Remonstrance of the colonies and villages in this province of New Netherland

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Translation[1] To the right honorable, the Director-General and Council of New Netherland on the behalf of the noble High and Mighty Lords States-General of the United Provinces.
1. The humble remonstrance and petition of the colonies and villages in this New Netherland Province,
Humbly shows:
First of all, we acknowledge a paternal government which God (in nature) has established in the world for the maintenance and preservation of peace and the good of mankind, not only agreeably to nature's laws, but in accordance with the rules and precepts of God to which we consider ourselves bound by His word, whereunto we submit. God the Lord, having entrusted the States-General as His ministers with the High and Mighty power which we gratefully acknowledge to promote the welfare of their subjects, both of those within the United Provinces and in the foreign settlements thereunto be longing, and these having by their power and authority, commissioned, for the same purpose, some subaltern magistrates such as the directors of the Chartered West India Company, whom we acknowledge as lords-superiors of this place, with you as their representatives.
We therefore humbly conceive our privileges to be the same, harmonizing in every respect with those of the Netherlands, being a member dependent on that state and not a conquered or subjugated people, but settled here on a mutual covenant and contract entered into with the lords-superiors with the consent of the natives, the original proprietors of these lands from whom we purchased the soil with our own money- a portion thereof which we now possess, have we, with immense labor and trouble and at our particular cost, transformed from a wilderness of woods and erected into a few small villages (with several farms), by a strict observance of the freedoms and privileges already granted. Expecting every enlargement and amplification, but no abridgement thereof, and deeply honoring and respecting the government of the Netherlands made up of various nations from divers quarters of the globe, leaving at our own expense our country and countrymen, we voluntarily repaired under its protection or
2. shelter, being now incorporated, as it were one body, under our sovereigns, the high and mighty, lords States-General, whom we acknowledge as our rulers, with due subjection to the general laws of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, and all other new orders and authority aforesaid, will be enacted here conformable to the customs, freedoms, grants and privileges of the Netherlands. This being promised,
3. we humbly pray that this our remonstrance and petition be received and construed favorably and not interpreted sinisterly, but rather advantageously We shall, therefore, frankly declare, with all humility, our apprehension and alarm which for some time have crushed our spirit and dis heartened us in our labors and callings, so that we, being in a wilderness, are unable to promote the good of the country with the same zeal and inclination as heretofore; the reasons whereof are as follows:
4. FIRST, our apprehension of the establishment of an arbitrary government among us. It is contrary to the first intentions and genuine principles of every well-regulated government that one or more men should assume the exclusive power to dispose, at will, of the life and property of any individual, and this by virtue or under pretense of a law or order which he or they might enact without the consent, knowledge or election of the whole body or its agents or representatives. Hence the enactment, except as aforesaid, of new laws or orders affecting the commonalty, or the inhabitants, their lives or property, is contrary and opposed to the granted freedoms of the Dutch government and odious to every freeborn man, and principally so to those whom God has placed in a free state on newly settled lands, which might require new laws and orders, not transcending, but resembling as near as possible those of the Netherlands. We humbly submit that it is one of our privileges that our consent or that of our representatives is necessarily required in the enactment of such laws and orders.
SECOND, we have been expecting, usually every year, that a new war will again be started by the natives of this country,
5. from the murders they have committed under the pretext that they have not been paid for their lands. This is the cause of many troubles and discouragements to the country, besides great loss and interruption to the inhabitants in their labor. We have been unable thus far to arrive at a precise knowledge thereof or to ascertain to what nation these
6. murders belong; but their acts are commonly disregarded, as those of Indians living at a great distance which fills us
7. daily with anxieties, so that we are compelled to stand on our own guard and cannot perceive how we are to protect our lives and property in any general way except by our own means.
8. THIRD, that officers and magistrates, although they may be deserving of such honors by their personal qualifications, are appointed (contrary to the laws of the Netherlands) to various offices without the consent of or nomination by the people whom the matter most affects or concerns.
9. FOURTH, that many orders or proclamations have been made heretofore by the authority of the director and council alone (without the approval of the country). We are entirely ignorant about which are or are not in force, and consequently know not when we violate them, but commit many offences in our ignorance, to the injury and ruin of ourselves and families.
10. FIFTH. On the promises of deeds and a general patent of freedoms and privileges, various plantations have been made at great expense and labor of the inhabitants with the building of houses, fences and other things, and with the cultivation and preparation of the soil; for example, that of Middelborgh, Midtwout and the dependencies thereof, in addition to several other places and individual farms which petitioned for general and private deeds; however, to their great expense by having to make several trips because of being put off with delays from time to time, there is a suspicion of revision as if conditions will be established other than the previous ones.
11. SIXTHLY. That a quantity of land was given or granted to some person or persons for their own use, upon which an entire village or hamlet of about 20 or 30 families might have been established. This can only lead to a great loss of future income or revenue for the lords-superiors, and at present weaken the country greatly, which (under such circumstances) cannot be defended by us unless villages or settlements are formed or established.

Having covered our troubles or problems under six points or articles, for easy reference, we shall swear to them ] in the hope that satisfaction will be granted to the country according to established justice, and that all received secret claims and damages be quieted and compensated for. Therefore, having revealed our problems (under which we labor), we apply ourselves to your wisdom for the remedy, for which, when done, we shall remain thankful; it being unnecessary to apply any further, which we shall do if need be. Wherefore we humbly request your honors' reply to each point or article in particular so that we may be accordingly satisfied or proceed further, as God shall direct us. Done this 11 December 1653 in Amsterdam. Below stood: Your honors' humble servants, Arent van Hattem, Martin Krigier, P. L. van die Grift, Will. Beeckman, Pieter Wolfersen, Geo. Baxter, J. Hubbard, John Hickes, Tobias Feke, Robert Coo, Tomas H. Hassard, Willem Wasborn, John Seaman, Tomas Spicer, Elbert Elbertsen, Frederick Lubbertsen, Paulus vander Beecke, Tomas Swartwout and Jan Strycker.[2]


This document was first drafted in English by the magistrates of Gravesend, then translated into Dutch which explains the unusual and awkward expressions, and Stuyvesant's complaint in Volume 5: 165. The cardinal numbers in the margin indicate certain points which were underlined by Stuyvesant and his council for reply and future reference.
Manuscript pages [160-164] have been lost. The translation is from a copy of the original at the Amsterdam Archives.


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.