People of New Netherland

(previous....Growth of the Dutch Colony)

Why the Dutch Lost New York

People of New NetherlandHolland did not lose New Netherland because inferior as a nation to England. The Dutch Republic during the first half of the seventeenth century was one of the great powers of Europe; she had gained her Independence from the tyranny of Spain; her capital, Amsterdam, was the commercial centre of the world; her victorious admiral, Von Tromp swept the seas with a broom as his mast head; her schools, writers and statesmen were among the most famous of Europe.

Nor did the Dutch lose their colony because their title to the land was less valid than that of England. They based their claim first on the discovery of Hudson, secondly on actual settlement, thirdly on purchase of land from the Indians. The sole title of the English to the soil lay in the coasting voyages of the Cabots from New Foundland to Maryland over a hundred and fifty years before. The rights of the Indians they counted as nothing.

The Dutch lost New York because as traders and soldiers they could not hold the land against the English farmer. The contest for the Connecticut valley was the critical event. To a great extent the Dutch farmers along the Hudson rented their land of the patroons and hence were not attached to the soil as were the New England settlers who owned the land which they plowed. The Dutch Republic blundered when it gave New Netherland into the hands of a money getting company; the West India company blundered when it gave its best lands to the ling-like patroons.

Leading Men

David Pietersen de Vries

During the fifty years of Dutch control the simple affairs of the small band of colonists called forth few men worthy to be remembered. Of the governors Stuyvesant was the only one of ordinary ability. Among the patroons was David Pietersen de Vries who defeated the interests of the people; he had the courage to censure Van Twiller for his inefficiency and to oppose the fool-hardy projects of Kieft. He was president of the Twelve, that germ of a government of the people. Finally having been ruined by the Indian war he went back to Holland. When parting with Kieft he said " The murders in which you have shed so much innocent blood will be avenged on your own head." a prophecy soon fulfilled by the shipwreck of the governor when recalled to Holland.

Dominie John Megapolensis

Another leader of the people was Dominie John Megapolensis , who came as a minister to Rensselaerwick. He carried the gospel to the Indians, who had already heard something of the story of the cross from the French priests of Canada. Later the good Magapolensis lived on western Long Island and always appeared as the champion of the people.

Arendt Van Curler

The one man who without rank or wealth rose from among the ordinary colonist to make his mark in history was Arendt Van Curler. He was the first white man from the Dutch settlements to penetrate the Mohawk Valley. He reported the lands " the most beautiful that eye ever saw." Van Curler or Corlear as the Indians called him secured the love and trust of the Iroquois to a wonderful degree. To them he was the greatest of the white men and ever afterward they called the governor of New York "Brother Corlear." During the last years of Dutch rule he pushed out from Fort Orange with a company of colonists and settled Schenectady, long the outpost of the great west.

The Common People

Though the colony produced few men of note, the general character of the people was of a high order; they were thrifty, neat and industrious." They brought over with them the liberal and homely virtues and honest maxims of their country." There were few that were lazy and no paupers. They had little mercy for criminals ; a man for stealing some 'nose cloths' was banished; a slanderer had a red hot iron stuck through his tongue. Women were forbidden to scold; and for that and like offences there was a ducking stool on Manhattan Island near the water's edge. Just in front of the fort was a gallows, one of the first objects to be seen by the newcomers sailing up the bay to New Amsterdam.

New Amsterdam

That settlement had been incorporated as a separate village in 1653, when it had less than a thousand people. It was some years before the fist street was paved with stone; and there was much trouble because the "broadway" leading from the fort was rooted up by hogs noses. All over the new city the gardens and yards were luxurious with cabbages and tulips. The homes, first of logs, soon came to be like the odd looking, comfortable dwellings of the mother country.

(continues...Architecture of New Amsterdam)