Letter from the directors at Amsterdam to Petrus Stuyvesant and the council of New Netherland

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[1] November 4th 1653 ]

Honorable, Worshipful, Pious, Dear and Faithful ]

Although the ship the Vaerwel is undertaking its voyage to New Netherland by way of Brazil and Curaçao and therefore most likely will arrive late, we still did not want or could remain quiet about informing your honor of what has occurred here since our last letters of the 24th of July (copy of which we shall send over at the first opportunity) and the 18th of August of this year sent with the Gelderse Blom and our ship the Koninck Salomon; especially about the solicitation of assistance required for those places. Also, we are replying, as much as we have deemed necessary on this occasion, to your honors' last letters of the 7th of January 1653 and the 5th of July.

First, concerning the solicitation of assistance and the reasons why we have been unable to write so little of consequence about it, it has not been because of negligence and flagging zeal on our part but only because of the highly important business and matters of state in which this city in particular is involved at this juncture in time, whereby one or the other ruling burgomasters has always been absent as a commissioner here or there. In addition to this has been the illness of the honorable burgomaster Witsen so that because the esteemed board was very weak, we did not deem it advisable to submit our petition on principle, until about 6 to 8 days ago when we handed the burgomasters a certain remonstrance drawn up by us regarding this matter with some documents on the same subject. Nothing of interest has so far ] resulted from it, notwithstanding we have badgered one or the other of their honors by constant solicitations. Finally we learned that the present state of the city did not allow to incur expenses or make advances without some assurance or without seeing that they could gain something thereby. We then requested that commissioners from the council be appointed to confer with us on the matter and to hear our proposals. We are anxiously awaiting this committee and hope also to give the same contentment and satisfaction, at least as much as the Company's condition can or may bear to a certain extent. For this we shall contribute and unleash all our powers, which the Company might still have left. We certainly have confidence in this, and your honors may certainly believe that we have taken it to heart because ] we are most favorably disposed to the preservation and maintenance of the country and its inhabitants (nurtured by us at such a great expense). In the meantime, we have already begun to provide ourselves with some weapons and munitions of war. We already have about 170 muskets, carbines and firelocks to arm the soldiers going thither. We shall not cease to continue in our preparations and care and we trust that you likewise are very cautious and ] make the best use of the means and power given to you first and now by God and nature, so that the haughty and intolerable English nation may not get the better of us through our bad management and carelessness.

We shall now tum to replying to your honors' two abovementioned letters. First, the one of January 7, 1653 in which your honors' say that our people there are living in great fear because the advantages of the parliament over our government here are greatly exaggerated there. We can surely believe this, although it is certain that it is cried out ten times greater there than it deserves in reality. However, this is the nature of haughty people and a characteristic of that nation in general. For this reason, little credence should be given to such, nor should it be accepted. Yet we think that their glory and haughtiness now shall be considerably diminished; not only because they have accomplished nothing or very little this year but in particular because of the great loss which the forces of England have suffered against us in the latest sea battle, causes considerable decline and dissatisfaction with their new usurping government. As to the union, said to have been made by them with the ] crown of Sweden, we have as of yet seen no results from it, much less, that they have joined forces to blockade the sound ]. Also, the English came out of ] the aforesaid sea battle so battered (besides losing at least twenty of their best and largest ships) that they have not been able to recover as yet ] in order to go to sea.

Your honors are to behave carefully with the Swedes on the South River (against whose leader you have been complaining),[2] by maintaining the Company's rights as well as avoiding ] as much as possible any occasion for complaint and displeasure, because at this juncture in time the Company needs no more enemies at its throat. Concerning the request of some of his subjects to come live among us, if we agree to protect them, we cannot see (unless your view goes farther, than we at present can observe), for it would indeed prevent an increase of population, which is nevertheless the life of a state and therefore should be promoted by all means. Hence the influx of free people should not be impeded, but rather encouraged by resolute and honest measures; justice and equity then demand that to the extent of our power we protect and guard all, who are willing and have submitted to our laws and customs, like our other inhabitants.

You extol the conditions and the offer, according to which some English families shall be admitted there to establish a new village or settlement near and opposite the village of Flushing who with village of Middelburgh are willing to the same conditions and offer. You present the matter as a proper measure, which would place the country and the administration in a firmer and safer position but unfortunately we take a different view, because the people of Hemstead and Flushing have actually not only not prevented the raising of the Parliament's flag by some English freebooter but also permitted it to be done; an example, which induces us not to trust to any of that nation residing under our jurisdiction. Their immigrating and having favors granted to them must therefore be restricted henceforth that we may not nourish serpents in our bosom who finally might devour our hearts. You will act accordingly.

We have learned with sorrow and surprise from your last letter of the 5th of June of this year (as we already mentioned in ours of the 18th of August, copy of which we enclose) what frivolous and false charges the people of New England have brought up against us only to cover their evil intentions with the appearance of justice and right They follow herein the example of their principals, whose government is built up on the same grounds and foundation. Upon hearing the rumors from New England they have magnified these false reports, apparently started at their own instigation and have forged and published in London the most shameless and lying libel which the devil in hell could not have produced, under the title "The second Amboyna Tragedy or truthful Account etc."[3] We have caused a translation to be made of it here and send you a copy of it herewith, so that you may see yourself the strategic measures employed by that nation in order not only to irritate against us their own people but also to bring down upon us the whole world. You must therefore proceed with great caution, for we cannot expect the least good from that nation at present.

The crops, which had been raised, have, we hope, been safely harvested and although we can hardly believe that the people of New England would have the audacity to blockade and besiege us there, which you apprehend most, the grain and other victuals must not be consumed lavishly at this time; we are told that the Colony of Renselaerswijck use their grain to brew strong beer etc., and you have done well and acted with due caution by giving them a timely warning. As by prohibiting the trade with New England no more meat or bacon can be drawn from the north, which you fear will cause a scarcity of these provisions, therefore we have at this time resolved to affix handbills proclaiming that all who will send victual to New Netherland shall pay no duties on them; that will encourage merchants to ship them.

We are waiting with much anxiety to hear of the return and the proceedings of our commissioners, Fiscal van Tienhoven and the Burgomaster-elect Arent van Hattem, who were sent by you to the Virginias partly to obtain some provisions, partly to ask for a continuation of the correspondence, peace and commerce, to which the governor and inhabitants of these places are very well inclined, as you say; we were glad to learn it, because we esteem their friendship very highly as well on account of the commercial intercourse, as because, as we said before, we must make no more enemies there and therefore we must also employ all honest and equitable means to continue with them upon the old footing of intercourse and friendship. Do not cease in the meantime to watch them, nor show your weakness and do not trust them, because at present very little reliance can be placed upon them.

We are very much astonished and surprised by your proposition and request that the interested parties, as Gerrit van de Voorde and his partners, might be satisfied and paid here for the merchandise confiscated by you and sold there; the more so as our former letters must have convinced you, how little satisfaction these proceedings and confiscations have given us. You ought also to have known that the condition and funds of the Company here do not permit it. There is little chance to settle the matter by an offset against the duties, and it would besides be a very slow way, as the people at least are sending only small cargoes to New Netherland and on the other side the Company should not be deprived of their small revenue in this country. In the meantime these people, here receive in consequence of this sending from pillar to post and delay injuring their interest, just cause for complaints, which you might have prevented by keeping in deposit the moneys received for the confiscated goods, especially as the confiscation was made for so poor a reason, viz, not showing the bill of lading, while the goods were nevertheless entered in the invoice. You might have foreseen that a claim for restitution would be made and in the future you must act with more caution and use all means to satisfy these parties there one way or the other and make such arrangements with them that no more chances to complain may be given to them or to others.

The good character, which you give to the skipper Jan Jansen de Vischer has been already taken into consideration by us and would in due time most likely have been acted upon, if we had been able to speak with him but we are at present prevented from doing so, because he is a prisoner in England, having had the misfortune, when returning with his ship from Norway to get separated from the rest of the fleet and to meet an English privateer, a frigate mounting 34 to 36 guns, which sank his ship after a fight of 5 to 6 hours' duration and took the skipper and the crew to England as prisoners; this is, alas! already the third ship coming from that quarter which has thus been lost to the owners. The merchants trading to that country are undoubtedly much aggrieved but we hope that they and we shall have our revenge some time or that the differences between our and that nation shall be adjusted, strong signs of which now reappear, as this government has again sent two commissioners to England. Time will show what they shall accomplish.

After a committee of the worshipful council of this city, to wit Messrs, Valckenier, Blauw, Tulp, and Dronckelaer, had been appointed upon our petition to the burgomasters (as already mentioned) to confer with us concerning the security to be provided by us for the payment of the succor asked and required for our places, we have last Wednesday met these gentlemen, to which we believe we did not only give every satisfaction but they also felt the importance of the matter, as far as we can judge, to be so great that we neither will nor can doubt of their making a good and favorable report to the burgomasters and council. It is therefore to be expected that some assistance shall be sent hence with God's help this year yet, which most likely will reach there before this letter, as the ship is going by way of Brazil and Curaçao. You may rely upon it and keep your eyes open in the meantime that no misfortune befall us there.

The XIX of all the departments[4] are still assembled at the Hague and engaged in refarming the government of Brazil, to send there new superior officers and to recall the old ones, who have been there over the time for which they were engaged. There is also some talk about the establishment of a general accounting department to sit at the Hague, which we hope will bring the departments more into harmony and induce them to mind the interests of the Company with more care and zeal. The hope for reform in Brazil is at present favorable. If some agreement or peace is made with the English, we shall apparently receive a considerable succor for Brazil and the other possessions of the Company to dampen the haughty spirit of the Portuguese and bring Dutch Brazil with part of Portuguese Brazil under the government and jurisdiction of the Company.

The government in England is at present very odd. Late reports from there state that parliament has resolved and ordered all Roman Catholics to contribute two-thirds of their revenues for the expenses of the war; also that all apprentices shall again wear blue caps.

They had also ordered that in future all marriages shall not be performed by a preacher in church but by justices of the peace and this order was to take effect on the 1st of November 1653 but it has been suspended. Notwithstanding all their thieving and robbing, confiscating of land and goods, selling of the King's lands and houses and the property of bishops, deacons and ecclesiastical institutions there is a great scarcity of money, so that parliament is very busy to find means. The people are getting tired of it and are slow in giving. All kinds of pretexts are invented to blacken the Dutch infamously and stir up the English against them only to make them ready to contribute; sensible men may know, whether such a government can exist long.

We have said above that last Wednesday we have conferred with the committee of the worshipful council of this city concerning the security for the required assistance; they have made such a report to the worshipful board yesterday that it has thereon adopted a very favorable and salutary resolution in behalf of strengthening that province (which they begin to consider of importance) so that we are not mistaken in our opinion, as stated above, and you may therefore expect by the first suitable opportunity the desired provisions and assistance.

the 4th of November 1653.

A. Pater
Jacob Pergens

ADDRESSED: ] To the Director and Council in New Netherland.


Missing material supplied from ibid., 215- 18.
Johan Printz, governor of New Sweden 1643-1653.
This is a reference to the so-called "First Amboyna Tragedy," which occurred in 1623 when the Dutch killed ten English merchants on the island of Amboyna in the Moluccas. It was the culmination of English-Dutch rivalry in the spice trade, resulting in the English East India Company leaving the field to the Dutch. See doc. 91 for the "Second Amboyna Tragedy" account.
Reference to the nineteen directors of the West India Company.


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