« PreviousContinue »
When that prophecy was uttered, New Amsterdam was
yet a small village, with a population of seven or eight 1652.
hundred souls. Belonging, in fee, to the West India Com. of Manhat- pany, its municipal affairs had always been administered
by the director and council of the province. That administration, however, had never been advantageous, either to the company or to the colonists; and from the beginning of Stuyvesant's government, scarcely one new bouwery had been planted on the island.*
The time had now come when its inhabitants were to be invested with the civic powers which the Amsterdam
Chamber had so unwillingly conceded to their earnest prayOrganiza- ers. Its municipal government was to resemble "as much first munic-as possible” that of Old Amsterdam; nevertheless, the franernment of chises which the citizens of New Amsterdam actually ob
tained were far less extensive than those which the burghers of the parent city enjoyed. The director general retained in his own hands the appointment of burgomasters and schepens, and insisted upon the right of the provincial government " to make ordinances or publish particular interdicts even for New Amsterdam." The citizens were not allowed to elect their own schout; the city government did not choose its own clerk. The ungraceful concessions of the grudging Chamber were hampered by the most illiberal interpretation which their provincial repre
sentative could devise. 1653. Stuyvesant accordingly issued a proclamation on the
feast of Candlemas, appointing Arendt van Hattem and
Martin Kregier, burgomasters, and Paulus Leendertsen Burgomas
van der Grist, Maximilian van Gheel, Allard Anthony, Willem Beeckman, and Pieter Wolfertsen van Couwenho
ven, schepens of the city of New Amsterdam. Cornelis Schout and van Tienhoven, the company's fiscal, was made schout of
the city, and Jacob Kip was appointed secretary to the municipal government. A few days afterward, the burgomasters and schepens met together, and gave notice that they would hold their ordinary meetings every Monday
ters and schepens.
* Hol. Doc, vi, 22 ; xi., 213.
morning at nine o'clock, “in the building hitherto called CH. XVI, the City Tavern, and now named the Stadt Huys or City
1653. Hall.” Stuyvesant, whose attention had been so much given to the municipal affairs of the capital, often attended ing of the these meetings in person. Record books were then commenced ; and a solemn form of prayer was adopted, with which the proceedings of the court were to be opened. The island of Manhattan had at last formally become the city of New Amsterdam.*
The organization of the municipal government of New Critical Amsterdam took place at the most important crisis which New Netka. the Dutch province had yet seen. Holland and England were now at open war.
The Puritan colonies, sympathizing with Parliament, longed to make New Netherland a trophy of the strife, and to extend the English power from Stamford to the Chesapeake. Stuyvesant, foreseeing his 26 Feb. danger, wrote to the several governments of Virginia and New EnNew England, expressing the friendly feelings both of the Virginia, West India Company and of the authorities of New Netherland, and proposing that the commercial intercourse between the Dutch and English colonies should continue on its former peaceful footing, notwithstanding the hostilities between their mother countries. At the same time, he did not neglect proper military precautions at home. He com- 13 March. municated to a joint meeting of the provincial council, and tions for the of the burgomasters and schepens of New Amsterdam, the the city dispatches from the West India Company, and also informed them of the military preparations which were now in progress in New England. The meeting promptly resolved that “the whole body of citizens” should mount guard every night; that Fort Amsterdam should be repaired ; and as it was not large enough to contain all the inhab- Ditch and itants, that the city should be. enclosed, from the East to the North River, by a ditch and palisades with a breastwork. Schipper Visscher was directed to keep his sails
* Alb. Rec., vi., 54, 60; New Amsterdam Records, i., 105-107, 109; O'Call., ii., 213 ; Valentine's Manual for 1850, 538, where the form of prayer is inserted at length. The Records of the city of New York, commencing with this date, are still preserved in good condition. See note Q, Appendix.
State of feeling in
CH. XVI, always ready, and "his gun loaded day and night." To
defray all these expenses, the city government proposed to 1653. First public raise about six thousand guilders, by a loan from the prindebt of the cipal citizens, to be repaid by a tax upon the commonalty. 15 March. In two days, upward of five thousand guilders were sub17 March. scribed. A contract was made with Thomas Baxter to
provide palisades twelve feet high and eighteen inches in girth; and the inhabitants, "without one exception," were required to work at the fortifications, under penalty of fine, loss of citizenship, and banishment. Nor did the people forget, in the time of their trouble, to call upon the Al
mighty for aid ; and the ninth of April was ordered to be L'ast day. observed as a day of fasting and prayer throughout the 28 May. province. The inhabitants at Beverwyck and Fort Orange
were likewise directed to assist those of Rensselaerswyck in putting the redoubt and other defenses in good repair. *
These precautions were by no means untimely. Uncas, New En- the Mohegan ally of the English, had spread a report that
Stuyvesant had been plotting to excite the Narragansetts against the New England colonies; and nine sachems, who lived “about the Manhatoes," sent messengers to Stamford toward the end of March, affirming that, about a month before, the Dutch governor “did earnestly solicit the Indians in those parts to kill all the English, but they all refused to be hired by him, for that the English had done them no harm."
An extraordinary meeting of the commissioners of the United Colonies was accordingly held at Boston in the end of April. Previously to the meeting, two messengers had been sent by the council of Massachusetts to interrogate Ninigret, Pessacus, and Mixam, three of the Narragansett chiefs, as to Stuyvesant's conduct. But the sachems' answers disproved the alleged plot. "I found no such entertainment from the Dutch governor when I was there," said Ninigret, "to stir me up to such a league against the English, my friends. It was winter time, and I stood a
29 April. Meeting of the New England commissioners,
Alb. Rec., vi., 58–78; ix., 57; New Amst. Rec., i., 150–153, 164, 182; O'Call., ii., 215; Valentine's Manual for 1850, 450.
great part of a winter's day knocking at the governor's Ch. XVI. door; and he would neither open it, nor suffer others to
1653. open it, to let me in; I was not wont to find such carriage from the English, my friends.” Said Mixam: “I know of no such plot that is intended or plotted by the Dutch governor against the English, my friends." And Pessacus replied, “that for the governor of the Dutch, we are loth to invent any falsehood of him, though we be far off from him, to please the English, or any other that bring these reports."
The commissioners were still suspicious and unsatisfied. A long “declaration" was therefore drawn up, reviewing the complaints which the New England colonies had reiterated for thirteen years, and embodying the new charges Charges against the Dutch which rested upon the testimony of Dutch. “ the Indians, who know not God, but worship and walk after the prince of the power of the air, serving their lusts, hateful, and hating one another." Upon the reading of this, the commissioners, “ being exercised with different apprehensions,” called upon the Massachusetts council, “ with the neighboring elders," for advice. Their advice was, that it best became those " professing to walk in the Gospel of peace, having to do with a people pretending to the same profession," to give the Dutch governor an opportunity to answer for himself.
Stuyvesant, however, did not wait for the action of the Stuyvecommissioners. Hearing of the charges against him, he duct
. wrote at once to the governors of New Haven and Massachusetts, denying the plot, and offering to come or send to Boston to clear himself, or desiring that delegates might be sent to Manhattan “ to consider and examine what may be charged, and his answers.” The commissioners accord- Agents to ingly appointed Francis Newman, a magistrate of New NetherHaven, and Captain John Leverett, and Lieutenant William Davis, of Boston, to visit New Netherland. The agents were instructed specifically as to their duties in procuring testimony, and intelligence from Europe or Virginia, and were also furnished with letters which Underhill had writ
22 May. Conduct of
Ch. XVI. ten to the commissioners, according to the tenor of which
they conceived that "himself and the English at Hempstede will produce such evidence as the case requires." A letter to Stuyvesant, at the same time, embodied their long “declaration” of complaints, and demanded “speedy and
just satisfaction for all former grievances, and due secuPrepara- rity for the future.” The commissioners likewise made
preparations, in case “God call the colonies to make war against the Dutch." Five hundred men, "for the first expedition,” were to be proportionally raised out of the four jurisdictions; and Captain Leverett was judiciously chosen commander-in-chief, " with respect to the opportunity he now hath to view and observe the situation and fortification at the Manhatoes."
The New England agents, on reaching New Amsterdam, the English were lodged at “the Basse's house in Manhatoes.” They New Am- at once proposed to choose " some convenient place, within
the United Colonies of New England," for Stuyvesant to produce evidence to clear himself from the charges against him. This proposition the director declined. The agents then asked that the place might be at Flushing or Heemstede ; that they should have full power to call such to testify as they might think meet; that the magistrates there should be obliged to administer oaths to the witness
es; and that no person should be molested for the testiAnswer of mony he might give. To these exactions Stuyvesant and to their de- his council, “ together with those that represent the partic
ular courts of justice in the colonies of New Netherland," avowing themselves“ guiltless of any plot, either offensive or defensive, against the English nation," readily assented, upon condition that the proposed examinations should be held in the presence of three persons, to be associated with the New England commission, namely, La Montagne, the first counselor in New Netherland, David Provoost, and Govert Loockermans, “ which all jointly in some measure understand the Dutch, English, and Indian speeches.” If any person should be found 5 that would stand to the accusation," he might be examined, and might also, "accord.