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The Great Republic by the Master Historians
The Settlement of New York
by Bancroft, Hubert H.


[The Dutch showed less enterprise in planting colonies in America, and less persistence in sustaining them, than any other of the mari-time nations of Europe. Their only settlement in North America was that of New Amsterdam, occupying Manhattan Island, and sending branch hamlets up the Hudson and to the shores of Long Island Sound and the South or Delaware River. This colony was held with very little vigor. The Dutch permitted themselves to be supplanted in Connecticut by the English Puritans, with scarcely any resistance. The Swedes came into collision with them on the Delaware, though these intruders were eventually subjected to Dutch authority. And in their central seat on the Hudson they had to contend with unwarranted English invasions, and were finally conquered by the English, in times of peace, and without resistance either by the colony or by the mother-country. The story of this colony is of less interest than that of most of the other American settlements. It had its contests, its intestine difficulties, its troubles with the Indians, yet none of these were of striking importance. We extract from O'Callaghan's "History of New Netherland" some passages descriptive of the rise and progress of the settlement. Henry Hudson, the discoverer of the river that bears his name, was an English mariner, who, in the years 1607 and 1608, made two voyages in search of a northwest passage to India. He afterwards entered the service of the Dutch East India Company, and in April, 1609, sailed on a third voyage with the same purpose. Touching at Newfoundland, he continued his course till he sighted the American coast, and then turned southward, with the hope of finding a passage- way to the Pacific through the continent. He entered Penobscot Bay, and landed at Cape Cod, which he named New Holland.]

The Half Moon hence pursued a course south and west for the next ten days, and at length arrived, about the middle of August, at the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay, where the first effectual attempt to plant an English colony had been commenced only two years before. Hudson now retraced his steps, and in a few days afterwards discovered, in latitude thirty-nine degrees five minutes, a great bay, which has since been called Delaware. Here he anchored the Half Moon in eight fathom water, and took possession, it is said, of the country. From this place he coasted northward, the shore appearing low, like sunken ground, dotted with islands, and at length descried the Highlands of Navesinck, which, the journalist remarks, is a very good land to fall in with, and a pleasant land to see. He found himself, on the following day, at the mouth of three great rivers, the northernmost of which he attempted to enter; but, having been prevented by a shoal bar at its mouth, he cast about to the southward, and, after due examination of the sounding, rounded a low "sandy hook," and moored the Half Moon, on the following morning, in latitude forty degrees thirty minutes, at a short distance from the shore, in the waters of "The Great North River of New Netherland."

While the ship lay here at anchor, the natives from the western shore came on board, and seemed to be highly pleased at the arrival of the Europeans. They brought green tobacco, which they desired to exchange for knives and beads. They had divers ornaments, as well as pipes, made of copper; plenty of maize, or Indian corn; dresses of deerskins, well cured, hung loosely around them.

The next day some men were sent in the boat to explore the bay farther up. They landed on the western bank, which was lined with men, women, and children, by whom they were very kindly received, and presented with tobacco and dried currants. They found the land covered with dried oaks. The natives continued to flock on board the ship, dressed in mantles of feathers and fine furs; their necks adorned with ornaments of copper, and some of the women had hemp.

[Five of the crew were sent to examine the channel of what appeared to be an extensive river. "They described the land as covered with trees, grass, and flowers, and the air filled with delightful fragrance." On their return they were attacked, for no known cause, by a party of Indians, one man being killed and two wounded. This made Hudson very suspicious of the natives. He would permit no more to come on board, -- except a few who were detained as prisoners, but afterwards escaped,-- and soon weighed anchor and stood up through the Narrows, entering New York harbor.]

Hudson, having ascended thus far, prepared now to explore the magnificent river which rolled its waters into the sea from unknown regions, in the probable hope that it would lead him to the long-sought-for passage to the Indies. He accordingly weighed in the afternoon of the 12th September, and commenced his memorable voyage up that majestic stream which has since handed his name down to posterity.

[He sailed on up the river, through the highland region, being everywhere received with enthusiasm by the natives, who crowded on board with their commodities.]

Distrusting the savages all along, Hudson determined now to try an experiment which, by throwing them off their guard, would elicit any treachery which might be latent in their dispositions. He accordingly invited several of the chiefs into the cabin, and gave them plenty of brandy to drink, so as to make them intoxicated. The result was that one got drunk, and fell sound asleep, to the great astonishment of this companions, who "could not tell how to take it." They all took suddenly to their canoes and hurried ashore, leaving their stupefied countryman behind them. Their anxiety for his welfare soon induced them, however, to return with a quantity of beads which they gave him, to enable him, perhaps, to bribe or exorcise "the foul fiend" which had possession of him. The savage slept soundly all night, and was quite recovered from the effects of his debauch when his friends came to see him next day. So rejoiced were these people at finding their chief restored, as it were, to life, that they returned on board in crowds again in the afternoon, bringing tobacco and more beads, which they presented to Hudson, to whom they made an oration, showing him the country round about. They then sent one of their company on land, who presently returned with a great platter of dressed venison, which they caused Hudson to eat with them; after which they made him profound reverence and departed, all save the old man, who, having had a taste of the fatal beverage, preferred to remain on board.

Such was the introduction among the Indians, by the first European that came among them, of that poison which, combined with other causes, has since operated to deprive their descendants of almost a foothold in their native land, and caused, within a few centuries, the almost entire extinction of the Red race.

The Half Moon had now evidently ascended as high as she could go. She had reached a little below the present city of Albany, and Hudson, having satisfied himself, by despatching a boat some seven or eight leagues higher up, that he had gained the head of the ship-navigation, prepared to retrace his course.

[His descent of the river was much more expeditious than the upward voyage. On reaching the vicinity of Stony Point he was visited by Indians, one of whom stole some articles from the cabin and was shot and killed by the mate.]

On the following day they descended about seven leagues farther, and came to anchor. Here they were visited by a canoe, on board of which was one of the savages who had made his escape from the vessel as she was going up. Fearing treachery, Hudson would not allow either him or his companions on board. Two other canoes, filled with armed warriors, now came under the stern, and commenced an attack with arrows. They were repulsed with a loss of three men. More than a hundred savages now pushed off from the nearest point of land, but one of the ship's cannon, having been brought to bear on these, killed two of the party, and the rest fled, thereupon, to the woods. But the savages were not yet discouraged. Nine or ten of the boldest of the warriors, probably incited by the two who had made their escape from the Half Moon on her way up, threw themselves into a canoe and made for the vessel; but these fared no better than those who preceded them. A cannon-shot drove a hole through their canoe, and killed one of the men. This was followed by a discharge of musketry, which killed three or four more, and put an end to the battle. The Half Moon now descended some five miles farther down, probably near Hoboken, and thus got beyond the reach of all enemies.

Hudson had now thoroughly explored the river, from its mouth to the head of navigation, and had secured for his employers possessions which would reward them beyond measure for the expense they had incurred. For himself he had won an immortality which was destined to hand down his name to the latest age. Happy at the result, he left "the great mouth of the Great River," and put to sea, with all sails set, to communicate to those in Holland in whose service he was the tidings of his valuable discovery.

[For years a trading-station was the extent of the Dutch settlement on Manhattan Island; yet the number of settlers gradually increased, and in 1615 a settlement was made at Albany. The country was called New Netherland. In 1618 the settlers made an important treaty of peace and alliance with the Iroquois.]

When the Dutch arrived in America the tribes composing the Five Nations were at war with the Algonquin or Canada Indians. But the latter, having formed an alliance with the French, who some years previous to this date had commenced the settlement of New France, as Canada was called, derived such powerful aid from the fire-arms of their European allies that the Iroquois were defeated in almost every rencontre with their ancient enemy. Smarting under the disgrace of these unexpected repulses, the Iroquois hailed the establishment among them, now, of another European nation familiar with the use of these terrible instruments, which, almost without human intervention, scattered death wherever they were directed, and defied the war-club and bow and arrow as weapons of attack or defence. Though jealous by nature, and given to suspicion, the Indians exhibited none of these feelings towards the new-comers, whose numbers were too few even to protect themselves or to inflict injury on others. On the contrary, they courted their friendship, for through them they shrewdly calculated on being placed in a condition to cope with the foe, or to obtain that bloody triumph for which they thirsted. Such were the circumstances which now led to that treaty of alliance which, as the tradition goes, was concluded on the banks of the Norman's Kill, between the Five Nations and the Dutch.

Nothing could surpass the importance the warlike inhabitants of those ancient forests attached to the ratification of this solemn treaty. Each tribe sent its chief as its ambassador to represent it on this occasion. The neighboring tribes -- the Lenni Lenape and Mohegans -- were invited to attend; and there, in the presence of the earth, their common mother, -- of the sun, which shed its genial heat on all alike, --by the murmurs of that romantic stream, whose waters had been made to flow by their common Maker from all time, was the belt of peace held fast by the Dutch and their aboriginal allies, in token of their eternal union. There was the calumet smoked, and the hatchet buried, while the Dutch traders declared that they should forthwith erect a church over that weapon of war, so that it would no more be exhumed without overturning the sacred edifice, and whoever dared do that should incur the resentment of the white man. By this treaty the Dutch secured for themselves the quiet possession of the Indian trade, and the Five Nations obtained the means to assert that ascendency which they ever after maintained over the other native tribes, and to inspire terror far and near among the other savages of North America.

[Up to 1623 only trading-settlements existed. In that year the actual colonization of the country took place, though a governor was not appointed till two years afterwards. Captain Mey, who took out the settlers, also ascended Delaware Bay and River in 1623, and built Fort Nassau, a few miles below Camden. This fort was soon abandoned. In 1631 a colony was planted in Delaware, near the present Lewistown, but the settlers were soon murdered by the Indians. The Dutch claim now extended from Cape Henlopen to Cape Cod. This claim was disputed by the New-Englanders, who formed settlements in Connecticut and on Long Island. They endeavored, also, to trade with the Hudson River Indians. In 1633 one Jacob Eelkins arrived at New Amsterdam in an English ship called the William. He was ordered to depart by Wouter van Twiller, the Dutch governor.]

After an interval of five days, the factor of the William went again on shore to the fort, to inquire if the director-general would permit him, in a friendly way, to ascend the river, stating at the same time that, if he would not allow it, he [Eelkins] would proceed without his consent, if it should cost him his life. But van Twiller was immovable. Instead of consenting, he ordered the ship's crew on shore, and, in the presence of all, commanded the Prince of Orange's flag to be run up the fort, and three pieces of ordnance to be fired in honor of his highness. Eelkins, not to be outdone, immediately ordered his gunner to go on board the William, to hoist the English flag, and fire a salute of three guns in honor of the King of England, which was accordingly done. Van Twiller now warned Eelkins to take heed that what he was about did not cost him his neck. Eelkins, however, noway daunted, returned on board with the ship's crew. The anchor was weighed, and the William shortly after sailed up the river, "near to a fort called Orange."

Director van Twiller, incensed at this audacity, collected all the servants of the company in the fort before his door, ordered a barrel of wine to be broached, and, having taken a bumper, cried out, "Those who love the Prince of Orange and me, emulate me in this, and assist me in repelling the violence committed by that Englishman!" The cask of wine was soon emptied, but the people were noways disposed at first to trouble the Englishman. . . .

The William having, in the mean while, arrived in the neighborhood of Fort Orange, the factor and crew went ashore "about a mile below that fort," set up a tent, and, having landed all their goods, immediately opened an active trade with the natives. It was not long before the news of these proceedings came to the ears of Houten, the commissary at Fort Orange. He forthwith embarked, with a trumpeter, on board a shallop, over which waved some green boughs, and proceeded to where Eelkins was. "By the way the trumpet was sounded, and the Dutchmen drank a bottle of strong waters of three or four pints, and were right merry." The Dutch set up a tent by the side of that of the English; did as much as they could to disparage their cloth and other goods, with a view to hinder the latter's trade; but the Indians, having been well acquainted with Eelkins, who had "heretofore lived four yeares among them," and could speak their language, were a good deal more willing to trade with him than with the others, and he consequently had every prospect of advantageously disposing of his merchandise, having been fourteen days there, when a Dutch officer arrived from below, in command of three vessels, a pinnace, a carvel, and a hoy, bearing two letters, protesting against Eelkins, and ordering him to depart forthwith.

To enforce these commands came soldiers "from both the Dutch forts, armed with muskets, half-pikes, swords, and other weapons," and, after having beaten several of the Indians who had come to trade with Eelkins, ordered the latter to strike his tent. In vain he pleaded that he was on British soil, and that British subjects had a right to trade there; the Dutch would not listen to any remonstrances. They pulled his tent about his ears, sent the goods on board, "and, as they were carrying them to the ship, sounded their trumpet in the boat in disgrace of the English."

[In this chronicle of the adventures of the first English ship that sailed up the Hudson we have a scene ridiculous enough to find a place in Knickerbocker's "History of New York." The succeeding troubles of the Dutch were with the Swedes and the Indians. In 1640 war began with the neighboring Indians, which continued till terminated by the mediation of the Iroquois, in 1645. In 1638 the Swedes settled on the Delaware, near the present Wilmington, and gradually extended their settlements until 1655, when they were attacked by the Dutch, and all their forts captured. The Swedes remained, under Dutch government. In 1664 the King of England granted to his brother James all the country from the Connecticut to the Delaware, heedless of the claims of the Dutch. A squadron was sent out, and the Dutch were forced to surrender New Amsterdam. Thus, by an act of flagrant injustice, while England and Holland were at peace, the Dutch dominion in North America was overthrown, after half a century of existence. Mr. O'Callaghan gives some brief details of the condition of affairs in New Amsterdam in 1646, which we transcribe.]

Slaves constituted, as far back as 1628, a portion of the population. The introduction of this class was facilitated by the establishments which the Dutch possessed in Brazil and on the coast of Guinea, as well as by the periodical capture of Spanish and Portuguese prizes, and the circumstances attendant upon the early settlement of the country. The expense of obtaining labor from Europe was great, and the supply by no means equal to the demand. To add to these embarrassments, the temptations held out by the fur-trade were so irresistible that the servants, or "boere-knechts," who were brought over from Holland, were soon seduced from the pursuits of agriculture. Farmers were consequently obliged to employ negroes, and slave-labor thus became, by its cheapness and the necessity of the case, one of the staples of the country.

The lot of the African under the Dutch was not as hopeless as his situation might lead us to expect. He was a "chattel," it is true; but he could still look forward to the hour when he too might become a freeman. In the years 1644 and 1646, several negroes and their wives, who had originally been captured from the Spaniards, had been manumitted, in consequence of their long and faithful services. To enable them to provide for their support they obtained a grant of land; but as the price of their manumission they were bound to pay yearly twenty-two bushels and a half of corn, wheat, peas, or beans, and one fat hog valued at eight dollars, failing which, they were to lose their liberty and return again to their former state of servitude..The price of a negro averaged between one hundred and one hundred and fifty dollars..

The greater number of the houses around Forts Amsterdam and Orange were, in those days, low-sized wooden buildings, with roofs of reed or straw, and chimneys of wood. Wind-or water-mills were erected, here and there, to grind corn, or to saw lumber. One of the latter, situated on Nut or Governor's Island, was leased in 1639 for five hundred merchantable boards yearly, half oak and half pine. Saw- and grist-mills were built upon several of the creeks in the colony of Rensselaerswyck, where "a horse mill" was also erected in 1646. A brewery had been constructed previous to 1637, in the same quarter, by the Patroon, with the exclusive right of supplying retail dealers with beer. But private individuals were allowed the privilege, notwithstanding, to brew whatever quantity of beer they might require for consumption within their own families.

[These settlements were established under two different systems of government. The "colonies" were governed on a feudal principle, the Patroon, or proprietor, having sovereign authority over his vassals, who swore allegiance to him, and submitted to his special courts, ordinances, and laws. In return he was bound to protect them. The other system was a municipal one, like that of the manors of Holland, the qualified electors of cities, villages, and hamlets being empowered to nominate the magistrates, who needed to be confirmed by the director and council. Through these regulations the democratic spirit of Holland was carried over to New Amsterdam, and a republican sentiment of a different type from that of the English colonies was instituted.]

E. B. O'Callaghan

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