Activities of the company.—Licenses were at once granted to several traders, who in 1622 visited the Hudson, Delaware, and Connecticut rivers and trafficked with the Indians as far east as Buzzard's Bay. Thirty families of Walloons, Protestants from Flanders, were sent over in 1623, these being the first colonists. Most of them settled on Manhattan Island, at Brooklyn, and on Staten Island. A few migrated to the vicinity of Fort Orange near Albany, and others settled near the present site of Gloucester on the Delaware, where a new fort named Nassau was erected. Other settlers soon followed; the fur trade was developed; and by 1625 the success of the colony seemed assured.
Government of the colony.—The West India Company was governed by a board of directors called the College of Nineteen; of these eight were from Amsterdam, and to them was given the control of New Netherlands. In the colony the chief officer was the director-general. To assist him was a council invested with local legislative, executive, and judicial powers, subject to the supervision and appellate jurisdiction of the Amsterdam directors. There were two minor officials, the "koopman" acting as commissary, bookkeeper, and secretary, and the "schout-fiscal" as an attorney and sheriff.
Administration of Peter Minuit.—In 1626 Peter Minuit became the director-general. One of his first acts was to secure a title to Manhattan Island by purchasing it from the Indians at the nominal price of twenty-four dollars' worth of goods. A fort, the location of which is known to-day as The Battery, was immediately constructed. Near by was built the stone counting house with a thatched roof, and thirty bark houses straggled along the east side of the river, the meager beginnings of a great metropolis. Fearing for the safety of the little groups of settlers at Fort Orange and Fort Nassau, Minuit brought them to New Amsterdam, leaving only a few soldiers and traders at Fort Orange.
Van Der Donck's Map of New Netherland, 1656.
Minuit's preparations for defence were not confined to fortifying the land. Conscious of foreign danger, inspired perhaps by the victories which Heyn was just now winning over Spaniards and Portuguese in the southern waters, and aided by two Belgian shipbuilders, the governor built and launched the New Netherland, a vessel of eight hundred tons and carrying thirty guns. The ship cost more than had been expected, and the bills were severely criticized by the West India Company.
The patroon system.—The returns from the southern raids made the small income from New Netherlands appear paltry, and the company decided to attempt an extensive colonization with a view to larger profit. A type of feudalism known as the patroon system was decided upon. The company reserved Manhattan Island, but other regions were opened to settlement. Each patroon was to receive lands four leagues along one side of a navigable river or two leagues on both sides and extending "so far into the country as the situation of the occupiers will permit," provided that within four years he settled fifty people over fifteen years of age upon his lands. Patroons were forever to "possess and enjoy all the lands lying within the aforesaid limits, together with the fruits, rights, minerals, rivers, and fountains thereof," and were to have complete control over "fishing, fowling, and grinding."
The fur trade was reserved by the company, but the patroons were allowed to trade on the coast from Newfoundland to Florida and to ship goods to neutral powers; they could also engage in fishing and the making of salt. They were to satisfy the Indians regarding land titles and were given the right to establish their own courts, from which appeal might be made to the director-general and his council. The colonists were exempt from taxation for ten years, but they could not leave the service of the patroon without his consent. The system was not intended to exclude other colonists who might come over and take up as much land as they could improve, but no colonists were to "be permitted to make any woolen, linen or cotton cloth, nor weave any other stuffs there." Patroons and colonists were "to find out ways and means whereby they may support a Minister and Schoolmaster." The company promised to defend the colonists and to endeavor to supply them "with as many Blacks as they conveniently can."
The patroons.—While the details of the charter were being discussed, several directors took advantage of the intended system to secure large grants. Samuel Godyn and Samuel Blommaert and several associates secured practically all of what is now Delaware and that part of the Jersey shore extending twelve miles north from Cape May and twelve miles inland. Kiliaen van Rensselaer obtained the lands about Fort Orange, comprising what is now a large part of Albany and Rensselaer counties. Michael Pauw received title to Staten Island and the region where Jersey City is now situated. Godyn and Blommaert sent colonists to Swannendael on the present site of Lewiston, but they were massacred by the Indians, the colonization of the grant was abandoned, and in 1635 the company purchased the lands of the patroons on the Delaware. In 1637 Pauw sold his holdings to the company. The Van Rensselaer tract remained in the possession of that family until after the American Revolution. Jealousies in the company, due to the securing of patroonships by some of the directors, and to the fact that the patroons attempted to obtain a share in the fur trade, and that Minuit appeared to be working in the interest of the great land holders, led to the recall of the director-general.
Attempts to secure the frontiers.—The new director-general was Wouter van Twiller. He had been a clerk in the West India Company's warehouse at Amsterdam, and probably owed his appointment to the fact that he was married to a niece of Van Rensselaer. One of his first acts was to secure possession of the Delaware. In 1633 a tract along the Schuylkill was purchased from the Indians and a trading house was erected, the first in the present state of Pennsylvania. In 1635 a party of Virginians attempted to gain a foothold on the Delaware, but were expelled. On the Connecticut the Dutch had profited by the fur trade, but had never sent colonists to that region. In 1633 lands were purchased from the Indians, and Fort Good Hope was built at modern Hartford, but the Puritan migration soon secured the Connecticut Valley for the English.
Reforms.—Van Twiller and other officials appear to have profited by securing extensive land holdings on the islands at the mouth of the Hudson, Governor's Island deriving its name from the fact that Van Twiller owned it. Complaints began to be heard in the Amsterdam chamber and in 1637 Van Twiller was removed from office, his successor being William Kieft, who arrived in 1638. The new director-general immediately set about correcting abuses. Illicit fur trading and the sale of firearms to the Indians were prohibited. The Amsterdam chamber removed some of the trade restrictions and made easier the acquisition of land. The result was a considerable increase in the number of settlers, who came not only from the Netherlands, but from New England and Virginia as well. Restrictions on manufactures were abolished and the Dutch Reformed Church was established.
Difficulties.—Kieft's administration was beset by difficulties. In the Connecticut Valley and on Long Island the English settlements were increasing, and on the Delaware the Swedes had gained a footing. In the colony a disastrous Indian war brought devastation and ruin. The Indians on the lower Hudson and on Long Island had watched the growing settlements with alarm, an alarm which turned to resentment when they found the Iroquois supplied with firearms from Fort Orange, a privilege which was denied to them at New Amsterdam. Kieft increased the ill-feeling by demanding a contribution of corn, fur, and wampum. He also accused the Raritans of attacking fur trading vessels, and sent an expedition to punish them. In 1641 the Indians retaliated by killing several settlers.
Kieft and the twelve men.—Kieft promptly called together the settlers, who chose a committee of twelve to advise the director-general. Much to his disappointment, they counseled delay. In January, 1642, he again summoned the twelve, who consented to send an expedition against the Indians, provided Kieft should command it. At the same time they demanded that the council should contain at least five members and that the inhabitants should be allowed greater freedom of trade. To these demands Kieft assented grudgingly, and to save further embarrassment, dissolved the committee. An expedition was sent against the Indians, but it accomplished nothing.
Indian hostilities, 1643-1645.—Early in 1643 the Mohawks attacked the river Indians who sought refuge near New Amsterdam. Kieft determined to attack the fugitives, and eighty of them were massacred. The Long Island Indians were also plundered. Aroused by these acts, the Indians united and attacked the settlers. The colonists who escaped fled to Fort Amsterdam. A lull occurred in the fighting while the Indians planted their crops, but hostilities were soon renewed. Kieft again summoned the people and a committee of eight Was chosen who counseled war. Settlers and servants of the company were drilled, and fifty English also enlisted. A series of expeditions were despatched against the Indians, whose villages were ruthlessly destroyed. In 1645 treaties were made with the various tribes, and the long war came to an end. One of the incidents of the war was the building of a wall across the lower end of Manhattan Island. It is from this that Wall Street takes its name.
Stuyvesant, 1647.—Both in New Amsterdam and the Netherlands Kieft was blamed for the war. The West India Company decided to remove him, and Peter Stuyvesant, the director of Curaçao, was appointed to succeed him. The first important act of Stuyvesant was to organize the council. Police regulations were made to control Sabbath-breakers, brawlers, and the sale of liquors. The court of justice was also organized, but the director-general required that his opinion be asked in all important cases, and reserved the right to preside in person when he saw fit.
Popular representation.—While Kieft was director-general, he had appealed to the people on several occasions. In answer to the public demand for representation, the council recommended to Stuyvesant that it be granted. Accordingly, the director-general ordered an election at which eighteen were chosen, from whom Stuyvesant and the council selected nine. The nine were to advise and assist, when called upon, in promoting the welfare of the province, and were to nominate their successors. The director-general retained the right to preside at meetings.
Struggle for municipal rights.—The trade restrictions of the West India Company were irksome to the people of New Amsterdam, who hoped to right conditions by obtaining a larger share in the government. After considerable trouble with Stuyvesant, the nine men submitted to the States General a remonstrance setting forth their grievances and a memorial suggesting remedies. They asked that the States General establish a citizens' government, that colonists be sent over, and that the boundaries of New Netherlands be definitely established. The Amsterdam chamber opposed the petitioners, but in 1652 it decided to make concessions. The export duty on tobacco was removed, the cost of passage to New Netherlands was reduced, and the colonists were allowed to procure negroes from Africa. A "burgher" government was allowed for New Amsterdam, the citizens being allowed a schout, two burgomasters, and five schepens, who were to form a municipal court of justice. They were not to be popularly elected, however, Stuyvesant being allowed to appoint the members. No sooner were municipal rights granted to New Amsterdam than the settlements at the western end of Long Island demanded a larger share in government. A convention was held at the capital to formulate grievances. This was brought to an end by Stuyvesant, but a little later municipal rights were granted to several of the towns.
A provincial assembly.—In 1664, during the war between England and the Dutch, so great was the alarm at New Amsterdam, that a provisional assembly was elected, composed of two delegates from each of the Dutch settlements, twenty-four representatives in all. Little was accomplished by this body, however, for shortly afterward the colony passed into English hands.
Economic development.—During the administration of Stuyvesant the material prosperity of New Netherlands steadily increased. He found New Amsterdam a town with straggling fences and crooked streets, and containing about five hundred people. Under his supervision it took on the appearance of a well-kept Dutch town. In 1656 it contained a hundred and twenty houses and a thousand people. By 1660 it had three hundred and fifty houses. By 1664 the population increased to fifteen hundred. The area of settlement in New Netherlands had gradually expanded, covering Manhattan and Staten islands, the opposite Jersey shore, the western end of Long Island, both banks of the lower Hudson, a considerable district about Ft. Orange, and scattering settlements on the Delaware. The chief source of wealth was the fur trade which was carried on largely with the Iroquois who were friendly to the Dutch and hostile to the French. In 1656 Ft. Orange alone exported thirty-five thousand beaver and otter skins, but soon afterward the trade began to decline and agriculture increased in importance. When the province passed into English hands, the population had reached ten thousand.
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