Letter from director-general to the Nine men

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Copy of a letter written by the director-general to the aldermen. Honorable and dear friends: We have many times communicated to the board as a whole, or to some aldermen in particular, the orders and instructions of their High Mightinesses and lords-directors, our patroons, concerning construction on Fort New Amsterdam, which were put forth in vain repeatedly to previous aldermen with requests for their assistance. Nevertheless, with the few Negroes and Company's servants, I began the highly necessary and urgent work. During the last two summers (1650 and 1651), because of our meager assistance and strength, we made indifferent progress; we would have enclosed the fort on all rides and put it into good shape if the service of the Company and welfare of the country had not drawn my servants and those of the Company to the South River, who remained there for the better part of last summer laying out and constructing a new fort in order to maintain and defend the Company's rights and boundaries.[1] For the meantime, it is to our great sorrow that, through failure to execute and maintain the ordinances and orders issued by us, the newly raised earthworks are being trampled down and destroyed by horses, cows and hogs, which can still be observed daily, to our great scandal and shame. We have made known to some of you on the board from time to time about the discontent and strife caused by seeing our new earthworks which were raised without the community's assistance, rooted up, trampled down and destroyed by the community's hogs, cattle and horses, turning all our efforts into ashes. [It is true that the negligence and connivance of the fiscal has caused this, as he did not enforce or execute our twice or thrice renewed proclamations.[2] We are therefore compelled to leave the fort, to our shame and the detriment of this place, as we found it, and to suspend all work on it or to execute and enforce our orders and proclamations, now already three or f our times published and posted; namely, to impound the horses, cows and hogs henceforth found on the fort and to confiscate them for the benefit of the honorable Company. Otherwise it is impossible to keep the new construction in good order and to do what has yet to be done. Before taking extreme measures, at the risk of being blamed for it, and to prevent all excuses of ignorance and all reproaches, we have thought it best for our own sake, first to inform the board of aldermen of our intentions and to warn, through them, the community, which has paid no attention to our former orders, against the impending losses; it is disgraceful for this place, dangerous for the inhabitants in time of need and for ourselves disgraceful and unbearable to see the fort destroyed, and our good intentions and hard labor frustrated and wantonly trampled under foot.] Waiting here for the written response of the aldermen, I am and remain,

Honorable and dear friends,
your devoted friend,

P. Stuyvesant


Reference to the construction of Fort Casimier in 1651, presently New Castle, Delaware.
See Laws and Ordinances of New Netherland, 1638-1674, compiled and translated by E. B. O’Callaghan, Albany, 1868, 118 or The Records of New Amsterdam, 1653-1674, edited by Berthold Fernow, 7 vols., 1897 (reprinted Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1976), 1:16 for this proclamation.


Translation: Gehring, C., trans./ed., New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch, Vol. 5, Council Minutes, 1652-1654 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc.: 1983).A complete copy of this publication is available on the New Netherland Institute website.