Ordinance prohibiting the erection of buildings within 600 paces of Fort Orange

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Tuesday, the 5th of March 1652.

The director-general and council of New Netherland to all who shall see, read or hear this read, greetings; be aware that we have before now several times informed and warned the commander at the colony of Rensselaerswyck not to shut in and obstruct the honorable Company's Fort Orange with new buildings and houses within the aforesaid fort's liberty, estimated to be 600 geometrical paces or 1200 steps, about a salute gun's shot distant. This order and warning was communicated to the aforesaid commander and to the court of the colony on 23 July 1648 by the director-general, orally as well as in writing, with the verbal request, as stated in the written propositions, not to allow the erection of any more new buildings within the liberty of the aforesaid fort, unless he, the commander, has previously obtained and could exhibit a special order, or at least consent, either from their High Mightinesses, our sovereigns, or from the lords-directors of the Chartered West India Company as masters and owners of the province of New Netherland; because, outside of the aforesaid limits of the fort's liberty, above and below the fort, there are sites more suitable for building purposes. Although these orders have been communicated several times to the aforesaid commander by our respective commissaries and by our letters, he, the commander, has ignored them; yet for the sake of accommodation and neighborly communication between the fort and the colony's village and in order to be in a better position to assist one another in time of need, we allowed ourselves to yield to the request of respectable and peaceful inhabitants, so far as to suspend provisionally, after a visual inspection and until further orders from the lords-directors, their rights to the aforesaid boundaries, reserving the right to pull down the houses, if hereafter demanded by necessity ] or so ordered by the honorable directors. The aforesaid commander, not being satisfied with that, has, propria authoritate, without recognizing any higher prerogative in this province, gradually begun to distribute the lots nearer to the fort not only for quitrent but also, as we have been informed by good authority, in fee simple, which is an absolute sale; so that for the maintenance of the privileges of the fort and the honorable Company and their jurisdiction and authority in this province, we were finally compelled and obliged to defend and publicly proclaim their rights and the boundaries of the fort. This proclamation, having been communicated to the aforesaid commander, with an order and directions to publish the same in the Colony; he, to the disparagement of ourselves and our official positions, of the high and sovereign authority of our fatherland, which we represent here, and to the special affront of the lords-directors, the patroons of this province, most insultingly and indecently dared to tear it out of the hands of the clerk or assistant and throw the seal of the province to the ground. Whereas the aforesaid commander has, by this insult and affront to the supreme government, violated all neighborly obligations and our previous accommodating moderation, provisionally not to enforce the claim to the boundaries of the fort's liberty until further orders were received from the lords-directors, we are now by that unwarranted action and their derisive proclamation induced and constrained to revoke our previous favor and to direct our commissary, as we herewith order him, not to permit any building or frame of a house to be erected either west or northwest of the fort within 600 geometrical paces of ] five feet each or 250 Rhineland rods, approximately the range of a salute gun's shot; and so that no one may hereafter plead ignorance, we command our commissary, after posting and publishing this, to erect or cause to be erected north, south and west of the fort a post marked with the honorable Company's mark at the aforesaid distance, determining the provisional jurisdiction of the aforesaid fort. Thus done and enacted, considering the claim of the fiscal to proceed on and against the commander and others for this and other crimes committed by them, in council, this 5 March 1652.

P. Stuyvesant


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.