The History of New York State
Book XI, Chapter I
Part II

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam

 

The balance of power in America had thus changed. The English were now dominant among Protestant people in the New World. They began to spread out into New Netherland from New England, and the English settlers in the Dutch province were not inclined to look upon themselves as Dutch subjects. The English settlers on Long Island, indeed, showed most rebellious intent, resisting all efforts of the Dutch Governor, Stuyvesant, to govern them.

By this time, Charles I had lost his life on the block, and Cromwell had set up his Commonwealth. Trade rivalry had drawn him into war with Holland in 1651. He had forbidden any other than English ships to trade with English colonies, and had hoped to clear the Dutch from England's way in the East we well as the West. He even planned the conquest of new Netherland, but did not pursue those plans far. Finally, however, Cromwell forced the United Province of the Netherlands to recognize the supremacy of the British flag in British seas, and submit to the Navigation Act.

Cromwell was not much less absolute then Charles had been. Indeed, the people of England in time realized that Cromwell's military despotism was even more adamant. A king could be curbed by Parliament. They liked Cromwell but not as a dictator. They offered him kingship. He would, however, accept only the dignity of Lord Protector. This was conferred. It might have better the Parliamentary state has Cromwell lived longer; but he died in 1658 and his son, Richard, had not personality nor inclination strong enough to hold the Protectorate. So the English commonwealth, which really had been government by the sword, ended in the restoration of the Stuarts in 1660, without terms, but on the understanding that "according to the ancient and fundamental laws of this Kingdom, the government is, and ought to be, by King, Lords and Commons."

It is not necessary to follow closely here English and Europeans affairs of the period of the Restoration--1660 to 1689. Governmental action and Parliamentary sanctions of that bewildering period show considerable inconsistency in both rulers and subjects, but also some unshakable fundamental principles. A common factor, Protestantism, held the English and Dutch peoples together; yet trade rivalry seemed to make the two governments, and by interference the two nations, inveterate enemies. Some common factors, feudalism and absolutism, actuated almost all kings. The Catholic Church, being the most powerful, seemed to be the one to which most of the monarchs instinctively leaned. Charles and James had close and secret dealings with the French King, whose temporal ambitions had better chances of success under Catholic influence than under Protestant. The difference between the English and the French kings, in their actions, was that Protestant opposition caused Charles and James to plan secretly, whereas Louis could plan more in the open, for France, in the main, was Catholic. Charles and James would prefer to fight against Protestant Holland than against Catholic France; still, the inconsistent political alignments of European nations during the period of the restoration indicate that religion was not the compelling force that trade and temporal gain was--at least with rulers and governments. The Dutch government coveted England's possession of Bombay, Indian, and looked askance at the chartering of an English West India Company, which disturbed Dutch trading relations on the Gold Coast of Africa. This English West India Company might interfere with Dutch operations in America. The Dutch resisted accordingly; indeed, English trading vessels were being constantly molested by Dutch ships.

In 1664 English merchants called upon Parliament to redress the wrongs they had suffered at the hands of Dutch naval forces. At the same time parliament knew full well that agitation was stirring the English settlers in the Dutch colony--New Netherland-- to rebel against Dutch authority. The settlers expected to be supported by the English government; and the King's ministers were not inclined to ignore or discountenance the movement. Indeed, they had long been inclined to look upon the Dutch as seated in America only by sufferance.

From the beginning New England had disputed the right of the Dutch to New Netherland. The protestations of the English colonies to the English government and of the latter to the Dutch government "against this unwarrantable invasion of English territory" were many. In the New England charter of 1620m, however, one proviso seemed to debar the subjects of King James I from ignoring the right of the Dutch to New Netherland, for the charter "contained an exception in favor of the possession of any Christian prince or state," and undoubtedly the Dutch were seated along the Hudson River in that year. The Puritans, however, did not see the right of the Dutch to the Fresh (Connecticut) River so clearly. During Van Twiller's period (1633037) as Director-general of New Netherland, the English settled at Windsor, Connecticut, passing up the Connecticut River despite the protest of the Dutch garrison at Fort Good Hope (Hartford). The English settlers soon dispossessed the Dutch of their lands on the Connecticut and began also to look enviously east of the lower portion of the North (Hudson) River. In 1638 a settlement was begun at Roodenberg, or Red Hill--the beginning of New Haven. In the summer of 1639 Patroon de Vries anchored at New Haven, and to his surprise found there about 300 houses and a substantial church. Hartford, by this time, was a flourishing settlement.

Ignoring the grant by the Indians to the Dutch, the English in the Connecticut Valley began to interfere with the lands pertaining to the Dutch settlement at Fort Good Hope. Norwalk, Stamford, and Greenwich soon became thriving English communities.

The migrating English came on to Long Island. They made extensive purchases at the eastern portion, and tried to possess themselves of part of the western portion of the island, where the right of the Dutch was clearer, inasmuch as they had extinguished the Indian title to this land. Director-General Kieft sent a small military expedition to check this English encroachment, and assert the sovereignty of the Ditch. Nevertheless the English occupation of the eastern end of Long Island continued, the towns of Southampton and Southold well established.

The spreading of the English over Long Island could not be stopped. Some of the English settlers took over Dutch patents. In 1644 the Dutch governor, in meeting Indian trouble, was forced to call to his aid some Englishmen, the doughty Underhill among them.

The functioning of the New Netherland government was chaotic for some time, internal dissension clouding the situation after the Indian trouble had been settled. The English at New Haven made new purchases of Indian titles to land between Naugatuck and the North River. governor Kieft protested, claiming that the English at New Haven and Hartford were encroaching upon Dutch possessions. But the Commissioners of the United New England Colonies, meeting at New Haven, sustained their countrymen, and disregarded the further protests of the Dutch Governor, who was not strong enough militarily to enforce his authority. The Governor, recognizing his weakness, contented himself by characterizing the counter charges of the United New England Colonies as those of the "wolf against the lamb." The English infiltration continued.

There soon came a time when the Dutch Governor was compelled to employ and English secretary, so that the might keep in better touch with the English communities of the Dutch colony, and with the neighboring English colonies. Connecticut endeavored to compose its differences with New Netherland. What is known as the Hartford Boundary Treaty of 1650 was negotiated by two commissioners, Thomas Willett, a merchant of Plymouth, and George Baxter, the English secretary of the Dutch Governor, Stuyvesant. They fixed the boundary on Long island "from the westernmost part of Oyster Bay straight to the sea; on the mainland, the point of departure was on the west side of Greenwich Bay, about four miles from Stamford, the line to run thence up into the country twenty miles, provided it did not come within ten miles of the North River." the States General of the United Netherland delayed confirmation of this treaty, and Connecticut, thereupon, nullified it.

The English continued to spread out. They pressed the Dutch hard in Westchester, while Massachusetts made plans to settle a colony on the upper waters of the Hudson, b y right of their patent which extended the jurisdiction of Massachusetts "indefinitely westward." Massachusetts, with this in view, insisted upon her right to navigate the Hudson river, to reach her alleged possessions. In 1654 the General Court of Hartford sequestered Fort Good Hope, clearing the Dutch officially out of Connecticut.

The New Englanders hoped that Cromwell would stamp out New Netherland altogether, and so end the controversy; but this project was not carried through. However, long before Charles II came to the throne of England, the Dutch Governor, Stuyvesant, had ceased to have much authority over the English towns of his province. He was not given the support necessary to enforce the will of the Dutch government by military arms; and the Long island English towns beyond the line of the Connecticut Boundary Treaty of 1650 had remained independent ever since.

Soon after the restoration of Charles II John Winthrop the younger was sent by the General Court of Hartford as the agent of that colony, to England. He procured a new charter for Connecticut. It confirmed the original patent granted, in 1631, to Robert Earl, of Warwick. It enlarged the grant, indeed. This gave Connecticut jurisdiction of "the country from Narragansetts along the shore, forty leagues,. And westward to the Pacific Ocean" (the south Sea) "with all the islands along the included coasts of both oceans."

Connecticut's new charter aroused affected parties. New Haven protested. So did New Netherland. So, it seems, also did some of the English towns on Long Island. Stuyvesant, the Dutch Governor, appealed to both Boston and Hartford, but without avail Moreover, he found that the English towns within what he clearly saw was Dutch territory were becoming increasingly bellicose. In the autumn of 1653 an emissary of Connecticut, Captain John Talcott, was active in Westchester, fomenting hostility to Dutch rule. He extended his activities to the English towns on Long island's western end. Two months later Anthony Waters and John Coe, at the head of a strong force, marched from town to town, their line of march being marked by the changing of town names. Flushing became Newark, Newtown or Middleburgh became Hastings, Jamaica Crafford, and Oyster Bay became Folestone. The local Dutch authorities were deposed and new ones appointed. Charles II was proclaimed King, and these places were declared to be part of his dominion. The Dutch Governor, Stuyvesant, virtually surrendered authority, by compromising with Connecticut, both agreeing "that there should be mutual forbearance, the Dutch and English towns to be free respectively from either government."

The political situation w as complicated by the actions of John Scott, who had earlier been active on Long Island, in fomenting resistance of the English towns to Dutch authority. Claiming that he had purchased large tracts of land from the Indians, he returned to England at the restoration of Charles II. As a Royalist who had served Charles I, Scott was not without a valid claim to royal favor; so the Committee of Foreign Plantations commissioned him to return to American, and, with other commissioners, George Baxter and Samuel Maverick, "examine into English titles upon Long Island," they were further commissioned to investigate the question of the "intrusion" of the Dutch. The royal letters which Scott brought conveyed instructions which, if carried out, "would be almost tantamount to a declaration of war."

Scott proceeded to Connecticut, and was commissioned by that colony "to annex all Long Island." This course was hardly compatible with the instruction from the Committee of Foreign Plantations, but Scott recognized that he could do nothing without a supporting force. So with Talcott and other from Connecticut he appeared on Long Island. There he found a complicated situation. The people were divided among themselves. As a whole, the English settlers were glad to be no longer under Dutch rule. But all the English of Long Island were not Puritans. The Quakers and Baptist dreaded coming under Puritan rule. "Wee ware put," they wrote to Scott, "upon proclaiming the King by Captain John Youngs, who come with a trumpet to Heemstede, and sounded in our ears that Connecticut would do great things for us." But Connecticut's "great things" had been qualified by "if so bees and doubtinghs." Looking in the other direction, however, they saw only a threatening Dutch government. They would prefer to be independent of both government, could not Scott, as the King's commissioner, act independently of Connecticut and also free them finally from Dutch authority.

The King's commissioner saw the opportunity, and readily grasped it. Scott, when he came, brought the unexpected announcement that Charles II had granted, or was about to grant, the whole of Long Island to his brother, the Duke of York and Albany. Whether he wished it so or not, the King has harmonized all differences of English settlers when he threw into the lap of his brother not only Long Island but the whole of the Dutch province. By royal patent, dated March 22, 1664, the Duke of York was given proprietary interest in "all that part of the mainland of New England beginning at a certain place called or known by the name of St. Croix next adjoining to new Scotland in America and from thence extending thereof to the furtherest head of the same as it tendeth Northward; and extending from thence to the River Kenebque and so upwards by the shortest course to the river Canada Northward. And also all that Island or islands commonly called by the several name or names of Matowacks or Long Island, situate, lying and being towards the West of Cape Cod and the narrow Higansetts abutting upon the mainland between the two rivers there called or known by the several names of Connecticut to the East side of the Delaware Bay. And also those several islands called or known by the Names of Martin's Vineyard and Nantucket, otherwise called Nantuckett." The duke's authority over his new domain could not be obtained except by force, and in due time an expedition would arrive. Meanwhile, Scott was not unwilling to organize the English subjects on Long Island to defend themselves against the Dutch.

He found the townsmen of Gravesend, flushing, Newtown and Jamaica ready to band for their mutual protection, with himself as "President," until such time as the "Duke of York or the King should establish a permanent government." President Scott at the head of one hundred and fifty men took the field "to reduce the Dutch towns to obedience to the English King." He told the people of Breukelen that they "were no longer Dutch subjects.' He defied the Dutch governor, and the latter thought it better to procrastinate, concentrating upon the defence of New Amsterdam, which Scott threatened to invest in the spring. Scott could not make much progress in the Dutch towns, and in the spring Stuyvesant was able to quell the Indian uprising in the Esopus. Finally, in 1664, Stuyvesant and Scott agreed that the question of jurisdiction should be referred to the home governments and that, meanwhile, "the English towns were for twelve months to be under the English crown, and the Dutch towns under the States General, but the latter were to pay royalties to the English King." However, when Scott returned to Hartford, the magistrate there imprisoned him, "for asserting his own authority and disregarding theirs."

Disregard of governmental authority was common just then. their High Mightiness', the States General of the Netherlands, addressed letters to their rebellious English subjects; but these were disregarded. Copies of the letters sent to Hartford were pronounced to be forgeries. Winthrop openly visited the English towns in the interest of Connecticut. In an interview with Stuyvesant, Winthrop maintained that the new Connecticut charter gave that colony jurisdiction over the whole of Long Island, but virtue of that charter an agent of Connecticut "bought of the Indians all the country lying between Westchester and the North River, including Spuyten Duyvil Creek, which the Dutch had purchased fifteen years before." Without a doubt, war would result between England and Holland unless the Dutch gave way, for it was clear that the English in America were bent upon territorial expansion, and that English subjects would not tolerate Dutch rule.

The English ministers had long since realized this, and the King, in granting letters patent to the Duke of York, had taken a step he could not retrace. It meant war, but Charles, it must be said, was not disinclined to sanction war against Holland. He owed a debt to the Netherlands, but not to the clique of aristocrats who were then governing the United Province. If, by waging war upon Holland, he could restore his nephew, William of Orange, to governing power in Holland he would be satisfied that at least his debt, and his father's, had been met. In any case, war would perhaps clear the way for England in the East as well as in the West, and might checkmate France in the New World.

It seems that the King of France had, in 1663, ordered governmental changes to be made in New France. The charter of the Company of the Hundred Associates had been surrendered to Louis the Fourteenth, and a French West India Company formed, the latter being entrusted with French interest in America. The new French company night be expected to vigorously pursue a policy of expansion of trade. This was synonymous with expansion of territorial influence. Charles planned to frustrate it. In any event, Charles hoped to so reorganize the English forces and governmental agencies in America that England could go on to dominant place on the continent. The charter to the Duke of York was the first stop; and as the nation was headed fro war, the English King did not wait for the actual declaration of it before taking action. A British force was permitted to raid the Dutch settlement on the Gold Coast of Africa, and an expeditionary force under colonel Richard Nicolls was dispatched to carry out American designs.

Rumor of the coming of the fleet reached New Amsterdam in July, 1664. An Englishman, Captain Willett, was the first to hear it. He informed Stuyvesant. But soon afterwards the latter received news from Holland which somewhat allayed his excitement. The Dutch government, apparently, thought that the true mission of the Nicolls Expeditionary Force was not the reduction of New Netherland, but of New England. This, indeed, was part of the plan of the English King. He intended that the English colonies should be reduced "to obedience and uniformity in state and church"; but colonel Nicolls had also been enjoined "to reduce New Netherland."

It happened that the latter part of the plan was easier to carry out then the other; and it suited the plans of the leaders of the expedition that the New Netherland should be taken off their guard. Had Stuyvesant not rested upon the assurance of the home directors that he had nothing to fear from the English fleet New Netherlands might have resisted the attack of the English more successfully; but when, in September, the English fleet appeared in New York waters, demanding the surrender of New Amsterdam, Stuyvesant was unable to defend the Dutch province. Indeed, he found himself powerless to resist the will of his own people that the city be surrendered. At the first alarm he had called the Dutch militia, but they had not rallied. The English settlers, of course, were keenly cooperating with the challenging fleet. So new Netherland passed to the English with our bloodshed, and, except for a brief period in 1673-74, was never again a Dutch province--at least not in a governmental sense, though the Dutch settlers were to have almost dominant share in local government under the English, and to leave an impress which is still noticeable in new York life and institution.

The taking of New Netherland by the English was not the most vital nor the most important event of the war. As a matter of fact, war had not yet been declared, although both governments-Holland and England--had recognized that a state of war existed. Indeed, in the intensity of trade rivalry, acts of war had not been infrequent of late years at sea. But the descent upon New Netherland was somewhat different. Maritime clashes were isolated encounters, and trade rivalry hardly came into the category of opposition to sovereign rule. The loss of a province, however, could only be answered in one way. So war was formally declared between Britain and the United Netherlands.

The war had an effect upon America, but was fought mainly in the Eastern Hemisphere. The warfare brought neither side much advantage. Fire once kindled is hard to put out or to check, and while it burns it is destroying. For many years thereafter, both England and Holland were engrossed in warlike measures--not always against each other; indeed, the spreading of a flame so uncontrollable swept each, at different period, into alliance with France again each other, and at t another time both into alliance against France. The strife covered almost the full period of the Restoration. In the end, the Dutch forever lost New Netherland, and the English King, James, lost his crown--lost it to a Dutchman, William of Orange, who, by the way, was aided by the English people themselves.

During these three decades of fluctuating national fortunes in Europe, it is hardly surprising to find that the American colonies were left somewhat the their own resources. It was fortunate for the English colonies that the Iroquois stood between them and the French of Canada, otherwise the English colonies would have had to exert themselves more in a military way. Had the French of Canada been able to follow in the New World the lead shown b y Louis in Europe, New York history might have been materially changed. Certainly, the Iroquois prevented the Canadians from adding New Netherland to the realm of Louis. In 1663, the French Governor, D'Avaugour, appealed to Louis for 3,000 soldiers. He would like to exterminate the Mohawks and breakup the Five Nations Confederacy altogether. He recommended that forts be erected on the Sorel and on the upper Hudson. These could be stepping stones to the achievement of an important French purpose. New Amsterdam was an excellent port, open throughout the year; and the Hudson was a majestic waterway. However, nothing came of D'Avaugour's plans in that year. In 1665 Louis sent out a thousand veteran soldiers of the Carignan regiment, which had distinguished itself in fighting Turks in Hungary. He instructed the Canadian Governor to look upon the Five Nations as :perpetual and irreconcilable enemies," and to exterminate them "totally" if possible. The marquis de Tracy became viceroy at that time. He showed immediate activity, rebuilding the fort at the mouth of the Sorel. He quickly built three other forts; Fort Chambly at the Chambly Rapids; Fort St. Therese, approaching Lake Champlain; and Fort la Motte, on an island in that lake. These warlike preparations greatly impressed the Five Nations. Only the Mohawks refused to send delegates to Quebec, to "frame a treaty by which the French King was recognized as their protector, and the tribes were styled his vassals and allies." The treaty was consummated, and by it the French were free to settle within the land of the Iroquois, and the latter were to have equal freedom to settle in Canada. The Mohawks remained intractable, so, in January, 1666, General Courcelles led five hundred men into the Mohawk country, by way of Lake Champlain. They were almost at Schenectady when, on February 19, they were ambushed. They fought their way out of this with some loss, but another difficulty then confronted them. It would seem that Courcelles was unaware that lackadaisical Dutch rule of New Netherland had been ended, and that the English were now in possession. Delegates sent out from the Albany garrison to advise him of this fact, also suggested that his presence there would be considered an act of war against the English. Courcelles knew that England was at war with Holland, also that Louis leaned toward the Dutch, though he can hardly have known that France had actually allied itself to Holland in the war against Britain. However, in the face of the danger of further attack from the Mohawks, Courcelles resolved to return to Canada. The Mohawks harassed him in his retreat, but the English, following a humanitarian impulse, rescued and tended the French wounded. They also prevailed upon the Mohawks to seek peace with the French.

Governor Nicolls, of New York, was not altogether without ulterior motive in this endeavor. He had heard that war was imminent with France as well as Holland; also he could not, of course, forget the fact that he, with a small English force, was holding a Dutch province in subjection. Given the opportunity, the Dutch of New Netherland might rise and cooperate with the Canadian French in expelling the English from New York. In any case, the presence of French troops so near Albany was not desirable; and unless Nicholls could bring the Mohawks to "bury the hatchet," another evens stronger French force would surely soon come into the Mohawk Valley. So he encouraged the Albany authorities to press the Mohawks to sue for peace.

In March, 1666, the Indians agreed, and some chieftains of the Oneida Nation set out for Quebec. They did not arrive until July, and meanwhile another expedition of four hundred Frenchmen has marched against the Mohawk. They were, however, recalled and the treaty terms stated. It is hard to smother at one the fires of war; there is for some time grave possibility that smouldering anger will burst again into fierce flame. It did in this case. The delegates were returning when some uncontrollable Mohawks ambushed a party of hunting Frenchmen neat fort La Motte. Among the slain was Sieur de Chazy, nephew of the viceroy. The fort commandant, acting on the impulse of the moment, at once started in pursuit, at the head of three hundred men. They were not resisted, the Mohawk chieftains explaining that the act was that of an irresponsible band. The French were appeased when the chieftain promised to mete out punishment of the offenders of the truce. To demonstrate how earnest the Mohawks were in their wish for peace, Chief Agariata himself went to Quebec. He was received with every courtesy and honor by Governor Tracy. Indeed, he was so hospitably entertained that much of his characteristic Indian reserve and suspicion left him. Once, at Tracy's own table, Agariata grew boastful. Firewater had given him false courage perhaps, the drunken chief boasted that his had been the arm that had sunk the tomahawk into De Chazy's head. His hearers were horror stricken . Anger succeeded horror, and short shrift was given Agariata. His body was soon dangling from a gibbet, and preparations were made to avenge De Chazy's death still further. The Marquis de Tracy resolved himself to lead a force against the treacherous Mohawks.

 

The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

This book is owned by Pam Rietsch and is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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