Ordinance for the more effectual prevention of smuggling at the port of New Amsterdam

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Whereas the director general and council of New Netherland are to their regret informed and told of the censure and blame under which they are lying among inhabitants and neighbors because of non-compliance of their previously enacted and frequently renewed ordinances against the importation of contraband and die sale thereof both to Christians and Indians alike, some not only presuming that the director general and council connive with the violators, but even publicly declaring that the aforesaid director general and council have opened up the importation and trade in contraband, which, for that reason, is carried on with uncommon licentiousness and freedom. This has moved the director general and council, and again moves them, to revive and renew the previously enacted ordinances against the importation and sale of any kind of munitions of war, be it to Christians or natives; just as they do hereby revive and renew the aforesaid ordinances in order to prevent all ignorance and exception concerning them, adding to them the following amplification, and have resolved, enacted, and ratified with the prior knowledge and approbation of the lords directors of the Chartered West India Company, that henceforth no person, regardless of his nation or capacity, shall be allowed to bring into the country for his own use or that of the ship any kind of snaphance or gun barrels, finished or unfinished, not even on the Company’s permit, except, according to regulation, a carbine, being a firelock of three to three and a half feet barrel length and no longer; on the penalty as before.

Furthermore, whereas daily experience demonstrates that notwithstanding the general prohibition, much ammunition of war is imported not only from the fatherland by the return ships, but also from other places and especially from Virginia and New England, which cannot be properly rectified unless these vessels as well as ships and barks from the Netherlands are strictly inspected and visited; and according to the general complaints, the frauds and smuggling can hardly be rectified and prevented as long as such ships and barks do not load and unload according to rules and regulations previously enacted for that purpose, which the director general and council do hereby resume, renew and amplify as follows:


That all private ships, yachts, barks, ketches, sloops and vessels, whether of Dutch, English, French, Swedish or any other nationality, desiring to anchor at this island of Manhatans and this city, shall neither seek nor select any other roadstead than before this city of Amsterdam on the East River between the headland and the city gate, and in the North River before and near the beavers’ trail,[1] and at no other place; on pain of paying 25 guilders for the first time, 50 guilders for the second time, to be forfeited after they have been warned.


All ships, yachts, barks, ketches, sloops and other vessels, as previously stated, being thus anchored before this city, and at no other place, shall, before discharging and loading any goods or merchandise, be obliged to present a manifest or invoice of their cargo to the director general or his deputy the fiscal , and submit themselves to his inspection both on their arrival and departure, and if he should find any more goods than appear on the submitted inventory, manifest or invoice, such goods, according to customary procedure, shall be declared confiscated by the fiscal as prosecutor and guardian of justice, and five times the value of the imported concealed contraband shall be exacted, and on pain of arbitrary punishment according to the published ordinance.


The receipt or delivery of all goods and merchandise, which are delivered on shore or received on board, shall be made and take place, without any exception or deceit of persons, within the limits of this city and in no way beyond the same, and that during daylight hours; forfeiting one quarter part of the discovered goods for the first offense; and, in addition to this, forfeiting the scow, boat or vessel used to unload them for the second offense.


No skippers or anyone sailing with ships, yachts, barks, ketches, sloops or vessels, shall take with them or remove any of the Company’s servants, any freemen or inhabitants of New Netherland, regardless of nationality or capacity, without the consent or written permission of the director general or his deputy; on forfeiture of six hundred guilders for each person.

And, in order that no one may claim ignorance of this, the director general and council order and command that this ordinance shall immediately be announced, proclaimed, published and posted there where such announcements, proclamations, publishings and postings are commonly done; furthermore, ordering and commanding the fiscal and all other officers to hinder, discover, and execute, with regard to the importation and sale of the aforesaid items, in conformity with this our ordinance, proceeding against and prosecuting the violators and transgressors of it without mercy, connivance, favor, fraud or deception, for we have found such to be appropriate for the service of the country and its inhabitants.

Thus done in the session held at Fort Amsterdam in New Netherland, the 11th of August 1656.[2]


Beverspadt; probably the trail leading inland from Ahasimus in the former patroonship of Pavonia; now Jersey City, New Jersey.
Also in LO, 236-39. This is an amplification of an ordinance issued February 23, 1645; see LO, 47.


Translation: Gehring, C., trans./ed., New Netherland Documents Series: Vol. 16, part 1, Laws and Writs of Appeal, 1647-1663 (Syracuse: 1991).A complete copy of this publication is available on the New Netherland Institute website.