The History of New York State
Book II, Chapter II
Part III

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam


Having finally arrived in the Netherlands, De Vries found that his partners were disputing with the other directors about a few pelts that he had brought back, and observed in that connection: "On this account our business of making colonies must be suspended in places still uninhabited. As we could not agree with the Company, and my partners at Amsterdam were all directors and were continually at variance with their associates on account of trifles, I separated from them. The rest I will leave unwritten." The Van Rensselaer papers shed light on the variance between De Vries and Van Twiller from another angle. Writing in 1634 to the director, who as his nephew, Van Rensselaer said that David Pietersen, meaning De Vries, was turning out worse or slimmer than van Twiller had predicted and was railing stoutly against him. So many other people wee also railing against the governor that had it not been for his uncle's influence he would already have been summoned home with an affront. Such a shameful pot had been brewed for him that one could hardly believe men could be found base enough to invent it; and so many knew about it that the selection of another director-general was publicly discussed, while the opposite party in the company was secretly trying to put Isaac de Rasieres in the place. Van Remund was working against Van Twiller as he had worked against Minuit, hoping to put on his head the same crown of thorns. He was inciting against him all the directors opposed to colonization, prompting Dominie Bogardus to complain of him as he had prompted Dominie Michaelius to complain to Minuit, and sending home slanderous stories to his wife, who spread them abroad. Crol was likewise bringing charges, saying that Van Twiller would not let him have his books. In fact, there were so many charges that Van Rensselaer summed them up as a warning to the governor. Those coming "from the outside" said that he was "proud and puffed up," that he was "inimical to the Minster and no friend of religion," that he was "always drunk as long as there is any wine," a failing which once, at least, had delayed the dispatch of a ship to Holland. The inside charges were that he wrote too seldom to the company, did not keep his books properly, and lacked prudence and judgment for the discharge of his duties. Therefore, his uncle advised him to report more frequently and to forget and forgive past injuries. In addition, he drew up for him a table of eight duly numbered precepts counseling him to be diligent, faithful, cautious, sober, religious, patient when injured, and trusting in God when chastised. All of which should he do and be "a curse will change to blessing and slanders bloom to honor"; and, could he once clear himself of the charges against him, such "venom" would be impotent to affect him again. Both De Vries and Van Rensselaer were strongly in favor of colonization, in spite of the fact that they fell out with each other and, although to De Vries, the free colonist, and to Van Rensselaer, the patroon, seemed the best hope of the province. Both found fault with the company on the same grounds, that it wanted premature profits and that it thought the only way to get them was to permit no individual to profit by trafficking in furs. After it came into possession of the enormous booty captured by Pieter Heyn from the Spaniards, wrote De Vries at a later day, it bestowed no thought upon its "best trading post at Fort orange," but allowed a few persons, meaning the owners of Van Rensselaerswyck, to take it from the greater number who should have shared with them. On the other hand many persons who would have taken up patroonship were prevented by the quarreling among the directors; and the directors would do nothing for the settlers already in the province because the coveted "the profits of all the trade before they are grown." They would rather see booty arrive than to speak of their colonies; but had the land been peopled the fruit thereof would have been long continued, while their booty was vanished like smoke." The company would appear to have thrown obstacles in the way of the patroons rather than to have cooperated with them. It objected to transporting the goods that they needed for barter with the Indians and tried to prevent its colonists from exchanging such goods for the products of the Van Rensselaer farms, not only fearing to lose the fur trade, but hoping, apparently, to force the patroons to buy from its own warehouses on Manhattan all that their people required. It was also evident, says Van Rensselaer, that many person wished patroons to found colonies only in order that the company might send a commissary who, "under the sheltering wings of the patroon's protection," might secure furs and thus deprive him of his just gains.

Director Van Twiller Recalled--Four years of Van Twiller's administration had not provided the West India Company with any motive for changing the opinion several of the directors had held from the beginning that the colonization of New Netherland was an unprofitable venture and, in 1637, it was resolved to recall him. There would appear to have been no particular reason for making his term much longer. In the year following Van Twiller's arrival there had occurred a quarrel between him and Dominie Bogardus. In the early days of the colony, when but few men of standing or education could be found who were willing to cross the Atlantic, the clergyman, it would seem, was given a share in the counsels of the colonial government. There is reason to believe that Michiels was also thus situated, and with the director-general an elder in the church, there appears to have been an atmosphere of general concord. In the administration that followed, minister and director-general did not run together quite so easily. From some cause, possibly originating in the council, a disagreement arose and in the course of it ill-natured language was exchanged. From all that appears in the conduct of Dominie Bogardus subsequently, it may be inferred that he was a person of violent temper and there were accusation that he showed an overfondness for wine. In this respect Van Twiller was more then his match and it has been surmised by historian that his moral character was inclined to be loose. So animated, as time went on, become the contention between the pastor and the director that it was finally made a basis of complaint to the company in Holland. The authorities in the home country seem gradually to have come to the conclusion that Van Twiller was a round man in a square hole and the evidence against him began to be gathered together, though much of it, doubtless, the work of hostile tongues, as the Rensselaer letter seems to indicate. The pages of De Vries' volume contain frequent accounts of drunken quarrels, originating in orgies which the director himself either promoted or in which he had taken part. It was inevitable that his administration of the colony's affairs should be unfavorably affected and that the results should be very much to the injury of the interests of the company. It was a fact taken good note of in the Netherlands, moreover, that while the farms of the company yielded few satisfactory returns, those on the other hand which were in the possession of Van Twiller and his friends, profiting by their advantageous situation as the agents of the company, had provided themselves with extensive grants of lands in the vicinity of Manhattan island and had given them a kind of attention which the property of the company looked for in vain.

The director, for example, ha secured for himself the island of Pagganck, or Nut Island, since called Governor's Island, from this very circumstance, while a number of islands in Hellegat, later known as the East River, were also added to his estates. In 1636 Van Twiller, with Andreas Hudde, one of the council, Wolfert Gerritsen, probably a brother or other near relative of Councillor Martin Gerritsen, and Jacob can Corlaer, the trumpeteer, obtained possession of a tract of 15,000 acres in extent, including the present town of Flatlands on Long Island. It was soon afterwards called New Amersfoort by another settler, who had come from that historic town situated on the province of Utrecht. The grant, although the title was secured from the Indians by purchase, was not made valid by the indorsement of the company, which was not even notified concerning the transaction. These irregularities of conduct ultimately provoked the opposition of the most respectable member of the colonial government, Lubbertus Van Dicklagen, who had succeeded Conrad Notelman as schout-fiscaal, and who was possessed of legal training. But his protests appear to have had the effect only of drawing on his head the wrath of Van Twiller. He was deprived of his salary, which had already been in arrears for some time, and finally dismissed and send back to Holland.

This last proceeding on the part of Van Twiller was , however, ill-judged from the point of view of his personal interest, for the capable schout-fiscaal at once lodged a complaint against his superior before the States-General. On being referred to the Assembly of the XIX, it was at first quietly ignored, but the complaint was too well supported by documentary and other evidence to be disposed of in this manner. Dincklagen importuned the States-General for a settlement of his claims and the West India company was summoned to refute his charges. As this could not be done the directors were forced to dismiss Van Twiller from his office as director-general of New Netherland. The record of the States-General provide evidence that the directors promptly sent their letter of recall; for on September 2, 1637, application was made to confirm the appointment and sign the commission of his successor, William Kieft. In this manner came to an end the administration of Wouter Van Twiller; but, he appears to have been a man whom it was difficult to disconcert; for unaffected by the disgrace of his dismissal, he remained in the province for several years afterwards. He gave his time to the cultivation of his personal interests and held on to his extensive lands without paying much attention to the comments made in regard to the character of their acquisition, renting his herds of cattle, which were numerous and flourishing, while the occupants of the company's farms found them very deficient in stock. After the death of Patroon Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, Van Twiller acted as one of the guardians or trustees of his sons during their minority; but there is no record of his return to Holland, although it is known that the ex-director-general died in his native land during the winter of 1656-57. Taking into consideration the perplexing circumstances in which the encroachments of the English on the Connecticut placed him, his failure to dislodge them is not greatly to his discredit, comments one observer. "When they defied his protests and were prepared to resist a resort to force, the provisions of the company's charter forbade his employment of violent measures against the subjects of a friendly power. The attempt of the Virginians on the Delaware was only frustrated because they had the decency to desist when a serious effort was made to remove them from the territory upon which they knew that they were trespassing. Van Twiller's policy towards the Indians was firm and vigorous; his conclusion of a peace with the Raritans is to be highly commended, and he certainly showed no cowardice in his dealing with the Pequods. Indeed, in consideration of the risks involved and actual war provoked by his firm attitude towards this tribe in the matter of the redemption of the two English girls, and his punishment of them for the murder of Captain Stone, Van Twiller's noble return of good for evil ought never to be forgotten, and reflects the more discredit on those whom he thus generously treated. It is as one turns from these external relations to his public functions and private character at home that his undignified conduct and cupidity which led him to take advantage of his official position for private ends make Director Wouter Van Twiller appear in a reprehensible light. These have unjustly caused his name to appear in history clouded with dishonor."

Director Kieft Corrects Abuses--William Kieft, the next director-general of new Netherland, reached Fort Amsterdam on march 28, 1638. He came on the "Haering," a man-of-war on the West India Company, of 280 tons and mounting 20 cannon, which announced her approach as she came up the bay, and the fort on the island of Manhattan gave due response from one of its ancient culverins, and with eager welcome from the people of the infant town, the new director landed from a small boat at the foot of the inlet, which stood at the beginning of what is now Broad Street. it had been for some time,. Apparent to the directors of the company that the want of energy and experience of Van Twiller, and his general incapacity for the administration of so important and difficult a post as the directorship of new Netherland, made a change in the executive essential to both the interests of the Dutch Colony, and of the company, write one historian.

A man of different stamp was selected. Although the new Director had been a bankrupt in his commercial transactions and labored under a charge, made by his enemies, of having appropriated certain monies which ere entrusted to him for ransoming Christian slaves from the Turks, his character, as a person of determination and activity, recommended him to t he directors of the company, and to the States-General, s a fit man for the place. The new Director, desiring to act on his own responsibility, and not wishing to be encumbered by those who might oppose his policy, restricted his Council to one person, John de la Montagne, a man of intelligence and decision of character, who had been educated as a physician, and, as a Protestant refugee from France, had emigrated to Holland. The Director retained two votes in the Council, while de la Montagne had but one; an advisory board was summoned in times of danger, but from the constitution of the Council it is evident that Kieft was practically absolute; and all attempts at appeal from his decisions were regarded with suspicion, and often visited with punishment. The personnel of the government was completed by the appointment, as Provisional Secretary, of Cornelius Van Tienhoven, an able, energetic official, formerly "Koopman" or chief commissary and bookkeeper of the Company's affairs, and of Ulrich Lupold, as "schout-fiscaal," or prosecuting and executive officer, to compel the execution of the laws of the Company and the ordinances and regulations of the Council. He was subsequently, in 1630, replaced by Cornelius Van der Huygens, who was often intoxicated and always subservient to the others. The appearance of the little capital town of the province was discouraging, and not such as to give the new Director a favorable idea of its past or future prosperity. Fort Amsterdam was in a dilapidated condition, and the guns were for the most part dismantled; the public buildings were in need of repair, and all but one of the windmills were out of order; the Company's bouweries were untenanted, and the cattle belonging to them had been scattered and appropriated, perhaps to a great extent by Van Twiller himself, whose farms at least were well stocked; and much other property of the Company had been taken without authority. It was difficult for the directors of the West India company in Holland to give very particular attention to the fortunes of the New Netherland colony, or to its possessions there. In fact, they began to consider it rather a troublesome portion of the territories under their administration, which included, at this time, Curacao, some of the Cape de Verde islands, a great part of Brazil, Tobago, Senegal, sierra Leone, the regions of Guiana, about the Essequibo, Fernando, and other localities in Africa and South America, with power to exclusively traffic with and colonize a great part of the African coast, and all the eastern and western coasts of North America.

The company's interests had manifestly suffered during the administration of Van Twiller, and the new director soon found that great abuses had entered into public affairs. The employees of the company had been trading in furs on their own account; smuggling was common, guns and ammunition had been furnished to the Indians, the town was in a disorderly state, through the insubordination of the solders and the rioting of sailors, and the inhabitants; drunkedness, theft, fighting and the various forms of immorality had taken root, and mutiny and homicide wee also frequent. Against all these irregularities the new director-general issued ordinances. A regular guard or police was put on beat, and various other measures were taken that made it clear the new ruler had the intention of administering his office with vigor and judgment. There arose now in the minds of the States-General grave apprehension of future trouble with the New England settlements, and with those of the Swedes, as it was likely that political complications might arise therefrom with their home governments, says the writer already quoted. "Since 1630 there as a downward tendency of the fortunes of the West India Company; the rich galleons of Spain no longer supplied wealth to its coffers, and the subsidies promised in its charter were largely in arrear; and so incapable appeared the company of successfully maintaining even its territory along the North river, that a project was set on foot by the States-General to take control, for political purposes, of the entire Province of New Netherland, and to obtain the relinquishment by the Company of its rights therein. To this application, the Company, having a valuable independent charter, refused to accede. The condition of the province, however, was so unsatisfactory at this time that it was deemed necessary to make some changes of policy, so as to invite a great immigration. The Amsterdam Chamber, consequently, established a new system: and by an ordinance of 1638 yielded in part its monopoly of trade, and sent special orders to the Director to make liberal arrangements with such new colonists as might arrive and desire to acquire land. These conditions were attended with excellent results and new settlers arrived in great numbers not only from Europe, but from Virginia and New England."

New Development in Colony--In this new company appeared again David Pietersen De Vries, on his fourth visit. The narrative of the various voyages of De Vries is invaluable as an authority on New Netherland affairs, and gives a graphic account of the province during a large part of the administration both of Van Twiller and of Kieft. De Vries took the colonists he had brought with him to Staten Island and began a new settlement there, and soon afterwards picked a part of Manhattan Island, about two Dutch miles above the fort, for the site of another colony. There were two other persons who were to take an active part in the affairs of the settlement also among the arrivals at new Amsterdam in 1639; Joachim Pietersen Kuyter, a man of military experience and of active character, and Cornelius Melyn, who came on a visit of inspection in a vessel bringing a cargo of cattle. The new immigration gave a fillip to the development of the colony. The company's bouweries were put in order, stocked with cattle and leased' and more than thirty farms came under active cultivation. Andreas Hudde received a grant of a hundred morgens at the northeast end of the island, as did also Van Twiller, on the North River strand, at Sapohanican. Hudde was to pay one-tenth of the increase of the stock, at the end of ten years, and a pair of capons, annually. In May, 1638, Abraham Isaacksen Planck received a grant for Paulus Hoeck, east of Ahasimus, on the western side of the North River. among other leases of the company's bouweries was one to Van Twiller in 1639, who was busy at this time in superintending the letting out of his boats and cows. The company's farm at Pavonia was let to John Evertsen Bout. The secretary, Van Tienhoven, leased a bouwery opposite la Montagne's plantation of Vredendael; and we find in the records many other leases and deed of outlying farms and plantations. Among others a tract was granted to the Englishmen George Holmes and Thomas Hill, tobacco planters, extending from Deutel, later Turtle Bay, to the "Hill of Schepmoes"; a large tract was also conveyed to Jansen Van Salee near Coneyn, later known as Coney Island.

There lay debatable land not merely to the south of New Netherland, but also top the north, and the colonists in New England, who had made rather an unfortunate choice for the settlement, for the lands of Massachusetts was arid and hard to cultivate, began to look with envious eyes upon the fertile regions of the Connecticut Valley. In course of time they had elaborated measures for dispossessing the Dutch of their lands, not merely on the Connecticut, but in the east of the power portion of the North River. A settlement had been planted in 1638 at a place called the Roodenberg, or Red Hill; and the foundation of the colony of New Have was laid. De Vries declares in the account given by him that in June, 1639, he anchored in New Haven, where, to his surprise, he found about 300 houses built and a fine church. Hartford was already a flourishing settlement. Emigrants from England at a slightly later date also established themselves in the neighborhood at what is now known as Norwalk, Stamford, and Greenwich, sending out offshoots to the land belonging to the Netherland settlement at Fort Good Hope, on the Fresh Water or Connecticut River, which had been purchased from the Indians in 1632-33 along with lands at the mouth of the river. In view of these unfriendly encroachments which suggested a dangerous cupidity that would at a later date lead to serious trouble, the director-general thought it a wise plan to consolidate the title of the West India Company to lands on the East river by buying from the red men all the mainland and all the outlying islands extending northeast of the Great Kill, or Harlem River, as far as the inlet at Norwalk. About this time also the director-general bought a good deal of land from the Canarsee tribe on the western part of Long Island, embracing parts of the modern counties of Kings and Queens. The colonies from England in the meantime had got hold of a good deal of the land in the eastern portion of Long Island and south in addition to gain a foothold in the lands to the west, which had already come into the possession of the Hollanders, as a result of negotiation with the aborigines. This was going a bit too far and the director considered it expedient to take action. He sent out a small military expedition which succeeded in driving away without bloodshed the New England trespassers and vindicated the sovereignty of the company over its Long Island possessions. Director-General Kieft in his instructions gave explicit orders that above all things care should be taken that no blood be shed. The desire to avoid a too serious clash had the result of emboldening the invaders. The English occupation of the eastern part of the island continued and the towns of Southampton and Southold began their carrier.

Trouble With the Indians--Keift gave less evidence of prudence and humanity in dealing with the aborigines of the country than in dealing with European settlers who had an army and a fleet at their backs. In July, 1640, some Raritan Indians were accused of taking certain property on Staten Island and of attacking a trading yacht. The evidence is that the Indians were accused on false grounds, and without investigation Kieft send an expedition against them which perpetrated the savage murder of several of them and ravaged the fields of the victims. It was afterwards said that the military acted in disobedience to their commander, Van Tienhoven, but Kieft was held responsible by public opinion for the grievous wrong that had been committed. The act has direct consequences. It sowed the seed of distrust and bitterness among the aborigines, whose respect for the invaders had been decreasing as their dislike increased. It fortified the foundation of that feeling for vengeance among the tribes in the vicinity that in a short time culminated in the terrible Indian Wars that marked the eve of the close of the Dutch government of Manhattan and which not only caused great loss of life and injury to property, but so diminished the strength and prosperity of the colony and retarded its progress that it was unable to offer any considerable resistance to the invading forces of the Duke of York when the English made this sudden onslaught in 1664. In short, the history of the relations of the Dutch with the Indians show a great lack of foresight and an absence of the spirit of conciliation. In the beginning the attitude of the settlers towards the Indians was that of a combination of curiosity and kindliness, for the aborigines of the country were physically a fine people and they gave evidence of attributions of character that had a touch of nobility. However, as time went on, the cupidity of the settlers overcame these engaging sentiments and along trial of sharp practices shook the confidence of the red men in the superior uprightness of these men from a strange world who appeared to know so much and wielded such enormous power. Wines and spirits were also frequently sold to them, though the deleterious consequences soon became known and though both the officials of the Dutch government and the Indian chiefs made efforts to stop the dangerous traffic. There was also another affray on Staten Island which greatly increased the mutual bitterness. An attack was made in September, 1641, by some Raritan Indians, on the plantation belonging to De Vries in which four of the settlers were killed. AS soon a the news got abroad the director-general offered a reward for the head of any one of the Raritans that might be brought to the fort, and as a result initiated a permanent state of war. There were other occurrences that aroused the enmity of still other elements among the aborigines. There was, for example, the case of the wheelwright, Claes Smits, who occupied a small house at Deutel Bay, a remote region on the East river, who was murdered in cold blood by the Weckquaesgeck savage, who had long meditated a bloody revenge against the Dutch as a result of the murder of his uncle some sixteen years previously near the Freshwater Pond. As the Weckquaesgecks refused to deliver the murderer, it was proposed to declare open hostilities against them. The tribe occupied the eastern bank of the North River, north of Manhattan island, and extending through the valley of the Nepera, or Saw Mill Creek. Before active hostilities wee begun, however, Director Kieft resolved to call into counsel the prominent members of the community. As a consequence he sent out the following notice, dated August 23,m 1641: "The director-General of New Netherland informs, herewith, all heads or masters of families, living in this vicinity, that he wishes them to come to Fort Amsterdam, on Thursday, the 29th of August, for the consideration of some important and necessary mattes."

As a consequence of this gathering twelve men were selected to gibe their consideration to the measures that should be taken against the hostile tribe. If the murderer were not surrendered, and the manner in which these measures wee to be carried out. De Vries was chosen president of the body. Among the others are found the names of Jan Jansen Damen, a prosperous farmer; Maryn Andriaensen, who a little later attempted to kill Director Kieft; Joachim Pietersen Kuyter; Joris Rapalje, one of the original Walloon colonists, and Abraham Isaacsen Planck, the one farmer from Paulus Hoeck. The council was of opinion that further efforts should be made in the direction of laying hold of the actual murderer, and that in case of its being found impossible of getting possession of him and punishing him, the settlement of the Weckquaesgecks should be destroyed. It was recommended also that the director-general should assume the active leadership in case of war and that the freemen and soldiers would be provided with coats of mail. De Vries, although he was the principal sufferer from the Indian attacks, himself expressed the opinion that the community was not at that time in a condition for occupying themselves with open war against the powerful tribes of their neighborhood. The Amsterdam chamber, moreover, was opposed to all hostilities with the Indians, and its opinion was largely coincided with by the twelve men, who were strongly inclined at the very least for measures of delay in view of the imminent open rupture.

The council of the twelve selected men in favor of a certain wariness in postponing hostile action, but the director stuck to his point of making a claim again the Weckquaesgecks for the murder of Smits. It was in the first place decided that no move would be made against the Indians before the hunting expeditions had begun. On the other hand Kieft was authorized to undertake an expedition when the propitious occasion presented itself. In the meantime, the twelve men having got together began to give though to other matters besides that of military expeditions. They had taken notice of the arbitrary manner in which the new director had arrogated almost sole authority to himself and they thought the colony should have a permanent representation in the administration of affairs, based upon the burgher rights of the home country. They advocated an increase in the permanent council so that the number should be at least five; and they expressed their opinion that four out of the twelve men to be elected by the citizens should be assigned places in the council, taking part in judicial as well as civil proceedings. Under the influence of public opinion the director conceded the right of the colonists to select four men to be associated with the council to act in judicial matters and to be consulted in regard to public affairs. It was agreed also that the inhabitants should have the right in future to trade with friendly colonies, upon paying certain imposts to the company; and for the purpose of protecting the cattle trade the New England colonies were to be prohibited from selling cows and goats in the colony. The demands were all net in theory. Carrying them into action was a different matter and this was done only to a limited extent, for Kieft soon resumed his arbitrary powers, dismissing the twelve men, and prohibiting the calling of any assembly of the settlers without his express order, describing such popular rights as things that lead to dangerous consequences both to the country and to the authority of the executive.


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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