Knickerbocker's History of New York, Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 356 pages of information about Knickerbocker's History of New York, Complete.

In 1829 Washington Irving came again to England, this time as Secretary to the American Legation.  He published the “Conquest of Granada.”  In 1831 he received the honorary degree of LL.D. from the University of Oxford.  Then he returned to America, published in 1832 “The Alhambra;” in 1835 “Legends of the Conquest of Spain.”  In 1842 he went again to Spain, this time as American Minister.  Other works were produced, and at the close of his life he achieved his early ambition, by writing a Life of Washington, after whom he had been named, and who had laid his hand upon his head and blessed him when he was a child of five.  Although the first of the five volumes of the Life of Washington did not appear until he was more than seventy years old, he lived to complete his work, and died on the 28th of November, 1859.  Washington Irving never married.  He had loved in his early years a daughter of his friend Mrs. Hoffman, had sat by her death-bed when she was a girl of seventeen, and waited until his own death restored her to him.

H.M.

HISTORY OF NEW YORK

BOOK IV. (continued.)

CHAPTER VI.

Next to his projects for the suppression of poverty may be classed those of William the Testy for increasing the wealth of New Amsterdam.  Solomon of whose character for wisdom the little governor was somewhat emulous, had made gold and silver as plenty as the stones in the streets of Jerusalem.  William Kieft could not pretend to vie with him as to the precious metals, but he determined, as an equivalent, to flood the streets of New Amsterdam with Indian money.  This was nothing more nor less than strings of beads wrought out of clams, periwinkles, and other shell-fish, and called seawant or wampum.  These had formed a native currency among the simple savages, who were content to take them of the Dutchmen in exchange for peltries.  In an unlucky moment, William the Testy, seeing this money of easy production, conceived the project of making it the current coin of the province.  It is true it had an intrinsic value among the Indians, who used it to ornament their robes and moccasins; but among the honest burghers it had no more intrinsic value than those rags which form the paper currency of modern days.  This consideration, however, had no weight with William Kieft.  He began by paying all the servants of the company and all the debts of government, in strings of wampum.  He sent emissaries to sweep the shores of Long Island, which was the Ophir of this modern Solomon, and abounded in shell-fish.  These were transported in loads to New Amsterdam, coined into Indian money, and launched into circulation.

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Knickerbocker's History of New York, Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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