Letter from the directors at Amsterdam to Petrus Stuyvesant

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[1650, April 20th

Honorable, Worthy, Pious, Faithful.

Our last letters were of the 16th of February and 24th of March;[1] in the former we told you how the deputies, who had come here from New Netherland, by all imaginable means, many of which] were to work indirectly, had known how to give to their propositions such an appearance that a number of mature minds have been deceived. As their undertaking was assuming a look of danger for your reputation, the interest of the Company and especially this Chamber of Amsterdam, we were compelled to communicate with the magistrates of this city, who have in so far countenanced our complaints that they showed themselves inclined, to uphold our privileges. Very likely a conflagration would have been the result, if it had not been prevented by the careful management of the honorable deputies from their high mightinesses, who have discovered means, by which they expect to satisfy provisionally either side. A copy of their resolutions goes herewith; you may judge by it how much trouble we have had and how dangerous it is to draw upon yourself the wrath of a community. We suppose that you have trusted too much in some of these ringleaders or become too familiar with them; now that their ingratitude and treachery have come to light, you must still act with the cunning of a fox and treat them in regard to the past conform with the abovementioned resolutions, to prevent that a new mistake may not make matters worse, than the first one did and that we may not be troubled any more by such contemptuous bickerings, the more so, as the Company is already sufficiently embarrassed. ]

The honorable deputies are still engaged in deliberating on suitable means to add to the prosperity and population of the country. As soon as a written memorandum of their propositions has been delivered to us, we shall express our opinions and send you copies of one or the other so that we may receive your thoughts thereon.

The case of Cornelis Melijn has as yet been tried on side issues only, although your attorney has taken divers steps, by petitions, to keep it alive. It seems he is not ready or intends to wear us out; meanwhile we doubt not, but you have procured, as we advised you, more convincing documents, for we must confess that the evidence, brought over by your attorney, israther shaky. The saying is that a good case still requires good help. Having thus far repeated in substance what we had written you before, we will briefly answer your last two letters of 24 November and 10 December of last year, the main points of which have been already answered by our abovementioned letters, to wit you request that we should decide about the bouweries, which had been disposed of, especially the one, which you yourself desire to have. As yet we cannot say anything else about it, than what we have already said and to repeat our reasons. The same must be repeated in regard to the prize cargo, captured by Capt. Blauvelt, for do not all intend to burden ourselves with such intricate case, as we have our hands full to maintain our lawful claims; although we directed to keep the goods in safe storage for the benefit of those, to whom they may be adjudicated, we learn that sailors and soldiers at the Manhattans have sold to divers parties cochenille silvesre[2]* at shamefully low prices; you will therefore please to investigate whence it came, for this matter gives food for various thoughts.

The wife of Do. Megapolensis will tell you herself what satisfaction we have give her at your request. We shall consult with the deputed brethren of the reverend classis in regard to the printing of the dominie' s manuscript on confession and inform you of their opinion.

The schoolmaster, for whom you asked, goes out with this ship. God grant that he may confirm [the good character, which he has borne here, and continue for a long time in the edification of the youths.

We expect to provide you by the first opportunity with materials to equip the yachts Nieuw Swoll and Liefde now laid up, and if possible with the required sailors. Meanwhile we hope to learn of the fulfillment of your promise to send us a good cargo of timber by] the fluyt, Prins Willem; it would raise our spirits, for it vexes us to be frequently told that we derive no advantages from the country, that the province is only a burden upon our shoulders and that therefore the Company would do better to abandon it. They are the arguments of the men who have tried to dispossess us of the country by intrigues.

We are astonished at the dangerous delivery of the Frenchman Huy Ponterel in the Bellecourt. It has never been our intention to take him from the Indians against their will and you will find that we ordered quite the contrary directing that the Indians should be paid for him 300 without running any risk. We have not yet heard from his friends how well pleased they are with his delivery.

A surgeon, Mr. Hans Kirstede, troubles us here a good deal. He tells us that one Jacob Molenaer, who now serves the Company there as surgeon, is inclined to leave our service and as he Kierstede, has also served under the Company a long time and as far as we know faithfully, we are willing that you should listen to his requests, if matters are, as he says and if in your opinion his services are required by the Company, he may take the place of surgeon. We observe, however, that every ship takes over many freemen of all kinds of professions and therefore we are in doubt, whether the Company should engage such servants, especially as we ought to avoid all unnecessary expenses.

The letter from the English of Boston, dated the 6th of August 1649 and your answer of the 2d of September take away the hope, raised by your previous letters, having the boundaries provisionally settle, which this nation seems to have propose first. These letters give quite a different aspect to the case; we find in them threats, to which we fear the instigations of Cornelis Melijn have not been the least cause: the unnecessary trade in muskets, which you made with Vasterick entirely without our knowledge and consent had also something to do with it. We have been much abused on account of the latter transaction, although done without our knowledge, and we were not a little surprised by it. The excuses, which you make, are very flimsy and have not been accepted by this board. You cannot judge how you have compromised your reputation by this transaction, the more so as now it is followed by complaints and threats from our English neighbors, which must strengthen the case of our adversaries, if they get wind of it. If in the consequence of such acts we should have trouble with the English, the deputies of their high mightinesses would be very much displeased, especially as the deputies from New Netherland have spared no effort to persuade them that you may be, with you precise proceedings, the cause of an eventual rupture with the English. We are however inclined to believe the contrary although the resolve of the English to make war upon the Wappinger Indians cause us much anxiety. It these Indians should be driven away, then the English would thus by occupying their lands have a chance to cut Rensselaerswijck off from us; they might further become masters of the whole North River and with it of the fur trade. There are already a number of competitors for that trade here; Wouter van Twiller and his friends especially pretend that they alone ought to be privileged to carry on this trade, although the Company has always maintained this right, to exclude everybody from this trade at any time; we would do it now, if we only could discover how.

We had hoped that you would make a provisional arrangement with our neighbors to settle the boundaries, for we cannot see any chance to treat with that nation here, for nobody appears to have authority to do it. The King has left his kingdom and as yet nobody has been willing to enter into correspondence with the present government of England. A commissioner from the Province of Holland is now on the point of going to England; time will show, what he may accomplish.

May free people are coming over in this ship the Valckenier and we hope that a greater number shall follow by every vessel. As people here encourage each other with the prospect of becoming mighty lords there, if inclined to work, it may have a good result. Meanwhile you will please to accommodate and assist the arriving free men as much as possible. We enclose the lists of passengers and the invoices of the cargo of the Valckenier. Examine everything closely that the Company may not be defrauded.

Amsterdam, the 15th of April 1650.

Jehan Raye
F. S. Scheulenborch
Isaack van Beeck


See [11:18] on page 78 for the letter dated 16 February; the letter of 24 March is


A red dye derived from female cochineal insects (dactylopius coccus).


A complete copy of this publication is available on the New Netherland Institute website.