Letter from the directors at Amsterdam to the municipality of New Amsterdam

Scanned Document:
Copy. No. 31.  To the Burgomasters and Schepens of the City of New Amsterdam and the respective Colonies and Courts of the Province. 

Honorable, Worshipful, Pious, Faithful.

As a good government is bound to take care in protecting and defending its territories, cities and inhabitants as far aspossible against molestations and attacks from all foreign enemies and neighbors, so is it the duty of a good community to help carrying the common burdens, made necessary by and imposed for their own maintenance. You ought to be well aware of the care and expenses which we have had, before the country there arrived at its present position; notwithstanding you have failed so far to assist us by subsidies from the people. This is not only contrary to the maxims of all well-governed countries and cities, especially of the government of this state, but it is also during the present state of affairs so highly necessary that a longer delay is not admissible, unless we wish to see the province (now giving so great hopes) utterly ruined. We have therefore been obliged to consider some means of obtaining the required support and have concluded, agreed upon and determined, to impose the following taxes:

For each morgen of land annually 10 stivers.

For each head of cattle annually 20 stivers, and

For the rent of a house the twentieth penny every year.

Although this our order will be fully communicated to you by our director general and council, to whom with their office we have given absolute authority in this matter, we have nevertheless thought it necessary, to send this letter to you with the urgent and earnest recommendation, not only to set yourselves a good example to the community in raising the aforesaid subsidy, but also to animate them thereto and if need be, in case of refusal, to execute this order, for we have deemed it necessary for the benefit of the country, whereupon we rely.

Note: this point concerns only the burgomasters and schepens of New Amsterdam.

We have already allowed and granted to your board the collection of the excise on beer and wine that you may defray therewith the communal and other expenses stated to you by our director general and council there. But as we notice that the monies are not applied to these purposes, but have been used by you or your predecessors for the pay and sending over here of one Le Bleuw and for other private matters to the disservice and dissatisfaction of the Company; we have decided to inform you herewith that we have resolved to have the collection of this money made again by the general treasury of the Company there, by which you are to regulate yourself.

Honorable, Esteemed etc.

Done at Amsterdam, the 26th of May 1655.


A complete copy of this publication is available on the New Netherland Institute website.