Letter from the directors in Amsterdam to the inhabitants of Manhattan

Scanned Document:

[1] To the commonalty at the Manathans. ]
Honest, Pious, Dear, Faithful. ]

We wrote you last on the 22d of March of ] last year and send you a copy of that letter herewith so that you can be completely assured of our good intentions regarding the commonalty and lands there; and more so, because we learned with great surprise by your letter dated 29 September of the aforesaid year that such malicious persons were to be found there who have the audacity to imply that these same letters were only devised by some private directors because they were only signed by two persons. We would inform you thereon that this has always been the custom of these sessions. Nevertheless, in order to condescend somewhat to your weakness, and shut the slanderous mouths of such perfidious mutineers, these copies are being signed by all the directors now in office; as well as this letter. However we warn you that it will not be done in the future, and you shall henceforth give such credence to all letters coming there, signed by two directors, as if they were signed by everyone, for the previously stated reasons.

With regard to your request concerning various matters, we shall respond briefly by saying that we are applying every means to assist in all reasonable proposals as much as is in our power. We would especially like to assure you that we are herewith ordering the lord director and councilors not to raise the recognition fee of 8 percent any more on export tobacco being received there; and moreover, we are busy soliciting the lords of the high administration that the duty be abolished here only on the tobacco grown in New Netherland, which would be a great benefit for the planters there. We shall in due time inform you, what success we have had with our solicitations. We try to discover means by which to prevent the usurious ]practices carried on there to the detriment of the commonalty; however, lack of sufficient means has made it impossible ] to remedy it completely. Nevertheless, with these ships are coming as many necessities for the benefit of the commonalty as our treasury has been able to allocate, which we intend to continue doing in the future.

Concerning your request for the chartering of one or two ships for the account and obligation of the commonalty there so that they may be furnished by these means with farm laborers and some other young people for use in agriculture: We can presume from this request nothing else than that the commonalty's intention is that they would enjoy the profits, which the private shipowners and freighters derive from the passage and subsistence money of people going over there. They were burdened with a charge of f 50, which held many people back who could not bear the expense. In order to prevent this, the honorable magistrates of this city have enacted an order thereon that all people of meager means shall be transported by the skippers for the sum of f 30, which has encouraged many to come over with these ships. We had already tried to charter a ship or two according to your design; we even offered f 8000 for chartering a ship of 200 lasts, and as the provisioning of 100 to 150, taking passage, would cost a large sum, which made us somewhat uneasy on your account, ] fearing that your hopes ] of profits would not be realized in that way; especially as something has occurred here between England and this State, which has brought them both into hostile position to each other so that everybody began to be careful ] and it was apparent that but very small cargoes of goods would be sent over. Besides ], another proposal was made to us by this city, offering to give us 150 boys and girls from several poorhouses to be brought there free of cost, provided that we would place them in the service of good masters; to be obligated for four years, in which time they would enjoy food and clothing, on the condition that it would be their choice to be paid 60 annually for clothing. In this way we thought that your request could have been accommodated in the most secure and best manner; however, the reasons why this matter cannot be worked out fully shall be communicated to you by the honorable director as much as required, and so that you may be all the more assured of our good intentions, we herewith consent that the commonalty shall be allowed to sail from there to the coast of Angola and Africa in order to fetch from there as many Negroes as they will use for their agriculture, and that on the conditions and regulations herewith being sent to the honorable director, to whom we are also consigning munitions of war, gunpowder, lead and other things, with the order to distribute therefrom to the burghers and commonalty at civil prices as much as each shall require for his defense, for we are resolved to stop, if possible, the unlimited contraband trade in these goods carried on by private parties and thus to protect our good inhabitants against force and violence. We know very well that there are mutineers attempting to mislead the commonalty, and also are agitating here in the name of the commonalty. However, your letters and protests shall be sufficient to put them to shame. We trust that the good commomalty shall on their part always persist in doing their obligated duty towards their patroons, as we on our part shall at all times be inclined to let the good commonalty govern in all reasonableness and to maintain them in all equity, as you shall without a doubt be able to assure yourselves fully from the complete orders given herewith to the honorable director and councilors. Meanwhile, besides our greetings, we shall etc.

Amsterdam the 4th of April 1652.


Another translation is in NYCD, 14:175-76.


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