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.


New Amsterdam in 1656.—­Religious Intolerance.—­Persecution of the Waldenses.—­The New Colony on South river.—­Wreck of the Prince Maurice.—­The Friendly Indians.—­Energetic Action of the Governor.—­Persecution of the Quakers.—­Remonstrance from Flushing.—­The Desolation of Staten Island.—­Purchase of Bergen.—­Affairs at Esopus.—­The Indian Council.—­Generosity of the Indians.—­New Amstel.—­Encroachments of the English.

War would doubtless have arisen, between Sweden and Holland, in view of transactions on South river, had not all the energies of Sweden been then called into requisition in a war with Poland.  The Swedish government contented itself with presenting a vigorous memorial to the States-General, which for eight years was renewed without accomplishing any redress.

The vice-governor resided at fort Orange, in a two story house, the upper floor of which was used as a court-room.  This station was the principal mart for the fur trade, which had now become so considerable that upwards of thirty-five thousand beaver skins were exported during the year 1656.

A survey of the city of New Amsterdam was made this year, which showed that there were one hundred and twenty houses, and a population of one thousand souls.  A man like Stuyvesant, the warm advocate of arbitrary power, would almost of necessity, be religiously intolerant.  Zealously devoted to the Reformed church, and resolved to have unity in religion, notwithstanding the noble toleration which existed in Holland, he issued a proclamation forbidding any one from holding a religious meeting not in harmony with the Reformed church.

Any preacher, who should violate this ordinance was to be subjected to a penalty of one hundred pounds.  Any one who should attend such a meeting was to be punished by a penalty of twenty-five pounds.

This law was rigorously enforced.  Recusants were fined and imprisoned.  Complaints were sent to Holland, and the governor was severely rebuked for his bigotry.

“We would fain,” the Directors wrote to Stuyvesant,

“not have seen your worship’s hand set to the placard against the Lutherans, nor have heard that you oppressed them with the imprisonments of which they have complained to us.  It has always been our intention to let them enjoy all calmness and tranquillity.  Wherefore you will not hereafter publish any similar placards, without our previous consent, but allow all the free exercise of their religion within their own houses.”

But Stuyvesant was a man born to govern, not be governed.  He was silent respecting the instructions he had received from home.  When the Lutherans informed him that the Directors of the Company had ordered that the same toleration should exist in New Netherland which was practiced in the fatherland, he firmly replied that he must wait for further explanations, and that in the mean time his ordinance against public conventicles must be executed.

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