New York the English Province

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Administration of Andros

New York the English Province, Governor AndrosIn November, 1674, New York finally passed from the hands of the Dutch to remain for one hundred years an English province. The Duke of York tightened his grasp on the colony; to cover all doubt he secured a new grant from the king; he gave again New Jersey to Carteret and sent to New York as governor, Major Edmund Andros, who, he doubted not, would be thoroughly alive to his master's interest.

For ten years Major Andros was busy with the affairs of the colony; now he was penetrating into the far west of the unsettled Mohawk valley, viewing the fertile flats and making friends of the Indians; now he was sending to Martha's Vineyard to assert the claims of the Duke. He assumed that New Jersey was still under his control and went so far as to arrest Governor Carteret. He renewed the old contest with Connecticut, landed in force at Saybrook and demanded the surrender of the fort. Being refused he read the grant of the Duke and his own commission; and when these selections did not soften the hearts of the Connecticut Puritans, Andros sailed sadly home.

Conditions of the Colony

New York the English Province, Watergate, Wall Street, New YorkIn 1678, Governor Andros while visiting England left on record an account of his colony. New York since Stuyvesant's surrender had doubled its eight thousand inhabitants; about three thousand of these were in New York city. This place was built up at the expense of the rest of the province by the bolting act, which for many years gave the city the sole right of bolting and exporting flour from the colony.

But its growth was slow compared with its progress in the nineteenth century; at the close of the seventeenth century the northern limit of the city was a palisade wall, the present Wall Street. Beyond this were a few houses here and there, a burying ground, and a few huge Dutch wind-mills; further on, farms, and then a rocky wilderness. A mile from the town, the law allowed wood to be cut; in the numerous ponds, fresh water fish could be taken; the hunting too was good, probably , for a visitor tells of treeing a bear in an orchard where Maiden Lane now is.

In the city itself, the fort was the first object that greeted the sight of the ships coming up the bay; within this was a church; and leading from it was a "Broad way". Within the corporation were numerous swamps, ponds and creeks and there had been ill smelling tanneries and slaughter houses, which were often ordered out of the city limits. North of the city, where the Tombs prison is now, was a lake known as the Fresh Water pond. Six public wells were dug in the middle of the streets, not so much for the bad tasting water as for a protection against fire.

Long Island

Two English visitors at this time tell how they were rowed across East River in the ferry boat; upon landing they went "up a hill, along open roads and woody places and through a village called Breuckelen (Brooklyn) which has a small ugly church in the middle of the road." They slept in the house of one Simon DeHart, a house still standing, and supped on oysters, venison and wild turkey. They were surprised at the apples, peaches, grapes and the "great heaps of watermelons." All kind of fish abounded; oysters were plentiful; drift whales were frequently cast upon the beach of the island; while off the coast, whalers could capture their huge game.

The Civilization

In the eastern part of Long Island schools were well sustained; but elsewhere the children of the colonists were no better educated than under Dutch rule. Some of the people could afford to have private teachers; some sent their children to New England schools; but the mass of the people were ignorant and superstitious. As a result many of the laws were barbarous; stealing might be punished with death; or the thief was branded with a T on the cheek; stocks, pillories, placards and other means of exciting derision were common punishments. The Sunday laws were strict; the Connecticut blue laws were scarcely more so. "No youths, maydes or other persons," said the law,"may meet together for sports or play."

(continues... Dongan Charter)