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Stuyvesant to Directors - History

Stuyvesant to Directors - History



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Peter Stuyvesant, Manhattan, to the Amsterdam Chamber of Directors, September 22, 1654

The Jews who have arrived would nearly all like to remain here, but learning that they (with their customary usury and deceitful trading with the Christians) were very repugnant to the inferior magistrates, as also to the people having the most affection for you; the Deaconry [which takes care of the poor] also fearing that owing to their present indigence [due to the fact that they had been captured and robbed by privateers or pirates] they might become a charge in the coming winter, we have, for the benefit of this weak and newly developing place and the land in general, deemed it useful to require them in a friendly way to depart; praying also most seriously in this connection, for ourselves as also for the general community of your worships, that the deceitful race-such hateful enemies and blasphemers of the name of Christ-be not allowed further to infect and trouble this new colony, to the detraction of your worships and the dissatisfaction of your worships' most affectionate subjects.



Stuyvesant to Directors - History

WHILST I, your Illustrious High Mightinesses’ humble servant, was still in New Netherland I was informed, verbally and in writing, that the unfortunate loss and reduction of New Netherland were, in consequence of ignorance of the facts, spoken of and judged in this country by many variously, and by most people not consistently with the truth, according to the appetite and leaning of each. Therefore your Illustrious High Mightinesses’ servant, sustained by the tranquillity of an upright and loyal heart, was moved to abandon all, even his most beloved wife, to inform you, Illustrious, High and Mighty, of the true state of the case, that you, when so informed, may decide according to your profound wisdom

Not doubting that you, Illustrious, High and Mighty, will judge therefrom that this loss could not be avoided by human means, nor be imputed to me, your Illustrious High Mightinesses’ humble servant.

I dare not interrupt your Illustrious High Mightinesses’ most important business by a lengthy narrative of the poor condition in which I found New Netherland on my assuming its government. The open country was stripped of inhabitants to such a degree that, with the exception of the three English villages of Heemstede, New Flushing and Gravesend, there were not fifty bouweries and plantations on it, and the whole province could not muster 250, at most 300 men capable of bearing arms.
Which was caused, first, (in default of a settlement of the boundary so repeatedly requested) by the troublesome neighbors of New England, who numbered full fifty to our one, continually encroaching on lands within established bounds, possessed and cultivated in fact by your Illustrious High Mightinesses’ subjects.

Secondly, by the exceedingly detrimental, land-destroying and people-expelling wars with the cruel barbarians, which endured two years before my arrival there, whereby many subjects who possessed means were necessitated to depart, others to retreat under the crumbling fortress of New Amsterdam, which, on my arrival, I found resembling more a mole-hill than a fortress, without gates, the walls and bastions trodden under foot by men and cattle.

Less dare I, to avoid self-glorification, encumber Your weighty occupations, Illustrious, High and Mighty, with the trouble, care, solicitude and continual zeal with which I have endeavored to promote the increase of population, agriculture and commerce the flourishing condition whereunto they were brought, not through any wisdom of mine, but through God's special blessing, and which might have been more flourishing if your formerly dutiful, but now afflicted, inhabitants of that conquest had been, Illustrious, High and Mighty, protected and remained protected by a suitable garrison, as necessity demanded, against the deplorable and tragical massacres by the barbarians, whereby (in addition to ten private murders) we were plunged three times into perilous wars, through want of sufficient garrisons especially had they, on the supplicatory remonstrances of the people and our own so iterated entreaties, which must be considered almost innumerable, been helped with the long sought for settlement of the boundary, or in default thereof had they been seconded with the oft besought reinforcement of men and ships against the continual troubles, threats, encroachments and invasions of the English neighbors and government of Hartford Colony, our too powerful enemies.

That assistance, nevertheless, appears to have been retarded so long (wherefore and by what unpropitious circumstances the Honorable Directors best know) that our abovementioned too powerful neighbors and enemies found themselves reinforced by four royal ships, crammed full with an extraordinary amount of men and warlike stores. Our ancient enemies throughout the whole of Long Island, both from the east end and from the villages belonging to us united with them, hemmed us by water and by land, and cut off all supplies. Powder and provisions failing, and no relief nor reinforcement being expected, we were necessitated to come to terms with the enemy, not through neglect of duty or cowardice, as many, more from passion than knowledge of the facts, have decided, but in consequence of an absolute impossibility to defend the fort, much less the city of New Amsterdam, and still less the country. As you, Illustrious, High and Mighty, in your more profound and more discreet wisdom, will be able to judge from the following:

First, in regard to want of powder: The annexed account shows what had been received during the last four years and what was left over, from which it appears that there were not 2000 pounds in store in the city and fort of that quantity there were not 600 pounds good and fit for muskets the remainder damaged by age, so that when used for artillery, the cannon required a double charge or weight.

If necessary and you, Illustrious High and Mighty, demand it, the truth hereof can be sought from the gunner, who accompanies me hither, and who will. not deny having said in the presence of divers persons and at various times: “What can my lord do? he knows well that there is no powder, and that the, most of it is good for nothing there is powder enough to do harm to the enemy, but ‘tis no good were I to commence firing in the morning, I should have all used up by noon.”

What efforts we have employed to receive this and some other reinforcements and assistance may appear from the copies of two letters sent to the colonie of Renselaerswyck and Village of Beverwyck, marked No A1.

Whose answers intimate, that we could not be assisted by either the one or the other, because of the difficulties into which they had just then fallen with the northern Indians owing to the killing of three or four Christians and some cows, whether urged to do so by evil disposed neighbors, I submit to wiser opinions.

In regard to provisions: Although our stores were reasonably well supplied with them the whole fore part of the summer, even more than ever heretofore, the falling off being commonly caused by the want of credit or ready money to lay up an abundant stock of provisions

Nevertheless our supplies became, from various accidents, so much diminished that on capitulating to the enemy, not 120 skepels of breadstuffs, and much less of peas and meat were remaining in store,

This scarcity being caused by the exportation of a large quantity of provisions to the island of Curacao, in the little craft De Musch, dispatched thither three weeks previous to the arrival of the frigates, without any apprehension or suspicion of experiencing a want of provisions, as the good wheat harvest was not only at hand, but between the barn and the field.

In addition to this favorable prospect, we were relieved from all fear of any approaching enemy or imminent danger from Old England, by the last letters from the Honorable Directors, dated 21 April, and received one month before the arrival of the frigates in the words following:

On the other hand, according to the intelligence we receive from England, His Royal Majesty of Great Britain, being disposed to bring all his kingdoms under one form of government, both in church and state, hath taken care that commissioners are ready at present to repair to New England, and there to install the Episcopal government as in Old England wherefore we are in hopes that as the English at the North have removed mostly from Old England for the causes aforesaid, they will not give us henceforth so. much trouble, but prefer to live free under us at peace with their consciences, than, to risk getting rid of our authority and then falling again under a government from which they had formerly fled.

Two reasons which will serve you for speculation, in order to make a disposition of our force, and assist considerably the execution of our intuitions and maintenance of our conquest by that means without difficulty, until a final agreement shall be concluded.

The settlement of the boundary now begins to assume a different aspect from that it formerly wore, partly in consequence of our efforts, partly from other circumstances.

Placed by the aforesaid advices beyond all apprehension, we felt no difficulty in letting the aforesaid little vessel, De Musch, go with the loaded provisions indeed we would have sent off more if we could have procured them anywhere.

The asserted scarcity of provisions is proved by the annexed declaration of the commissary himself, and of Sergeant Harmen Martensen, and moreover by the efforts we employed to obtain a greater quantity of these, were that possible. No B1.

Provisions were likewise so few and scarce in the city, in consequence of the approaching harvest, for the inhabitants are not in the habit of laying up more provisions than they have need of, that about eight days after the surrender of the place, there was not in the city of New Amsterdam enough of provisions, beef, pork and peas, to be obtained for the transportation of the military, about ninety strong, and the new grain had to be thrashed.

In addition to the want of the abovementioned necessaries, and many other minor articles, a general discontent and unwillingness to assist in defending the place became manifest among the people,
Which unwillingness was occasioned and caused in no small degree, first among the people living out of the city, and next among the burghers, by the attempts and encroachments experienced at the hands of the English in the preceding year, 1663.

First, through Captain John Talcot’s reducing Eastdorp situate on the main, not two leagues from New Amsterdam, by order and commission of the government of Hartford.

Next, through Captain Co’s later invasion and subjugation of all the English villages and plantations on Long Island, which were under oath and obedience to you, Illustrious, High and Mighty, and the Honorable Company, with an armed troop of about 150 to 160 of John Schott’s horse and foot. That this was done also by the order of Hartford’s Colony appears from the fact that in the following year, 1664, Governor Winthrop himself came with two commissioners from Hartford, and one from the east end of Long Island, with a considerable number of people on foot and on horseback, to the reduced English towns, in order to get the inhabitants to take the oath of allegiance in the king’s name.
Owing to the very serious war with the Esopus Indians and their confederates, in consequence of a third deplorable massacre perpetrated there on the good inhabitants, we could not at the time do anything against such violent attempts and encroachments, except to protest against them verbally and in writing.

All this, recorded fully in the form of a journal, was, on November 10, 1663, and last of February, 1664, transmitted to the Honorable Directors, together with our, and the entire commonalty’s grievances, remonstrances and humble petitions for redress, either by means of a settlement of the boundary, or else by an effective reinforcement of men and ships.

I could and should lay the authenticated copies before you, Illustrious, High and Mighty, were it not that I am apprehensive of encumbering thereby your present much more important business. On that account, therefore, in verification of what is set forth, are most humbly submitted to you, Illustrious, High and Mighty, only

No. 1. An humble remonstrance of the country people on Long Island, whereof the original was sent on the last of February to the Honorable Directors, setting forth the threats and importunity made use of towards them by the English troop aforesaid, with a request for redress otherwise, in default thereof, they shall be under the necessity of abandoning their lands or submitting to another government.

No. 2 is a copy of a letter sent to all the Dutch villages for a reinforcement, whence can be inferred our good inclination to defend the city and fort as long as possible. The answer thereto intimates their refusal, as they, living in the open country unprotected, could not abandon their lands, wives and children.

No. 3. The burghers’ petition and protest exhibits their uneasiness wherein they set forth at length the very urgent necessity to which they were reduced in consequence of the overwhelming power of the enemy the impossibility, owing to want of provisions and munitions of war, especially powder, of defending the city one, and the fort three, days and the absence of any relief to be expected or reinforcement to be secured, certainly not within six months whereas by effective resistance everything would be ruined and plundered, and themselves, with wives and children, more than 1,500 in number, reduced to the direst poverty.

This dissatisfaction and unwillingness on the part of burgher and farmer were called forth by the abovementioned and other frequently bruited threats, by the hostile invasions and encroachments that had been experienced and the inability to oppose them for want of power and reinforcements but mainly by the sending of proclamations and open letters containing promises, in the King’s name, to burgher and farmer, of free and peaceable possession of their property, unobstructed trade and navigation, not only to the King’s dominions, but also to the Netherlands with their own ships and people.

Besides the abovementioned reasons for dissatisfaction and unwillingness, the former as well as the ruling burgomasters and schepens, and principal citizens, complained that their iterated remonstrances, letters and petitions, especially the last, of the loth of November, wherein they had informed the Honorable Directors of the dire extremity of the country both in regard to the war with the barbarians and to the hostile attacks of the English, had not been deemed worthy of any answer publicly declaring, “If the Honorable Company give themselves so little concern about the safety of the country and its inhabitants as not to be willing to send a ship of war to its succor in such pressing necessity, nor even a letter of advice as to what we may depend on and what succor we have to expect, we are utterly powerless, and, therefore, not bound to defend the city, to imperil our lives, property, wives and children without hope of any succor or relief, and to lose all after two or three days’ resistance.”
Your patience would fail you, Illustrious, High and Mighty, if I should continue to relate all the disrespectful speeches and treatment which, Illustrious, High and Mighty, your servants of the Superior Government have been obliged to listen to and patiently to bear, during the approach of the frigates, whenever they sought to encourage the burghers and inhabitants to their duty, as could be verified by credible witnesses.

This further difficulty was made by the burghers that they were not certain of their lives and properties on account of the threats of plundering heard from some of the soldiers, who had their minds fixed more on plunder than on defense giving utterance among other things, to the following: We now hope to find an opportunity to pepper the devilish Chinese, who have made us smart so much we know well where booty is to be got and where the young ladies reside who wear chains of gold. In verification whereof, it was alleged and proved, that a troop of soldiers had collected in front of one Nicolaus Meyer’s house in order to plunder it, which was prevented by the burghers.

In addition to the preceding, many verbal warnings came from divers country people on Long Island, who daily noticed the growing and increasing strength of the English, and gathered from their talk that their business was not only with New Netherland but with the booty and plunder, and for these were they called out and enrolled. Which was afterwards confirmed not only by the dissolute English soldiery, but even by the most steady officers and by a striking example exhibited to the colonists of New Amstel on the South River, who, notwithstanding they had offered no resistance, but requested good terms, could not obtain them, but were invaded, stripped, utterly plundered and many of them sold as slaves to Virginia.

To prevent these and many other misfortunes, calamities and mischiefs overtaking evidently and assuredly the honest inhabitants, owing to the aforesaid untenableness of the place and fort without assistance from Fatherland, which was not to be expected for six months, we and the Council, on the presentation of so many remonstrances, complaints and warnings, were under the necessity, God and the entire community know without any other object than the welfare of the public and the Company, to come to terms with the enemy and neighbors whose previous hostile invasions and encroachments neither we nor our predecessors have been able to oppose or prevent.

And, even if the good God had, for the moment, been pleased to avert the misfortune from us, to delay or prevent the arrival of those frigates, yet had we, through want of the reinforcements of men and ships from Fatherland so repeatedly demanded but not come, shortly after fallen, by this war with England, into a worse state and condition, in consequence of the overpowering might of the neighbors. This is sufficiently evident and plain from their hostile acts and encroachments against the inhabitants in a season of profound peace being, as already stated, fifty to our one, they would afterwards, jure belli, have attacked, overwhelmed, plundered us and the good inhabitants whom they would have utterly expelled out of the country.

Many more reasons and circumstances could be adduced, Illustrious, High and Mighty, for your greater satisfaction and my vindication, if your occupations, Illustrious, High and Mighty, permitted you to cast your eyes over, or allow others to take cognizance of, the continual remonstrances, applications and petitions for a settlement of the boundary or a reinforcement, particularly of the latest of the years 1663 and 1664, and of the daily entries in the minutes bearing thereupon.

But fearing that your patience, Illustrious, High and Mighty, will be exhausted by this too long and unpalatable relation, I shall break off here and submit myself, Illustrious, High and Mighty, to your most wise and discreet opinion, command and order – with this prayer, that you, Illustrious, High and Mighty, would please to dispatch me, your humble servant, as quickly as your more important occupations will possibly allow meanwhile praying that God will temper this loss with other more notable successes and prosper your government.

Illustrious, High and Mighty,
Your most humble servant,
Exhibited 16th October, 1665. P. STUYVESANT.


New Amsterdam becomes New York

Dutch Governor Peter Stuyvesant surrenders New Amsterdam, the capital of New Netherland, to an English naval squadron under Colonel Richard Nicolls. Stuyvesant had hoped to resist the English, but he was an unpopular ruler, and his Dutch subjects refused to rally around him. Following its capture, New Amsterdam’s name was changed to New York, in honor of the Duke of York, who organized the mission.

The colony of New Netherland was established by the Dutch West India Company in 1624 and grew to encompass all of present-day New York City and parts of Long Island, Connecticutਊnd New Jersey. A successful Dutch settlement in the colony grew up on the southern tip of Manhattan Island and was christened New Amsterdam.

To legitimatize Dutch claims to New Amsterdam, Dutch governor Peter Minuit formally purchased Manhattan from the local tribe from which it derives it name in 1626. According to legend, the Manhattans–Indians of Algonquian linguistic stock𠄺greed to give up the island in exchange for trinkets valued at only $24. However, as they were ignorant of European customs of property and contracts, it was not long before the Manhattans came into armed conflict with the expanding Dutch settlement at New Amsterdam. Beginning in 1641, a protracted war was fought between the colonists and the Manhattans, which resulted in the death of more than 1,000 Indians and settlers.

In 1664, New Amsterdam passed to English control, and English and Dutch settlers lived together peacefully. In 1673, there was a short interruption of English rule when the Netherlands temporary regained the settlement. In 1674, New York was returned to the English, and in 1686 it became the first city in the colonies to receive a royal charter. After the American Revolution, it became the first capital of the United States.


Stuyvesant to Directors - History

Our History

Stuyvesant Town is named after Peter Stuyvesant, the last Director-General of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, whose farm occupied the site in the 17th century. Peter Cooper Village is named after the 19th-century industrialist, inventor, and philanthropist Peter Cooper, who founded Cooper Union. ST-PCV was originally planned as a postwar housing development during the early 1940s in anticipation of the returning World War II veterans. The complex was developed by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Construction of ST-PCV took place 1945–1947. On the first day of its initial offering, the property received 7,000 applications it would collect 100,000 applications by the time of first occupancy. The complex's first tenants, two World War II veterans and their families, moved into the first completed building on August 1, 1947.

    The Tenants Association was founded in the fall of 1971 as the Stuyvesant Town Tenants Association.

In 1974, a contract between MetLife and the city expired after 25 years. The agreement kept rents in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village lower than they otherwise would have been through MetLife’s tax abatement and limited profits. A 10-year extension on the tax abatement and rent stabilization of the complexes, however, limited the immediate threat of rising rents.

  • In 1993 the Tenants Association's name was officially changed to the Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association.

In October 2006, MetLife sold Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town to Tishman Speyer. The new ownership implemented major capital projects on the property. Tishman Speyer relinquished control of the property in 2010 to CWCapital, a debt servicer.

  • In 2012, the STPCV TA helped get tenants $68.7 million in refunds from overcharged rent dating back to 2003.
  • In 2014, the ST-PCV TA reached a deal with the property manager to give residents in 15 of the 21 buildings in Peter Cooper Village and two in Stuyvesant Town that were the most affected by Superstorm Sandy a onetime reduction of 15 percent from the July 2013 rent bill.

As of October 2015, the property was sold to Blackstone Group LP and Ivanhoé Cambridge, the real-estate arm of pension fund giant Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec for about $5.3 billion.


The Dutch Surrender New Netherland

1. An Englishman gave the colony its start.
Hired by English merchants, explorer Henry Hudson twice entered the Arctic Ocean in an attempt to find a Northeast Passage to Asia, only to be stymied each time by sheets of sea ice. Though unable to gain additional backing in his home country, the state-sponsored Dutch East India Company soon jumped in to green-light a third voyage. In April 1609, Hudson set off on his ship, the Halve Maen (Half Moon), but quickly reached treacherous, ice-filled waters above Norway. Choosing to disobey his instructions rather than admit defeat, he crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Nova Scotia and then roughly followed the coastline south to North Carolina before reversing course again and heading up what’s now called the Hudson River. In the end, shallow waters forced him to turn around, by which time he realized the river would not be a Northwest Passage to Asia. Based on his voyage, however, the Dutch claimed parts of present-day New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut and Delaware for the colony of New Netherland. Hudson, meanwhile, died in 1611 following a mutiny in which he was set adrift on a small lifeboat in the Canadian Arctic.

2. The Dutch settled tiny Governors Island before Manhattan.
Fur-trading expeditions up the Hudson River got going almost immediately after Hudson’s voyage, but the colony grew at a snail’s pace. The first major group of settlers did not arrive until 1624, when 30 French-speaking Protestant families from present-day Belgium came over, fleeing oppression. Most were sent to Albany, whereas others set up on the Delaware River, on the Connecticut River and on Governors Island, a small landmass at the Hudson River’s mouth that is now largely parkland. On Governors Island, they built a fort, a windmill and likely other structures as well. But they quickly outgrew it, and by 1626 had founded New Amsterdam on the southern tip of nearby Manhattan Island. For safety purposes, the families elsewhere in the colony also moved to New Amsterdam following a war between the Mohawk and Mahican Indians that the Dutch became involved in on the losing side. From that point forward, the city was New Netherland’s largest and most important settlement.

Peter Minuit’s “purchase” of Manhattan, May 1626.

3. Contrary to legend, the Dutch didn’t buy Manhattan for $24.
As part of their settlement of Manhattan, the Dutch purportedly purchased the island from the Native Americans for trade goods worth 60 guilders. More than two centuries later, using then-current exchange rates, a U.S. historian calculated that amount as $24, and the number stuck in the public’s mind. Yet it’s not as if the Dutch handed over a “$20 bill and four ones,” explained Charles T. Gehring, director of the New Netherland Research Center at the New York State Library. “It’s a totally inaccurate figure.” He pointed out that the trade goods, such as iron kettles and axes, were invaluable to the Native Americans since they couldn’t produce those things themselves. Moreover, the Native Americans had a completely different concept of land ownership. As a result, they almost certainly believed they were renting out Manhattan for temporary use, not giving it away forever. Due in part to such cultural misunderstandings, the Dutch repeatedly found themselves at odds with various Native American tribes, most notably in the brutal Kieft’s War of the 1640s. “The Dutch were instructed by their authorities to be fair and honest with the Indians,” said Firth Haring Fabend, author of “New Netherland in a Nutshell.” 𠇋ut you can’t say they were much better [than the other European nations colonizing the Americas.] They were all terrible.”

4. Manhattan was a melting pot even then.
From the very beginning, New Amsterdam hosted a diverse population, in sharp contrast to the homogeneous English settlements going up in New England. In addition to the Dutch, many Africans (both free and slave), Scots, English, Germans, Scandinavians, French Huguenots, Muslims, Jews and Native Americans, among others, roamed the city’s streets. As early as 1643, a Jesuit missionary reported that New Amsterdam’s few hundred residents spoke 18 different languages between them. The various groups did not always get along. In 1654, for instance, Peter Stuyvesant, the peg-legged director-general of New Netherland, attempted to turn away a boatload of Jewish refugees, calling them “very repugnant” and �itful.” He also persecuted Lutherans and Quakers and owned dozens of slaves. Yet compared to other European colonies, relative tolerance prevailed. “It was limited, it was grudging, it wasn’t celebrating diversity or anything like that, but it was a distinct step forward,” explained Russell Shorto, author of “The Island at the Center of the World,” a history of Manhattan’s founding. “It was something that was really a different way of approaching things.”

Dutch governor Peter Stuyvesant surrenders New Amsterdam to the British, September 8, 1664.

5. The Dutch gave up the colony without a fight.
At its peak, only about 9,000 people lived in New Netherland, leaving it vulnerable to attack from the English, who fought three wars against the Dutch, their main commercial rivals, between 1652 and 1674 and who vastly outnumbered them in the New World. The breaking point came in March 1664, when English King Charles II awarded the colony’s land to his brother, the Duke of York, even though the two countries were then technically at peace. A few months later, four warships with several hundred soldiers onboard arrived in New Amsterdam’s harbor and demanded that the Dutch surrender. Though Stuyvesant at least outwardly prepared to fight, prominent city residents persuaded him to stand down, and on September 8 he signed the colony over without any blood being shed. In 1673, during the Third Anglo-Dutch War, the Dutch re-conquered Manhattan with an invasion force of some 600 men. But they gave it up the following year as part of a peace treaty in which they retained Suriname in South America. “They thought that was going to be worth more,” Fabend said. “They were wrong.”

6. Signs of New Netherland are still visible.
In taking over New Netherland, the English did not expel any of its residents or seize their property, and they even permitted a series of Dutch mayors in New York City. As a result, the Dutch maintained a cultural and linguistic presence, with words like 𠇌ookie” and 𠇌oleslaw” creeping into the American vernacular. Their distinct architectural style also lived on, as did place names, such as Brooklyn (Breuckelen), Harlem (Haarlem), Coney Island (Conyne Eylandt) and Broadway (Breede Wegh). Furthermore, the street pattern of lower Manhattan below Wall Street, along with that of Kingston, New York, and Albany, stayed largely intact. “If you don’t look up [at the skyscrapers], you can kind of fool yourself into thinking you’re in New Amsterdam,” Shorto said. Despite the massive amount of development that has taken place in New York City, a small amount of physical evidence remains. In Brooklyn, for example, the so-called Wyckoff House, first built around 1652, still stands. As for their political legacy, some historians credit the Dutch with influencing the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.


Peter Stuyvesant - References

Arrue, Karina L. "Jersey City's Statue of Peter Stuyvesant Will Be Restored and Returned to Its Original Location at School 11." Jersey Journal 19 October 2010.
Egan, Colin. "Stuyvesant Statue Belonged Where It Was." Jersey Journal 16 February 2010.
"Famed Stuyvesant Statue to Be Moved to The Beacon in Jersey City." Jersey Journal 11 August 2011.
Gomez, John. "Legends & Landmarks: Peter Stuyvesant Statue That Was Ripped from Jersey City's Bergen Square Is Rich in History, Artistic Value." Jersey Journal 7 February 2011.
Hack, Charles. "City and County Chip In for Stuyvesant Statue Pedestal." Jersey Journal 14 July 2012.
Hallanan, Jr., John to Carmela A. Karnoutsos. E-mail. 29 August 2016.
Hernandez, Yarleen. "Peter Stuyvesant's Statue Will Go 'Home' after Restoration." Jersey Journal 10 July 2013.
Lovero, Joan D. Hudson County: The Left Bank. Sun Valley, CA: American Historical Press, 1999.
"Monument to Stuyvesant." New York Times 19 October 1913.
Torres, Augustin C. " Stuyvesant Statue Finds Temporary Home." Jersey Journal 15 September 2014. Zakalak, Ulana. "The Peter Stuyvesant Statue Returned to Bronze Glory." Jersey City Restored, 2013 Calendar. Jersey City, NJ: Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy, 2013.


Stuyvesant to Directors - History

Peter Stuyvesant, also known as Petrus Stuyvesant, is an important figure in the history of New York City [earlier New Amsterdam], New York State and New Netherland. His name is still commonly used, especially in New York State, for street names, school names, building names, etc. A British-German-Danish cigarette brand is also named after him. Surprisingly, his ancestors no longer bear his name. His last direct descendant, Augustus Van Horne Stuyvesant Jr. died in 1953 at age 83 in New York City. A nineteenth century Stuyvesant descendant, Rutherford Stuyvesant, changed his name to Stuyvesant Rutherford in 1863 to satisfy the terms of a will. The paucity of descendants bearing his name may have something to do with the fact that Peter Stuyvesant has been blamed for turning over New Amsterdam to the British in 1664. The blame is not quite fair, because the citizens of New Amsterdam refused to help defend the city against a fleet of British warships. As a result Stuyvesant was forced to hand the city of New Amsterdam over to the British who promptly renamed it New York.

Peter, or Petrus, Stuyvesant was, according to some sources, born in Scherpenzeel, a town near the provincial border of Gelderland and Utrecht, and not far from the bustling city of Amsterdam in 1610. Other sources claim his birthplace is identified as Peperga in Friesland, and that claim may be correct because he apparently had attended the University of Franeker, located in Northern Friesland.

Prior to becoming Director-General, essentially Governor, of New Amsterdam, Stuyvesant had served as a Director of the ABC Islands in the West Indies. The ABC Islands consisted of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. In both capacities he was in the employ of the Dutch West India [DWI] Company, a large and influential Dutch trading company. There was little Dutch government activity in the management of DWI because the Dutch, during the period 1568-1648, were actively fighting for their independence from the Spanish colonialists, and the government was not in a position to also manage its own colonies. It had in essence outsourced this activity to the DWI.

During his directorship of the ABC islands, Stuyvesant had lost his right leg in a skirmish with either the Portuguese or the Spanish. As a result he spent the rest of his life on a peg leg. His disability did not generate much mercy among his citizens who called him peg leg Stuyvesant.

Stuyvesant was rather authoritarian with his subjects and he is frequently depicted as despotic. He refused to share power with the citizens of the new colony of New Amsterdam. He also tried to control the Dutch Reformed Church and even banned some of its ministers from the colony. When alcohol consumption became a problem in the colony he tried to control it and regulate the sale of it. When other religious groups such as Jews, Lutherans and Quakers tried to establish houses of worship he banned them. In other words he made no attempts to endear himself to the citizenry and to gain their support. The stand off between Stuyvesant and the citizens became so severe that the directors of DWI in Amsterdam even became involved in it. They forced Stuyvesant to modify his strict rules and regulations.

So when the British Navy reached New Amsterdam in 1664, Stuyvesant's call to man the ramparts fell on deaf ears. The city surrendered to the British, who then proceeded to not only take over New Amsterdam but all of New Netherland which included all of New York State and parts of New England and New Jersey.

It would be unfair not to look at the positive aspects of Stuyvesant's eighteen year rule over the colony of New Amsterdam. During his rule the population expanded from 2,000 to 8,000, trade flourished and he was able to establish a sense of law and order in the community populated by people from many countries and many backgrounds. He also followed the directives of his bosses at DWI closely.

Following the surrender of New Amsterdam to the British, Stuyvesant, as a dutiful servant of the DWI, sailed back to the headquarters of DWI in Amsterdam. He did not receive a hearty welcome, but a dressing down for causing the loss of New Amsterdam to the British.

Stuyvesant returned to what was then called New York, formerly New Amsterdam, and settled down on his farm on the bowery. The area where his farm stood is still called the Bowery today. Stuyvesant passed away in 1672. His remains were buried in a vault at St. Mark's Church in New York City. The slab covering the tomb states: "In this vault lies buried Petrus Stuyvesant late Captain General and Governor in Chief of Amsterdam in New Netherland now called New York and the Dutch West India Islands. Died 1671-1672. Aged 80 Years."

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Today in NYC History: In 1647, Peter Stuyvesant Takes the Reins in New Netherland

Stuyvesant at the invasion of New Amsterdam by English forces in 1664. Image via Wikimedia Commons

New Amsterdam in the early 1640s was a mess. Trash was strewn about the muddy streets, drunken sailors and farm animals ambled about, and New Netherland’s small population was huddled up in Manhattan after a bruising war against local Native American tribes. Enter Peter Stuyvesant. On May 27, 1647, he took over as Director General of New Netherland for the Dutch West India Company, telling the assembled crowd that he would “govern you as a father his children.” He would play the stern father in New Netherland until 1664, when the Dutch surrendered control of the colony to the British. (New Netherland was the full New York-area colony, New Amsterdam was lower Manhattan.)

Born and raised in the Netherlands, Petrus Stuyvesant spent most of his adult life at sea for the Dutch West India Company in the Caribbean. He worked his way up the ranks, spending two years as Director General of the slave hub island of Curacao. His right leg was taken out by a cannonball in a battle against the Spanish in 1644. A year later, while convalescing in Amsterdam, he was named as William Kieft’s replacement in New Netherland

The Kieft tenure had been a minor disaster thanks to his reckless bellicosity. His slaughter of Lenapes fleeing an invasion from a rival tribe prompted a bloody war (Kieft’s War) that led to the abandonment of Dutch outposts around the tri-state area. Kieft’s War is discussed in a previous Today in NYC History post. Kieft himself drowned when his ship sunk en route to Europe. Stuyvesant arrived to replace him on May 11, 1647, and was inaugurated two weeks later.

People didn’t know what to make us Petrus Stuyvesant, with his battle-hardened face, silver-banded peg leg (earning him the nickname “Old Silver Leg”), and immaculate clothes. From his inaugural address, however, it was clear that he was not going to mess around. A harsh, unpleasant, and intolerant man, Stuyvesant was feared more than loved, especially by his dozens of slaves. But like future New Yorkers from Robert Moses to Rudy, his tough love and lack of charm was deemed necessary to move things forward.

He was intolerant of religion, going so far as to publicly torture a Quaker and banning Quakerism. This act led to the “Flushing Remonstrance” from Queens residents, a document that in some ways presaged the constitution, demanding “love, peace and liberty” for all faiths.

He rejected the constant pleas of New Amsterdamers for increased democracy, setting up sham advisory councils. Complaints against him were sent to the Dutch West India Company, events which led to New Amsterdam’s recognition as a city, though not a diminution in Stuyvesant’s authority. When he imposed new taxes to fund public improvements, many muttered about the “taxation without representation.”

When a farmer killed a Native American woman for stealing a peach, the “Peach War” led to New Amsterdam nearly being overrun, as Stuyvesant had left the city defenseless on a successful but ultimately pointless attack on “New Sweden” in Delaware.

Despite all these shortcomings, Stuyvesant was essential to the growth of the city. Under his leadership the population crossed 1,000 residents. Real infrastructure was developed, including a market, hospital, pier and post office. The sidewalks were paved. Stuyvesant oversaw a new settlement in Bushwick and the growth of villages throughout Brooklyn and Queens. In general, Stuyvesant allowed New Amsterdam to continue as a social and cosmopolitan port town, albeit with some rules.

The end came swiftly. In 1664 the British and Dutch were at war, and New Amsterdam was left isolated, as British forts and warships peppered the Atlantic Coast. Manhattan was surrounded on three sides by water, leaving it vulnerable to a naval attack, and the shaky wall on Wall Street wasn’t going to stop British forces either. When several frigates arrived in the Upper Bay, residents knew the gig was up. Many locals were not even Dutch, and whatever fears the Dutch had were put to rest by a British communication promising that they could keep their property. Stuyvesant was literally the last man who wanted to fight, and he ordered a cannon to prepare to fire on the British ships, an act that could have led to Manhattan being utterly destroyed by British fire. Fortunately, he was stopped by a petition of literally every leading citizen, including one of his sons.

After returning to the Netherlands to give his final report, Stuyvesant retired to his enormous farm (or “bouwerij”, hence the name Bowery), which occupied most of today’s East Village and Gramercy. He died in 1672 and was entombed in St. Marks-in-the-Bowery, where he remains today.

Stuyvesant’s name lives on in New York: Stuyvesant High School, which was founded in 1904 Stuyvesant Town, which sits on his old farm and BedStuy, which takes the latter half of its name from the old neighborhood of Stuyvesant Heights. Stuyvesant Street is that pretty little diagonal street, leading to the St. Mark’s church, it’s diagonal-ness a condition of the Stuyvesant family allowing the Grid Commission access to the farm.

His most colorful tribute comes courtesy of the Collegiate High School Dutchmen, who honor Stuyvesant as their mascot. Go Dutchmen!


Clarence Brown — always the bridesmaid

At the 3rd Academy Awards, a peculiar event occurred. Clarence Brown became only the second filmmaker ever, following Frank Lloyd, to score multiple Best Director nominations at a single Oscars ceremony. Brown achieved this with the films "Anna Christie" and "Romance." This notable feat wouldn't be the last time Brown garnered sizeable attention from the Academy. This pair of nods kicked off his notable presence in the Best Director category that would end up yielding six nominations.

Brown continued to get nominated in this category up until 1947, when he scored his final Best Director nomination for the film "The Yearling." The only downside to his impressive streak of nominations is that he currently resides as the most-nominated director to have never actually won an Oscar. Still, his constant presence at the Academy Awards throughout the 1930s and 1940s was remarkable, as seen by how, at the time of his death in 1987, only two other filmmakers had managed to either match or surpass his nominations in the Best Director category.


This Is What Mythologizing History Looks Like in 2014

In an Ancestry.com advertisement called “Remarkable Path," Henry Miller (1849-1918) is shown taking a photograph of Abraham Lincoln speaking at Gettysburg. It is a nice scene in an engaging ad. Unfortunately there are no photographs of Lincoln delivering this iconic speech. Lincoln spoke too briefly and at the start of the commemoration before the photographers were set up.

In another historical questionable Ancestry.com advertisement, “Doors," Louise Abbey traces her ancestry back to Matthew Abbey, born in 1635, and abandoned to be raised by a religious order in an abbey somewhere in the British Isles. The lineage route to Matthew takes her back through a British suffragette whose last name was, likes hers, Abbey. I suspect this is highly improbable in patriarchal Great Britain where children, at least legitimate children, inherited their names from their fathers. But these are only problems for picky history teachers or those so impressed by the Ancestry.com ads that they want to pay to have their own ancestry traced.

A more serious problem arises when historians, or historical writers, and venerable publications such as the New York Times support mythmaking, which happened in a Times op-ed piece by Russell Shorto on the 350th anniversary of New York City (if you start counting from the British occupation in 1664). Shorto is author of Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City (2014) and The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America (2005), a history of Manhattan, as well as a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine.

In “The Source of New York’s Greatness," Shorto argued that Americans should credit the original Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam for “two concepts that became part of New York’s foundation: tolerance of religious differences and an entrepreneurial, free-trading culture.”

According to Shorto, the Dutch “codified the concept of tolerance of religious differences, built a vast commercial empire and spawned a golden age of science and art . . . “ that was transferred to their North American trading colony. Unfortunately, Shorto left out key aspects of the history of New Amsterdam and New York that raise serious questions about his assertions and suggest that the history of New Amsterdam/New York City was never so ecumenical and that the entrepreneurial spirit of the city negative as well as positive repercussions. Below I list just a few of the things missing from Shorto’s analysis.

In his paean to religious tolerance in Old New York, Shorto ignored the enslaved Africans who built the infra-structure of New Amsterdam and who during the years of British colonization were buried outside the city walls in the African or Negro Burial Ground, rather than in the Anglican cemeteries at St. Paul’s and Trinity. Trinity Church Vestry Minutes for October 25, 1697 stipulated that “no Negroes be buried within the bounds & Limitts of the church yard of Trinity Church.”

Shorto also ignored the antipathy Peter Stuyvesant, the governor of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, felt toward Jews. According to Documents of the Senate of the State of New York (v. 14, published in 1902), in 1655 Stuyvesant wrote the directors of the Dutch West Indies Company requesting that Jews be excluded from the colony, and when this request was refused he barred Jews from trading in Fort Orange (Albany) and other regions of the colony. He also prevented them from purchasing land. In 1656, the directors made clear to Stuyvesant that while Jews in the Dutch colony were entitled “civil and political rights,” they were not granted the “privilege of exercising their religion in a synagogue or at a gathering.” Stuyvesant was not alone in his opposition to Jewish rights. In 1657, petitions by New Amsterdam Jews to operate a bakery and to serve as a burgher were denied by the New Amsterdam Court of Burgomasters.

Roman Catholics were also under suspicion in colonial New York. Under legislation passed by the Common Council in 1700, being a Roman Catholic priest was a crime punishable by death. In 1741, enslaved Africans in New York City were accused of conspiring with a “secret” Roman Catholic priest named John Ury to revolt against slavery, kill the White Protestant population of the city, and turn the colony over to Spain. Thirteen enslaved Africans were burned at the stake, eighteen were hanged, and seventy were transported to sugar plantations in the Caribbean. Ury, the suspected priest, was also executed.

Anti-Catholic sentiment escalated in the new nation especially with mass migration from Ireland starting in the 1840s. In 1844 nativist groups threatened to attack Catholic Churches in New York City. Bishop John Hughes placed armed guards around the churches and demanded protection from the city government.

Shorto discussion of the growth of commerce failed to include the role of the Dutch or of city merchants and bankers in the trans-Atlantic slave trade into the mid-19th century and their marketing of slave-produced commodities from the Caribbean (sugar) and the American South (cotton). For most of the 17th century, the Dutch West Indies Company, which controlled the New Amsterdam colony, held an asiento or monopoly over the slave trade into Spanish colonies. Most enslaved Africans in New Amsterdam were owned by and work for the Company. In 1647, when Peter Stuyvesant became Director General, he increased the number of enslaved Africans in the colony and eventually became the largest individual owner of enslaved Africans. In 1660, Stuyvesant presided over what was probably Manhattan’s first public auction of human beings. The largest cargo of enslaved Africans, 290 people, arrived in New Amsterdam in 1664 on the Gideon, just before the colony was taken over by the British.

The United States outlawed American participation in the trans-Atlantic slave trade in 1807, but that did not stop New York City merchants and bankers from illicitly participating in the transport of enslaved Africans from West Africa to the Caribbean islands, especially Cuba. Sugar cane was vital to the development of New York City and the prosperity of its merchant and political elite. Congressional records show that at least eight vessels intercepted in the trans-Atlantic slave trade on their way to Cuba between 1850 and 1858 were registered in New York City and that a suspected twenty or more slavers sailed out of New York in 1857 alone. In 1856, a New York City deputy marshal complained, “It is seldom that one or more vessels cannot be designated at the wharves, respecting which there is evidence that she is either in or has been concerned in the traffic [to Cuba].” During the same period, the Port of New York and its bankers and merchants plated a major role in the financing and shipping of Southern cotton (Singer, 92). In 1864, Congressman Fernando Wood, a former Mayor of New York City, denounced the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution ending slavery because if slavery ended Southern planters would be unable to repay their debts to New York City merchants and bankers.

In a letter to the New York Times I responded to the Shorto op-ed piece:

“Russell Shorto, in his celebration of New York City’s greatness didn’t mention people who have in effect been erased from history, the enslaved Africans who built the infrastructure of 17th- and 18th-century New Amsterdam and New York City. Also, his discussion of the growth of commerce didn’t include the role of city merchants and bankers in the trans-Atlantic slave trade into the mid-19th century and their marketing of slave-produced commodities from the Caribbean (sugar) and the American South (cotton). This is not my definition of an enlightened and tolerant society.”


Watch the video: Ο μονόλογος της Αγγελικής Παπούλια στην Εκρηξη του Σύλλα Τζουμέρκα A Blast, 2014 (August 2022).