Letter from the Directors at Amsterdam to Petrus Stuyvesant

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The 15th of September 1657.

Honorable, Prudent, Pious, Beloved, Faithful.

Our last letter to you was dated the 26th of May 1657 and set by the ship the Waegh, [1] the copy of it is here enclosed, to which we refer. Sincethat date the private ships the Bever, the Beer and the Gelderse Blom arrived here safely, praise be to God, on the [blank] of July and we received by them your letters and papers of the 2nd and 3rd of June, also the duplicate of your letter of November [blank] , [2] the original of which had been lost with the Otter. As several matters in this letter have been answered by ours of April 7, 1657,[3] we shall as briefly reply to the rest and what else requires it, as possible in so short a time.


It is difficult to understand the unbearable boldness of the savage and barbarian tribes there in demanding and insisting upon so large a ransom for 4 or 5 Christian children, captured by them at the time of the last surprise and massacre and although we would be glad to see them released and would contribute our share to it, we have as yet not been able to approve that these barbarous tribes should be humored in their dishonest proposals; and that only on account of the consequences and results of the case, as, having their appetite whetted thereby, they would often repeat these practices. Your honors must therefore make an experiment and send some delegates to the said tribes to demand the aforesaid children in the name of Their High Mightinesses, the Lords States General and the West India Company, and if necessary to ask for them with great threats, perhaps they might be persuaded thereby. We shall expect to hear the result of it by the first opportunity.


The satisfaction apparently felt by the resident community of Fort Orange and the village of Beverwijck over the administration of the councilor La Montagne has led us to approve of continuing the same there as commissary or vice director provisionally and until further orders.


We do not deny that the erection of a wooden blockhouse or of a little fort on the extreme boundaries towards New England would be advantageous for determining our limits or that a redoubt at the Esopus for the defense and protection of our inhabitants there would be not only useful, but also necessary, as we have recommended it before today to your honors and especially the first; however, that we should assist your honors in it, the bad condition of our finances in this country would permit as little as your honors' own scarcity of funds; the treasury there ought to be in a better condition now, considering that the debts contracted before by your honors for an unexpected emergency, have undoubtedly been paid, so that as soon as your Honors shall have sent over the remitted 4 percent and consequently also the 8 percent return duty, we shall not fail, to invest them here and supply your honors in return not only with the required commodities, but also with some soldiers and more mechanics, who are needed for the garrisoning and erecting of the aforesaid places and strongholds. Meanwhile we intend and shall give our orders accordingly, to provide and send to your honors the one or the other, as far our means and the situation permit, by the ships, which are to sail from here before winter.


We shall further examine the renewed ordinances and placards issued by you for the prevention of smuggling, also the draft of an ordinance relating to the inspection of Virginia tobacco and the arguments of the merchants and factors against it; our opinion and wishes in this regard will be sent to you by the first ship.


Whereas Captain de Coninck has not given us the least information concerning the expenses and wages paid in the repairing of the ship the Hay(now called Diemen and already on her way to Curacao) you must as well as you can draw up an account and send it to us with a complete list or statement of all the material, used for the repairs of the said ship and delivered out of the warehouse. These papers have not been found among the other documents, with which you say they were sent; we may require them some time or the other.


The transmitted inventory of the Company's property, to wit, ammunition of war, gunners' tools, militia equipment, cattle and so forth, which, together with Fort Casimir (now New Amstel) were delivered to the honorable Jacob Alrichs, director of this City's colony there, is not made, we find, as it ought to be, because the aforesaid effects have not been appraised, even no monetary value is given to them, nor is the weight of each bronze or iron cannon specified, so that we here can make no use of it nor ask payment on it and therefore we desire to recommend to your honors to have it done there speedily and to send it over here by the first opportunity.


We hope to see it continues that as hitherto so few of our inhabitants have offered to go to the colony of this city on the South River, but if it should happen, we see no reasons to prevent it by force and counteract it, not even if those should desire to go, whom the Company carried over or may carry over at our expense; it is understood however, that before their departure they must pay the advanced sums, which the Company may have to receive for their sea passage or other disbursements. We shall not inquire, because it does not concern us, what reasons or instructions the said Director Alrichs has had to refuse the same to the colonists, whom he brought over, and others.


The complaints, which have already been made to your honors by our people on the South River that the said Director Alrichs detained there and used, quite improperly and against our wish, the Company's cattle and negroes, will be obviated by us through a pertinent order as soon as it is proved satisfactorily. Your honors will thoroughly inform yourselves of it and likewise we will also dispose of the smuggling possible more easily be investigated there by the commissary, provisionally to be appointed thereto by your honors, who would have to reside on behalf of the Company at Fort New Amstel, to be on hand and present at the arrival of ships, and not at Fort Altena, the garrisoning of which can be done properly by 15 to 16 soldiers, commanded by a corporal or at the highest by a sergeant. Your honors now can form an idea that we have another opinion in regard to the mangagement and government of this place than your honors, which will be communicated to your honors in due time.


Although the village of Heemstede and some other distant bouweries would not make an agreement about the tenths, the expenses to collect them forcibly must not be considered, but every necessary step must be taken to obtain the right of possession, which is very important to us and when such collections have been made once or twice, the people may find out the errors of their way and come to an agreement.


We have read your lengthy debates, verbose complaints and farfetched excuses in reply to our letter of December 19, 1656, showing that you do not intend to give in or submit and we might give you a satisfactory answer, if we considered it necessary or worth while: but we will only say that in the future you better keep aloof from such reproaches and challenges and take greater care not to give cause for just complaints.


Your arguments regarding the questions, which often arise between skipper and merchant over the average of spoiled merchandise have been duly considered by us; but as this is a matter which cannot well be disposed of by an order or rules, we have found it advisable, to send you herewith to prevent injustice to the skippers, which we notice has been done to them, two or three copies of the Maritime Laws of Wisby and as many copies of instructions drawn up here for the information and guidance of the commissioners of admiralty, that you too may act accordingly. As to making the rules for the freightage of goods sent to New Netherland, we think we can do it and shall take it into consideration, of which you may expect the result by the next ships.


You state later on and lastly, that a French privateer with a Spanish prize had arrived there, and request to know how you should act in such cases considering the peace with Spain, while you would shut your eyes in the meantime to the sale of the prize cargo. We answer briefly that you cannot prevent such privateers to enter your port, but you can forbid them to break cargo and sell some of the prize goods, which must not be allowed to be done either directly or indirectly within the Company's jurisdiction; we are therefore surprised that you have made such a mistake and have acted contrary to the usages of this country, which must be followed and imitated in every respect, for otherwise this government and the Company would become involved in great trouble, as we have treaties of peace with France as well as Spain. Such tolerance and connivance in our territory would also ruin the trade with the Spaniards, which we expect to establish at Curacao and to prevent this and give offence to nobody we have decided to write to you and seriously recommend not to allow or connive at such breaking of cargo and selling of prize goods under any circumstances; you will act accordingly.


We enclose the bills of lading of the private goods shipped in the Wasbleecker, also the list of passengers[4] coming over in the same ship; among them is a woman, for whom the Company paid the passage. We have no doubt, that you keep a book or register of such persons, so that on their removal from there you can recover the money. We have forgotten to mention, that we are pleased by your sending us the records of resolutions, sentences, and other documents, which you will continue to transmit, that we may act accordingly.

As we understand that the ship the Wasbleecker, now coming over is intended to bring a cargo of salt from Curacao, we recommend that you send some provisions to the island, which are not only necessary and will be welcome there, but shall also give you occasion to provide yourself again with salt and horses; it would also be an inducement to open the trade between New Netherland and Curacao, the more so, if upon arrival there the shippers of salt are treated civilly and kindly and not too heavy and unbearable duties are imposed. You will see to this that everybody may feel encouraged. Herewith etc. etc. Amsterdam,

Ab. de Decker de Jonge

15th of September, 1657.

Honorable, Prudent, Pious, Beloved, Faithful.

After having closed and dispatched our general letter, we resolved to send you by the same ship, the Wasbleecker, some commodities and necessaries, such as Russian cloth, English caps, shirts, socks and shoes for the soldiers as per enclosed invoice, so that they may be provided with them before winter. We urge you to distribute them properly and to those most needing them. Amsterdam 19th of September 1657.

Ab. de Decker de Jonge


See 12:58 for this letter.
These letters from the Director General and Council do not survive.
See 12:56 for this letter.
This list no longer exists.


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