The Story of the City of New York - Charles Burr Todd - ebook

The Story of the City of New York ebook

Charles Burr Todd



Since Washington Irving with delicious humor satirized the Dutchmen who founded New York, many writers have handled the history of America's chief city. Notable among them has been Mrs. Lamb, and it was thought her work left nothing undone. Mr. Todd, how ever, thought the picturesque story would be well re-told in language and form more likely to be attractive to young people, and this book is the result. The style is lucid, and there is little of the pedantic minuteness that makes so many histories hard reading. On the other hand it has not been thought necessary to make the book puerile in order to get young people to read it, and there is nothing in it to remind one of the primer. So it will prove entertaining, also to older folks who like to take their history in pleasant form.

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The Story of the City of New York







The Story of the city of New York, C. Burr Todd

Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck

86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9



ISBN: 9783849653248

[email protected]























XIV. WAR.117









XXII. MINOR EVENTS — 1784-1860.172








In writing the story of New York, it has been the author's purpose to present a brief but comprehensive survey of the causes which led to the founding of the city, and of the various agencies which contributed to its marvelous growth, and to combine with this a narrative of such domestic details and romantic or picturesque incidents as would serve to render the picture clear and complete. The author hopes that his volume, while planned more particularly for the requirements of younger readers, may be found of service to citizens of all ages who may wish to inform themselves concerning the chief events in the history of the great city of the New World, and who may not find time for larger and more elaborate histories. It is startling to think that in twenty-five years, if the present rate of increase is continued. New York, with her history of two hundred and fifty years, will surpass London, with a life-time of twenty centuries, and will become the capital of the world — that is, in wealth and population. The onward rush of material forces will give her this vantage; but whether she becomes the capital in a larger sense— in art, letters, science, and moral influence, in great museums and universities of art, in free libraries for the people, and storehouses of learning for the scholar, in that literary and artistic atmosphere which attracts the author, poet, and painter, and develops the best that is in them, — this possibility rests largely with the young people of to-day, who, for the next fifty years, will shape her destinies. Manifestly they will work with greater interest toward this end, if they know that their city has a noble and dignified history, that, notwithstanding grave drawbacks and difficulties, her progress has been such as to challenge the wonder of students of social science the world over, and that her future is so full of possibilities that no man can hope to forecast it. This result the author has also had in view.

Some details have been unavoidably omitted — an omission supplied in part by the chronological record in the Appendix. In treating of the modern period, the writer has adopted the view of most scholars, that history ceases fifty years back of the present time — contemporary record taking its place, — and has treated of the modern period only so far as seemed necessary to the completeness of the narrative.

It would be impossible to name here the numerous authorities consulted. The author has, however, derived special benefit from the labors of such original investigators as Messrs. Brodhead, O'Callahan, and Valentine. From the “Corporation Manual," compiled by the last-named gentleman, many of the illustrations, as well as many curious facts, have been taken. He is also indebted to the various histories of the city— by Miss Mary C. Booth, David T. Valentine, Mrs. Martha J. Lamb, Colonel William L. Stone, and Benson J. Lossing, — and to the scrapbooks and files of old papers in the Astor and Society libraries. Acknowledgment is also due Mr. George H. Putnam for his encouragement and co-operation.

New York, January 1, 1888.



The year 1524 was a very good year to have been born in. Men in one corner of the world, at least, were waking up. Kings were learning that merchants and navigators had their value as well as men-at-arms. Thirty-two years before, Columbus had discovered America. Twenty-seven years before, De Gama had opened up the passage to India around the Cape of Good Hope and had given the merchants of Spain and Portugal the treasures of India; and five years before, Magellan had rounded Cape Horn, and triumphantly circumnavigated the globe. Just now the strife among navigators was for the discovery of a shorter passage to India, either around the frozen pole or through newly found America. One of the great captains who aspired to make this discovery was Jean Verrazano, a native of Florence, but who easily found in Francis I., King of France, a patron willing to commission and dispatch him on such an errand. Verrazano left France late in the year 1524 with two ships — the Norman and the Dolphin, — but was forced by a terrible storm "to land in Bitaine " and repair his ships. His account of the voyage that followed, given in his quaint " Relation," brings back the soft-toned atmosphere of the age.

" Afterwards," he says, with the Dolphin alone we determined to make discoverie of new countries, to prosecute the navigation we had already begun. . . . The 17th of January, the yeere 1524, by the grace of God, we departed from the dishabited rock by the isle of Madeira, apperteining to the king of Portugal, with 50 men, with victuals, weapons, and other ship munition very well provided, and furnished for eight months. And sailing westward with a faire easterly wind in 25 dayes we ran 500 leagues, and the 20 of Februarie we were overtaken with as sharp and terrible a tempest as ever any sailors suffered, whereof with the divine helpe and mercifull assistance of Almighty God, and the goodnesse of our shippe, accompanied with the good happe of her fortunate name, we were delivered, and with a prosperous winde followed our course west and by north, and in other 25 days we made about 450 leagues more, when we discovered a new land never before seen of any man either ancient or modern."

This new land was probably the Jersey shore. Verrazano first sailed southward in quest of a harbor; but finding none, he returned and coasted north until he found " a very pleasant place situated among certaine little, steepe hills; from amidst the which hills there ranne downe to the sea an exceeding great streme of water which within the mouth was very deepe, and from the sea to the mouth of the same with the tide, which we found to rise 8 foote, any greate ship laden may passe up. But because we rode at anker in a place well fenced from the wind we would not venture ourselves without knowledge of the place, and we passed up with one boate onely into the sayd river and saw the country very well peopled." This bay in which the Dolphin rode "fenced in from the wind," most geographers agree was the bay of New York, and the "exceeding great streme of water" between the hills must have been the Hudson itself. Verrazano was, therefore, the first European to discover and sail into the bay of New York. Without doubt his first act on going ashore was to take possession of the country in the name of his royal master in the beautiful and dramatic fashion peculiar to explorers of the Latin race. Landing with the pomp and display of arms, he planted first a large wooden cross in the ground, and near it a cedar post bearing a metal plate on which was engraven the royal arms of France. Then standing beside the cross, with head bared and his men-at-arms grouped about him, he repeated these words:

" In the name of the most high, mighty, and redoutable monarch, Francis, first of that name, most Christian king of France and Navarre, I take possession of this island, as also of the bay, river, and all countries, rivers, lakes, and streams contiguous and adjacent thereunto, both those which have been discovered, and those which may be discovered hereafter, in all their length and breadth, bounded on one side by the seas of the north and west, and on the other by the south sea; declaring to the nations thereof that from this time forever, they are vassals of His Majesty, bound to obey his laws and to follow his customs, promising them on his part all succor and protection against the invasion and incursion of their enemies; declaring to all other potentates, princes, sovereigns, states, and republics, to them and their subjects, that they cannot and are not to seize or settle upon any parts of the aforesaid country, save only under the good pleasure of His Most Christian Majesty, and of him who shall govern in his stead, and that on pain of incurring his displeasure and the effort of his arms." 

Having thus imparted to our island this pleasant touch of mediaeval romance and chivalry, Verrazano sailed away to France, where, at Dieppe, he wrote a " Relation " of his discoveries, as has been remarked. The French king, however, made no attempt to settle his new territories, his attention that year being fully absorbed by his campaign against the Spanish Emperor Charles V.; a campaign which ended in the defeat of Francis at Pavia, and in his being carried off to Spain a prisoner.

For nearly one hundred years the island retained its primeval wildness and beauty; vessels passed by in the distance, — discoverers, fishermen, traders, pirates — but none came into the bay, or if they did they left no traces of their presence. At length, however, on a September day in 1609, a ship sailed in — a craft of moment. She was, indeed, an odd-looking vessel, with carved prow, a stern much higher than her bows, and carrying square sails on the two masts of a schooner. She flew a banner new among nations — the Dutch flag: orange, white, and blue, in three horizontal stripes, — and she was in fact a Dutch craft, " the Texalina vessel," called the Half Moon. I cannot clearly explain her presence here without speaking somewhat at length of the people to whom she belonged. These people were called the Dutch, their country lay along the southern shore of the North Sea, and was called indiscriminately the Netherlands, the United Provinces, and the Low Countries. It was so very flat and low that the quaint writers of the day described it as " a bridge of swimming earth," and the people as " living lower than the fishes, in the very lap of the floods." The Dutch were of an ancient civilization. Originally formed of various rude tribes, the Frisians, Batavi, and Belgae, of whom Caesar speaks, and later mingled with the conquering Franks and Saxons, they grew to wealth and power under the successive rule of the great Charlemagne, of the lords and bishops of the feudal age, and of the dukes and kings of the house of Burgundy. In 1550, we read, under Charles V. they had 208 walled cities, 150 chartered towns, 6,300 villages, and 60 fortresses. The Netherlands were Protestant in religious faith — disciples of Calvin of Geneva. This did not please Catholic Spain, to which country they were subject, and she so bitterly persecuted them that seven provinces revolted and formed themselves into a republic. Another terrible war followed this act, which had been closed six months before the Half Moon sailed into New York Bay, by both parties agreeing to a truce for twelve years. You will find the whole story graphically told in Mr. Motley's " Rise of the Dutch Republic." I will speak briefly of the political divisions of the state into which the seven provinces had been welded.

Its government was republican in form, though much more complex and unwieldy than is our own beautiful system. Four great bureaus or departments managed its affairs — the States-General, the Council of State, the College of the Admiralty, and the Chamber of Accounts. The States-General was the principal bureau and will be most frequently referred to in our pages. This chamber was usually composed of twelve deputies from the various provinces, and its powers more nearly approached those of the president of modern republics. It was the executive body of the system. The genius of the Netherlands was almost purely commercial. It was a nation of great merchants, not of shop-keepers, as Napoleon later styled the English. It had at the time of which we write three thousand ships, one hundred thousand sailors, and a trade of sixteen millions per annum, against England's six millions. Old Peter Heylin tells us that at Amsterdam in 1623, at one tide, one thousand ships were seen to go out and in, and that though scarce a stick of ship timber grew on their soil, yet they supplied the world with ships. Its great mercantile corporation — the privileged East India Company, chartered after the rupture with Spain to secure the rich trade of India and the East which Spain and Portugal had so long enjoyed, was now the wealthiest and most powerful association of merchants on the globe. The Dutch Company had, however, a rival in the English East India Company, chartered in 1600, and which, though not then so strong, eventually outstripped it.

Both companies were eager rivals in the discovery of a shorter passage to India than that by the Cape of Good Hope around Africa. The Dutch company believed that such a passage existed through the " Frozen Ocean behind Norway," that is, around the northern shores of Europe and Asia, and in 1608 had fitted out the Half Moon, and given her in charge of the famous English navigator, Henry Hudson, with orders to sail by the way of Nova Zembla and the Straits of Arian in search of this passage. Hudson sailed into those frozen seas until his path was blocked by ice, and then returned, and began coasting southward along the shore of America, searching for a passage through the continent. He reached Virginia without discovering this passage, and then turned and sailed back by the way he had come, examining the shores more closely than he had previously done. In this way, on the 3rd of September 1609, he discovered, and the next day entered, the beautiful bay of New York. Hudson no doubt believed that the long-sought passage to India was found, and after resting for several days, and exploring the neighboring shores, he made sail and continued on up the river where keel of white man had never before ventured. The freshening water and shoaling channel must soon have convinced him that he was in no strait, but a river, a sad disappointment no doubt to the enterprising, ambitious sailor; nevertheless, with a resolution that increases our respect for him, he decided to press on and explore the mighty stream. He was nine days ascending to the present site of the city of Albany, sailing only by day. Some nights the Half Moon cast anchor under the frowning mountains. At other times she was so enshrouded in spectral mists that the mariners could see nothing except what fancy pictured for them.

Often they stopped to trade with the Indians, sometimes going on shore for the purpose. One of these occasions is thus quaintly described by Captain Hudson in his narrative of the voyage. " I went ashore in one of their canoes with an old man who was chief of forty men and women, whom I found in a house made of the bark of trees, and was exceeding smooth and well finished within, and all round about. I found there a great quantity of Indian corn and beans, and indeed there lay to dry, near the house, of those articles, as much as would load three ships, beside what was still growing in the fields. When we went to the house two mats were spread to sit on, and immediately eatables were brought to us in wooden bowls well made, and two men were sent off with their bows and arrows to kill wild fowl, who soon returned with two pigeons. They also killed immediately a fat dog, and in a little time skinned it with shells they got out of the water."

The natives also brought to barter for trinkets; skins and furs, pumpkins, squashes, grapes, and apples. When the Half Moon had reached nearly to the present site of Albany, the channel became so shallow that she could go no farther, and the ship's boat was sent some twenty miles farther on until it reached the head of navigation. When it reported this fact Hudson made preparations to return, and on the third of October, after a voyage of ten days, anchored in the bay of New York, having beaten off a party of hostile Indians, on the ninth day of the return, and killed several warriors. On this voyage Hudson first acquainted the Indians with the taste of rum, which they at once named, from its most prominent quality, fire water." At the same time far north on the banks of Lake Iroquois, Champlain was giving the same race its first lesson in the use of gunpowder.

On the fourth of October, 1609, the Half Moon " went out of the mouth of the great river," and set sail for Europe. Instead of continuing on to Holland, however, Hudson put into the port of Dartmouth, England, where he proposed to spend the winter, and in the spring proceed again to the north with a different crew. A proposition to this effect, together with a full account of his discoveries, he forwarded to his employers in Holland, who responded with a peremptory order for him to return at once with the Half Moon. But ere he could do this the English authorities seized him on the ground that, being an English subject, he had no right to engage in the service of a rival power; the Half Moon, therefore, proceeded without her captain. The subsequent fate of this eminent navigator was a sad but heroic one. The next year, 1610, he was sent by the Muscovy Company — an English corporation chartered in 1555, to prosecute the trade with Russia — into the northern seas to search for the baffling passage to India, and in pursuit of it discovered the great bay and strait still known by his name. Almost in the moment of his success, however, the crew mutinied and set him adrift on the waste in an open boat with his son and other adherents. No traces of the party were ever after discovered, though an expedition was sent out from England to search for them.

Two years later, in 1611, the intrepid Dutch navigator Adrian Block visited Manhattan Island, coasted the shores of Long Island Sound, discovering the Connecticut River and the island still bearing his name, and then, returning to Holland, published a very graphic and detailed account of his voyages. But the haughty East India Company saw nothing to attract them in the western wilderness, and still continued their search for a shorter passage to the East. There were certain shrewd merchants in Amsterdam, however, who had not been admitted to a share in the profits of the East India Company, and who saw what a rich trade in furs and other commodities might be established with the new country. They proceeded to form a trading company, which was formally chartered by the States General and given the exclusive privilege of trading to " New Netherlands," for the term of three years, counting from January 1, 1615. In this charter the country was first called New Netherland. The merchants began by building a trading house and fort on an island, near the present site of Albany, and another on Manhattan Island, and enjoyed a profitable trade, but the company was endowed with no civil powers and effected no settlement. Meanwhile, at home, a company was growing up which was to exert a great influence on the destinies of Manhattan. This company, after thirty years of dissensions, was at length chartered by the States-General. It was known as the West India Company, and was one of the most unique and privileged corporations in history. It was a private company yet exercised many of the functions of a sovereign state. It could make war or peace, contract alliances, administer justice, appoint or dismiss governors, judges, and men-at-arms, build forts, ships, cities — in fact, do anything that a sovereign state might do to promote trade and secure its stability. It had also a monopoly of the trade for the Atlantic coasts of Africa and America. Its charter granted by the States General is dated June 3, 1621, — the very year in which the truce with Spain terminated. Its projectors were certain merchants of the popular or anti-Spanish party, who had, in forming it, a twofold object: the crippling of Spain by attacks on her American possessions and on the vessels trading thither; and the control of the rich trade in furs, herbs, native woods, and precious stones and metals in which the hills and woods of the New World were believed to abound. It was because this company was intended to act against the public enemy that such enormous powers were conferred upon it. As this company was the real founder of our city, some details of its organization may not be out of place. This was much like that of its great compeer, the East India Company.

It was governed by five " Chambers " or " Boards," called, respectively, the Chamber of Amsterdam (which had control of four ninths of the company's interest), the Chamber of Zealand having two ninths, of Maeze with one ninth, of North Holland with one ninth, and of Friesland with one ninth. There were twenty managers for the Chamber of Amsterdam, twelve for that of Zealand, and fourteen for each of the other three. Each chamber had its separate directors and vessels and fitted out its own voyages. The combined capital of the various chambers amounted to twelve millions of florins equal to nearly five million dollars of our money. This great company having received from the States General a grant of the whole magnificent territory discovered by Hudson, erected it into a province and committed its affairs to the care of the Amsterdam Chamber, while the other boards began actively to prosecute operations against the Spanish. For some time the Amsterdam Chamber paid little attention to the savage province in the west. Its attention, too, was absorbed by the fierce war with Spain. Immense fleets, many of them numbering seventy armed vessels each, were sent against the Spanish possessions in America, and captured prizes of such value that dividends ranging from twenty-five to seventy-five per cent, were declared. Bahia, in Brazil, was taken in 1624, "the great silver fleet" of armed vessels carrying treasure from the South American mines to Spain in 1628, and in 1630 the rich city of Pernambuco in Brazil. All Netherlands rang with the exploits of the privileged West India Company. But a clause in the charter of this company provided that it should " advance the peopling of the fruitful and unsettled parts," which had been granted it, and its enemies soon began to complain that it was doing nothing to carry out the conditions of this clause. Spurred on by these attacks, the company in 1624 sent thirty families of Protestant Walloons to New Netherlands, with orders to make a settlement at Fort Nassau, while eight men were to remain and establish a post on Manhattan Island. These first settlers, the Walloons, were a worthy people, inhabitants of the frontier between France and Flanders, who had distinguished themselves in the wars with Spain by their valor and military spirit.

In 1625 the company, encouraged by its South American successes, advertised for "adventurers" to the New World, offering free transportation, employment, and other inducements. Many hastened to enroll themselves, and toward the close of the year three large ships and a yacht were fitted out and dispatched to Manhattan, bearing forty-five persons, men, women, and children, with their household furniture, farming utensils, and one hundred and three head of cattle. This event marks the founding of the colony of New Netherlands, later known as New York. Four years before, the Pilgrims had landed on Plymouth Rock, while Boston was founded three years later. Sir Walter Raleigh's colony had already been seventeen years established at Jamestown, Va. At St. Augustine, Fla., the Spaniard had been domiciled for nearly sixty years — since 1565. Everywhere else along the vast stretch of coast the forest still waved and the savage held possession. But the company hesitated to organize a government and send out a governor. It feared the English, who laid claim to the whole coast of North America, by virtue of the discoveries of the Cabots — John and Sebastian — in 1497 and denounced the Dutch as interlopers. In 1625, however, this fear was removed by the forming of an alliance between England and the Netherlands, for the better prosecution of the war against Spain. The West India Company at once proceeded to form a government for the new country and to appoint a director, or, in English, a governor. This director was Peter Minuit, of Wesel, in Westphalia, a man who had had experience of new countries while in the employ of the East India Company. He was, too, of a kind, conciliating disposition, and possessed of a faculty for governing — in fact, much the best ruler that New Netherlands ever had. Minuit left Amsterdam for Manhattan in December, 1625, in a ship picturesquely named the Sea Mew, and bearing with him quite a reinforcement of colonists.


Part I. The Dutch Dynasty


Sometimes I allow fancy to picture the appearance of the island on that 4th of May, 1626, when the Sea Mew cast anchor off the point of the Battery. Nature's temples, not man's, then adorned it. Somber forests overhung the Jersey shore and fringed the water-line of the island. A chain of low, craggy hills covered with noble forests of oak, chestnut, hickory, and other trees, with pretty grassy valleys between, extended from the Battery to near the present line of Canal Street; on either side along the river banks were wide marshes stretching away to the north; at Canal Street they bore directly across the island, and were so low that on high tides the water flowed across from river to river. In the sheltered valleys were the maize fields and queer villages of the Indians, and the rude log-cabins of the settlers who had come over the year before. Cow-paths crossed the marshes to the upper part of the island, which was much wilder and more savage, with precipitous ledges, and in many places dense thickets of grape-vines, creepers, blackberry and other bushes which no one could penetrate. The settlers did not allow their sheep and calves to cross this marsh, lest they should be throttled by the wolves, bears, and panthers that lurked in the thickets, and in their letters home they complained of the deer and wild turkeys that broke in and destroyed their crops. Minuit's first step — probably before landing his people — was to purchase the island of its Indian owners. He had been directed to do this by the company for two reasons: first, to satisfy the Indians and gain their friendship; second, to strengthen the company's title to the country, as against the English. This recognition of the property right of the Indian was the uniform custom of the Dutch in settling New Netherlands. The bargain was made on the 6th of May, 1626, on the present site of the Battery, perhaps on the very spot where Verrazano had planted his cross one hundred and two years before. Old Knickerbocker's delightful account of the affair, in his version of the story of New York, will at once recur to the reader; but Knickerbocker's exuberant fancy often played sad pranks with his historical faculty. The scene as it actually occurred must have been exceedingly picturesque.

On the one side were the savages, clad in deerskins or in waist-belts of woven grass; on the other, stern, bearded men whose brave costumes and dignified bearing were well calculated to overawe the rude natives. The Hollanders wore long-skirted coats, some loose, some girt about the waist with a military sash, velvet breeches ending at the knee in black Holland stockings, and for foot-gear military boots with high flaring tops, or low shoes adorned with silver buckles. Their hats were made of felt and were low in the crown with very wide brims, which were looped up or not, at the fancy of the wearer. In a sash, slung over the right shoulder and passing under the left arm, a short sword was suspended, but no other warlike weapons were visible. A strong sea-chest of the solid though clumsy workmanship peculiar to Dutch artificers stood open between the two parties, filled with beads, buttons, ribbons, gayly embroidered coats, and similar articles, which were spread out before the delighted savages and were offered in exchange for their island. The red men were only too glad to accept, and thus, for baubles worth scarcely twenty-four dollars, the island, now covered with miles of splendid buildings, passed into the hands of Europeans.

The Dutch, as we have seen, found the Indians in possession of Manhattan Island. It is quite time that the reader was introduced to these Indians. This particular tribe was called the Manhattos or Manhattans, whence the name of the island. They were a branch of the great Algonkin-Lenape family of aborigines. Their neighbors, with whom they were often at war, were the Hackensacks and Raritans, who lived on the opposite shore of the Hudson; the Weekqueskucks, Tankitikes, and Packamies, whose territories lay north of the Raritans; and the Canarsees, Rockaways, Menikokes, Massapeagues, Mattinecocks, Missaqueges, Corchaugs, Secatauges, and Shinnecocks, Long Island Indians. On the western bank of the upper Hudson, extending inland some seventy miles, were the fierce Mohawks, a part of the great clan of the Five Nations. Opposite, inhabiting the country between the Hudson and the Connecticut, were the Mohegans, another powerful tribe. With these tribes the colonists were often in contact. Their first peculiarity, as noted by the curious settlers, was their color, which was of a dull copper, or obscure orange hue, like the bark of the cinnamon tree. Their clothing was, in summer, a piece of deer-skin tied around the waist, in winter the skins of animals sewed together, and hanging loosely from the shoulders. After the Dutch came they used in place of buckskin a piece of duffels, or coarse cloth, thrown over the right shoulder and falling to the knees, which served as a cloak by day and a blanket by night. The men went bareheaded. Their hair was coarse, black, and very strong. Some had hair only on one side of the head, some on both, but all wore the scalp-lock; it was a point of honor with them. This lock was formed as follows: a strip of hair three fingers broad was first allowed to grow on the top of the head from the forehead to the neck. This was cut short, except a tuft on the top of the head three fingers long, which was made to stand erect like a cock's-comb by smearing it with bear's-grease. The women or squaws allowed their hair to grow and bound it behind in a coil shaped like a beaver's tail, over which they drew a square cap ornamented with wampum. The Indians were extremely fond of ornament; even the implements the Dutch gave them were devoted to this use. Heckewelder, for instance, relates that they hung the axes and hoes given them about their necks, and used the stockings for tobacco-pouches; and Creuxis tells of a Huron girl reared by some Ursuline nuns, who on her marriage was given a complete suit of clothes in Parisian style; but what was the surprise of the nuns a few days later to see the young husband arrayed in the finery and strutting up and down before their convent with an air of exultation which was greatly increased on seeing the nuns at the windows smiling at his queer appearance! Wampum played an important part in their economy. It was their money, their measure of value. " It was an ornament, a tribute; it ratified treaties, confirmed alliances, sealed friendships, cemented peace, and was accepted as a blood atonement." In making it the Indian artificer took the inside of the stem of the great conks cast up on the shore, and fashioned from it a small, smooth, white bead, through which he drilled a small hole. For another kind he took the inside purple face of the mussel shell, and made beads shaped like a straw, one third of an inch long, which were then bored lengthwise, and strung on hempen threads or the dried sinews of wild animals. These were then woven into strips of a hand's width and two feet long, called " belts" of wampum. The white beads were served in the same way, but their value was only half that of the purple beads. " They value these little bones," said Dr. Megapolensis, " as highly as many Christians do gold, silver, or pearls, valuing our money no better than they do iron.'

In political economy these people were communists, socialists. The land was held in common; the hunt, the fisheries, were free to all, and their condition is an excellent illustration of the utility of socialism when its principles are put into practice. They were anarchists, too, in that they had no law. Each did as he pleased, restrained only by his savage instincts of right and wrong. Minor crimes were unpunished. Murder was avenged by the next of kin, provided he met the murderer within twenty-four hours after the deed was committed. If he did not, the crime could be atoned for by the payment of wampum. Each tribe had its own chief, and separate practices and government. The houses of the Indians were mere huts made by binding the tops of saplings together, and covering the frame thus formed with strips of birch bark; some of the dwellings were communal — inhabited by many families. One shown in the engraving, found on Manhattan Island by the Dutch, was one hundred and eighty yards long by twenty feet wide. There were within it pots and kettles for cooking food, sharpened stones for axes, sharpened shells for knives, wooden bowls from which the food was eaten, beds formed of bulrushes or the skins of wild animals. The Indians used for food the flesh of animals and fish cooked whole, corn, pumpkins, roots, nuts, and berries. They had boats made of birch bark or hollowed out of the trunks of trees, the largest being capable of holding fourteen men, or one hundred and fifty bushels of grain. Calmly considered, these savages were not a people calculated to inspire respect. They were uncleanly in their food, their dwellings, and their persons. They had neither arts, science, nor commerce, as we understand those terms and there was much in their character and condition to justify the opinion freely expressed by the Dutch, that they " were children of the Devil," " mere cumberers of the ground."

In the midst of this wild, untamed people Minuet set up his orderly government — the product of a thousand years of judicial wisdom and patriotism. Let us consider it briefly. The Director was absolute monarch of his little world, except that he could not execute the death penalty; his subjects also had the right of appeal to the home company, and even from that body's decision to the States-General. Minuit was also instructed to appoint an advisory council of five of the wisest and most prudent men of the colony, to whose opinions he was expected to give due weight. There were but two other officers in the colony — the secretary of the Council Board and the Schout-fiscal — the latter an official who makes as great a figure in the early records of Manhattan as the Director himself. He was sheriff and constable, State's attorney to convict, and prisoner's council to defend, collector of the customs too, and beadle and tithing-man on Sunday. If we fancy him, with his wand of office in his hand, preceding the Burgomasters and Schepens to church on the Lord's Day, and during service patrolling the streets, seeing that no slave or Indian profaned the hour by gaming, or tapster by selling beer, we shall view him in the guise most familiar to the people. The men whom Minuit governed were little more than fiefs or servants of the company. They could not at this time hold land, not even the ground on which their dwellings stood; nor lawfully engage in trade with the Indians, nor among themselves, nor manufacture the necessaries of life. The privileged West India Company held the right to do all these things. Minuit had brought with him a competent engineer — one Kryn Fredericke, — and his first step after forming his government was to build a fort to defend it. It was a triangular earthwork with bastions and red cedar palisades and stood on a slight elevation near the point where Broadway enters the Battery. Minuit named it Fort Amsterdam. Next the busy workers opened quarries in the island crags, and of the " Manhattan stone " found there, built a rude, strong warehouse for housing the company's stores and other property. This warehouse was a creditable work — considering the means at hand for building it — with its stone walls, roof thatched with reeds, and those quaint crow-step gables dear to the heart of every Dutchman, of which one may still see a good specimen in the pretty cottage of Washington Irving at Sunnyside. The next public work was a " horse mill," for the grinding of grain by horse-power — for they seem to have lacked the tools and gear to build a windmill, after the fashion of Hollanders. Some thirty small cabins were also built along the East River shore, and a store was opened in a corner of one of the great warehouses and placed in charge of a salaried servant of the company. Only a church and a minister were lacking to complete the equipment of the village, but church and minister as yet there was not. That the people might not be wholly without spiritual counsel, however, the company had sent out two " Zukenstroosters," or Consolers of the Sick " (lay readers, we should call them), and they called the people together on the Sabbath and expounded the Scriptures to them. Their church — the first church in the city of five hundred temples — was the loft of the horse-mill, rudely fitted up with benches and chairs.

Two years later, a regularly ordained pastor, the Rev. Jonas Michaelis, arrived and organized a church, whose lineal descendant we shall find in Rev. Dr. Terry's church, on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Twenty-first Street. Minuit was also busy in extending and cementing trade with the Indians. His voyageurs, in sloop, ship's boat, and canoe, explored every bay and creek of the North River where an Indian lodge was planted, exchanging their beads, axes, knives, and gayly colored cloths for furs, and inviting the Indians to come down and trade with their white brothers at the fort. Many accepted the invitation, and soon parties of savages in blankets or skins, some laden with bales of fur, others with venison, turkeys, wild fowl, and other game, were familiar objects in the streets of Manhattan. The company's warehouse became a busy place.

The ship Arms of Amsterdam which sailed for Amsterdam September 23, 1626, carried home " 7,246 beaver skins, 178 otter skins, 675 otter skins, 48 minck skins, 36 wild-cat skins, 33 minck skins, 34 rat skins, and much oak and hickory timber," the whole valued at 45,000 guilders, or nearly $19,000. This ship also took samples of the " summer grain " the colonists had gathered at their recent harvest, viz., wheat, rye, barley, oats, buckwheat, canary seed, beans, and flax. And she bore, too, news of the birth of the "firstborn Christian, daughter" in New Netherland — Sarah Rapaelje, daughter of Jan Joris Rapaelje, born June 9, 1625.

An incident occurred this autumn which involved the colony a few years later in a terrible Indian war, and did much to destroy that confidence between the Dutch and Indians which the Director was anxious to cultivate. A Wukquaesguk Indian coming to town to trade, accompanied by his nephew, a mere lad, was set upon by three of the Director's negro slaves, and not only despoiled of his goods but barbarously murdered. The lad escaped, and as soon as he became a man wreaked bloody vengeance, not, as we shall see, on the guilty negroes, but on the innocent whites.

From the Indians who came to trade with him, Minuit heard scattered bits of news about his neighbors, the English on Plymouth Bay, and felt a desire to communicate with them. So he wrote two letters to Governor Bradford, of Plymouth, " in a very fair hand, the one in French and the other in Dutch," and signed by Isaac de Rasieres as provincial secretary, inquiring after his Excellency's health, and offering to accommodate him with any European goods the English might want in exchange for beaver skins and other wares. Governor Bradford replied very courteously, saying that he had not forgotten the kindness shown the Pilgrims in Holland, but that for the current year they were well supplied with necessaries; "thereafter" he would be glad to trade " if the rates were reasonable." At the same time -he expressed a doubt as to the propriety of the Dutch traffic with the Indians on English territory. Director Minuit replied promptly, and, as evidence of good-will, sent a " rundlet of sugar and two Holland cheeses "; but he firmly maintained the right of the Dutch to trade in the disputed territory. Governor Bradford, in his reply, modestly disclaimed the titles bestowed by his worthy and loving " brother of New Netherlands as being " over high " and beyond his deserts, but asked that an ambassador be sent to confer on the matter. Isaac de Rasieres, the secretary, was chosen for this delicate and important mission. Now Rasieres was by nature a very presentable man, and we may be sure that on this occasion he was made to appear at his best. He donned his long coat with its silver buttons, his velvet breeches, and black silk stockings, slipped on his military boots, thrust his sword into its sash, and with a noble retinue of trumpeters and men-at-arms, marched down to the company's dock, where the barque Nassau, neatly painted and furnished, and loaded with wampum, a chest of sugar, and " cloth of three sorts and colors," was waiting to receive him. Of the voyage we have, happily, a minute account by de Rasieres himself, given his patron, Samuel Bloemmaert, in Holland.

The Nassau sailed through Long Island Sound, we learn, bravely flying the orange, white, and blue flag at her peak, threaded the island passages of Narragansett Bay, and then ran " east by north fourteen miles to Frenchman's Point, where in a little harbor where a stream came in the English had an outpost." This was the present Manomet, in the town of Sandwich, at the head of Buzzard's Bay, on the south side of the isthmus connecting Cape Cod with the mainland, and which will be shortly the southern terminus of the Cape Cod ship canal. Plymouth was twenty miles north, across the isthmus " four or five miles " then by boat up the coast. At Manomet the Nassau anchored, while the ambassador dispatched a trumpeter to Governor Bradford with a message saying he had come in a ship to visit him and to report to him " the good will and favor which the Honorable Lords of the American West India Company had toward him." He mentioned the cloth of three sorts and colors, the chest of white sugar, and the seawan (wampum), that they might trade, and begged the Governor to send a conveyance for him, as he had not walked so far " in three or four years." Governor Bradford accordingly sent a boat for him, and he came " honorably attended by a noise of trumpets," as the Governor himself records. De Rasieres spent several days in the village courteously entertained by Governor Bradford and laid the foundation of a very lucrative trade between the two lone colonies. He gives in his letter a graphic description of Plymouth, and of the customs of its people. Among other pleasant details he tells us how the Pilgrims attended church.

" They assemble by beat of drum, each with his musket or firelock, in front of the captain's (Miles Standish's) door; they have their cloaks on, and place themselves in order, three abreast, and are led by a sergeant without beat of drum. Behind comes the Governor in a long robe; beside him on the right hand the preacher with his cloak on, and on the left hand the captain (Miles Standish) with his side arms and cloak on, and with a small cane in his hand, and so they march in good order, and each sets his arms down near him."

The secretary's mission seems to have been successful in every particular. The Pilgrims were much pleased with his genteel appearance and courteous behavior, and when he returned in triumph to New Amsterdam he bore a letter from Governor Bradford to his " very loving and worthy friends and Christian neighbors," the Dutch, assuring them of his disposition to trade, and of his great regard and friendship.

The little colony prospered, however, without English trade. Six farms or " boweries " were opened by the company in the natural meadows along the shores of the East River, which were stocked with cattle, goats, hogs, and sheep, and tilled by its servants. Ships were continually arriving from the father-land, bringing colonists, cattle, and household goods. By 1628 the number of inhabitants had risen to two hundred and seventy. In 1629 the imports amounted to 113,000 guilders (about $45,200), and the exports to 130,000. The company, however, was not satisfied with this progress, nor with the rich future it promised. The expense of colonizing the new country, under the liberal terms granted emigrants, was very great, and the directors now perfected a plan by which this outlay might be met, in part at least, while their privileges should be retained.

There were many wealthy merchants among their stockholders, who, it was thought, would value a title and an estate. To these men they said, in effect:

" We have a vast territory in America lying along the Mauritius River (the Dutch name of the Hudson) and on the shores of the sea. To each of you who will, at his own expense, establish a colony there we will freely grant these privileges: an estate extending sixteen miles along the one bank of a navigable river, or eight miles on both banks, and stretching inland as far as you can explore; a title, the title of patroon or feudal chief; exempt you and your people for ten years from taxation: grant you freedom in trade, except in furs, which we reserve to ourselves, and full property rights; protect you from enemies, and supply you with negro servants. You may take up this land anywhere but on Manhattan Island, which we reserve to ourselves. You shall forever possess and enjoy these lands, with the fruits, rights, minerals, rivers, and fountains, the supreme authority and jurisdiction, the fishing, fowling, and grinding; and if you shall so prosper as to found cities, you shall have authority to establish for them officers and magistrates. In return you must agree to satisfy the Indians for the land taken; to plant a colony of fifty souls above fifteen years age within four years; to provide a minister and schoolmaster for the colony as soon as possible, and until that is done ' a comforter of the sick.' "

Several directors of the company were willing to accept these terms, and a charter styled the " Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions" was granted by the Assembly of the XIX., as the governing body of the West India Company was called. It was dated June 7, 1629, and was a lengthy document containing thirty-one articles, from which we can learn something more of these curious feudal establishments in free America. The patroons were to govern their people conformably to the rules of government made or to be made by the directors of the company. They were to have liberty to sail or traffic all along the coast from " Florida to Terra Neuf," provided they "entered " the goods received in this trade at the company's custom house at Manhattan, and paid a duty of five per cent, upon them; they were to have two thirds of all prizes taken from the Spaniards, the company reserving the other third; they might trade in furs in places where the company had no " factories " or stations, provided they paid the company one guilder on each merchantable beaver and other skin. It was further provided that in cases tried before the patroons, where more than fifty guilders were involved, an appeal might be taken to the commander and council in the New Netherland. If anyone should discover " minerals, precious stones, crystals, marbles, or any pearl fishery" on the estate, it should remain the property of the patroon, he paying the discoverer a certain price to be agreed on be forehand. The people were not to make any woolen, linen, or cotton cloth, or weave any other stuffs, on pain of banishment. Finally, the colonies lying in the same neighborhood were to appoint a deputy, who should give information to the governor and council of all things transpiring in his district, and who was obliged to report at least once in every twelve months. This charter was the outcome of the social system then prevailing in Europe and among nearly all civilized nations. At this very moment the French were founding " lordships " and " seigneuries " of similar character in Canada, while forty years later the English proprietors of Carolina attempted to introduce the same system into that province in the guise of landgraves and caciques. Its merits were that it satisfied the Indian for his soil, it provided schools and churches, and settled men in strong, well-ordered communities; its evils were that it introduced monopoly, servitude, and aristocratic privilege. Colonies were quickly established under this instrument.

On June 1, 1629, Samuel Bloemmaert and Samuel Godyn, through agents, purchased of the Indians a tract of country on the southwestern shores of Delaware Bay two miles in width, and extending inland from Cape Henlopen thirty-two miles. The next spring, April, 1630, Kilian Van Rensselaer, a pearl merchant of Amsterdam, and also a director, purchased of the Indians, through agents, a large tract of land on the upper Hudson, which was increased by subsequent purchases until he was master of a territory twenty-four miles long by forty-eight broad, and of an estimated area of seven hundred thousand acres; a tract now comprising the counties of Albany, Rensselaer, and a part of Columbia. Next month. May, 1630, directors Godyn and Bloemmaert increased their estate by buying a tract on the shore of Delaware Bay, opposite their former purchase, sixteen miles long by sixteen square. Michael Pauw another director, finding the best lands on the Hudson and the Delaware taken, purchased, in June, the territory called Hoboken-Hacking, situated opposite New Amsterdam, on the west side of the Hudson, to which he added, in the course of the following month, Staten Island and the territory north of his first purchase, now known as Jersey City. These lands were in all cases bought of the Indians, through agents, and were duly ratified before the director and council at Fort Amsterdam, who " sealed them with the seal of New Netherland in red wax." The tract on the Delaware was called Zwanendael or the Valley of Swans. Pauw gave his purchase the pleasant-sounding name Pavonia; the estate on the upper Hudson was called Rensselaerwyck. Zwanendael was the cradle of the present State of Delaware, and Pavonia that of New Jersey. These purchases of the more desirable lands in the company's territory excited the jealousy of the remaining directors, and to appease them, and also to secure their aid in settling the lands acquired, several others were allowed to share in the enterprise; Godyn, De Laet the famous Dutch historian, Bloemmaert, Adam Bissels, and Toussaint Moussart, being admitted to a share in Rensselaerwyck, and six directors together with Captain Petersen De Vries sharing Zwanendael among them. The latter was soon colonized, and farmers, cattle, and farming implements were sent to Rensselaerwyck, which soon became a flourishing settlement. Kilian Van Rensselaer, the patroon, did not himself remove to the colony, but entrusted the management of its affairs to an agent called a Seneschal. His sons, however, emigrated and became successive lords of the great estate, founding a family that has held an honorable place in the annals of the city and State. Michael Pauw also founded on his patroonship, a village which he called " the Commune," and which occupied the present site of Communipaw, and no doubt gave its name to that ancient village. Very soon the directors had cause to regret giving the patroons such privileges, for they found the latter much more eager to secure the rich trade in furs, than to clear and cultivate their lands. The patroons based their right to the fur trade on the fifteenth article of their charter, which gave them the privilege of trading on the coast from Newfoundland to Florida, and in the interior anywhere " where the company had no commissaries at the time the charter of 1629 was granted," and their ships and their agents were soon out trading at almost every point.

The directors held that this was too liberal a rendering of the fifteenth article; that the whole tenor of the charter was to give the company a monopoly of the fur trade, on which it chiefly depended for its revenues, and a bitter quarrel arose which greatly retarded the progress of the colony. The charter to the patroons was revised, new articles were propose— some of the directors even advocated doing away with the charter altogether. The quarrel was carried before their High Mightinesses the States-General, and complaints were made against Director Minuit, who had officially ratified the purchase of the patroons, and who, it was charged, had favored them as against the company. Another circumstance aided in bringing Minuit into disrepute at this time. A short time before, two Belgian ship-carpenters had appeared in New Amsterdam and, seeking out the Director, had asked his aid in building a famous ship, the largest that had ever floated. The Director, seeing in the project a means of exhibiting to Holland merchants the resources of his colony in ship timber, consented, and in due time the New Netherlands, a ship of eight hundred tons and thirty guns — one of the finest pieces of naval architecture that had ever been built — was launched. It cost much more than had been expected, however, and the bills were severely criticized at home both by the stockholders and by the press. Incited by all these complaints, the States-General decided to investigate the Director, the patroons, and the affairs of the West India Company in general, the result being that Minuit was recalled and the privileges of the patroons restricted. Minuit embarked for Holland in the spring of 1632, in the ship Eendracht (Union), — which also carried five thousand beaver skins belonging to the company — leaving the affairs of the colony m the hands of his council. But his troubles were not yet over. His ship was driven by stress of weather into Plymouth, England, and was seized by the authorities there on the charge that she had traded to and obtained her cargo in countries subject to the English king. Minuit promptly advised the directors, and himself hurried up to London and laid the case before the Dutch ambassadors, by whom it was brought to the attention of King Charles. The ambassadors also wrote to the States-General, asking them to send over all the documents proving the right of the Dutch to trade to New Netherland, " as that right will undoubtedly be sharply disputed in England." A long and spirited correspondence followed, in which the right of the two nations to the disputed territory was freely canvassed without accomplishing any result, the English government at last consenting to release the Eendracht, " saving and without any prejudice to His Majesty's rights." The seizure, however, had served to assert the claim of the English to New Netherlands, which uninterrupted possession by the Dutch might have impaired. Director Minuit will again appear in our history. He had ruled the infant colony for six years, in general, it must be said, with wisdom and moderation. Under his sway it had increased in wealth, trade, and population, and had escaped serious difficulties with the Indians on the one hand, and with the English on the other. Of the four governors of New York under the Dutch dynasty none are worthier of more kindly remembrance than Peter Minuit.



The directors, after much laying of their heads together, and canvassing of numerous candidates in their great oak-paneled chamber in Amsterdam, fixed on Wouter Van Twiller as Minuit's successor. " Wouter Van Twiller," — the name provokes a smile as one recalls the famous description by Knickerbocker:

" He was exactly five feet six inches in height, and six feet five inches in circumference. His head was a perfect sphere, and of such stupendous dimensions that Dame Nature, with all her sex's ingenuity, would have been puzzled to construct a neck capable of supporting it; wherefore she wisely declined the attempt, and settled it firmly on the top of his backbone just between the shoulders. His body was oblong and particularly capacious at bottom. His legs were short but sturdy in proportion to the weight they had to sustain; so that when erect he had not a little the appearance of a beer-barrel on skids."

A grotesque figure truly, and not all caricature, for Van Twiller was stout of body and slow of thought; in habit something of a roysterer, with a burgomaster's fondness for good dinners and good wine, and withal of a petty spirit and narrow mind — a man totally unfitted for the place.

He had been a clerk in the employ of the West India Company, we are told, and had been appointed at the instance of the powerful patroon and director, Kilian Van Rensselaer, whose niece he had married, and whose interests he might be trusted to look after, which seems all the more queer when we consider that the chief grievance against Minuit was that he had favored the patroons at the expense of the company. Van Twiller arrived early in April, 1633. As he came ashore, he saw between two and three hundred men and women with stolid Dutch faces, the men clad in wide, deep-seated breeches tattered and earth-stained, the women in shabby kerchiefs and short gowns; behind them Indians looking curiously on; and, forming the background, noisome marshes and fens, a few clearings and cornfields, and a great deal of forest.

He took up his quarters in the fort, and the people went on with their daily tasks as though nothing unusual had occurred. It was but a few days later that a quaint, tub-like craft furled her sails in the harbor, and dispatched a boat shoreward, bearing a stranger differing much in appearance from the average voyageur of that day. He was slight and compact in frame, with fair, Saxon features, curly hair, and kindly blue eyes — one of the most polite, humane, and interesting of the knights-errant of his time — the co-patroon, Petersen De Vries. At home he was known as the rich merchant, but having early become interested in America, as we have seen, had been among the first to plant a colony in the new countries. A sad story he told the Director over their wine that night. He had left Holland, he said, the November before, in his yacht, with provisions and stores for his colony of Zwanendael, but on arriving there found only blackened ruins and the bones of his massacred people. An Indian was enticed on board and induced to tell the pitiful story.

The Dutch, they learned, had reared a pillar on a prominent point in their territory, to which they had affixed a piece of tin bearing the arms of Holland, as an emblem of sovereignty. An Indian chief spying it, had innocently taken it to make himself a tobacco-box. Hoossett, whom De Vries had left in charge of the colony, on discovering the theft, had expressed great indignation, whereupon certain Indian allies greatly attached to him had killed the offender. The murderers were sternly rebuked by the commander and sent away in disgrace. But in the Indian code blood must atone for blood, and one day, as the colonists were nearly all in the tobacco fields, a band of savages had rushed upon them and massacred them all — thirty-two in the tobacco-fields, Hoossett and a sick man in the company's house. They had further glutted their vengeance by setting fire to the company's buildings. All the money and labor spent on the plantation had been made useless in a moment; worse than all, his confidence in being able to keep peace with the Indians had been rudely assailed. Being now without occupation, De Vries lingered a long time in the settlement, and one day witnessed an incident which showed the Director's mettle. They were chatting and smoking on the fort parapet after dinner one day, when they saw a vessel pass the Narrows and head directly for the fort. She flew the Red Cross of England, but her straight lines and " ship-shape " appearance sufficiently proclaimed her nationality. She came to under the guns of the fort, and presently dispatched a boat to the shore. A man in resplendent uniform stood in its bow. " What ship is that? " growled Van Twiller, as the boat grounded. The William, of London," replied the officer, with a deep obeisance, and last from Boston." ''Who commands?" pursued the Director. " Jacob Eelkens," was the reply. " I know the varlet," said De Vries, quietly; " he was post trader at Fort Orange (Albany) for the first Dutch trading company and was dismissed for thievery." " What doth he here? " continued the Director. " Prithee, to trade with the savage," replied the envoy. The Director bit his lip. Here was the old vexed question of English supremacy again presenting itself. In fact, like Banquo's ghost, it was continually popping up in those days on the most inopportune and unexpected occasions. " He hath sent me to present compliments," continued the envoy, " and to invite your Excellency and the Honorable Councilors to dine with him to-morrow. He bade me say there shall be no lack of good wine and ale."