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THE College of Nineteen of the West India Company, Chap. VI. immediately on its organization, intrusted, as we have
1626. seen, to the Amsterdam Chamber the particular manage- Provincial ment of its North American Province. Sworn to the governdouble allegiance which the charter required, Director New NethPETER MInuit, on his arrival at Manhattan, commenced der Peter an administration which was to be a faithful reflection of 4 May. the peculiar commercial policy of his immediate principals. Their will, as expressed in instructions, or declared in ordinances, was to be the supreme law of New Netherland : in cases not thus specifically provided for, the civil law, and the statutes, edicts, and customs of the Fatherland were to be paramount.*
To assist the director, a council was appointed, which Council. was invested with all local, legislative, judicial, and executive powers, subject to the supervision and appellate jurisdiction of the Chamber at Amsterdam. Criminal justice was administered by the council to the extent of fine and imprisonment, but not to the taking away of life. If any person was capitally convicted, " he must be sent, with his sentence, to Holland.”+ Next in authority to the director and council was the chief commissary or
Koopman," who was the book-keeper of the company's affairs, and also acted as Secretary of the Province. Subordinate to these was the “Schout,"i whose responsible Schout.
* Moulton, 369.
† Wassenaar, xii., 38; Doc. Hist. N. Y., iii., 43. † According to Grotius, this terin is an abbreviation of " Schuld-rechter," a judge of crimes.--Grotius, Inleydinge, 127; Davies, i., 77.
Chap. VI. office combined the double duties of Public Procurator
and Sheriff. He was not a member of the council, but 1626.
their executive officer; and, besides his other ordinary functions, he was specially charged with the due inspection and enforcement of the revenue regulations of the Colonial Custom-house. During Minuit's direction of affairs, his council consisted of Peter Byvelt, Jacob Elbertsen Wissinck, Jan Janssen Brouwer, Simon Dircksen Pos,
and Reynert Harmenssen. The schout, or sheriff, was Provincial Jan Lampo, of Cantelberg. Isaac de Rasieres was book
keeper and provincial secretary for about two years, and was then succeeded by Jan van Remund.
Minuit's administration began vigorously. Up to this period, the Dutch had possessed Manhattan Island only by right of first discovery and occupation. It was now
determined to superadd a higher title, by purchase from Purchase of the aborigines. As soon as Minuit was installed in his Island from government, he opened negotiations with the savages; and the aborig
a mutually satisfactory treaty was promptly concluded, by which the entire island of Manhattan, then estimated to contain about twenty-two thousand acres of land, was ceded by the native proprietors, to the Dutch West India Company, “for the value of sixty guilders," or about twenty-four dollars of our present currency.* This event, one of the most interesting in our colonial annals, as well deserves commemoration, as the famous treaty, immortal
ized by painters, poets, and historians, which William 1682. Penn concluded, fifty-six years afterward, under the great
elm-tree, with the Indians at Shackamaxon.
A short time after Minuit sailed, another ship, the “Arms of Amsterdam,” was dispatched from Holland, having on board Isaac de Rasieres, a protégé of Samuel
Blommaert, one of the leading directors of the West India 1626. Company. De Rasieres reached New Netherland in July,
and immediately entered on his duties as "opper koop
* Hol. Doc., i., 155; Mr. S. Lawrence's Report to the Senate of the State of N. Y., 3d February, 1844, No. 42, p. 4, 5; Mr. G. Folsom's Report to the Senate, 5th May, 1845, No. 111, p. 5, 6.
of the sick.
man," or chief commissary, and secretary of the province Chap. VI. under Director Minuit. * As yet, no arrangements had
1626. been made for a regular clergyman; but his place was, to a certain extent, supplied by two “Krank-besoeckers," or "consolers of the sick,” Sebastian Jansen Krol and Jan Comforters Huyck, whose particular duty it was to read to the people, on Sundays, “ some texts out of the Scriptures, together with the Creeds.”+ François Molemaecker was also employed in building a horse-mill, with a spacious room above to serve for a large congregation ; and a tower was to be added, in which the Spanish bells captured at Porto Rico, the year before, by the West India Company's fleet, were intended to be hung. I
The island of Manhattan having now become, by purchase, the private property of the West India Company, no time was lost in providing for its permanent security. A large fort, “ with four angles," and to be faced with Fort comsolid stone, was staked out by the engineer, Kryn Fred- Manhattan erycke, on the southern point of the island. point," suggested De Rasieres, "might, with little trouble, be made a small island, by cutting through Blommaert's valley, so as to afford a haven, winter and summer, for sloops and ships.” Its commanding position was well ap- Commandpreciated ; and its future destiny prophesied. “It ought, tion of the from its nature, to be a Royal Fort, so that it could be preciated. approached by land only on one side; as it is a triangle bounded by the two rivers. Three angles are indicated by nature. The most northern is opposite to, and commands within the range of a cannon shot, the Great Mau
* De Rasieres's Letter, in ii. N. Y. H. S. Coll., ii., 343.
† In the Church of Holland, it is the duty of the “Krank-besoeckers," or Ziekentroosters,” to visit and pray with the sick. See also Liturgy of the R. D. Church, part vi. The translation of Wassenaar, in Doc. Hist. N. Y., iii., 42, erroneously renders “ met de gelofsen," " with the comment.” The “Geloof” really means "the Creed;" which the
voorleezers," or clerks, in the churches in Holland, to this day, read from the “Doophuysje," or baptistery, under the pulpit. Until a recent period, this custom was kept up in the Reformed Dutch churches in this country. # Wassenaar, xii., 38; Doc. Hist. N. Y., iii., 42, 43.
Wassenaar, xii., 38 ; xvi., 13; Hol. Doc., ii., 370. Moulton, 367, affirms, that the fort " was a mere block-house, surrounded with red-cedar palisades.” The circumstance that, in 1790 and 1791, several cedar palisades were dug up under the ruins of the old fort, seems to bo the only authority for this statement.
Chap. VI. ritius River and the land. The southernmost, on the wa
ter level, commands the channel between Nutten Island 1626.
and the fort, together with the Hell-gate; the third point, opposite to Blommaert's valley, commands the low land. The middle, which ought to be left as a landmark, is the height of a hillock above the surrounding land, and should always serve as a Battery, which might command the
three points, if the streets should be arranged accordingHouses at ly."* The " Comptoir," or counting-house of the compa
ny, was kept in a stone building, thatched with reeds. Some thirty other ordinary houses," constructed chiefly of the bark of trees, were clustered along the east side of the river, “which runs nearly north and south." Each colonist had his own house. The director and the koopman and secretary lived together. As soon, however, as the fort should be built, it was intended that all the settlers should betake themselves within its walls, so as to be secure from any sudden attack of the savages.
In advance of its completion, the post was named “Fort Fort am- Amsterdam.”+ While it was in progress of building, an
event occurred which, though its criminal authors may have escaped detection and punishment, was destined to cause much of the misery which afterward visited the province. A Weckquaesgeek Indian, with his nephew, 66
a small boy,” and another savage, came down from the abode of their tribe in West Chester, bringing with them some beaver-skins to barter with the Dutch at the fort. The beaten trail of the savages, coming from the north and east to Manhattan, was along the shore of the East River, from which, just north of what is now called “Kip's Bay,” it diverged to the westward, and passed near the swampy
ground forming the "Kolck," or pond of fresh water, until Murder of recently known as the “Collect." When the Indian tradquaesgeek ing-party reached this pond, they were met by three farmthe Kolck. servants, in the employ of Commander Minuit, who robbed
The fort named
* De Rasieres's Letter, in ii. N. Y. H. S. Coll., ii., 345, 346.
the Weckquaesgeek of his peltries, and then murdered Chap. VI. him. The atrocious deed seems to have remained for a
1626. long time unknown to the Dutch authorities; and its actual perpetrators probably escaped punishment. But the young savage, who witnessed his uncle's murder, vowed that, when he grew up, he would revenge himself on the Dutch.” And, in after years, the duty which Indian justice inexorably imposed was awfully executed. *
Such were the "rude beginnings" of Manhattan. Its first settlers brought with them the characteristics of their Fatherland. They were as busy and industrious as in Holland.” One traded with the natives, southward and northward ; another built houses; a third cultivated the land. Each farmer had his homestead upon the company's land, and was also furnished with cows, the milk of which was his own profit.† 66 The island of the Manhatas," wrote De Rasieres to his patron Blommaert, “is full Description of trees, and, in the middle, rocky. On the north side, tan by De there is good land in two places, where two farmers, each with four horses, would have enough to do, without much clearing or grubbing at first. The grass is good in the forests and valleys; but when made into hay, it is not so nutritious for the cattle as the hay in Holland, in consequence of its wild state; yet it annually improves by cultivation. On the east side there rises a large level field, of about one hundred and sixty acres, through which runs a very fine fresh stream ;* so that that land can be plowed without much clearing. It appears to be good. The six farms, four of which lie along the River Hell-gate, stretching to the south side of the island, have at least one hundred and twenty acres ready to be sown with
* De Vries's Voyages, 164; Journal van N. N., Hol. Doc., iii., 105; V., 314. The“ Versch Water," or Fresh Water, mentioned by De Vries as the scene of this murder, was the large pond formerly about midway between Broadway and Chatham Street, known as “het Kolck,” or “the Pond.” From this Kolck a stream, over which there was a bridge, near the corner of Chatham and Roosevelt Streets, flowed into the East River. The “ Kolck” was afterward Anglicized into “ Collect;" and Judge Benson affirms that, as it collected the waters from the adjacent high grounds, "an etymologist not long since chose to imagine the true original name to have been an English one." -Memoir, &c., p. 83.
† Wassenaar, xii., 38; Doc. Hist. N. Y., iii., 43. | The Kolck.