During the whole summer of 1644, the savages were busy carrying the desolating war into every unprotected nook and corner. The condition of the colony became desperate, being almost entirely destitute of food, money and clothing. The utter incompetency of Kieft was daily more conspicuous. He did nothing. “Scarce a foot was moved on land, or an oar laid in the water.” The savages, thus left in security to fish and gather in their crops, were ever increasingly insolent and defiant. One of the annalists of those times writes:
“Parties of Indians roved about day and night, over Manhattan island, killing the Dutch not a thousand paces from fort Amsterdam. No one dared to move a foot to fetch a stick of firewood without a strong escort.”
Kieft, in his overwhelming embarrassments, had found it necessary to convene eight select men to advise him and to aid in supporting his authority. These select men decided to demand of the home government the recall of Kieft, whose incapacity had thus plunged the once-flourishing colony into utter ruin. They also urged the introduction into New Netherland of the municipal system of the fatherland.
In their brief but touching memorial they write,
“Our fields lie fallow and waste. Our dwellings are burned. Not a handful can be sown this autumn on the deserted places. The crops, which God permitted to come forth during the summer, remain rotting in the fields. We have no means to provide necessaries for wives or children. We sit here amidst thousands of savages from whom we can find neither peace nor mercy.
“There are those among us who, by the sweat and labor of their hands, through many long years and at great expense, have endeavored to improve their land. Others have come with ships freighted with a large quantity of cattle. They have cleared away the forest, enclosed their plantations, and brought them under the plough, so as to be an ornament to the country and a profit to the proprietors after their long and laborious toil. The whole of these now lie in ashes through a foolish hankering after war.
“All right-thinking men here know that these Indians have lived as lambs among us until a few years ago, injuring no man, offering every assistance to our nation, and when no supplies were sent for several months, furnishing provisions to the Company’s servants until they received supplies. These hath the Director, by several uncalled-for proceedings from time to time, so estranged from us, and so embittered against the Netherlands nation, that we do not believe that anything will bring them and peace back, unless the Lord, who bends all hearts to his will, propitiate their people.
“Little or nothing
of any account has been done here for the
country. Every place is going to ruin. Neither counsel nor
advice is taken.”
After giving an account of the origin and progress of the war, they warn the home government against relying upon the statements which the Director had sent over to them. “These statements,” they said, “contain as many lies as lines.” The memorial was concluded with the following forcible words: