Letter from the directors at Amsterdam to Petrus Stuyvesant

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[1]1650, July 24th

Honorable, Worshipful, Pious, Faithful.

Our last letter, dated the 15th of April,[2] and sent by the Valckenier, will have informed you of the vexation caused to us by the delegates from New Netherland and their party, who although occasionally appearing to grow weary of their solicitations, yet have frequently instigated by, we do not know whom, made new requests. We presume, however, it has been done by people, who wish to avoid paying the tolls due to the Company and the sequel of their solicitations will prove this. These delegates and their followers have first assumed the bearing of farmers and as if their intentions were only to promote the increase of population and agriculture. All their remonstrances show that by now these farmers have suddenly been transformed into merchants and they endeavor by all kinds of means to persuade their high mightinesses that the customs duties cannot be borne by the community. They had already imposed upon the good nature of some of the gentlemen, when we, observing it, communicated with the magistrates of this city, who, being at the Hague, declared that the decision in this matter rested solely with the Chamber of Amsterdam, entrusted with the management of these affairs. When the petitioners saw that they could not carry out their plan either in Gelderland or at the Hague, they threw away the mask, declared themselves as merchants, who had freighted the ship Fortuijn, which takes out this letter, and requested our board that their cargo intended for agricultural use should be exempted from duty. This was granted, but when the invoices were produced and the goods brought to the warehouse, they were found to mostly real mechandise, for which we demanded duty. They refused to pay it, pretending that everything should go free, they brought forward as an argument that if they were to export cattle from here, they would pay no duty on it and that they intended to invest the proceeds of the sale of these goods in cattle there, which amounted to the same (as if they had exported cattle), without taking into consideration the profit on these goods. As they saw that no credit was given to their frivolous assertions, they had recourse to scolding and calumnies, as the enclosed copy of their request will tell you. They carried off their goods and threatened to use other means, which they did in addressing themselves to the mayors of this city, who again referred them to the directors of this chamber. We think they will not brag about the reply, which they received; when they perceived that all their efforts had been in vain, they applied to us in a different manner, requesting some favor or at least a reduction of the duties on the merchandise, mentioned in the enclosed list. We have in so far granted it that we have declared free everything apparently necessary for agricultural pursuits. You will please to pay attention that the interest of the Company does not suffer beyond our good intentions, when the goods are discharged. Many free people have taken passage on these two ships, the Fortuyn and the Jaager, as per enclosed lists; we desire that you may allot to each according to his capacities and family sufficient quantities ofland, where they choose, but not on land reserved by the Exemptions for the Company, as for instance at Pavonia, which the Company bought in for certain reasons. It looks as if many people will come over by every ship and as we cannot but presume that the welfare of the country depends on the population, we desire that you shall accommodate all newcomers as well as possible and above all govern the people with the utmost caution and leniency, for you have now learned by experience how too much vehemence may draw upon you the hatred of the people.

We have had a good deal of trouble to put these things again into order and are of opinion that it is better to forgive and forget everything now, than to seek revenge, provided these men will henceforth behave like honest inhabitants and subjects of the Company; if they do not, we have by no means the intention of diminishing your powers in the administration of justice.

Upon your and Director Rodenbergh' s request we send you by these vessels accoutrements, clothing and other requisites for soldiers in New Netherland and Curaçao as per annexed invoice. Please manage it well, sothat we may reap the fruit which we have aright to hope for. According to advices from Dir. Rodenbergh of the 26th of March we may expect that a large quantity of wood has been collected there and that it shall be brought here by the ship R oop e , sent there for that purp()se. Itis also our intention to provide not only New Netherland but also the island with everything required nor have we been wanting good will to do it, but we have been expecting for some time past some returns from your side, having for that purpose sent you several statements of the sums, paid you for account of the Company, amounting to a considerable total. We have already requested of you several times for detailed accounts and remittances and repeat our request herewith. We have observed that some people try to trade over this route to New England and the English Virginias much to our dislike, for we fear that we shall suffer loss thereby; nevertheless some important reasons have induced us to give permission to the ship Jaager to take goods for Boston, which are specified in the enclosed list. You must look out sharp that we are not defrauded by these intrigues and communicate to us your opinion, how we can prevent smuggling in all such cases.

We desire very much to discover some way, in which we might make arrangements with the English regarding the boundaries. We informed you already of the obstacles, which we had met, and as yet nothing further has been done in this matter, that that Mr. Gerrit Schalph Pietersen has been sent by our government to the Parliament of England, charged among others, as far as we can learn, to bring up this boundary question for discussion and learn, whether they are inclined to treat about it with our government. We shall inform you in due time of what may be done, meanwhile we recommend you to keep up all possible good correspondence with our neighbors.

The supercargo of the ship Fortuyn is Francis Deckers, a cousin of Mr. Van der Hoolck, member of the States General for the province of Utrecht and also member of the committee of their high mightinesses for all matters concerning the W. I. Company and especially New Netherland. As he is a man very well inclined towards the W. I. Company, we cannot refuse his request that his cousin should be supercargo of the ship for the outward voyage only and that you should appoint him there to any position under the Company, which may become vacant and for which he is fitted. We consent to his appointment, for we desire to captivate this man's favor by all means, especially as this young man is of a distinguished family and has the reputation of being a very proper and pious person, which compels us to recommend him so highly, and ought to serve you for your rule.

As supercargo of the ship Jaager goes out Warnaer Fransen, who has faithfully served the Company for a long period. He comes to New Netherland with wife and children intending to seek his fortune there and has requested us to be given command of one of our yachts, when a vacancy occurred, thinking that he could serve the Company well, as he knows all the harbors, bays and rivers there. After due consideration we have resolved to grant his request, when a chance offers and you think it is for the advantage of the Company, but you not to make any positive agreement as to his wages until we have approved of it.

The suit about the ship Jonge Prins van Denemarcken is being pushed very hard by the interested parties. Although the documentary evidence, furnished by you, seems clearly to prove it that they were smugglers, for the majority of the crew were natives of Holland, our adversaries nevertheless maintain that neither ship nor cargo can be confiscated on that account and that the Company can make no further claim, than to take off the crew and thus frustrate the voyage. They also allege that we cannot prove that the freight was owned here entirely or in part; the documents are not quite clear on that point and we fear, we shall have considerable bother about it, especially as the King of Denmark is concerned in it, which, as he is now an ally of our nation, must bear on our case. We have before now repeatedly warned you to proceed very cautiously in matters of confiscation and to furnish us the necessary documents, for the complaints are always made here and if the evidence is not quite clear, then we are the dumbfounded.

Secretary Tienhoven will inform you from the Hague regarding the case of Cornelis Melijn and we refer you to him, but we cannot omit to tell you that on the 30th of June this person has managed to procure from the honorable deputies their high mightinesses safe conduct and passport, which, as you will see, protects him against being molested in his possessions. You will have to conform to it, unless you should receive other orders by the ship Fortuyn, which apparently will not follow so soon, for Van der Donck and Melijn are again refusing the payment of duties on their goods, notwithstanding they had before submitted to our decision. When they saw that they could not gain their pint in everything, they became again so presumptuous that they pretend not to owe any duty. We shall this day confer with the magistrates of this city, and inform you of their decision by the first opportunity.

Herewith we commend you to God's protection etc. etc. Amsterdam, July 24th 1650

F. Schulenborch
Isaac van Beeck


Missing material supplied from NYCD, 14:125-27.
See 11:20 on page 87 for the letter dated 15 April.


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