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From Hudson to Stuyvesant

2nd half

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 This was excellent for such as could afford to become Patroons; but what about the others? The charter provided that any emigrant who could pay for his exportation- might take up what land he required for his needs, and cultivate it independently. Other emigrants, unable to pay their fare out, might have it paid for them; but in that case, of course, incurred a mortgage to their benefactors. In effect, they could not own the product of the work of their hands until it had paid their sponsors for their outlay, together with such additions in the way of interest on capital as might seem to the sponsors equitable.

The company further undertook to supply slaves to the colony, should they prove to be a paying investment; and it was chiefly because the climate of New York was less favorable to the Guinea coast negro than was that further south that African slavery did not take early and firm root in the former region. Philosophers have long recognized the influence of degrees-of latitude upon human morality. The Patroon planters could dispense with black slaves, since they had white men enough who cost them no more than their keep, and would, presumably, not involve the expense of overseers. Everything, therefore, seemed harmonious and sunshiny, and the company congratulated itself.

But the Patroons, through their agents, began buying up all the land that was worth having, and found it easy to evade the stipulation restricting them to sixteen miles apiece. One of them had an estate running twenty-four miles on either bank of the Hudson, below Albany (or Fort Orange as it was then), and forty eight miles inland. It was superb; but it was as far as possible from being democracy; and the portly Van Rensselaer of Rennselaerwyck would have shuddered to his marrow could he have cast a prophetic eye into the Nineteenth Century.

The company at home presently discovered that its incautious liberality had injured its own interests as well as, those of poor settlers; for the estates of the Patroons covered the trading posts where the Indians came to traffic, and all the profits from the latter swelled the pockets of the Patroons. But the charter could not be withdrawn; the directors must be content with whatever sympathetic benefits might be conferred by the increasing wealth of the colony. The Patroons were becoming more powerful than their creators, and took things more and more into their own lordly hands. Neither Patroons nor company concerned themselves about the people. The charter had, indeed, mentioned the subjects of schools and religious instructors for the emigrants, but had made no provisions for the maintenance of such; and the Patroons conceived that such luxuries were deserving of but the slightest encouragement. The more a poor man knows the less contented is he. Such was the argument then, and it is occasionally heard to-day when our trusts and corporations are annoyed by the complaints and disaffections of their only half-ignorant employees.

Governor Minuit was not held to be the best man in the world for his position, and he was recalled in 1632, and Wouter Van Twiller, who possessed all of his predecessor's faults and none of his virtues, took his place. A governor with the American idea in him would have saved Manhattan a great deal of trouble, and perhaps have enabled the Dutch to keep their hold upon it; but no such governor was available, and worse than Van Twiller was yet to come. A colony bad already been planted in Delaware, but unjust dealings with the Indians led to a massacre which left nothing of the Cape Henlopen settlement but bones and charred timbers. The English to the south were led to renew the assertion of their never-abandoned claim to the region; there were encroachments by the English settlers on the Connecticut boundary, and the Dutch, deprived by the wars in Europe of the support of their countrymen at home, were too feeble to do more than protest. But protests from those unable to enforce them have never been listened to with favornot even by the English. Besides the Dutch, though amenable to religious observances, were far from making them the soul and end of all thought and -action; and this lack of aggressive religious fiber put them at a decided political disadvantage with their rivals. Man for man they were the equals of the English, or of any other people; as they magnificently demonstrated, forty years afterward, by defeating allied and evil-minded Europe in its attempt to expunge them as a nation. But the indomitable spirit of Van Tromp and De Ruyter was never awakened in the New Netherlands; commercial considerations were paramount; and though the Dutch settlers remained, and were always welcome, the colony finally passed from the jurisdiction of their own Government with their own expressed consent.

Van Twiller vanished after eight years' mismanage ment, and the sanguinary Kieft took. the reins. But before his incumbency, Sweden, at the instance of Gustavus Adolphus, and by the agency of his Chancellor Oxenstiern, both men of the first class, lodged a colony on Delaware Bay, which subsisted for seventeen years, and was absorbed at last without one stain upon its fair record. Minuit, being out of a job, offered his experienced services in bringing the emigrating Swedes and Finns to their new abode, and they began their sojourn in 1638. They were industrious, peaceable, religious, and moral, and they declared against any form of slavery. They threw out a branch toward Philadelphia. But Gustavus Adolphus had died at Lutzen before the Swedes came over, and Queen Christina had not the ability to carry out his ideas, even had she possessed the power. The Dutch began to dispute the rights of the Scandinavians; Rysingh took their fort Casimir in 1654, and Peter Stuyvesant with six hundred men received their submission in the same year. But this success was of no benefit to the Dutch; the tyrannous monopolies which the company tried to establish in Delaware, instead of creating revenues, caused the country to be deserted by the settlers, who betook themselves to the less oppressive English administrations to the southward; and it was not until the English took possession of both Delaware and the rest of the New Netherlands that it began to yield a fair return on the investment.

But we must return to the ill-omened Kieft. It was upon the Indian question that he made shipwreck, not only incurring their deadly enmity, but alienating from himself the sympathies and support of his own countrymen. The Algonquin tribe, which inhabited the surrounding country, had been constantly overreached in their trade with the Dutchmen; the principle upon which barter was carried on with the untutored savage being: "I'll take the turkey and you keep the buzzard; or you take the buzzard and I'll keep the turkey." This sounded fair; but when the Indian came to examine his assets, it always appeared that a buzzard was all he could make of it. Partly, perhaps, by way of softening the asperities of such a discover, the Dutch merchant had been wont to furnish his victim with brandy (not eleemosynary, of course) ; but the results were disastrous. The Indians, transported by the alcohol beyond the anything-butrestricted bounds which nature had imposed upon them, felt the insult of the buzzard more keenly than ever, and signified their resentment in ways consistent with their instincts and traditions. In 1640 an army of them fell upon the colony in Staten Island, and slaughtered them, man, woman, and child, with the familiar Indian accessories of tomahawk, scalping knife, and torch. The Staten Islanders, it should be stated, bad done nothing to merit this treatment; but Indian logic interprets the legal maxim, Qui facit per alium, facit per se, as meaning that if one white man cheats him he can get his satisfaction out of the next one who happens in sight. Staten Island was a definite and convenient area, and when its population had been exterminated, the Indians could feel relieved from their obligation. Not long afterward an incident such as romancers love to feign actually took place; an Indian brave who, as a child years before, had seen his uncle robbed and slain, had vowed revenge, now having become of age, or otherwise qualified himself for the enterprise, went upon the warpath and returned with the long-coveted scalp at his girdle. Evidently the time had come for Governor Kieft to assert himself.

It was of small avail to invade the wilds of New Jersey, or to offer rewards for Raritans, dead or alive. The sachems were willing to express their regret, but they would not surrender the culprits, and declared that the Dutchmen's own brandy was the really guilty party. Kieft would not concede the point, and the situation was strained. At this juncture the unexpected happened. The mohawks, a kingly tribe of red men, who claimed all northeastern America from the St. Lawrence to the Delaware, and who had already driven the Algonquins before them life chaff, sent down a war party from northern New York and demanded tribute from them. There were more Algonquins than there were Mohawks; but one eagle counts for more than many kites. The kites came fluttering to Fort Orange for protection: not so much that they feared death or torture, but they were overawed by the spirit of the Mohawk, and could not endure to face him. Kieft fancied that he saw his opportunity. He would teach the red scoundrels a lesson they would remember. There was a company of soldiers in the fort, and in the river were moored some vessels with crews of Dutch privateers on board. Kieft made up his party, and when night had fallen he sent them on their bloody errand, guided by one who knew all the camps and hiding places of the doomed tribe. It was a revolting episode; a hundred Indians were unresistingly murdered. They would have made a stronger defense had they not been under the impression that it was the Mohawks who were upon them; and to be killed by a Mohawk was no more than an Algonquin should expect. But when it transpired that the Dutch were the perpetrators, the whole nation gave way to a double exasperation: first, that their friends had been killed, and, secondly, that they had suffered under a misapprehension. The settlers, in disregard of advice, were living in scattered situations over a large territory, and they were all in danger and defenseless, even if New Amsterdam itself could escape. Kieft was heartily cursed by all impartially; he was compelled to make overtures for peace, and a powwow was held in Rockaway woods in the spring of 1643. Terms were agreed upon, and, according to Indian usage, gifts were exchanged. But those of the chiefs so far exceeded in value the offerings of Kieft that these were regarded as a fresh insult; war was declared, and dragged along for two years more. It was not until 1645 that the grand meeting of the settlers and the Five Natiohs took place at Fort Amsterdam, and the treaty of lasting peace was ratified. Kieft sailed from New Amsterdam with the consciousness of having injured his countrymen more than had any enemy; but he was drowned off the Welsh coast without having brought forth fruits meet for repentance.

Peter Stuyvesant is a favorite character in our history because he was a manly and straightforward man, faithful to his employers, fearless in doing and saying what he thought was right, and endowed with a full share of obstinate, homely, kindly human nature. He was not in advance of his age or superior to his training; he was the plain product of both, but free from selfishness, malice, and unworthy ambitions. He was born in 1602, and came to America a warrior from honorable wars, seamed and knotty, with a famous wooden leg which all New Yorkers, at any rate, love to hear stumping down the corridors of time. His administration, the last of the Dutch regime, wiped out the stains inflicted by his predecessors, and resisted with equal energy encroachments from abroad and innovations at home. He was a true Dutchman, with most of the limitations and all the virtues of his race; fond of peace and of dwelling in his own "Bowery," yet not afraid to fight when he deemed that his duty. His tenure of office lasted from 1647 till 1664, a period of seventeen active years; after the English took possession of, the town and called it New York, Peter went back to Holland, unwilling to live in the presence of new things; but he found that, at the age of sixty-three, he could not be happy away from the home that he had made for himself in the new world; so he returned to Manhattan Island, and completed the tale of his eighty years on the farm which is now the most populous and democratic of New York's thoroughfares. There he .smoked his long-stemmed pipe and drank his schnapps, and thought over old times and criticized the new. After two and a half centuries the memory of him is undimmed; and it A to be wished that some fitting memorial of him may be erected in the city which his presence honored.

The very next year after his arrival free trade was established in New Amsterdam. There had been a strict monopoly till then; but in one way or another it was continually evaded, and the New Amsterdam merchants found themselves so much handicapped by the restrictions that their inability reacted upon the managers at home. There were not at that time any infant industries in need, of protection, and the colony was large and capacious enough to take what the mother country sent it, and more also. But in order to prevent loss, an export duty was enforced, which pressed lightly on those who paid it, and comforted those to whom it was paid. Commerce was greatly stimulated, and the merchants of old Amsterdam sent compliments and. prophecies of future greatness to their brethren across the sea. Every new-hatched settlement that springs up on the borders of the wilderness is liable to be "hailed" by its promoters as destined to become the Queen City of its region; the wish fathers the word, and the word is an advertisement. But the merchant princes of Amsterdam spoke by the card; they perceived the almost unique advantages of geographical position and local facilities of their American namesake; with such a bay and water front, with such a river, with such a soil and such openings for trade, what might it not become! Yes, but Sic vos non vobis aedificatis! The English reaped what the Dutch had sown, and New York inherits the glory and power predicted for New Amsterdam.

The soil of Manhattan Island being comparatively poor, the place was destined to be used as a residence merely, and the houses of prosperous traders and burghers began to assemble and bear likeness to a town. The primeval forest still clothed the upper part of the island; but the visible presence of a municipality in the southern extremity prompted the inhabitants to suggest a remodeling of the government somewhat after the New England pattern, where Patroons were unknown and impossible. It is not surprising that suggestions to this effect from the humbler members of the community were not cordially embraced by either the Patroons or their creators at home; in fact, it was stillborn. That the people should rule themselves was as good as to say that the horse should loll in the carriage while his master toiled between the shafts. The thing was impossible and should be unmentionable. The people, however, continued to mention it, and even to neglect paying the taxes which had been imposed with no regard to their reasonable welfare. A deputation went to Holland to tell the directors that they could neither farm nor trade with profit unless the burdens were lightened; the directors thought otherwise, and the consequence was that devices were practiced to lighten them illicitly. This added to the interest of life, but subverted the welfare of the state. Where political rights are not secured to all men by constitutional right, those who are unable to get them by privilege, intrigue to steal what such rights would guarantee. At this rate there would presently be a Council of Ten and an Inquisition in New Amsterdam. In 1653 the Governor was constrained to admit the deputies from the various settlements to an interview, in which they said their say, and he his. "We have come here at our own expense," they observed, "from various countries of Europe, expecting to be given protection while earning our living; we have turned. your wilderness into a fruitful garden for you, and you, in return, impose on us laws which disable us from profiting by our labor. We ask you to repeal these laws, allow us to make laws to meet our needs, and appoint none to office who has not our approbation." Thus, in substance, spoke the people; and we, at the end of the Nineteenth Century, may think they were uttering the veriest axioms of political common sense. What sturdy Peter Stuyvesant thought is perfectly expressed in what he replied.

"The old laws will stand. Directors and council only shall be lawmakers; never will they make themselves responsible to the people. As to officers of government, were their election left to the rabble, we should have thieves on horseback and honest men on foot." And with that, we may imagine, the Governor stamped his wooden toe.

The people shrugged their shoulders. "We aim but at the general good," said they. "All men have a natural right to constitute society, and to assemble to protect their liberties and property."

"I declare this assembly dissolved," Peter retorted. "Assemble again at your peril! The authority which rules you is derived not from the whim of a few ignorant malcontents." Alas! the seed of the American idea had never germinated in Peter's soldierly bosom; and when the West India Company learned of the dialogue they spluttered with indignation. "The people be d-d !" was the sense of their message. "Let them no longer delude themselves with the fantasy that taxes require their assent." With that they dismissed the matter from their minds. Yet even then the writing was on the wall. The flouted people were ripe to welcome England; and England, in the shape of Charles II, -who had come at last to his own, meditated wiping the Dutch off the Atlantic seaboard. It availed not to plead rights: Lord Baltimore snapped his fingers. Lieutenant Governor Beekman, indeed, delayed the appropriation of Delaware; but Long Island was being swallowed up, and nobody except the Government cared. The people may be incompetent to frame laws: but what if they decline to fight for you when called upon? If they cannot make taxes to please themselves, at all events they will not make war to please anybody else. If they are poor and ignorant, that is not their fault. The English fleet was impending; what was to be done? Could Stuyvesant but have multiplied himself into a thousand Stuyvesants, he knew what he would do; but he was impotent. In August, 1664, here was the fleet actually anchored in Gravesend Bay, with Nicolls in command. "What did they want?" the Governor inquired. "Immediate recognition of English sovereignty," replied Nicolls curtly; and the gentler voice of Winthrop of Boston was heard, advising surrender. "Surrender would be reproved at home," said poor Stuyvesant, refusing to know when he was beaten. He was doing his best to defeat the army and navy of England single-handed. But the burgomasters went behind him and capitulated, and-Peter to the contrary for four days more notwithstanding-New Amsterdam became New York.

The English courted favor by liberal treatment of their new dependents on the western shore of the Hudson; whatever the Dutch had refused to do, they did. The Governor and Council were to be balanced by the people's representatives; no more arbitrary taxation; citizens might think and pray as best pleased them; land tenure was made easy, and seventy-five acres was the bounty for each emigrant imported, negroes included. By such inducements the wilderness of New Jersey, assigned to Berkeley and Carteret, was peopled by Scots, New Englanders, and Quakers. Settlement proceeded rapidly, and in 1663 a colonial Legislature met in the town named after Elizabeth Carteret. There were so many Puritans in the Assembly, and their arguments were so convincing, that New Jersey law bore a strong family resemblance to that of New England. This had its effect when, in 1670, the rent question came up for settlement. The Puritans contended that the Indians held from Noah, and as they were lawful heirs of the Indians, they declined to pay rents to the English proprietors. There was no means of compelling them to do so, and they had their way. The Yankees were already going ahead.

Manhattan did not get treated quite so well. The Governor had everything his own way, the Council being his creatures, and the justices his appointees. The people were permitted no voice in affairs, and might as well have had Stuyvesant back again. After Nicolls had strutted his term, Lord Lovelace came, and outdid him. His idea of how to govern was formulated in his instructions to an agent: "Lay such taxes," said he, "as may give them liberty for no thought, but how to discharge them." Lord Lovelace was an epigrammatist; but in the end he had to pay for his wit. He attempted to levy a tax for defense, and was met with refusal; the towns of Long Island had not one cent either for tribute or defense; his lordship swore at them heartily, but they heeded him not; and he found himself in the shoes of the ousted Dutch Governor in another sense than he desired. And then was poetical justice made complete; for who should appear before the helpless forts but Evertsen with a Dutch fleet! New York, New Jersey, and Delaware surrendered to him almost with enthusiasm, and the work of England seemed to be all undone.

But larger events were to control the lesser. France and England combined in an iniquitous conspiracy to, destroy the Dutch Republic, and swooped down upon the coast with two hundred thousand men. The story has often been told how the Dutch, tenfold outnumbered, desperately and gloriously defended themselves. They finally swept the English from the seas and patrolled the Channel with a broom at the masthead. By the terms of the treaty of peace which Charles was obliged by his own Parliament to make, all conquests were mutually restored, and New York consequently reverted to England. West Jersey was bought by the Quakers; the eastern half of the province was restored to the rule of Carteret. The Atlantic Coast, from Canada down to Florida, continuously, was English ground, and so remained until, a century later, the transplanted spirit of liberty, born in England, threw down the gauntlet to the spirit of English tyranny, and won independence for the United States.

When we remember that the Dutch maintained their Government in the new world for little more than fifty years, it is surprising how deep a mark they made there. It is partly because their story lends itself to picturesque and graphic treatment; it is so rich in character and color, and telling in incident. Then, too, it has a beginning, middle, and end, which is what historians as well as romancers love. But most of all, perhaps, their brief chronicles as a distinct political phenomenon illustrate the profound problem of self government in mankind. The Netherlands had proved, before, any of them came hither, with what inflexible courage they could resent foreign tyranny; and the municipalities, as well as the nation, had grasped the principles of independence. But it was not until they erected their little commonwealth amid the forests of the Hudson that they awakened to the conception that every man should bear his part in the. government of all. To attain this it was necessary to break through a crust of conservatism almost as stubborn as that of Spain. The authority of their upper classes had never been questioned; the idea had Never been entertained that a citizen in humble life could claim any right to influence the conditions under which his life should be carried on. That innate and inalienable right of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness which Jefferson asserted, and which has become an axiom to every American schoolboy, does not appear upon investigation to be either inalienable or innate. The history of mankind shows that it has been constantly alienated from them; and if we pass in review the population of the world, from the oldest to contemporary times, and from savage tribes to the most highly civilized nations, we find the plebeian bowing before the patrician, the poor man serving the wealthy. The conception of human equality before the law is not a congenital endowment, but an accomplishment, arduously acquired and easily forfeited. The first impulse of weakness in the presence of strength is to bow down before it; it is the impulse of the animal, and of the unspiritual, the unregenerate nature in man. The ability to recognize the solidarity of man, and therefore the equality of spiritual manhood, involves an uplifting of the mind, an illumination of the soul, which can be regarded as the result of nothing less than a revelation. It is not developed from below-it is received from above; it is a divine whisper in the ear of fallen man, transfiguring him and opening before him the way of life. It postulates no loss of humility; it does not disturb the. truth that some must serve and some must direct; that some shall have charge over many things and some over but few. It does not supersede the outward order of society. But it affirms that to no, man or body of men, no matter how highly endowed by nature or circumstance with intellect, position, or riches, shall be accorded the right to dispose arbitrarily of the lives and welfare of the masses. Not elsewhere than in the hands of the entire community shall be lodged the reins of government. The administration shall be with the chosen ones whose training and qualifications fit them for that function; but the principles on which their administration is conducted shall be determined by the will and vote of all.

This is ,not lightly to be believed or understood; Peter Stuyvesant voiced the unenlightened thought when he said that should the rabble rule, order and honesty must be overthrown. This is the inevitable conclusion of materialistic logic. Like produces like; evil, evil; ignorance, ignorance. Only by inspired faith will the experiment be tried of trusting the Creator to manifest His purposes, not by the conscious wisdom of any man or men, but through the unconscious,- organic tendency, mental and moral, of universal man. We may call it "the tendency, not ourselves, which makes for righteousness"; or we may analyze it into the resultant of innumerable forces, taking a direction independent of them all; or we may say simply that it is the Divine method of leading us upward; it is all one. Universal suffrage is an act of faith; and, faith fully carried out, it brings political and religious emancipation to the people. How far it has been carried out in this country is a question we shall have to answer hereafter; we may say here that our forefathers realized its value, and gave to us in our Constitution the mechanism whereby to practice it. To it they added the memory of their courage -and their sacrifices in its behalf; and more than this was not theirs to give.

The English Puritans received their revelation in one way; the Dutch traders and farmers in another; but it was the same revelation. To neither could it be imparted in Europe, but only in the virgin solitudes of an untrodden continent. There man, already civilized, was enabled to perceive the inefficiency and distortion of his civilization, and to grasp the cure. Hudson, an Englishman, but at the moment in Dutch service, opened the gates to the Netherlands, and thus enabled their emigrants to perfect the work of emancipation which had been brought to the highest stage it could reach at home. They were opposed by the directors in Amsterdam, by their own governors and Patroons, and by the errors which immemorial usage had ingrained in them as individuals. They overcame these forces, not by their own strength, nor by, any violent act of revolution, but by the slow, irresistible energy of natural law, with which, as- with a gravitative force, they had placed themselves in harmony. Thus they exemplified one of the several ways in which freedom comes to man, and took their place as a component element in the limitless cosmopolitanism of our population.

Their subsequent history shows that nothing truly valuable is lost in democracy. The high behavior and dignified manners which belonged to their Patroons may be observed among their descendants in contemporary New York; the men whose ancestors controlled a thousand tenants have not lost the powers of handling large matters in a large spirit; but they exercise it now for worthier ends than of old. Similarly the Dutch stolidity which amuses us in the chronicles reappears today in the form of steadiness and judgment; the obstinacy of headstrong Peter as self-confidence and perseverance; the physical grossness of the old burgh. ers as constitutional vigor. Many of their customs, too, have come down to us; their heavy afternoon teas are recalled in our informal receptions; their New Year's Day sociability in .our calls; their Christmas celebrations in our festival of Santa Claus. Much of our domestic architecture reflects their influence: the gabled fronts, the tiled fireplaces, the high stoops, and the custom of sitting.on them in summer evenings. In general it is seen that the effect of democratic institutions is to save the grain and reject the chaff, because criticism becomes more close and punctual; abuses and license are not chartered, and the individual is bereft of artificial supports and, disguises, and must appear more nearly as God made him.