Letter from the directors in Amsterdam to the Director General and Council

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Honorable, Prudent, Pious, Beloved, Faithful.

Our last general letter to you, dated 12th of March last,was sent by the ship St. Maria, sailing for New Netherland from Rochelle. A copy of it is here enclosed. We have since received on the 4th of April your letter of the 3rd of January last by the ship Gelderse Blom, which we shall answer as far as necessary, addingthereto the matters, which we consider called for by present circumstances.[1]

It is in itself unreasonable and therefore surprises us greatly that the community there would not consent to assist in bearing the necessary expenses, without considering that they are not only in duty bound to do it, but that also the present situation should compel them to it, even if they were not obliged. We can therefore not omit to recommend this matter to you most earnest that the community, our inhabitants, be told to make the necessary and proper contributions. You must use for this purpose the most lenient measures with discretion and dexterity, but so that the persons, who cannot be persuaded by mildness, be taken in hand with proper compulsory measures. We shall provide you from here with as many soldiers and necessaries, as we can; you will see that in the enclosed lists.

We are much pleased with your decree ordering commissioners to go to the Governor and Council of Virginia and hope that it will have a good result; the principal reason for our hopefulness is that the dissentions between the present government of England and ours will soon come to a satisfactory end, of which we expect to give further information before the departure of this ship.

We trust, you have had good reasons for not publishing, but keeping in abeyance the printed copies of the placards concerning lands and lots and shall for the present leave the matter so; but what we have directed in regard to the determination of the boundaries of the colony of Rensselaerswijck ought not, we think, be delayed any longer, but executed, as our proposition was based upon equity and the privileges. Your question, whether the land outside of the Colony should be offered to the Patroons or to the co-directors, we believe answers itself, for if the persons mentioned desire to cultivate the land under the general privilege admitting everybody, then no reason exists to refuse them, but on the other side, if they want to hold the said land as Patroons and therefore join it to their colony to which it does not belong then their demand cannot be granted. We are pleased to see that the people of Fort Orange and of the said Colony live in good friendship and intercourse and if in this or in any other direction the life and behavior of the Commissary Dijckman give offence, then you must again and for the last time give him a warning and recommend that he attend to his duties and the service of the Company, in default whereof you are hereby specially and expressly authorized to discharge and immediately summon him away from there.

We enclose a placard for promoting the breeding of cattle,[2] which you shall not only publish and affix, but also take care that it is obeyed and executed. It will be a great help to you, if, as we recommend, you take a census of the number of animals in each colony, previous notice having been given, and keep a register, so that you may learn on occasion where the missing animals have gone to.

We confess that the description of the condition of the country about Fort Orange, which we have received, is different from yours; therefore we give up our opinion and agree to your proposal to erect a small fort or even only a small redoubt or blockhouse on Long Island; the reasons given by you are weighty and pressing, sothat we think it isnot necessary to urge you any more, but shall only add that posts with the arms of their High: Might : and of the Company should also be placed at other places, the ownership of which it is necessary to maintain.

The internal duty of four stivers for each beaver imposed by you has caused us here much trouble and we have tried to satisfy the interested dealers here in different ways, even by reducing the import duties from 16 to 12 percent but they insisted upon a full restitution, to which we had to consent. This must teach you to keep within the terms of our engagements and treat people according to what is due to them, not according to what you require. On the other side, considering that you should not be deprived of this revenue, especially as the expenses will be somewhat increased now, we have informed the said traders, conform to the agreement made with them that henceforth they must pay the four stivers for each beaver, and intend to reduce the import duties from 16 to 12 percent next year that the commerce may not be burdened too much. For the present we have kept the former charges, to obtain from their surplus funds enough to repay the unadvisedly exacted four stivers; only as far as tobacco from the Virginias is concerned, we have made a reduction from 45 to 30 stivers a hundred weight, while the 20 st. on New Netherland tobacco remain as before.

We do not know, whether you have sufficient reasons to be so suspicious of Adrian van der Donck, as all the charges against him are based upon nothing but suspicions and presumptions, however we shall not take his part, and only say that as we have heretofore recommended him to you on condition of his good behavior, we intend also that he be reprimanded and punished, if contrary to his promise[3] he should misdemean himself. On the other side we hope that your suspicions of him are to be imputed more to the unfavorable conjuncture of the times, than to his presence there.

We have already written you our opinion on the resolutions adopted by the general meeting of delegates and we hold it still. We have been amazed by the proceedings of the delegates from some colonies and villages, especially because in the whole remonstrance we cannot find anything that could have given them a reason for complaining of some wrong but from their conclusion and accompanying protestations it may be conjectured that the whole thing consists only of forged pretexts for an imminent factious sedition; we think that you should have proceeded rigorously against the ringleaders of this work, and not to have meddled with it so far, as to answer protests by counter protests and then let it pass without further notice. For as it is highly arrogant for inhabitants to protest against their government, so do the authorities prostitute their office, when they protest against their subjects without punishing them according to the situation and exigencies of the case. Although the relations between this country and England give rise to hope that also the differences over there shall be settled, we charge you nevertheless to mete out due punishment for what has passed, so that in the future others may not be led the same way.

The attorney, Mr. Francois le Bleuw, has been informed by us that he need not calculate upon sailing this season. He will be able to draw his own conclusions from that and from what has happened to him here and report accordingly to his employers that we are not at all pleased with such commissions; we inform hereof the burgomasters and schepens of New Amsterdam by this opportunity. The parties just mentioned have submitted to us in a special letter several requests, upon which we have resolved point for point as follows:

First, as they complain of too much limited and strict instructions, we decide that they shall write down and deliver to you the points, in which they desire an amplification or moderation.

Second, that henceforth the office of schout of New Amsterdam shall be separated from that of fiscal and the duties be performed by one person; we cannot omit here to inform you of our intention, which is that provisionally we continue Cornelis van Tienhoven in the office of fiscal and as to the schout' s office you must engage a fit and honest man, as whom we now propose Jochem Pietersen Kuyter. We charge you especially to take care that in the instructions to be drawn up for this schout the jurisdiction of the fiscal and of the schout are separately defined to prevent all conflicts from this source. The said burgomasters and schepens have also requested that the election or at least the nomination of the schout may be given to them, but we have refused that, because here in this country all private lords reserve such patronage to themselves.

Third, we have allowed the burgomasters and schepens to levy again a small excise and imposts to meet necessary expenditures, unless you had any objections against it, of which we wish to be informed to examine them. But we have not consented to what the burgomasters and schepens add that they should be freed from the maintenance of the Company's officers out of the excise already imposed.

Fourth, we have decided that a seal for the city of New Amsterdam shall be made and sent over.

Fifth, that the said burgomasters and schepens shall have the right of recording conveyances, deeds and mortgages of houses and lots within the said city, but not outside of its limits, it being understood however, that this does not deprive you of the power heretofore given to dispose of lots already granted, but not occupied, and that the burgomasters and schepens are in duty bound to give you upon demand an account of all conveyances, deeds and mortgages recorded before them.

Sixth, we have not granted their request, made to us, to be furnished a sufficient quantity of ammunition of war for the defense of the city, but we have told them that all such articles shall be directed to you to be distributed where necessary.

Lastly and seventh, we have granted and allowed that the house, in which the burgomasters and schepens meet, shall be given to the city to be appropriated to its use and the carrying on of its business; for we cannot see that it matters whether this house belongs to the Company or to the City in commonalty, provided, as we intend it that no private party shall base any claim hereon, nor shall it be alienated or mortgaged.

Concluding here what we have resolved upon the letter of the burgomasters and schepens, we shall only add that we send enclosed a copy of the letter written by the delegates from Gravesend and dated December 27th last[4] and direct you to inform yourself concerning the persons who signed it and to arm and prepare yourself immediately for the exemplary punishment of the mutinous. We have this before us as our foremost aim besides the preservation of the country in sending off the present relief.

Some complaints have been made here to us that there is no proper regulation, or at least that it is not observed, regarding weights and measures. We have therefore directed that some weights used in this city, also a yard and other measures, shall be sent over from here to be kept there in the City Hall and we desire you to take care that the goods and merchandise be sold or traded according to the measures and weights and that delinquents be duly punished.

For the maintenance of the commerce and correspondence between you and Curacao we have resolved to look out for a ship of 70 to 80 lasts and expect to send it by the first opportunity.

On the request of Gillis Verbrugge and Comp. we have passed the enclosed resolution on the 18th of November 1652;[5] we cannot learn otherwise, than that, although a second copy of it was sent to you, it had no effect. At the urgent request of the interested parties we cannot refuse to direct you again to govern yourselves pursuant to its contents, also to order that Gerret van der Voorde and companions receive satisfaction for their claim without neglect for any reason or pretense whatever; for we desire that in this and similar cases you shall not hunt up excuses, but carry out with precision not by words, but by deeds, the orders we give.

We could not grant the request made by you in a private letter of the 7th of October 1653 to the effect that the duties levied here upon a certain quantity of beavers should be repaid to the former Swedish governor, Johan Prints; mostly because the said Prints has not carried out his intention to send the beavers to Sweden, by way of Amsterdam, but has sold them here, where he also received the money for them and put it out at interest for his own benefit; so that the beavers did not concern the crown of Sweden, but him privately. We have been greatly astonished that you have shown yourselves so liberal, as you cannot be ignorant of the Company's condition and how difficult it is to make its revenues here and there meet the expenses; we cannot omit therefore to recommend that you do not dispose so giddily of the said revenues, but rather deny such requests in the most polite manner, so that nobody is hurt in his respect and authority and no cause for trouble given.

By the loss of the ship the Hoff van Kleeff, captured by the English, we find ourselves deprived of the books of monthly wages and other documents and papers sent over in it from New Netherland as well as from Curacao. As this loss causes us here many and great difficulties on account of some people, with whom without the books we cannot settle and who cannot be satisfied, therefore we direct you once more most urgently to send us the aforesaid books and other documents, now already called for several times, as quickly as possible that we may receive the desired information and get rid of these people without further difficulties.

We gave an order in our letter of the 24th of July 1653[6] that the pay of the soldiers, then going over in the Gelderse Blom and in our ship Conninck Solomon should be booked and begin upon their arrival out; but as since we have passed another resolution, to wit, that their pay should begin with the sailing of the ships from here according to the old usage, we have thought it necessary to inform you thereof, that it may be changed in the books there and the order be put in practice by you concerning as well the soldiers coming with this ship, as those, who may be sent over hereafter, unless you receive orders to the contrary.

The long expected peace between the present government of England and the United Provinces of Netherland has at least been solemnly concluded on the 15th of April and has also been ratified by both sides and published; as you may see by the enclosed original printed articles hostilities shall cease on the 14th of this month new style, so that the damages done by one side to the other after that date shall be repaid and indemnified without process of law, which you will see by the proclamation of the peace following the said articles. You are therefore especially ordered and commanded to govern yourself strictly in accordance with the tenor thereof, that no cause for new complaints may be given. Herewith, Esteemed, Prudent, Pious, Beloved, Loyal, we commend your honor to God's protection and remain,

Abr. Wilmerdonx
Isaac van Beeck

the 18th of May 1654.

ADDRESSED: ] To the Director General and Council in N. N.

If it should happen that some Portuguese ships are brought up there by pirate ships or by privateers, sailing under charter and commission of the Company, then you are to receive from the returns and net proceeds 10 percent as recognition and further act inpursuance of the enclosed extract from the resolutions, adopted by the delegates of the respective departments at The Hague the 15th of September 1653, until we shall have informed you of our further orders and resolutions, which cannot be done now on account of lack of time; you may expect them however with the ships the Peereboom and Gelderse Blom. Dated as above.

Ab. de Decker de Jonge

As the growth and prosperity of yonder state depends principally upon the population and the cultivation of the soil, we are constantly busy to invent measures, which might serve for their promotion. We intend for this purpose, (which has also the favorable endorsement of the Burgomasters of this city), to send you in the aforesaid two ships now ready for sea a party of boys and girls from the orphan asylum here, making first a trial with 50 persons. You may expect with them also a quantity of provisions that they shall not immediately burden the storehouse. While you see our zeal in increasing the population, you must constantly think of promoting the cultivation of the soil that on all occasions you need not rely on others, but may have recourse to your own resources. How much depends on this and how much you can rely in such cases on your English neighbors, you have sufficiently learned this last time. As we further understand that our inhabitants, engaged there in farming, apply themselves mostly to the planting of tobacco, thereby neglecting the cultivation of grain, we have considered it highly necessary, not only to remind you, but also to recommend to you to keep such farmers to their duty and obligations and make arrangements with them that a certain part of their land, either already under cultivation or to be cultivated hereafter, is sown in grain. When this is done, our province there will by and by become stronger and its population will increase.

Herewith go for the present five casks of meat for the soldiers now coming, also some clothing for them according to invoice, which you will distribute with such advance on their pay as has been heretofore given them. Dated as above.

Ab. de Decker de Jonge


See 12:1 for March 12 letter; other letters do not survive.
This ordinance no longer exists.
See Van der Donck' s petition to return to New Netherland in which he promises obedience to the Company's orders in Correspondence, 1647-1653, 200.
See Correspondence, 1647-1653, 236-37.
See Correspondence, 1647-1653, 185.
See Correspondence, 1647-1653, 221.


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