Peter Stuyvesant, the Last Dutch Governor of New Amsterdam eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 258 pages of information about Peter Stuyvesant, the Last Dutch Governor of New Amsterdam.
“will you sell brandy to our young men?  They are not used to it.  It makes them crazy.  Even your own people, who are accustomed to strong liquors, sometimes become drunk and fight with knives.  Sell no more strong drink to the Indians, if you will avoid such mischief.”

While this question was being agitated, the Mohawks from the upper part of the Hudson, came down in strong military bands, armed with muskets, upon the lower river tribes, attacked them with great ferocity, killed quite a number of their warriors, took the women and children captive, and destroyed their villages.

The lower river tribes all trembled before the terrible Iroquois.  Large numbers of these subjugated tribes fled from the river banks, and from the region of Westchester, to Manhattan and to Pavonia, where Jersey City now stands.  Here, stripped and panic-stricken, they encamped, “full a thousand strong.”

The humane and judicious patroon, DeVrees, in whom the Indians seem to have reposed great confidence, had a beautiful estate several miles up the river, at a place called Vreesendael.  It was a delightful spot of about five hundred fertile acres, through which wound a fine stream affording handsome mill seats.  The meadows yielded hay enough spontaneously for two hundred head of cattle.

DeVrees, finding his house full of fugitive savages, on their retreat to Pavonia, at the mouth of the river, paddled down in a canoe through the floating ice to fort Amsterdam, to confer with Director Kieft upon the emergency.  He urged upon the Director that these poor Indians, thus escaping from the terrible Iroquois and grateful for the protection which the Dutch had not denied them, might easily be won to a sincere friendship.  On the other hand, some of the more fiery spirits in the colony thought that the occasion furnished them with an opportunity so to cripple the Indians as to render them forever after powerless.  They sent in a petition to Kieft, saying,

“We entreat that immediate hostile measures may be directed against the savages.  They have not yet delivered up the assassins of Smits and Van Voorst, and thus these murders remain unavenged.  The national character of the Dutch must suffer.  God has now delivered our enemies into our hands.  Let us attack them.  We offer our services, and urge that united parties of soldiers and civilians assail them at several points.”

These views were in entire harmony with the wishes of the sanguinary Kieft.  He was delighted with the prospect of a war in which victory seemed easy and certain.  Disregarding the remonstrances of DeVrees, and of the Christian minister Bogardus, he made efficient preparation for the slaughter of the helpless savages.

He sent his secretary and a military officer across the river to reconnoitre the position of the Indians.  There were two bands of these trembling fugitives, one at Pavonia, on the Jersey side of the river, and one at Corlaer’s Hook, on the Island of Manhattan, just above fort Amsterdam.  Secretly, at midnight of the 25th of February, 1643, the armed bands advanced against their unsuspecting victims.  They were sleeping in fancied security when the murderous assault commenced.

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Peter Stuyvesant, the Last Dutch Governor of New Amsterdam from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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