Dutch colonial council minutes, 19-23 June 1648

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Whereas the honorable director general and the honorable council have by experience seen and remarked that contraband goods are very secretly imported here in New Netherland, which we according to honor and oath endeavor as much as possible to prevent and to have the contraveners punished; and whereas we daily expect a ship, or ships, from the fatherland, we have resolved for the best interest and advantage of the Company and the public good to station the ship De Liefde in the bay behind the Sant Point[1] to watch for the ships, on which ship the naval store keeper is appointed captain to execute everything according to his orders and not to suffer any boats or craft to board or leave said vessels and to convoy them to their anchorage before Fort Amsterdam. This 19th of June anno 1648, in New Netherland.

Written Proposition submitted to the Officers of the council by the Honorable Director General Stuyvesant.

It is known to me and to all your honors that since our arrival here frequent complaints have been received from our neighbors, the English and Swedes, as well as from our own subjects, about the altogether too dangerous and prohibited trade in powder, guns and lead carried on with the natives, whereby our persons, although we protest our innocence before God, are accused and suspected of conniving at this trade, not only by our neighbors, the English and Swedes, but also by some of our vassals, and that not without some semblance of Justification and reason, because the trade is carried on so generally, in regard to which the fiscal, who by virtue of his office is most concerned therein, has become either too lax or blind.

I have myself submitted to the council and the nine selectmen divers protests on the subject and requested their aid and remedy to prevent such dangerous trade, wondering how and by what means such large quantities of guns, powder and lead were imported into the country, as by my own experience I observed were now and then traded to the Indians here or sent elsewhere to be sold to the Indians. Whereupon some plausible explanations have been offered to me, to wit, that such merchandises were discharged from the ships between this fort and the Sant Point before the ships came to anchor in front of the Manhatans, either by having such contraband goods, in watertight casks and boxes purposely prepared thereto in the fatherland, thrown overboard under the nose of a careless watchman and afterwards fished up again as occasion offered, or else by having them concealed somewhere else in the country, which is large and extensive, in a secret place, until a convenient time and opportunity.

There being no other remedy for this than to watch the ships arriving from the fatherland as they come in, either in or outside the harbor, we have made use of the means at our command and sent thither the yacht De Liefde, under the command of our naval store keeper, but without written resolution adopted by all the members of the council, in order that it might proceed more secretly, having reached our intention and decision in this matter in connection with the ship directed to Govert Loockermans and his partners, said person being, as the council knows, according to reports more suspected than any one else. Wherefore we have also put on board his arrived ship De Valckenier, besides the fiscal, to whom the making of the discovery can not well be entrusted, six soldiers and two of our prominent officers, to wit, Secretary van Tienhoven and Ensign Bacxter, who with the fiscal will for the first night keep good watch and guard. This, now, serves to request advice as to what ought to be done next in this case for our vindication, for the better knowledge of what there is to the suspected case and for the promotion of the public service. The 23d of June anno 1648.

Upon the proposition of the honorable general, pursuant to the orders and instructions of the honorable directors, it is resolved in council to have the ship De Valckenier unloaded down to the keel as soon as possible and to have a watch kept by day and night by some of the Company's officers and the fiscal in order that no contraband or smuggled goods be brought on land by day or night; also, that all goods shall be brought into the Company's storehouse and there Inspected and that every evening during the unloading the hatches shall be sealed with the Company's seal and the keys lodged in the council chamber. Thus done in council the 23d of June. Present: the honorable general, Briant Nuton, Paulus Leendersz and Adriaen d'Keyser.

Whereas it has come to our knowledge that some willful persons not only deliberately and without apparent reason absent themselves from the burgher guard, but also act sullenly and disrespectfully toward their officers and refuse to pay the fixed fine for neglect of duty; therefore, in order to prevent all disorders and inconvenience, the honorable director and council do hereby command every burgher duly to attend the burgher watch, and if after the publication hereof any person deliberately and intentionally neglects his watch without sufficient cause, the officer of the watch is hereby authorized forthwith to levy execution against him who neglects his guard duty, should he refuse to pay voluntarily; and if execution be levied, the fine shall be doubled, and if any one resist his officer he shall be punished according to the merits of the case. Thus done and published in Fort Amsterdam, the 23d of June, 1648, in New Amsterdam.


Sandy Hook


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 theĀ New Netherland Institute website.