Letter from director-general to the council

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Honorable Gentlemen of the Council. On Thursday of last week ......... came to me demanding payment for the land ......... promised by him to the Indians . . 500 guilders, ] without giving us sufficient proof . . .  ] of the land and how much is wilderness and waste ...................... ] should have the amount, for which reason my superiors, the honorable lords-directors, ] have taken exception and demanded more proof [      ] Jan Schnediger has been pleased to address us in a most insulting manner, saying, among other things, that the losses and damages hereafter caused ] by the natives should [      ] upon me and my [      ] . These words were shouted so loud that everyone could hear them, which is not only derogatory to our person but also to our official position; because we are not willing to submit to such insults, we have been compelled to inform your honors of the incident and ask for your advice and assistance.

Concerning the matter itself: your honors know that shortly before the last murder was committed, the aforesaid Jan Snediger came to me and reported in the presence of Domine Megapolensis that some Indians had come to see him demanding payment for the land in the Flat Bush; however, the discussions concerning it, our propositions and the consequences thereof could not be known to you. They can be reduced to two parts as follows:

1. Is it expedient and advantageous to encourage and embolden the Indians to the point that the lands have to be bought and paid for again because of their threats. The same lands which they previously have, of their own good will, sold, given, ceded and received payment for, and which since have been partly occupied?

2. Would it not lead to serious consequences, if it can be proved, that there is in the midst of the purchased land some which has not been bought (although we are not quite convinced of it), or what would be the consequences of the situation if we gave a small gift to the Indians? Would not their wicked and insatiable avarice take advantage of it and consider it as an inducement to murder more Christians, imagining them to be fainthearted, and threaten a massacre so that later on they may again obtain money and goods for another piece of wild and waste land? Concerning these points I was somewhat in doubt whether the Indians had a better claim to the wild and waste bush, upon which God and nature had grown trees, than any other Christian people, and what proof and assurance could be produced that the Indians had a better right and title to this parcel of land than other Indians, even more than the greatest sachem or chiefs who a long time ago had sold, given and ceded the whole piece of land and its dependencies to the former officers of the honorable Company, and received according to the declaration of the late director and council satisfactory payment for it in goods.

Nevertheless, (although it was improper and contrary to all reason and equity) we agreed, for the sake of preventing blame and new troubles, to allow the aforesaid Jan Snediger recently to give or promise to the Indians a gift and make a report to us so that we might compensate him in due time; however, we never thought, much less expressly ordered him, to promise such a large sum at our expense or the expense of the Company for such a small piece of land, especially not on such uncertain conditions and terms. Therefore, in order to be able to defend ourselves before the above-mentioned lords, and to prevent being accused of negligence, we refer this purchase for your honors' knowledge and discretion so that a proper resolution may be drafted concerning it. Done in New Amsterdam, 17 June 1652.


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.