Ordinance against furnishing liquors to Indians

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The director general and council of New Netherland, to all those who see or hear this, greetings.

Let it be know that they see and observe by lamentable experience, notwithstanding their previous and frequently renewed ordinances enacted against the selling or giving of strong drink to the Indians or natives of this country, that many Indians are daily seen and found intoxicated, and while drunk they commit many serious acts of insolence, not only in the countryside, from where various complaints have been brought to us, but also, as our experience proves, many and diverse Indians are almost daily seen drunk and intoxicated within the city; and whereas up to this time the persons who sell, furnish and give the natives drink cannot be discovered; however, in consideration of the needs of the country, together with the danger that is to be expected therefrom if such selling, furnishing or giving of strong drink to the Indians is not prevented, discovered and punished.

Therefore, the director general and council of New Netherland do hereby expressly forbid the aforesaid selling, furnishing, supplying or giving of any strong drink to Indians either here, in the countryside as well as on the rivers, streams and kills, out of sloops or in any manner or by any means, or by what persons soever the same may be done and practised, not only on the penalty formerly expressed, namely, 500 Carolus guilders, but in addition such persons shall be corporeally corrected and punished at the discretion of the judge. In order to discover and prevent the same more effectively, the director general and council of New Netherland have, with the approval of the commissioners and representatives from the magistracy of this city, deemed it highly necessary that, from this time forward, all drunken Indians shall be arrested and imprisoned, and kept in confinement until they have told and declared who had furnished, sold or given them the drink. Such confessions and declarations of theirs shall, according to the circumstances of the case and the persons, be accepted and believed on that point, and the violators hereof shall, on the declaration of the Indians, be punished according to the ordinance and the exigency of the cases. We order our fiscal to have this published and posted in all the usual places as soon as possible, and after the publication and posting to put the same into execution without respect of persons, because we consider such to be for the public service and the peace of the inhabitants, in order to prevent greater dangers and misfortunes.

Thus done at the session of the honorable director general and high council held in New Amsterdam, 28 August 1654.[1]


Also in LO, 182-85 and LWA, 18.


Translation: Gehring, C., trans./ed., New Netherland Documents Series: Vol. 16, part 1, Laws and Writs of Appeal, 1647-1663 (Syracuse: 1991).A complete copy of this publication is available on theĀ New Netherland Institute website.