Letter from the directors in Amsterdam to the inhabitants of Heemstede and Gravesande

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[1] Honorable, Pious, Dear, Faithful ]

Our last letter to you was written on the 22d of March of last year, since which time we have received yours of the 25th of September 1651. We have ] learned by it of your continued complaints against the ] illicit trade with powder and lead, by which private parties provide the Indians in ] too great an abundance, so that, grown insolent, the latter do much damage to our good inhabitants by stealing livestock and also by the murdering of some few persons named by the honorable director. We can do no more than presume that such boldness is the result of the misdemeanors ] of some mutineers belonging to our own nation, who appear to lead these savages to believe that such insolence would go unpunished. This completely contradicts the intention of the honorable rulers here and especially the intention of the directors of this Company. Therefore, we deem it necessary to assure you herewith that we are giving such orders concerning one and the other matter so that you shall be able to feel that your complaints have touched our hearts. For this reason we are sending herewith strict ordinances against those transgressors of the first complaint, not wanting that any private parties shall be allowed to bring there any powder or lead as well as other munitions, under penalty stated in the ordinance. However, we shall send from year to year to the director such quantities as we judge necessary to be used by our inhabitants for their defense and customary hunting practices, and we herewith order him to furnish you with what you require.

Concerning the second point, secret instructions are being sent to the director and councilors for their government in an emergency. If therefore any trouble befall you or violence be done to you, ] the way of complaint is open to you and you will ] learn by experience that these barbarians will find themselves ] deceived by treacherous information. We would have liked to accommodate you on your request to charter ] here some ships for the account ] of the commonalty there, for the transport to New Netherland of farm laborers ] or young fellows who may be fit for use in farm ] or other work. However, 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 ƒ50, which held many people back who could not bear the expense. In order to prevent this, the honorable councilors of this city have enacted an order thereon that all people of meager means shall be transported by the skippers for the sum of ƒ30, or on subsistence of 8 stivers per day, 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 ƒ 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 ƒ60 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 trade for as many Negroes as they will use for their agriculture, and that on the conditions and regulations herewith being sent to the honorable director. And we herewith intend to [      ] our requests according to opportunity as much [      ]

several lines lost ]

this 4 April 1652.

Your devoted friends and patrons
The directors of the chartered
West India Company, chamber [      ]


Missing material supplied from ibid., 176-77.


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