Dutch colonial council minutes, 25 February - 25 March 1643

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Whereas the good inhabitants here have heretofore been obliged to dwell on their farms in great fear and to cultivate their fields in constant dread of the Indians who now and then have treacherously murdered some of our people without having any reason therefor, and whereas with kindness we have been unable to obtain any satisfaction for this bloodshed, therefore it is necessary to take up arms to defend our just cause, in order that we may live here in peace, fully trusting that God will bless our resolution, the more so as the community itself, on the 22d of February 1643, requested the execution thereof;

Therefore, we hereby authorize and empower Maryn Adriaensz at his request to go with his company on an expedition against a party of Indians lying behind Curler's hook or plantation and to treat them as they shall see fit according to time and circumstances. Done the 25th of February 1643.

Sergeant Rodolff is hereby ordered and authorized to command this troop of soldiers and to lead them across the river ] to Pavonia to attack there all the Indians who are located behind Jan Eversen's plantation, but to spare the women and children as much as possible and to take them prisoners and to bring them here. He shall himself examine the situation to see in what manner he might best attack them, for which purpose Hans Steen, who is acquainted with the place where the savages are located, shall go with him, and he shall consult with the aforesaid Hans Steen and all the cadets. This exploit must take place this night. Furthermore, may prudence be exercised and God grant you success. This day the 25th of February 1643.

The 27th of February

Whereas the insolence of the heathen dwelling here about has within the last two or three years greatly increased, notwithstanding the friendship and kindness which has continually been bestowed upon them, yes, more than could have been shown to Christians, even taking them under our wing when they were persecuted by their enemies; and whereas their wickedness has steadily increased and after having deliberately killed many goats, hogs, cattle and horses they have now begun to take Christian blood and innocently killed one after another seven men, all under the semblance of friendship, so that no one of the good inhabitants here in the country is safe in his house, let alone cultivating his fields; and whereas we have made every endeavor to have the murderers surrendered to us, all of which has been like knocking on a deaf man's door, their insolence having on the contrary increased more and more, it was decided by general consent last year to send a troop of soldiers and free men to the savages to seek by this means to obtain satisfaction for the blood which had been spilt. And although these missed the savages on account of the darkness of the night, they have nevertheless awakened fear among the savages, who requested peace on condition that they would surrender the murderer of Claes, the wheelwright, which was agreed to. However, this had no result and on the contrary they continued their iniquities and in the Colony of Achter Col shot down one Gerrit van Vorst, who was busy putting a roof on his house, and murdered an Englishman who came to their village, without being in any way willing to surrender the murderer or to punish the same, yes, acting sufficiently as If they imagined that we had come here to be their slaves. Finally, they have come in bands of 50 or 100 half a mile from the fort and across the river at Pavonia, not without giving rise to suspicion that they intended to start a general massacre, as they have boasted at times and heretofore has taken place in Virginia and elsewhere.

Our God, not wishing to tolerate these iniquities any longer, has moved our community to seek justice and to avenge this Christian blood. To this end some deputies in the name of all have presented a petition that they might be permitted to take revenge, since the Lord had placed sufficiently within our power, and although we, fearing to involve the country in war, pointed out to them the danger, especially for the houses which are situated at a great distance and have few inhabitants and which must necessarily be abandoned as we have not sufficient soldiers here to guard all the houses, and cited other weighty reasons, nevertheless, they remained firm in their desire, saying that if we would not consent to it the blood would be upon our heads, so that we were forced to grant their request and to assist them with our soldiers, who on the one side killed a goodly number while the freemen on the other side did likewise. A party of savages having made their escape, attacked our houses on all sides and burned four of them with the cattle and killed as many as ten Christians, making further attacks on the remaining settlers, whom we immediately supported with all our soldiers and sailors, whereby they were partly checked and much trouble was prevented. However, not having soldiers enough to guard all places and seeing the great peril in which the country is put, we have resolved to engage as many planters as are available here, the more so as they wish to go north, seeing no prospect of planting here, and also for the sake of saving the country and putting the heathen a bit in the mouth, in order that we may plow our fields in peace and this for one or two months, not doubting that through God’s grace in the meanwhile a peace such as we desire will be concluded. Our settlers are scattered here over a distance of 10 miles east and west and 7 miles south and north. So that it is not possible to clear all this land of woods without having more people than we have had thus far.

On the 4th of March 1643

Whereas we are at present suffering much annoyance from the heathen and the life and property of many of the inhabitants is not safe, which without doubt has come upon us through our manifold sins, the council here has thought fit to ordain that next Wednesday, being the 4th of March, a general fast and day of prayer shall be held, for which everyone may prepare himself in order that by due repentence and constant prayer we may move God to mercy and not suffer that His holy name, by reason of our sins, may be profaned by these heathen.

Whereas heretofore some quarrels and misunderstandings have arisen between the savages of Long Island and our nation, as a result of which blood has been shed on both sides, houses have been robbed and burned down, cattle have been killed and savages robbed of their maize, therefore, a peace has been concluded between us and them, who now are under the control of the great chief Pennawitz, and all injuries are forgotten and forgiven. Therefore, all our good inhabitants are hereby ordered and enjoined, as we hereby do order and enjoin them in every way to observe the said peace and not to molest in any way any of the savages who live on Long Island, unless they should commit any hostility against our people, in which case everyone shall be at liberty to defend himself, to which end the savages are also forbidden to come with any weapons near our people. All this on pain of arbitrary correction and punishment as disturbers of the public peace. Thus done and published in Fort Amsterdam, the 25th of March anno 1643, new style.


Translation: Scott, K., & Stryker-Rodda, K. (Ed.). New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch, Vol. 4, Council Minutes, 1638-1649 (A. Van Laer, Trans.). Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc.: 1974.A complete copy of this publication is available on the New Netherland Institute website.