proportionate numbers, surprised and murdered them. By this means the colony was again reduced to nothing; but it was nevertheless sealed with blood and dearly enough bought.
(1) Fort Nassau stood at the mouth of Timber Creek, opposite the present site of Philadelphia.
(2) Harlot's creek, from the behavior of the Indian women. The story below is that of the short-lived colony of Swanendael, 1631-1632.
There is another kill on the east side called the Varckens Kil,(1) three leagues up from the mouth of the river. Here some English had settled, but Director Kieft protested against their proceedings, and drove them away, assisted somewhat by the Swedes, who agreed with him to keep out the English. The Swedish governor, considering an opportunity then offered to him, caused a fort to be built at this place, called Elsenborch,(2) and manifests there great boldness towards every one, even as respects the Company's boats or all which go up the South River. They must strike the flag before this fort, none excepted; and two men are sent on board to ascertain from whence the yachts or ships come. It is not much better than exercising the right of search. It will, to all appearance, come to this in the end. What authority these people can have to do this, we know not; nor can we comprehend how officers of other potentates, (at least as they say they are, yet what commission they have we do not yet know,) can make themselves master of, and assume authority over, lands and goods belonging to and possessed by other people, and sealed with their blood, even without considering the Charter. The Minquas-kil(3) is the first upon the river, and there the Swedes have built Fort Christina. This place is well situated, as large ships can lie close against the shore to load and unload. There is, among others, a place on the river, (called Schuylkil, a convenient and navigable stream,) heretofore possessed by the Netherlanders, but how is it now? The Swedes have it almost entirely under their dominion. Then there are in the river several beautiful large islands, and other places which were formerly possessed by the Netherlanders, and which still bear the names given by them. Various other facts also constitute sufficient and abundant proof that the river belongs to the Netherlanders, and not to the Swedes. Their very beginnings are convincing, for eleven years ago, in the year 1638, one Minne-wits,(4) who before that time had had the direction at the Manathans, on behalf of the West India Company, arrived in the river with the ship Kalmer-Sleutel [Key of Calmar], and the yacht Vogel-Gryp [Griffin], giving out to the Netherlanders who lived up the river, under the Company and Heer vander Nederhorst, that he was on a voyage to the West Indies, and that passing by there, he wished to arrange some matters and to furnish the ship with water and wood, and would then leave. Some time afterwards, some of our people going again, found the Swedes still there but then they had already made a small garden for raising salads, pot-herbs and the like. They wondered at this, and inquired of the Swedes what is meant, and whether they intended to stay there. They excused themselves by various reasons and subterfuges, but some notwithstanding supposed that such was their design. The third time it became apparent, from their building a fort, what their intentions were. Director Kieft, when he obtained information of the matter, protested against it, but in vain. It was plainly and clearly to be seen, in the progress of the affair, that they did not intend to leave. It is matter of evidence that above Maghchachansie,(5) near the Sankikans, the arms of Their High Mightinesses were erected by order of Director Kieft, as a symbol that the river, with all the country and the lands around there, were held and owned under Their High Mightinesses. But what fruits has it produced as yet, other than continued derision and derogation of dignity? For the Swedes, with intolerable insolence, have thrown down the arms, and since they are suffered to remain so, this is looked upon by them, and particularly by their governor, as a Roman achievement. True, we have made several protests, as well against this as other transactions, but they have had as much effect as the flying of a crow overhead; and it is believed that if this governor had a supply of men, there would be more madness in him than there has been in the English, or any of their governors. This much only in regard to the Swedes, since the Company's officers will be able to make a more pertinent explanation, as all the documents and papers remain with them; to which, and to their journals we ourselves refer.
(1) Hog Creek, now called Salem Creek, where New Haven men settled in 1641 at or near the present site of Salem, New Jersey.
(2) Fort Nya Elfsborg, 1643-1654, a little further down the Delaware River.
(3) Christina Creek; the fort was in what is now Wilmington, Delaware.
(4) Peter Minuit.
(5) Apparently within the present bounds of Philadelphia, where Andries Hudde, acting under orders from Kieft, purchased land and set up the arms of the States General in September, 1646. The Sankikans occupied northern New Jersey, with an important village at or near Trenton.
The English have sought at different times and places to incorporate this river which they say is annexed to their territory, but this has as yet been prevented by different protests. We have also expelled them by force, well knowing that if they once settled there, we should lose the river or hold it with much difficulty, as they would swarm there in great numbers. There are rumors daily, and it is reported to us that the English will soon repair there with many families. It is certain that if they do come and nestle down there, they will soon possess it so completely, that neither Hollanders nor Swedes, in a short time, will have much to say; at least, we run a chance of losing the whole, or the greatest part of the river, if very shortly remarkable precaution be not used. And this would be the result of populating the country; but the Directors of the Company to this day have had no regard to this worth the while, though the subject has been sufficiently brought before them in several documents. They have rather opposed and hindered this; for it has been with this matter as with the rest, that avarice has blinded wisdom. The report now is that the English intend to build a village and trading house there; and indeed if they begin, there is nobody in this country who, on the Company's behalf, can or apparently will, make much effort to prevent them. Not longer ago than last year, several free persons,(1) some of whom were of our own number and who had or could have good masters in Fatherland, wished to establish a trading house and some farms and plantations, upon condition that certain privileges and exemptions should be extended to them; but this was refused by the General, saying, that he could not do it, not having any order or authority from the noble Lords Directors; but if they were willing to begin there without privileges, it could in some way be done. And when we represented to His Honor that such were offered by our neighbors all around us, if we would only declare ourselves willing to be called members of their government, and that this place ran a thousand dangers from the Swedes and English, His Honor answered that it was well known to be as we said, (as he himself did, in fact, well know,) and that reason was also in our favor, but that the orders which he had from the Directors were such that he could not answer for it to them. Now we are ignorant in these matters, but one thing or the other must be true, either it is the fault of the Director or of the Managers,(2) or of both of them. However it may be, one shifts the blame upon the other, and between them both every thing goes to ruin. Foreigners enjoy the country and fare very well; they laugh at us too if we say anything; they enjoy privileges and exemptions, which, if our Netherlanders had enjoyed as they do, would without doubt, next to the help of God, without which we are powerless, have enabled our people to flourish as well or better than they do; ergo, the Company or their officers have hitherto been and are still the cause of its not faring better with the country. On account of their cupidity and bad management there is not hope, so long as the land is under their government, that it will go on any better; but it will grow worse. However, the right time to treat this subject has not yet come.
(1) Persons who came to New Netherland, not as colonists under the patroons, or as employees of the West India Company, but on their own account.
(2) I.e., of the governor (director-general) of New Netherland or of the directors of the company.
Of the Situation and Goodness of the Waters.
Having given an account of the situation of the country and its boundaries, and having consequently spoken of the location of the rivers, it will not be foreign to our purpose to add a word as to the goodness and convenience of the waters; which are salt, brackish, or fresh, according to their locality. There are in New Netherland four principal rivers; the most southerly is usually called the South River, and the bay at its entrance, Godyn's Bay. It is so called not because it runs to the south, but because it is the most southerly river in New Netherland. Another which this lies south of or nearest to, and which is the most noted and the best, as regards trade and population, is called Rio Montanjes, from certain mountains, and Mauritius River, but generally, the North River, because it reaches farthest north. The third is the East River, so called because it runs east from the Manathans. This is regarded by many not as a river but as a Bay, because it is extremely wide in some places and connects at both ends with the sea. We however consider it a river and such it is commonly reckoned. The fourth is called the Fresh River, because the water is for the most part fresh, more so than the others. Besides these rivers, there are many bays, havens and inlets, very convenient and useful, some of which might well be classed among rivers. There are numerous bodies of water inland, some large, others small, besides navigable kills like rivers, and many creeks very advantageous for the purpose of navigating through the country, as the map of New Netherland will prove. There are also various waterfalls and rapid streams, fit to erect mills of all kinds upon for the use of man, and innumerable small rivulets over the whole country, like veins in the body; but they are all fresh water, except some on the sea shore, (which are salt and fresh or brackish), very good both for wild and domestic animals to drink. The surplus waters are lost in the rivers or in the sea. Besides all these there are fountains without number, and springs all through the country, even at places where water would not be expected; as on cliffs and rocks whence they issue like spring veins. Some of them are worthy of being well guarded, not only Because they are all (except in the thickets) very clear and pure, but because many have these properties, that in the winter they smoke from heat, and in summer are so cool that the hands can hardly be endured in them on account of the cold, not even in the hottest of the summer; which circumstance makes them pleasant for the use of man and beast, who can partake of them without danger; for if any one drink thereof, it does him no harm although it be very warm weather. Thus much of the proprietorship, location, goodness and fruitfulness of these provinces, in which particulars, as far as our little experience extends, it need yield to no province in Europe. As to what concerns trade, in which Europe and especially Netherland is pre-eminent, it not only lies very convenient and proper for it, but if there were inhabitants, it would be found to have more commodities of and in itself to export to other countries than it would have to import from them. These things considered, it will be little labor for intelligent men to estimate and compute exactly of what importance this naturally noble province is to the Netherland nation, what service it could render it in future, and what a retreat it would be for all the needy in the Netherlands, as well of high and middle, as of low degree; for it is much easier for all men of enterprise to obtain a livelihood here than in the Netherlands.
We cannot sufficiently thank the Fountain of all Goodness for His having led us into such a fruitful and healthful land, which we, with our numerous sins, still heaped up here daily, beyond measure, have not deserved. We are also in the highest degree beholden to the Indians, who not only have given up to us this good and fruitful country, and for a trifle yielded us the ownership, but also enrich us with their good and reciprocal trade, so that there is no one in New Netherland or who trades to New Netherland without obligation to them. Great is our disgrace now, and happy should we have been, had we acknowledged these benefits as we ought, and had we striven to impart the Eternal Good to the Indians, as much as was in our power, in return for what they divided with us. It is to be feared that at the Last Day they will stand up against us for this injury. Lord of Hosts! Forgive us for not having conducted therein more according to our reason; give us also the means and so direct our hearts that we in future may acquit ourselves a we ought for the salvation of our own souls and of theirs, and for the magnifying of thy Holy Name, for the sake of Christ. Amen.
To speak with deference, it is proper to look beyond the trouble which will be incurred in adjusting the boundaries and the first cost of increasing the population of this country, and to consider that beginnings are difficult and that sowing would be irksome if the sower were not cheered with the hope of reaping. We trust and so assure ourselves that the very great experience of Their High Mightinesses will dictate better remedies than we are able to suggest. But it may be that Their High Mightinesses and some other friends, before whom this may come, may think strange that we speak as highly of this place as we do, and as we know to be true, and yet complain of want and poverty, seek relief, assistance, redress, lessening of charges, population and the like, and show that the country is in a poor and ruinous condition; yea, so much so, as that without special aid and assistance it will utterly fall off and pass under foreign rule. It will therefore be necessary to point out the true reasons and causes why New Netherland is in so bad a state, which we will do as simply and truly as possible, according to the facts, as we have seen, experienced, and heard them; and as this statement will encounter much opposition and reproach from many persons who may take offence at it, we humbly pray Their High Mightinesses and all well wishers, who may chance to read this, that they do not let the truth yield to any falsehoods, invented and embellished for the purpose, and that they receive no other testimony against this relation than that of such impartial persons as have not had, either directly or indirectly, any hand therein, profited by the loss of New Netherland, or otherwise incurred any obligation to it. With this remark we proceed to the reasons and sole cause of the evil which we indeed have but too briefly and indistinctly stated in the beginning of our petition to Their High Mightinesses.
Of the Reasons and Causes why and how New Netherland is so Decayed.
As we shall speak of the reasons and causes which have brought New Netherland into the ruinous condition in which it is now found to be, we deem it necessary to state first the difficulties. We represent it as we see and find it, in our daily experience. To describe it in one word, (and none better presents itself,) it is bad government, with its attendants and consequences, that is, to the best of our knowledge, the true and only foundation stone of the decay and ruin of New Netherland. This government from which so much abuse proceeds, is twofold, that is; in the Fatherland by the Managers, and in this country. We shall first briefly point out some orders and mistakes issuing from the Fatherland, and afterwards proceed to show how abuses have grown up and obtained strength here.
The Managers of the Company adopted a wrong course at first, and as we think had more regard for their own interest than for the welfare of the country, trusting rather to flattering than true counsels. This is proven by the unnecessary expenses incurred from time to time, the heavy accounts of New Netherland,(1) the registering of colonies—in which business most of the Managers themselves engaged, and in reference to which they have regulated the trade—and finally the not peopling the country. It seems as if from the first, the Company have sought to stock this land with their own employees, which was a great mistake, for when their time was out they returned home, taking nothing with them, except a little in their purses and a bad name for the country, in regard to its lack of sustenance and in other respects. In the meantime there was no profit, but on the contrary heavy monthly salaries, as the accounts of New Netherland will show.
(1) In 1644 the Bureau of Accounts of the West India Company reported that since 1626 the company had expended for New Netherland 515,000 guilders, say $250,000. At the time of the report the company was practically bankrupt.
Had the Honorable West India Company, in the beginning, sought population instead of running to great expense for unnecessary things, which under more favorable circumstances might have been suitable and very proper, the account of New Netherland would not have been so large as it now is, caused by building the ship New Netherland at an excessive outlay,(1) by erecting three expensive mills, by brick-making, by tar-burning, by ash-burning, by salt-making and the like operations, which through bad management and calculation have all gone to nought, or come to little; but which nevertheless have cost much. Had the same money been used in bringing people and importing cattle, the country would now have been of great value.
(1) A ship of eight hundred tons, built in the province in 1631.
The land itself is much better and it is more conveniently situated than that which the English possess, and if there were not constant seeking of individual gain and private trade, there would be no danger that misfortunes would press us as far as they do.
Had the first Exemptions been truly observed, according to their intention, and had they not been carried out with particular views, certainly more friends of New Netherland would have exerted themselves to take people there and make settlements. The other conditions which were introduced have always discouraged individuals and kept them down, so that those who were acquainted with the business, being informed, dared not attempt it. It is very true that the Company have brought over some persons, but they have not continued to do so, and it therefore has done little good. It was not begun properly; for it was done as if it was not intended.
It is impossible for us to rehearse and to state in detail wherein and how often the Company have acted injuriously to this country. They have not approved of our own country-men settling the land, as is shown in the case of Jacob Walingen and his people at the Fresh River, and quite Recently in the cases at the South River; while foreigners Were permitted to take land there without other opposition than orders and protests. It could hardly be otherwise, for the garrisons are not kept complete conformably to the Exemptions, and thus the cause of New Netherland's bad condition lurks as well in the Netherlands as here. Yea, the seeds of war, according to the declaration of Director Kieft, were first sown by the Fatherland; for he said he had Express orders to exact the contribution from the Indians; Which would have been very well if the land had been peopled, But as it was, it was premature.
Trade, without which, when it is legitimate, no country is prosperous, is by their acts so decayed, that it amounts to nothing. It is more suited for slaves than freemen, in consequence of the restrictions upon it and the annoyances which accompany the exercise of the right of inspection. We approve of inspection, however, so far as relates to contraband.
This contraband trade has ruined the country, and contraband goods are now sent to every part of it by orders given by the Managers to their officers. These orders should be executed without partiality, which is not always the case. The Recognition(1) runs high, and of inspection and confiscation there is no lack; hence legitimate trade is entirely diverted, except a little, which exists pro forma, as a cloak for carrying on illicit trading. In the mean time the Christians are treated almost like Indians, in the purchase of the necessaries with which they cannot dispense. This causes great complaint, distress and poverty: as, for example, the merchants sell those goods which are liable to little depreciation at a hundred per cent. and more profit, when there is particular demand or scarcity of them. And the traders who come with small cargoes, and others engaged in the business, buy them up from the merchants and sell them again to the common man, who cannot do without them, oftentimes at a hundred per cent. advance, or higher and lower according to the demand. Upon liquors, which are liable to much leakage, they take more, and those who buy from them retail them in the same manner, as we have described in regard to dry wares, and generally even more cunningly, so that the goods are sold through first, second and sometimes third hands, at one and two hundred per cent. advance. We are not able to think of all the practices which are contrived for advancing individual and private gain. Little attention is given to populating the land. The people, moreover, have been driven away by harsh and unreasonable proceedings, for which their Honors gave the orders; for the Managers wrote to Director Kieft to prosecute when there was no offence, and to consider a partial offence an entire one, and so forth. It has also been seen how the letters of the Eight Men were treated, and what followed thereupon;(2) besides there were many ruinous orders and instructions which are not known to us. But leaving this at present, with now and then a word, at a convenient point, let us proceed to examine how their officers and Directors have conducted themselves from time to time, having played with the managers as well as with the people, as a cat does with a mouse. It would be possible to relate their management from the beginning, but as most of us were not here then and therefore not eye-witnesses, and as a long time has passed whereby it has partly escaped recollection, and as in our view it was not so bad then as afterwards when the land was made free and freemen began to increase, we will pass by the beginning and let Mr. Lubbert van Dincklaghen, Vice Director of New Netherland, describe the government of Director Wouter van Twiller of which he is known to have information, and will only speak of the last two sad and dire confusions (we would say governments if we could) under Director Kieft, who is now no more, but the evil of it lives after him; and of that under Director Stuyvesant which still stands, if indeed that may be called standing which lies completely under foot.
(1) Export duty.
(2) Nevertheless, the remonstrance of the Eight Men, October 28, 1644, N.Y. Coll. Doc., I. 209, did cause the reform of the system of provincial government and the recall of Kieft.
The Directors here, though far from their masters, were close by their profit. They have always known how to manage their own matters very properly and with little loss, yet under pretext of the public business. They have also conducted themselves just as if they were the sovereigns of the country. As they desired to have it, so it always had to be; and as they willed so was it done. "The Managers," they say, "are masters in Fatherland, but we are masters in this land." As they understand it it will go, there is no appeal. And it has not been difficult for them hitherto to maintain this doctrine in practice; for the people were few and for the most part very simple and uninformed, and besides, they needed the Directors every day. And if perchance there were some intelligent men among them, who could go upon their own feet, them it was sought to oblige. They could not understand at first the arts of the Directors which were always subtle and dark, so that these were frequently successful and occasionally remained effective for a long time. Director Kieft said himself, and let it be said also by others, that he was sovereign in this country, or the same as the Prince in the Netherlands. This was repeated to him several times here and he never made any particular objection to it. The refusing to allow appeals, and other similar acts, prove clearly that in our opinion no other proof is needed. The present Director does the same, and in the denial of appeal, he is also at home. He likes to assert the maxim "the Prince is above the law," and applies it so boldly to his own person that it confutes itself. These directors, having then the power in their hands, could do and have done what they chose according to their good will and pleasure; and whatever was, was right, because it was agreeable to them. It is well known that those who assume power, and use it to command what they will, frequently command and will more than they ought, and, whether it appear right or not, there are always some persons who applaud such conduct, some out of a desire to help on and to see mischief, others from fear; and so men still complain with Jan Vergas de clementia ducis, of the clemency of the duke.(1) But in order that we give nobody cause to suspect that we blow somewhat too hard, it will be profitable to illustrate by examples the government of Mr. Director Kieft at its close, and the administration of Mr. Director Stuyvesant just prior to the time of our departure. We frankly admit, however, that we shall not be able to speak fully of all the tricks, because they were conducted so secretly and with such duplicity and craft. We will nevertheless expose some of their proceedings according to our ability, and thus let the lion be judged of from his paw.
(1) Juan de Vargas, the chief member of the Duke of Alva's "Council of Blood," who complained that the duke's methods were too lenient.
Casting our eyes upon the government of Director Kieft, the church first meets us, and we will therefore speak of the public property ecclesiastical and civil. But as this man is now dead, and some of his management and doings are freely represented by one Jochem Pietersz Cuyter and Cornelis Melyn,(1) we will dispose of this point as briefly as we possibly can.
(1) Stuyvesant, soon after his arrival, at the instance of Kieft, condemned Kieft's chief opponents, Kuyter and Melyn, for lese-majesty, and banished them, forbidding them to appeal. On reaching Holland, however, after their dramatic escape from the shipwreck of the Princess, they appealed, and secured a reversal of their condemnation.
Before the time that Director Kieft brought the unnecessary war upon the country, his principal aim and endeavors were to provide well for himself and to leave a great name after him, but without any expense to himself or the Company, for this never did anything remarkable for the country by which it was improved. Thus he considered the erection of a church a very necessary public work, the more so as it was in contemplation to build one at that time at Renselaers-Wyck. With this view he communicated with the churchwardens—of which body he himself was one—and they willingly agreed to and seconded the project. The place where it should stand was then debated. The Director contended that it should be placed in the fort, and there it was erected in spite of the others, and, indeed, as suitably as a fifth wheel of a wagon; for besides that the fort is small and lies upon a point of land which must be very valuable in case of an increase of population, the church ought to be owned by the congregation at whose cost it was built. It also intercepts and turns off the southeast wind from the grist-mill which stands close by, for which reason there is frequently in summer a want of bread from its inability to grind, though not from this cause alone. The mill is neglected and, in consequence of having had a leaky roof most of the time, has become considerably rotten, so that it cannot now go with more than two arms, and it has been so for nearly five years. But to return to the church—from which the grist-mill has somewhat diverted us—the Director then resolved to build a church, and at the place where it suited him; but he was in want of money and was at a loss how to obtain it. It happened about this time that the minister, Everardus Bogardus, gave his step-daughter in marriage; and the occasion of the wedding the Director considered a good opportunity for his purpose. So after the fourth or fifth round of drinking, he set about the business, and he himself showing a liberal example let the wedding-guests subscribe what they were willing to give towards the church. All then with light heads subscribed largely, competing with one another; and although some well repented it when they recovered their senses, they were nevertheless compelled to pay—nothing could avail to prevent it. The church was then, contrary to every one's wish, placed in the fort. The honor and ownership of that work must be judged of from the inscription, which is in our opinion ambiguous, thus reading: "1642. Willem Kieft, Director General, has caused the congregation to build this church."(1) But whatever be intended by the inscription, the people nevertheless paid for the church.
(1) The inscription was in existence till 1835. This third church stood near what is now called the Bowling Green. The inscription, though susceptible of misconstruction, is not really ambiguous. Its proper interpretation is: "1642, Willem Kieft being Director General, the congregation caused this church to be built."
We must now speak of the property belonging to the church, and, to do the truth no violence, we do not know that there has ever been any, or that the church has any income except what is given to it. There has never been any exertion made either by the Company or by the Director to obtain or establish any.
The bowl has been going round a long time for the purpose of erecting a common school and it has been built with words, but as yet the first stone is not laid. Some materials only are provided. The money nevertheless, given for the purpose, has already found its way out and is mostly spent; or may even fall short, and for this purpose also no fund invested in real estate has ever been built up.
The poor fund, though the largest, contains nothing except the alms collected among the people, and some fines and donations of the inhabitants. A considerable portion of this money is in the possession of the Company, who have borrowed it from time to time, and kept it. They have promised, for years, to pay interest. But in spite of all endeavor neither principal nor interest can be obtained from them.
Flying reports about asylums for orphans, for the sick and aged,(1) and the like have occasionally been heard, but as yet we can not see that any attempt, order or direction has been made in relation to them. From all these facts, then, it sufficiently appears that scarcely any proper care or diligence has been used by the Company or its officers for any ecclesiastical property whatever—at least, nothing as far as is known—from the beginning to this time; but on the contrary great industry and exertion have been used to bind closely to them their minions, or to gain new ones as we shall hereafter at the proper time relate. And now let us proceed to the consideration of what public measures of a civil character had been adopted up to the time of our departure, in order to make manifest the diligence and care of the Directors in this particular.
(1) Seventeenth-century Dutch towns abounded in institutions of this sort.
There was not at first, under the government of Director Kieft, so much opportunity as there has since been, because the recognition of the peltries was then paid in the Fatherland, and the freemen gave nothing for excise; but after that public calamity, the rash war, was brought upon us, the recognition of the peltries began to be collected in this country, and a beer-excise was sought to be established, about which a conference was had with the Eight Men, who were then chosen from the people. They did not approve of it as such, but desired to know under what regulations and upon what footing it would take place, and how long it would continue. Director Kieft promised that it should not continue longer than until a ship of the Company should arrive with a new Director, or until the war should be at an end. Although it was very much distrusted by all, and therefore was not consented to, yet he introduced it by force. The brewers who would not agree to it had their beer given over to the soldiers. So it was enforced, but it caused great strife and discontent.
From this time forward the Director began to divide the people and to create factions. Those who were on his side could do nothing amiss, however bad it might be; those who were opposed to him were always wrong even if they did perfectly right, and the order to reckon half an offence a whole one was then strictly enforced. The jealousy of the Director was so great that he could no bear without suspicion that impartial persons should visit his partisans.
After the war was, as the Director himself said, finished—though in our opinion it will never be finished until the country is populated—every one hoped that this impost would be removed, but Director Kieft put off the removal until the arrival of a new Director, which was longed for very much. When finally he did appear,(1) it was like the crowning of Rehoboam, for, instead of abolishing the beer-excise, his first business was to impose a wine-excise and other intolerable burdens, so that some of the commonalty, as they had no spokesman, were themselves constrained to remonstrate against it. Instead however of obtaining the relief which they expected, they received abuse from the Director. Subsequently a written answer was given them, which the Director had, as usual, drawn up at such length and with such fulness that plain and simple people, such as are here, must be confused, and unable to make anything out of it. Further attempts have accordingly been made from time to time to introduce new taxes and burdens. In fine it was so managed in Director Kieft's time, that a large yearly sum was received from the recognition and other sources, calculated to amount annually to 16,000 guilders,(2) besides the recognition which was paid in the Fatherland and which had to be contributed by the poor commonalty; for the goods were sold accordingly, and the prices are now unbearably high. In Director Stuyvesant's administration the revenue has reached a much higher sum, and it is estimated that about 30,000 guilders(3) are now derived yearly from the people by recognitions, confiscations, excise and other taxes, and yet it is not enough; the more one has the more one wants. It would be tolerable to give as much as possible, if it was used for the public weal. And whereas in all the proclamations it is promised and declared that the money shall be employed for laudable and necessary public works, let us now look for a moment and see what laudable public works there are in this country, and what fruits all the donations and contributions have hitherto borne. But not to confuse matters, one must understand us not to refer to goods and effects that belong to the Honorable Company as its own, for what belongs to it particularly was never public. The Company's effects in this country may, perhaps, with forts, cannon, ammunition, warehouses, dwelling-houses, workshops, horses, cattle, boats, and whatever else there may be, safely be said to amount to from 60,000 to 70,000 guilders,(4) and it is very probable that the debts against it are considerably more. But passing these by, let us turn our attention to the public property, and see where the money from time to time has been used. According to the proclamations during the administration of Director Kieft, if we rightly consider, estimate and examine them all, we cannot learn or discover that anything—we say anything large or small—worth relating, was done, built or made, which concerned or belonged to the commonalty, the church excepted, whereof we have heretofore spoken. Yea, he went on so badly and negligently that nothing has ever been designed, understood or done that gave appearance of design to content the people, even externally, but on the contrary what came from the commonalty has even been mixed up with the effects of the Company, and even the Company's property and means have been everywhere neglected, in order to make friends, to secure witnesses and to avoid accusers about the management of the war. The negroes, also, who came from Tamandare(5) were sold for pork and peas, from the proceeds of which something wonderful was to be performed, but they just dripped through the fingers. There are also various other negroes in this country, some of whom have been made free for their long service, but their children have remained slaves, though it is contrary to the laws of every people that any one born of a free Christian mother should be a slave and be compelled to remain in servitude. It is impossible to relate everything that has happened. Whoever did not give his assent and approval was watched and, when occasion served, was punished for it. We submit to all intelligent persons to consider what fruit this has borne, and what a way this was to obtain good testimony. Men are by nature covetous, especially those who are needy, and of this we will hereafter adduce some few proofs, when we come to speak of Director Kieft's government particularly. But we shall now proceed to the administration of Director Stuyvesant, and to see how affairs have been conducted up to the time of our departure.
(1) Stuyvesant arrived from Holland by way of the West Indies in May, 1647.
(2) Equivalent to $6,400.
(3) $12,000. (4) From $24,000 to $28,000.
(5) A bay on the coast of Brazil, where the Dutch admiral Lichthart defeated the Portugese in a naval engagement, in September, 1645.
Mr. Stuyvesant has almost all the time from his first arrival up to our leaving been busy building, laying masonry, making, breaking, repairing and the like, but generally in matters of the Company and with little profit to it; for upon some things more was spent than they were worth; and though at the first he put in order the church which came into his hands very much out of repair, and shortly afterwards made a wooden wharf, both acts very serviceable and opportune, yet after this time we do not know that anything has been done or made that is entitled to the name of a public work, though there has been income enough, as is to be seen in the statement of the yearly revenue. They have all the time been trying for more, like dropsical people. Thus in a short time very great discontent has sprung up on all sides, not only among the burghers, who had little to say, but also among the Company's officers themselves, so that various protests were made by them on account of the expense and waste consequent upon unnecessary councillors, officers, servants and the like who are not known by the Managers, and also on account of the monies and means which were given in common, being privately appropriated and used. But it was all in vain, there was very little or no amendment; and the greater the endeavors to help, restore and raise up everything, the worse has it been; for pride has ruled when justice dictated otherwise, just as if it were disgraceful to follow advice, and as if everything should come from one head. The fruits of this conduct can speak and bear testimony of themselves. It has been so now so long, that every day serves the more to condemn it. Previously to the 23rd of July 1649, nothing had been done concerning weights and measures or the like; but at that time they notified the people that in August then next ensuing the matter would be regulated. The fiscaal would then attend to it, which was as much as to say, would give the pigeons to drink. There is frequently much discontent and discord among the people on account of weights and measures, and as they are never inspected, they cannot be right. It is also believed that some of easy consciences have two sets of them, but we cannot affirm the fact. As to the corn measure, the Company itself has always been suspected, but who dare lisp it? The payment in zeewant, which is the currency here, has never been placed upon a good footing, although the commonalty requested it, and showed how it should be regulated, assigning numerous reasons therefor. But there is always misunderstanding and discontent, and if anything is said before the Director of these matters more than pleases him, very wicked and spiteful words are returned. Those moreover whose office requires them to speak to him of such things are, if he is in no good fit, very freely berated as clowns, bear-skinners, and the like.
The fort under which we are to shelter ourselves, and from which as it seems all authority proceeds, lies like a molehill or a tottering wall, on which there is not one gun-carriage or one piece of cannon in a suitable frame or on a good platform. From the first it has been declared that it should be repaired, laid in five angles, and put in royal condition. The commonalty's men have been addressed for money for the purpose, but they excused themselves on the ground that the people were poor. Every one, too, was discontented and feared that if the Director once had his fort to rely upon, he would be more cruel and severe. Between the two, nothing is done. He will doubtless know how to lay the blame with much circumstance upon the commonalty who are innocent, although the Director wished to have the money from them, and for that purpose pretended to have an order from Their High Mightinesses. Had the Director laid out for that purpose the fourth part of the money which was collected from the commonalty during his time, it certainly would not have fallen short, as the wine-excise was expressly laid for that object. But it was sought in a thousand ways to shear the sheep though the wool was not yet grown. In regard, then, to public works, there is little difference between Director Kieft and Director Stuyvesant, for after the church was built the former was negligent, and took personal action against those who looked him in the eye. The latter has had much more opportunity to keep public works in repair than his predecessor had, for he has had no war on his hands. He has also been far more diligent and bitter in looking up causes of prosecution against his innocent opponents than his predecessor ever was.
The Administration of Director Kieft in Particular.
Sufficient has been said of what Director Kieft did in regard to the church and its affairs, and in regard to the state, such as buildings and taxes or revenue. It remains for us to proceed to the council-house and produce thence some examples, as we promised. We will, in doing so, endeavor to be brief.
The Council then consisted of Director Kieft and Monsieur la Montagne. The Director had two votes, and Monsieur la Montagne one; and it was a high crime to appeal from their judgments. Cornelis vander Hoykens sat with them as fiscaal,(1) and Cornelis van Tienhoven as secretary,(2) and whenever any thing extraordinary occurred, the Director allowed some, whom it pleased him—officers of the company for the most part—to be summoned in addition, but that seldom happened. Nevertheless it gave discontent. The Twelve Men, and afterwards the Eight,(3) had in court matters neither vote nor advice; but were chosen in view of the war and some other occurrences, to serve as cloaks and cats-paws. Otherwise they received no consideration and were little respected if they opposed at all the views of the Director, who himself imagined, or certainly wished to make others believe, that he was sovereign, and that it was absolutely in his power to do or refuse to do anything. He little regarded the safety of the people as the supreme law, as clearly appeared in the war, although when the spit was turned in the ashes, it was sought by cunning and numerous certificates and petitions to shift the blame upon others. But that happened so because the war was carried too far, and because every one laid the damage and the blood which was shed to his account. La Montagne said that he had protested against it, but that it was begun against his will and to his great regret, and that afterwards, when it was entered upon, he had helped to excuse it to the best of his ability. The secretary, Cornelius van Tienhoven, also said that he had no hand in the matter, and nothing had been done by him in regard to it except by the express orders of the Director. But this was not believed, for there are those who have heard La Montagne say that if the secretary had not brought false reports the affair would never have happened.(4)