Dutch colonial council minutes, 4 July 1647

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Petrus Stuyvesant, director general of New Netherland, Curaçao and the islands thereof, and the honorable council, to all those who shall see these presents or hear them read, Greeting:

Whereas the fortress of New Amsterdam now some time ago, during the war, fell into great decay, so that the walls are daily overrun and more and more trampled down by men and beasts, which tends not only to the disrepute of our sovereign and supreme authorities and the disrespect, yes, contempt for this state among our neighbors, whether English, French or Swedes, yes, even among the Indians and heathen, but also reflects on ourselves and our good inhabitants and is most perilous and dangerous in time of attack and defense against all enemies from outside; therefore, we, the director general and council, pursuant to the order of the honorable directors, intend to put the fort into proper repair, to complete the church, as we are already busy doing, to order a pier built for the convenience of the traders and burghers, and to construct a sheet-piling to prevent the erosion by the river in front of this city of Amsterdam, all of which are very proper and highly necessary public works which will require a considerable amount of money, both to procure the materials and to pay the workmen; therefore, to facilitate and render more easy the raising of said money, we have resolved to ordain and establish a reasonable excise and impost on wines, brandy and liquors which are imported from abroad. Accordingly, we do hereby ordain and enact that all tavern-keepers and tapsters shall pay an excise on Spanish wine, brandy and liquors of two stivers per quart and on French wine of one stiver; that is to say, on each anker of Spanish wine, brandy and liquors three guilders and four stivers and on French wine one guilder and twelve stivers, and on larger vessels in proportion. Likewise, all skippers, factors and peddlers who wish to transport or sell such wine, brandy or liquors elsewhere within our government shall pay the same excise; with the understanding nevertheless that the merchant, burgher, farmer and others of our good inhabitants (tapsters and retailers by the large and small measure alone excepted) shall be at liberty to lay in a stock in their houses, dwellings and places of abode by the large and small cask for their private consumption on the same terms as those who purchase from the merchant, factor or trader in the first place, provided only that the burgher and other good inhabitants remain bound to obtain a permit from our appointed officer, receiver or collector before he lay in or store the wine in the cellar and to pay therefor 6 stivers per anker of French wine and 12 stivers per anker of brandy or Spanish wine, larger casks in proportion.

In order to prevent all fraud and smuggling, the seller shall be bound to enter with the receiver-general or collector the quantity and quality of the sold wines and liquors before delivery. In like manner the purchaser is ordered and commanded not to receive, ship, export or store any wines without having first obtained a proper excise receipt from the receiver or collector, and exhibiting it to the officer, on pain of forfeiting such wines and of paying five hundred guilders additional, to be applied, one-third for the Company, one-third for the Church and one-third for the fiscal or the informer who shall make the complaint.

Thus done and enacted in council in Fort Amsterdam. Present: the honorable General P. Stuyvesant, the late director,

Mr. Willem Kieft, Mr. Dincklagen, Mons. La Montangne, Captain Lieutenant Neuwton, Commander Jochim Loper, Paulus Leendersz, Commissary of Naval Stores, and Jan Claesz Bol. The 4th of July anno 1647.


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.