Abt 1610 - 1682 (~ 72 years)
Has 2 ancestors and 90 descendants in this family tree.
||Peter Stuyvesant |
||Scherpenzeel, Friesland, NL
||New York, NY, USA
||9 May 2003 |
||Judith Bayard, c. 16 Nov 1608, Breda, NBr, NL , d. 1687 (Age ~ 78 years) |
||13 Aug 1645
||Breda, NBr, NL
||9 May 2003 |
||Group Sheet | Family Chart
- Son of a Calvinist minister, he began his career in the Dutch West India Company about 1632 and in 1643 became director in the company's colonies of Curaçao, Aruba, and Bonaire. During an expedition against the Portuguese island of Saint Martin, his right leg was severely injured and had to be amputated. Thereafter he wore a wooden leg.
In 1645 he became director general of all Dutch possessions in North America and the Caribbean. Almost immediately upon his arrival in New Amsterdam (later New York City) in 1647, his conflict with the burghers began.
They were alienated by his despotic methods and his devotion to the interest of the company. In response to their demands for self-government, he and the council in 1647 appointed an advisory board of nine, and in 1653 there was established the first municipal government for the city of New Amsterdam, modeled after the cities of Holland. These concessions proved hollow, for Stuyvesant never ceased to dominate the government. In 1650 he sacrificed a large amount of territory in a settlement of the boundary between New Netherland and Connecticut. But he succeeded in dislodging the Swedes from their settlement in Dutch territory along the Delaware River and in establishing peace with the Indians there.
In August 1664, when the burghers refused to aid him, Stuyvesant was forced to surrender New Netherland to the British.
According to some historians, the West India Company made him the scapegoat for what actually were defects in company policies.
He spent the remainder of his life on his farm, "the Bouwerie" (from which New York City's "Bowery" takes its name).
GRIM old Stuyvesant had lost a leg in the wars. He wore in its place a wooden one, laced with silver bands,—so that some traditions speak of it as silver. No other figure of Dutch, nor indeed of colonial days, is so well remembered; none other has left so deep an impress on Manhattan history and tradition as this whimsical and obstinate, but brave and gallant old fellow, the kindly tyrant of the little colony. To this day he stands in a certain sense as the typical father of the city.
There are not a few old New Yorkers who half-humorously pretend still to believe the story which their forefathers handed down from generation to generation,—the story that the ghost of Peter Stuyvesant, the queer, kindly, self-willed old dictator, still haunts the city he bullied and loved and sought to guard, and at night stumps to and fro, with a shadowy wooden leg, through the aisles of St. Mark's Church, near the spot where his bones lie buried.
Stuyvesant was a man of strong character, whose personality impressed all with whom he came in contact. In many ways he stood as a good representative of his class,—the well-born commercial aristocracy of Holland. In his own person he illustrated, only with marked and individual emphasis, the strong and the weak sides of the rich traders, who knew how to fight and rule, who feared God and loved liberty, who held their heads high and sought to do justice according to their lights; but whose lights were often dim, and whose understandings were often harsh and narrow. He was powerfully built, with haughty, clear-cut features and dark complexion; and he always dressed with scrupulous care, in the rich costume then worn by the highest people in his native land. He had proved his courage on more than one stricken field; and he knew how to show both tact and firmness in dealing with his foes. But he was far less successful in dealing with his friends; and his imperious nature better fitted him to command a garrison than to rule over a settlement of Dutch freemen. It was inevitable that a man of his nature, who wished to act justly, but who was testy, passionate, and full of prejudices, should arouse much dislike and resentment in the breasts of the men over whom he held sway; and these feelings were greatly intensified by his invariably acting on the assumption that he knew best about their interests, and had absolute authority to decide upon them He always proceeded on the theory that it was harmful to allow the colonists any real measure of self-government, and that what was given them was given as a matter of grace, not as an act of right. Hence, though he was a just man, of sternly upright character, he utterly failed to awaken in the hearts of the settlers any real loyalty to himself or to the government he represented; and they felt no desire to stand by him when he needed their help. He showed his temper in the first speech he made to the citizens, when he addressed them in the tone of an absolute ruler, and assured them that he would govern them “as a father does his children.” Colonists from a land with traditions of freedom, put down in the midst of surroundings which quicken and strengthen beyond measure every impulse they may have in the direction of liberty, are of all human beings those least fitted to appreciate the benefits of even the best of paternal governments.
When Stuyvesant came to Manhattan the little Dutch drop thereon was just recovering from the bloody misery of the Indian wars. No such calamities occurred again to check and blast its growth; and it may be said to have then fairly passed out of the mere pioneer stage. It was under Stuyvesant that New Amsterdam became a firmly established Dutch colonial town, instead of an Indian-harried village outpost of civilization; and it was only in his time that the Dutch life took on fixed and definite shape. The first comers were generally poor adventurers; but when it was plainly seen that the colony was to be permanent, many well-to-do people of good family came over,—burghers who were proud of their coats-of-arms, and traced their lineage to the great worthies of the ancient Netherlands. The Dutch formed the ruling and the most numerous class of inhabitants; but then, as now, the population of the city was very mixed.
A great many English, both from old and New England, had come in; while the French Huguenots were still more plentiful,—and, it may be mentioned parenthetically, formed, as everywhere else in America, without exception the most valuable of all the immigrants. There were numbers of Walloons, not a few Germans, and representatives of so many other nations that no less than eighteen different languages and dialects were spoken in the streets. An ominous feature was the abundance of negro slaves,—uncouth and brutal-looking black savages, brought by slave-traders and pirates from the gold coast of Africa.
The population was diverse in more ways than those of speech and race. The Europeans who came to this city during its first forty years of life represented almost every grade of old-world
society. Many of these pioneers were men of as high character and standing as ever took part in
founding a new settlement; but on the other hand there were plenty of others to the full as
vicious and worthless as the worst immigrants who have come hither during the present century.
Many imported bond-servants and apprentices, both English and Irish, of criminal or
semi-criminal tendencies escaped to Manhattan from Virginia and New England, and, once
here, found congenial associates from half the countries of continental Europe. There thus
existed from the start a low, shiftless, evil class of whites in our population; while even beneath
their squalid ranks lay the herd of brutalized black slaves. It may be questioned whether
seventeenth-century New Amsterdam did not include quite as large a proportion of undesirable
inhabitants as nineteenth-century New York 5
The sharp and strong contrasts in social position, the great differences in moral and material
well-being, and the variety in race, language, and religion, all combined to make a deep chasm
between life in New Amsterdam and life in the cities of New England, with their orderly
uniformity of condition and their theocratic democracy. 6
Society in the New Netherlands was distinctly aristocratic. The highest rank was composed of
the great patroons, with their feudal privileges and vast landed estates; next in order came the
well-to-do merchant burghers of the town, whose ships went to Europe and Africa, carrying in
their holds now furs or rum, now ivory or slaves; then came the great bulk of the
population,—thrifty souls of small means, who worked hard, and strove more or less
successfully to live up to the law; while last of all came the shifting and intermingled strata of the
evil and the weak,—the men of incurably immoral propensities, and the poor whose poverty
was chronic. Life in a new country is hard, and puts a heavy strain on the wicked and the
incompetent; but it offers a fair chance to all comers, and in the end those who deserve success
are certain to succeed. 7
It was under Stuyvesant, in 1653, that the town was formally incorporated as a city, with its
own local schout and its schepens and burgomasters whose powers and duties answered
roughly to those of both aldermen and justices. The schouts, schepens, and burgomasters
together formed the legislative council of the city; and they also acted as judges, and saw to the
execution of the laws. There was an advisory council as well. 8
The struggling days of pioneer squalor were over, and New Amsterdan had taken on the look
of a quaint little Dutch seaport town, with a touch of picturesqueness from its wild surroundings.
As there was ever menace of attack, not only by the savages but by the New Englanders, the
city needed a barrier for defense on the landward side; and so, on the present site of Wall
Street, a high, strong stockade of upright timbers, with occasional blockhouses as bastions,
stretched across the island. Where Canal Street now is, the settlers had dug a canal to connect
the marshes on either side of the neck. There were many clear pools and rivulets of water; on
the banks of one of them the girls were wont to spread the house linen they had washed, and
the path by which they walked thither gave its name to the street that is yet called Maiden Lane.
Manhattan Island was still, for the most part, a tangled wilderness. The wolves wrought such
havoc among the cattle, as they grazed loose in the woods, that a special reward was given for
their scalps, if taken on the island. 9
The hall of justice was in the stadt-huys, a great stone building, before which stood the high
gallows whereon malefactors were executed. Stuyvesant's own roomy and picturesque house
was likewise of stone, and was known far and near as the Whitehall, finally giving its name to
the street on which it stood. The poorest people lived in huts on the outskirts; but the houses
that lined the streets of the town itself were of neat and respectable appearance, being made of
wood, their gable ends checkered with little black and yellow bricks, their roofs covered with
tiles or shingles and surmounted by weather-cocks, and the doors adorned with burnished brass
knockers. The shops, wherein were sold not only groceries, hardware, and the like, but also
every kind of rich stuff brought from the wealthy cities of Holland, occupied generally the
ground floors of the houses. There was a large, bare church, a good public-school house, and a
great tavern, with neatly sanded floor, and heavy chairs and tables, the beds being made in
cupboards in the thick walls; and here and there windmills thrust their arms into the air, while the
half-moon of wharves jutted out into the river. 10
The houses of the rich were quaint and comfortable, with steeply sloping roofs and crow-step
gables. A wide hall led through the middle, from door to door, with rooms on either side.
Everything was solid and substantial, from the huge, canopied, four-post bedstead and the
cumbrous cabinets, chairs, tables, stools, and settees, to the stores of massive silver plate, each
piece a rich heirloom, engraved with the coat of arms of the owner. There were rugs on the
floors, and curtains and leather hangings on the walls; and there were tall eight-day clocks, and
stiff ancestral portraits. Clumsy carriages, and fat geldings to draw them, stood in a few of the
stables; and the trim gardens were filled with shrubbery, fruit-trees, and a wealth of flowers, laid
out in prim sweet-smelling beds, divided by neatly kept paths. The poorer people were
clad,—the men in blouses or in jackets, and in wide, baggy breeches; the women in bodices
and short skirts. The schepens and other functionaries wore their black gowns of office. The
gentry wore the same rich raiment as did their brethren of the Old World. Both ladies and
gentlemen had clothes of every stuff and color; the former, with their hair frizzed and powdered,
and their persons bedecked with jewelry, their gowns open in front to show the rich petticoats,
their feet thrust into high-heeled shoes, and with silk hoods instead of bonnets. The long coats of
the gentlemen were finished with silver lace and silver buttons, as were their velvet doublets, and
they wore knee-breeches, black silk stockings, and low shoes with silver buckles. They were
fond of free and joyous living; they caroused often, drinking deeply and eating heavily; and the
young men and maidens loved dancing parties, picnics, and long sleigh rides in winter. There
were great festivals, as at Christmas and New Year's. On the latter day every man called on all
his friends; and the former was then, as now, the chief day of the year for the children, devoted
to the special service of Santa Claus. 11
All through Stuyvesant's time there was constant danger of trouble with the Indians. Men were
occasionally killed on both sides; and once a burgher was slain in the streets of the town by a
party of red warriors. There were even one or two ferocious local uprisings. By a mixture of
tact and firmness, however, Stuyvesant kept the savages under partial control, checked the
brutal and outrage-loving portion of his own people, and prevented any important or
far-reaching out-break. Yet he found it necessary to organize more than one campaign against
the red men; and these, though barren of exciting incident, were invariably successful, thanks to
his indomitable energy. By the exercise of similar qualities, he also kept the ever-encroaching
New Englanders at bay; while in 1655 he finished the long bickerings with the Swedes at the
mouth of the Delaware by marching a large force thither, capturing their forts, and definitely
taking possession of the country,—thereby putting an end to all chance for the establishment of
a Scandinavian State on American soil. Once the New Englanders on Long Island began to plan
a revolt; but he promptly seized their ringleaders,—including the Indian fighter,
Underhill,—fined, imprisoned, or banished them, and secured temporary tranquillity. 12
From the outset, Stuyvesant's imperious nature kept him embroiled with the colonists. In some
respects this was well for the commonwealth, for in this way he finally curbed the feudal
insolence of the patroons, after nearly coming to a civil war with the patroon of
Rensselaerswyck; but generally he managed merely to harass and worry the settlers until they
became so irritated as to be almost mutinous. He struggled hard, not only to retain his own
power as dictator, but to establish an aristocratic framework for the young society. With this
end in view, he endeavored to introduce as a permanent feature the division of the burghers into
two classes, minor and major,—the major burghers' rights being hereditary, and giving many
privileges, among others the sole right to hold office. He failed ignominiously in this, for the
democratic instincts of the people, and the democratic tendencies of their surroundings, proved
too strong for him. He himself strove to be just toward all men; but he chose his personal
representatives and agents without paying the least heed to the popular estimate in which they
were held. In consequence, some of those most obsequious to him turned out mere profligate,
petty tyrants, to whom, nevertheless, he clung obstinately, in spite of all complaints, until they
had thoroughly disgusted the people at large. He threw his political opponents into jail without
trial, or banished them after a trial in which he himself sat as the judge, announcing that he
deemed it treason to complain of the chief magistrate, whether with or without cause; and this
naturally threw into a perfect ferment the citizens of the popular party, who were striving for
more freedom with an obstinacy as great as his own. Abandoning the policy of complete
religious toleration, he not only persecuted the Baptists and Quakers, but even the Lutherans
also. He established impost and excise duties by proclamation, drawing forth a most determined
popular protest against taxation without representation. When the city charter was granted, he
proceeded to appoint the first schout, schepen, and burgomasters who took office under it,
instead of allowing them to be elected by the citizens,—though this concession was afterward
wrung from him. He was in perpetual conflict with the council,—the “Nine Men,” as they were
termed,—who stood up stoutly for the popular rights, and sent memorial after memorial to
Holland, protesting against the course that was being pursued. The inhabitants also joined in
public meetings, and in other popular manifestations, to denounce the author of their grievances;
the Dutch settlers, for the nonce, making common cause with their turbulent New England
neighbors of the city and of Long Island. Stuyvesant himself sent counter protests; and also
made repeated demands for more men and more money, that he might put into good condition
the crumbling and ill-manned fortifications, which, as he wrote home, would be of no avail at all
to resist any strong attack that might be made by the ever-threatening English. But the home
government cared for its colonies mainly because they were profitable. This Stuyvesant's
province was not; and so, with dull apathy, the appeals for help were disregarded, and the
director and the colonists were left to settle their quarrels as best they might. 13
Thus, with ceaseless wrangling, with much of petty tyranny on the one hand, and much of
sullen grumbling and discontent on the other, the years went by. Stuyvesant rarely did serious
injustice to any particular man, and by his energy, resolution, and executive capacity he
preserved order at home, while the colony grew and prospered as it never had done before; but
the sturdy and resolute, though somewhat heavy, freemen over whom he ruled, resented bitterly
all his overbearing ways and his deeds of small oppression, and felt only a lukewarm loyalty to a
government that evidently deemed them valuable only in so far as they added to the wealth of
the men who had stayed at home. When the hour of trial came, they naturally showed an almost
apathetic indifference to the overthrow of the rule of Holland. 14
Whenever the English and Dutch were at war, New Amsterdam was in a flutter over the
always-dreaded attack of some English squadron. At last, in 1664, the blow really fell. There
was peace at the time between the two nations; but this fact did not deter the England of the
Stuarts from seizing so helpless a prize as the province of the New Netherlands. The English
Government knew well how defenseless the country was; and the king and his ministers
determined to take it by a sudden stroke of perfectly cold-blooded treachery, making all their
preparations in secret and meanwhile doing everything they could to deceive the friendly power
at which the blow was aimed. Stuyvesant had continued without cessation to beseech the home
government that he might be given the means to defend the province; but his appeals were
unheeded by his profit-loving, money-getting superiors in Holland. He was left with insignificant
defenses, guarded by an utterly insufficient force of troops. The unblushing treachery and deceit
by which the English took the city made the victory of small credit to them; but the Dutch, by
their supine, short-sighted selfishness and greed, were put in an even less enviable light. 15
In September, 1664, three or four English frigates, and a force of several hundred land-troops
under Col. Richard Nicolls suddenly appeared in the harbor. They were speedily joined by the
levies of the already insurgent New Englanders of Long Island. Nicolls had an overpowering
force, and was known to be a man of decision. He forthwith demanded the immediate surrender
of the city and province. Stuyvesant wished to fight even against such odds; but the citizens
refused to stand by him, and New Amsterdam passed into the hands of the English without a
gun being fired in its defense.
The New York area was first discovered by the Europeans when Henry Hudson, the English captain of the Dutch
East India Company vessel De Halve Maen, laid anchor at Sandy Hook, before sailing up what is now known
as the Hudson River.
In 1614 Dutch merchants established a trading post at Fort Orange. Ten years later thirty families came from
Holland to establish a settlement that became known as New Netherland. The Dutch government gave exclusive
trading rights to the Dutch West India Company and over the next few years other colonists arrived a large
settlement was established on Manhattan Island.
Peter Minuit, who became governor of New Netherland, purchased the island from Native Americans in 1626 for
$24 worth of trinkets, beads and knives. The chief port on Manhattan was named New Amsterdam. To encourage
further settlement, the Dutch West India Company offered free land along the Hudson River. Families who came
from Holland to establish estates in this area included the Roosevelts, the Stuyvesants and the Schuylers.
Peter Stuyvesant became governor in 1646 and during his eighteen year administration, the population grew from
2,000 to 8,000. Descendants of these early settlers included three presidents of the United States: Martin Van
Buren (1837-41), Theodore Roosevelt (1901-09) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-45).
In 1664 the English fleet arrived and demanded the surrender of the New Netherlands. Peter Stuyvesant wanted to
fight but without the support of the other settlers, he was forced to allow the English to take control of the territory.
New Amsterdam was now renamed New York, after the Duke of York (the future James II). Other name
changes included Albany (Fort Orange), Kingston (Wiltwyck) and Wilmington (Fort Christina).
New York City occupies Manhattan and Staten islands, the western end of Long Island, several islands in New
York Harbor and Long Island Sound and a portion of the mainland.
Fernando Wood, a leading figure in the Tammary Society, served as mayor of the city (1855-59 and 1859-61).
Wood was considered to be corrupt and was severely criticised for his opposition to the American Civil War.
Wood made several speeches attacking President Abraham Lincoln and was blamed for causing the Draft Riots in
In 1870 William Tweed, with the support of the Tammary Society, was appointed as commissioner of public
works in New York. This enabled Tweed to carry out wholesale corruption. For example, he purchased 300
benches for $5 each and resold them to the city for $600. Tweed also organised the building of City Hall Park.
Originally estimated to cost $350,000, by the time it was finished, expenditure had reached $13,000,000.
Information about Tweed's corrupt activities were passed to Thomas Nast, a cartoonist working for Harper's
Weekly. Nast now began a campaign to expose Tweed's corruption. Tweed was furious and told the editor: "I
don't care a straw for your newspaper articles, my constituents don't know how to read, but they can't help seeing
them damned pictures."
On 21st July, the New York Times published the contents of the New York County ledger books. This revealed
that thermometers were costing $7,500 and brooms were being charged at a staggering $41,190 apiece. Tweed's
friends were commissioned to do the work. George Miller, a carpenter, was paid $360,747 for a month's
labour, whereas James Ingersoll received $5,691,144 for furniture and carpets.
In 1871 Samuel Tilden established a committee to look into Tweed's activities. Jimmy O'Brien, the sheriff of
New York, believed Tweed was not paying him enough money for his services. Disgruntled, he passed documents
to Tilden's committee. Tweed was arrested and found guilty of corruption, was sentenced to 12 years in jail.
John Kelly and Richard Croker, of the Tammary Society held power in New York after the removal of William
Tweed from power. They held various posts and were constantly being accused of financial irregularities. Charles
Parkhurst, the president of the Society for the Prevention of Crime, led the campaign against city corruption,
but Croker remained in power until 1901 when he was defeated by Seith Low. William Grace (1880-88) and
Jimmy Walker (1926-32) were two other New York mayors who were investigated for corruption.
Seth Low (1901-1903), John Mitchel (1913-17) and Fiorello La Guardia (1932-1944) all developed reputations
as honest and efficient administrators. La Guardia, a supporter of the New Deal, expanded the city's social-welfare
services and began a program of providing low-cost housing.
In the 19th century New York became the home of an increasing number of European immigrants. In 1890 over
640,000 people living in the city had been born in Europe. This was 42 per cent of the 1,515,000 population and
included large numbers from Germany (211,000), Ireland (190,000), Russia (49,000), Austria-Hungary (48,000),
Italy (40,000) and England (36,000).
By 1910 the number of people living in the city that had been born in Europe had increased to 1,944,000. The
major groups now came from Russia (484,000), Italy (341,000), Germany (278,000), Austria-Hungary (267,000)
and Ireland (253,000).
Of the 5,400,000 immigrants who arrived in the United States between 1820 and 1860, about 3,700,000 entered
in New York. Ellis Island, an area of about 27 acres 1.6 km southwest of Manhattan Island, served as the
country's major immigration station between 1892 and 1924. During this period and estimated 17 million people
were processed by the immigration authorities. From 1943 until 1954 Ellis Island was used as a detention station
for aliens and deportees.
New York City occupies Manhattan and Staten islands, the western end of Long Island, several islands in New
York Harbor and Long Island Sound and a portion of the mainland. The city area comprises 304 square miles
(787 square km) and has a population over 7,300,000 and is the largest urban agglomeration in the United States.
Peter Stuyvesant was born in 1611 or 12 (date not certain), the son of a minister the Rev. Balthazar
Joannis Stuyvesant, of the Dutch Reformed Church in the Friesian village of Peperga. He had one sister,
Anna, born in 1613, who in 1638 married Samuel Bayard in the Huguenot Church in Amsterdam.
Peter was educated at Franeker University in languages and philosophy in 1629 and 30. The Dutch West
India Company then employed him as a clerk in 1635 in Brazil in two locations. In 1639 he was
transferred to the island of Curacao, north of Venezuela, where in 1642 he was promoted to Director.
While there he was successful in preventing a Spanish takeover of this island, which even in present times
still has some connections with the Dutch government.
Early in 1644, at the orders of the Dutch West India Company, he assembled in Curacao a fleet of 13
ships with about 900 men aboard resolved "to attack and possibly reduce the Island of St. Martin nearly
500 miles distant in the northern Caribbean." The Dutch had developed tobacco plantations as well as a
thriving salt business on this island in 1631. Two years later they fought for a week before surrender to a
Spanish fleet of 53 ships, and over 1,000 foot soldiers. So it was eleven years later in 1644 that Peter's
fleet landed in St. Martin at Cay Bay. They attacked the Spanish fort from land. It was his first offensive
military campaign and almost his last.
It was at this battle that Stuyvesant was struck in the right leg by a Spanish cannon ball. He had to be
carried back to his ship where the crushed lower leg was amputated with no anesthesia. Eventually he had
installed a wooden leg, which he embellished with silver medallions and often was referred to as Silver
leg. Historical record has suggested that it was extremely rare in those days that a person would survive an
amputation, particularly when performed in the tropics. Death following amputation was considered
The Dutch did not succeed in recapturing this productive salt island at this time. The soldiers were
reluctant to take the offensive with a crippled leader. Stuyvesant wrote later in a report to his employers
of the West India Company: "the attack on St. Martin did not succeed as well as I had hoped, no small
impediment having been the loss of my right leg." Was this euphemistic report an example of his
understatement of an unpleasant fact, or simply an expression of his wry sense of humor?
Peter came back to the Netherlands for medical treatment after the 1644 amputation and moved in with
his sister Anna Bayard in Swaenswijck. Judith Bayard, an older sister of Anna's husband Samuel, lived
with them and became the nurse of Peter. He fell in love with her, and they were married on August 13,
1645 in the French speaking Huguenot Church of her hometown of Breda. Judith was 37 and Peter was
34. Judith is described as a woman of beauty who dressed herself in French finery. She spoke French and
Dutch, and acquired good use of English. She had a sweet voice and a rare taste for music. She was
known for her firm character and cultural refinement.
On February 26, 1646 the Board of 19 of the Dutch West India Company in Amsterdam appointed Peter
Stuyvesant the new Director General of New Netherlands and the Governor of the islands of Aruba,
Bonaire and Curacao. His salary was established at 3000 Dutch florins per annum. This appointment was
further endorsed by the States General of the United Netherlands in The Hague on July 28, that same
In December 1646 Peter and his wife set sail for his new job first stopping at Curacao from whence they
sailed to New Amsterdam, arriving there on May 27, 1647. Of particular interest in this time of instant
communication and rapid transportation are the dates beginning with the appointment of Stuyvesant,
approval by the Dutch government, departure for the job, and final arrival in New Amsterdam, some 15
months after his appointment.
It was less than 40 years earlier in 1609 that the Dutch East India Company employed Henry Hudson in
the vessel "Half Moon" - "to seek a Northwest Passage to China". The vessel was less than 60 feet long
and about 16 feet wide at its greatest breadth. It carried a crew of 18 half-Dutch and half-English. The
Half Moon stopped at the Faeroe Islands for fresh water, Nova Scotia, the mouth of the Penobscot River
in Maine for repairs and a new foremast. Then they passed by Cape Cod and after a few days away from
shore they reached Chesapeake Bay. From there they headed north until they found "a very agreeable
situation within two prominent hills in the midst of which flowed a very great river." The Half Moon had
reached a point just south of Sandy Hook. After a few days there, trading with the Indians, Hudson and
his crew sailed forth to explore the river that emptied, into the bay. It was called the Monheagan, and they
thought that it would turn out to be the much looked for "passage to China". Henry Hudson was the first
European to explore this part of the world, later administered for 18 years by Peter Stuyvesant.
They sailed about 100 miles up this river, (now called Hudson) until it became more shallow and
confined, and the current more rapid with perfectly fresh water. The ship was in danger of running
aground. The Half Moon had reached here the site of Albany. They decided that there was little chance
of getting to China in this direction. According to Washington Irving the ship carried "an ample supply of
gin and sauerkraut and every man was allowed to sleep quiet at his post unless the wind blew".
The Half Moon then sailed down the river, and returned to Holland after first stopping at Plymouth,
England. The Dutch gave them an enthusiastic welcome and it was decided that the Great River Mohegan
should then be called Hudson River after its explorer.
Irving tells his version of what happened 15 years later in 1626 under the leadership of Peter Minuit:
"A crew of Dutch sailed from Amsterdam on the ship "Goede Vrouw", or good woman named
after the wife of the President of the West India Company. She was allowed by everybody
(except her husband), to be a sweet tempered lady when not in liquor."
"Like the beauteous model declared to be the greatest belle in Amsterdam, the ship was full in
the bows, with a pair of enormous catheads, a copper bottom and withal a most prodigious
They landed on what is now Manhattan and negotiated with the Indians living there to buy "just so much
land as a man could cover with his nether garments". Mijnheer Ten Broeck's breeches were used to
measure the land to be bought.
"The simple savages whose idea of man's nether garments had never expanded beyond the
dimensions of a breech clout, stared with astonishment and dismay as they beheld this bulbous
bottomed burgher peeled like an onion and breeches after breeches spread forth over the land
until they covered the actual site of this venerable city."
Manhattan was bought for 60 guilders and "Mijnheer Ten Breeches for his services was elevated to the
office of land-measurer."
"The armorial device for New Amsterdam was a beaver rampant in a field of orange as indicative of the
amphibious origin and patient persevering habits of the new Amsterdamers".
Then Irving continues:
"In 1629 Wouter Van Twiller was appointed by the West India Company to Governor of New
Netherlands and served incompetently for five years. He was thoroughly unsuitable for the
job. He could never make up his mind on a subject. He was known as "the Doubter". Now
Irving becomes philosophical when he states: "There are two opposite ways by which men
make a figure in the world: one by talking faster than they think and the other by holding their
tongues and not thinking at all".
Van Twiller was described by Irving as 5 feet 6 inches in height and 6 feet 5 inches in circumference.
Following Van Twiller in 1634 as Governor was Wilhelmus Kieft, named by Irving "The Testy" and
"worth his weight in straw". He was prone to be carried away by the last piece of advice blown into his
ear.... by endeavoring to do everything, Kieft in sober truth did nothing".
The Yankees in New England especially in Connecticut hungered after New Amsterdam and its fur trade.
Kieft's proclamations of protest failed to deter their gradual efforts to move. In fact all Kieft's efforts were
Among his other unfortunate decisions, Kieft converted the currency to wampum, "which consisted of
nothing more nor less than strings of beads, wrought of clams, periwinkles and other shellfish. This the
Indians accepted, but among the honest burghers it had no more intrinsic value, than those rags which
form the paper money of modern days."
"Yankee traders from New England then came to New Amsterdam and using wampum of
oyster shells bought up all the silver and gold, Dutch herring, cheese and thus manifested their
skill in bargaining the New Amsterdamers out of the oyster and leaving the shell."
Kieft was unsuccessful in all his leadership efforts to subdue the Swedes along the Delaware River, in
restraining the United Colonies of New England from continuing to press their objective "the subjugation
of New Netherlands". His ineptness and ineffectiveness brought about the decision in Amsterdam to
replace him by Peter Stuyvesant in 1646.
The appointment as Director General of New Netherlands was a fitting end to Stuyvesant's frustrating
adventure in the West Indies. It was an accolade from his company, which recognized not only his
sacrifice but also his ability. So Stuyvesant and his wife Judith arrived in New Amsterdam in May 1647
with the responsibility of trying to overcome and correct the tragic mal-administration of his two
unfortunate predecessors Wouter Van Twiller and William Kieft.
As Washington Irving described Peter Stuyvesant: "To say merely that he was a hero would be doing him
great injustice; he was in truth a combination of heroes. He possessed a sovereign contempt for the
sovereign people and an iron aspect, to make the very bowels of his adversaries quake with terror and
Irving continues: "All of this martial excellency of appearance was inexpressibly heightened by an
accidental advantage. This was nothing less than a wooden leg which was the only prize he had gained in
bravely fighting the battles of his country but of which he was so proud that he was often heard to declare
he valued it more than all his other limbs put together. He had it gallantly enchased with silver devices
which caused it to be related in divers histories that he wore a silver leg"
"He made but very few laws, but took care that those few were rigidly and impartially
enforced. He was a man, or rather a governor of such uncommon activity and decision of
mind that he never sought nor accepted the advice of others, depending bravely upon his single
"In a word he possessed that quality in a statesman called perseverance by the polite, but
nicknamed obstinacy by the vulgar - a wonderful stave for official blunders, since he who
perseveres in error without flinching gets the credit of boldness and consistency. This much is
certain that a ruler who follows his own will pleases himself, while he who seeks to satisfy the
wishes and whims of others runs great risk of pleasing nobody." Gallup polls were not an
integral part of the political scene in the 17th Century.
"Thus the good people of New Netherlands, struck by his independent will, universally called
him 'Hard-Koppige Piet' or 'Peter the Headstrong'."
"Peter Stuyvesant was a tough, sturdy, valiant, weather-beaten, mettlesome, obstinate,
leather-sided, lion-hearted, generous spirited, old governor,"
"Governor Stuyvesant succeeded to the chair of state at a turbulent period. when foes
threatened from without; when anarchy reigned within; when the city of New Amsterdam
though fortified by flagstaffs, trumpeters and windmills, seemed like some fair Lady of easy
virtue to lie open to attack and ready to yield to the first invader,"
At this time Peter took a number of steps:
He established the bar-closing hour at nine in the evening. He imposed strong penalties for knife fighting
and Sunday drinking. He prohibited the sale of liquor to Indians. He established for that crime a fine of
500 guilders, and a year later he added corporal punishment to the penalty. Stuyvesant sought to improve
the town's appearance. He established regulations on proper house building that included a clause against
pigpens and privies on streets and highways. He installed fire wardens and a law prohibiting chimneys
built of wood.
He imposed his first tax - where it hurt - on imported wines and liquors. The income would be used to
repair the fort, complete the church, and protect the riverbanks.
Most pleasing of all to the Calvinist in Stuyvesant was his order to increase from one to two the number
of sermons preached on Sunday with a "request and command" for all to attend, as well as a prohibition
of all business and social activity during the Sabbath.
All duties of government should be paid in gold and silver, and wampum should no longer be legal tender.
Irving takes us now to a scene where "Peter interviewed Antony Van Corlaer, the trumpeter champion
and garrison of this great city. Peter asked him 'How didst thou acquire this paramount honor and
dignity?' Antony replied 'Like many a great man before me simply by sounding my own trumpet.' Peter
then hired him and retained him about his person as his chief favorite confidential envoy and trusty squire,
instructed to play to delight the governor at repasts as did the minstrels of yore.."
In the spring of 1651 Stuyvesant purchased from the Dutch West India Company land which he called
the Great Bowery (or farm). This property ran from the East River to the present Fourth Avenue and
Broadway in an area bounded by Fifth Street on the south and Seventeenth Street on the north, roughly
the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He paid 6400 guilders for the land. He had a house there, a barn, six
cows, two horses and two young Negroes. It was clear that Stuyvesant meant to remain on Manhattan for
For many years New Amsterdam faced danger of invasion from members of the "Yankee League" made up of leaders from settlers in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Peter Stuyvesant sent commissioners to Hartford with little effect. He himself journeyed to Hartford and worked out an agreement with compromises by both sides in ceding land grants to the Yankee League along the Connecticut River and eastern Long Island. While the Yankees ceded rights to the Dutch for their claims in and around New Amsterdam and all along the Hudson River up to Albany.
And yet New Amsterdam was repeatedly accused by the Yankee League of providing guns and ammunition to the Indians to "surprise and massacre the Yankee settlements", a charge denied by Peter Stuyvesant.
Another challenge to the land claimed by New Netherlands came from the Swedes who had constructed several forts on the Delaware River, Forts Casimir, Helsenberg and Christina. These forts were established as trading posts to compete directly with New Netherlands for the profitable beaver, otter and mink in the Delaware Valley.
Irving spins his yarn again when he writes:
"Therefore Peter Stuyvesant decided under his personal leadership, to drive the Swedish forces from their forts on the Delaware River. Local enlistments from New Amsterdam were modest, so Peter recruited forces all up the Hudson River Valley. He was looked upon as a prodigy of valor; his wooden leg, that trophy of his martial endeavors, was regarded with reverence and admiration."
Peter Stuyvesant then set out to fight the Swedes on the Delaware River. He had seven ships and a fighting force of between six and seven hundred men for the invasion of New Sweden. At Fort Casimir, the smallest fort, he demanded an instant surrender, which was granted by the Swede Sven Skytler. Then the Dutch force sailed for the largest Swedish Fort Christina, headed by Governor Risingh, who responded to the surrender demand as follows "Peter Stuyvesant and his summons might go to the devil."
At this point Irving writes:
"First the Dutch had dinner, and then prepared to fight. Then came on the intrepid Peter. Almost breathing forth volumes of smoke - so fierce was the fire that raged within his bosom.
"Then came waddling on the sturdy chivalry of the Hudson: There were the Van Wijcks and the Van Dijcks and the Ten Eycks; the Van Nesses, the Van Tassels, the Van Grolls, the Van Hoesseses, the Van Giesons and the Van Blarecoms; the Van Warts, the Van Winkles, the Van Dams; the Van pelts, the Van Pippers and the Van Hornes, the Van Hooks, the Van Bunschotens, the Van Gelders, the Van Arsdales and the Van Bummels. The Van Der Voorts, the Van Der Lijns, the Van Der Pools, the Van Der Spiegels."
And a host more of worthies - all fortified with a mighty dinner and to use the words of a great Dutch poet "Brimful of wrath and cabbage". Peter S. addressed his troops before the battle began: "Fight like duyvels in the service of your country." He then emphatically stated that if he caught any man looking pale or playing craven he would curry his hide till he made him run out of it like a snake in spring time. Then he led the charge and shouted "Saint Nicholas and the Manhattoes!"
"And now commenced the horrid din, the desperate struggle, the maddening ferocity, the frantic desperation, the confusion of war as the opponents commingled, panted and blowed."
Stuyvesant finally asked Risingh for total surrender within 24 hours or to face an all-out attack. He asked the Swedes either to evacuate the country, or remain under Dutch rule. Stuyvesant had just learned from an Indian messenger that, in his absence, Indians of several tribes had attacked Manhattan, houses were burned, men were killed, and women and children were captured. The unprotected city was in a panic and desperately needed Stuyvesant and his soldiers.
The Swedish commander recognized the futility of their position and surrendered on September 24, 1655. The dream of New Sweden had ended, its lands recovered by the Dutch. This was speedily followed by the entire subjugation of the province.
"Peter, though a man terrible in battle, in the hour of victory was endued with a spirit generous, merciful and humane. He put no man to death, permitted no ravages to be perpetrated on the property of the vanquished."
And as Irving continues: "Peter Stuyvesant had one of his limbs terribly fractured in the act of storming the fortress, but as it was fortunately his wooden leg, the wound was promptly and effectually healed."
"Thus was this perilous enterprise gloriously terminated with the loss of only two men: Wolfert Van Horn, a tall spare man, who was knocked overboard by the boom of a sloop and fat Brom Bummel carried off by indigestion."
When the Dutch forces returned to New Amsterdam they speedily dispatched the Indians and soon recovered the captured women and children after paying ransom. The burghers honored their leader with the name of "Peter the Great"
All was not sweetness and light, however, as Peter was criticized for his autocratic governing of the province. Peter's response to this criticism by a cobbler: "If I ever catch thee or any of thy tribe meddling again with the affairs of government, by Saint Nicholas I'll have every mother's bastard of ye flayed alive and your hides stretched for drumheads that ye may henceforth make a noise for some purpose," as colorfully described by Irving.
In early 1664 Peter Stuyvesant journeyed to Fort Orange (now Albany) to negotiate a treaty with the Yankee League. The Dutch West India Company had assured him that a British fleet was headed to Boston and not to New Amsterdam. This information was false, and in August 1664 a small British force arrived at New Amsterdam.
This move by the British was based on their claim that New Netherlands was a continuity of the territory taken possession of for the British crown by the Pilgrims when they landed on Plymouth Rock as fugitives from British religious oppression.
This was stated as a donation by Charles II to his brother the Duke of York, who was to be put in complete possession of the premises. As Irving writes: "None but great sovereigns have a right to give away what does not belong to them."
In August 1664 the British fleet under the command of Colonel Richard Nicolls arrived with four ships and anchored at Gravesend just below the Narrows sealing off New Amsterdam's harbor. Stuyvesant estimated the English fighting force at between 1700 and 2000 men on four frigates. To this could soon be added foot soldiers and cavalry from New England.
Nicolls demanded surrender. At the end of "twice twenty four hours" he would bring his ships closer to Manhattan. He declared the right and title of his British Majesty to the province, where he affirmed the Dutch to be mere interlopers; and demanding that the town, forts etc. should be rendered into his Majesty's obedience and protection; promising at the same time life, liberty, estate and free trade to every Dutch denizen who should readily submit to his Majesty's government.
It was a generous offer, but Peter stubbornly resisted its acceptance for three days. Finally the leaders of New Amsterdam decided that the situation was hopeless. They pointed out the British ships in the harbor, the British soldiers on land, expectation of more troops from New England, Nicolls' demand for surrender, the feeble and impotent defenses of the city, and the safety of their families. In conclusion they pleaded for an honorable and reasonable capitulation. This message was in writing and directed to Peter. It was signed by 93 of the most prominent men in the city. Peter then reluctantly signed the surrender document, which stated that the Dutch could continue their laws and customs. The major change would be the replacement of the West India Company's government represented by Stuyvesant and his Council with that of Charles the Second's government represented by Nicolls and his deputies. Not a shot was fired. Goods and property were to be left untouched, liberty of conscience was allowed for all. Religious freedom was restored. All during the 18 years of Peter Stuyvesant's leadership the Dutch Reformed Church had been the only one allowed. In a short time after the surrender the Lutherans, Episcopalians and Quakers were holding open services.
On September 8, 1664 New Amsterdam's history ended. That same afternoon Nicolls' commissioners sent the news of victory to Massachusetts. The letter was dated "from New York upon the Island of the Manhatoes."
Thus an investment of forty years by the Amsterdam Chamber had been given up without a fight.
Once Manhattan surrendered, the rest of New Netherlands was no problem to Nicolls. Fort Orange was taken and its name changed to Albany, the Duke of York's second title. Soon thereafter the Dutch on the Delaware River surrendered. That day, October 11, 1664 for the first time the Atlantic coast from Maine to the southern end of what is now Georgia was under British control.
Peter Stuyvesant immediately moved from his city house to his bowery, some two miles away. There he had built a house, barn and small chapel.
In the following spring he left for Amsterdam to present his version of the surrender to the Dutch West India Company, accompanied by his son Nicholas William. The chamber ignored Peter's defense of his decision to surrender. They never admitted to their refusal to send New Amsterdam the military support that Peter had repeatedly requested. At no time did the Chamber indicate that its own ineptness and short sightedness were in the slightest degree responsible for the defenseless, morale-shattered community of New Amsterdam. No action was ever taken by the Chamber, and the case was allowed to die in committee. Peter had been an employee for 30 years. Is this an appropriate award for loyalty?
In July 1667 Peter left Amsterdam for the last time. After stopping in England to get a license for merchandising and a pass from King Charles, he finally returned to New Amsterdam in the spring of 1668. He brought with him many fruit trees to plant on his farm. After a three-year absence he could now spend most of his time at his beloved bowery.
In this time he developed a good relationship with Governor Richard Nicolls who had taken over from him under the British flag.
During the last four years of his life he spent much time in the small chapel at the Bowery. He died and was buried there in February 1672.
It was 120 years later that this chapel was replaced by a church called St. Marks in the Bowery, which contains in one of its outer walls a plaque commemorating his death, indicating his age at time of death as 80. The truth, as later research reveals, suggests that his age at that time was 60. "Thus died Peter Stuyvesant, a valiant soldier, a loyal subject, an upright governor and an honest Dutchman", as Irving concludes.
While in Amsterdam between 1665 and 1667 Stuyvesant wrote a short note to the Amsterdam Chamber.In it he reemphasized the defenselessness of Manhattan in the face of English arms. How easy it would be to retake and recover it with a like if not a less number of ships and men. The Chamber took his words seriously, though Peter was unable to rejoice at this action taken after his death.
On August 9, 1673, eighteen months after Stuyvesant died, a Dutch fleet under command of Cornelis Evertsen retook the city. One man in the fort was killed, and the Dutch suffered eighteen wounded. As before, the defenders had no choice but to give up.
Captain Anthony Colve was commissioned Governor General of the reconquest. The name New
Netherlands was revived for the colony, but the city was renamed New Orange, perhaps because the
name New Amsterdam was associated with defeat.
It was a short reign of fifteen months for the Dutch. On February 19, 1674 the Netherlands and Great
Britain signed the treaty of Westminster. In it the New Netherlands was returned to the English, but the
Dutch could retain their possessions in the West Indies.
Petrus Stuyvesant werd rond 1610 geboren in Scherpenzeel als zoon van een predikant. Hij studeerde in Franeker. In 1642 benoemde de WIC hem tot gouverneur van Curaçao. Twee jaar later verloor hij een been bij een aanval op het eiland St.Martin, dat van de Portugezen was. In 1646 werd hij ook tot gouverneur van de twee overige benedenwindse eilanden en Nieuw-Nederland benoemd.
Zijn voorganger in Nieuw-Nederland, Willem Kieft, was ontslagen wegens wanbestuur. Hierdoor en door oorlogen met de indianen verkeerde de kolonie in slechte staat. Stuyvesant was een voorstander van een kolonisatiepolitiek, en keerde zich daarmee tegen het beleid van de WIC, dat vooral was gericht op handel. Stuyvesant maakte zich in de kolonie niet populair door zijn dictatoriaal optreden in het algemeen en het heffen van accijnzen in het bijzonder. Om de ontevredenen tegemoet te komen, koos hij, vlak na zijn aankomst uit een bijeengeroepen volksvergadering de "Negenmannen" die hem zouden adviseren en recht spreken in burgerlijke gedingen. De Negenmannen vonden dat Stuyvesant nog te veel naar de WIC luisterde en riepen de hulp van de Staten-Generaal in. In 1652 werd de WIC gedwongen haar monopolie op te heffen op alles behalve de pelterijenhandel (met als gevolg dat de bevolking van Nieuw Amsterdam enorm groeide). Ondertussen werd Stuyvesant door de kolonisten nog steeds als een despoot gezien, wat duidelijk werd op een congres dat hij bijeengeroepen had om de kolonie militair te versterken.
In 1655 veroverde Stuyvesant de Zweedse kolonie aan de Delaware. In 1664 tenslotte, schonk de Engelse koning Karel II het gebied aan zijn broer, hertog van York. Stuyvesant was van plan de kolonie tot het uiterste tegen de Engelsen te verdedigen, maar de predikant Johannes Megapolensis overtuigde hem er uiteindelijk van dat dit geen zin had en op 6 september 1664 tekende hij de overgave. Stuyvesant ging terug naar Nederland om tegenover de WIC verantwoording af te leggen over zijn daden. Hij werd door de compagnie een trouw dienaar bevonden en in 1668 vertrok hij weer naar Amerika, waar hij in 1682 in New York overleed.