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Henry Hudson— Enters the service of the Dutch — Discovers and explores the River now called by his name — His conduct to the natives — His fate — Dutch East India Company — Block's explorations — New Netherland—The Walloons — Purchase of Manhattan Island—Trade the principal object — Plan of Colonization — The patroons and their purchases — Swaanendael — Difficulties of this plan — Minuit recalled — Wan Twiller governor — Disputes with the English—Attempts of the Swedes at colonization on the
Delaware —Their success.
ABOUT two years after the settlement of Jamestown, and nearly at the same point of time that Champlain was making explorations in northern New York, a famous navigator, named Henry Hudson, entered the service of the Dutch East India Company. He was by birth an Englishman, and an intimate friend of the illustrious Captain John Smith. He had already made two voyages in the employ of London merchants, in search of a north-west passage to India, but not meeting sufficient encouragement at home, he went to Holland, and, early in April, 1609, was placed in command of a small vessel of eighty tons' burden, called the Half-Moon, for a third voyage. Impeded by the ice in the northern seas, he ran along the coast of Acadie, entered Penobscot Bay, made the land of Cape Cod, entered the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, and on the 2d of September discovered and entered Sandy Hook Bay. On the 11th, he passed through the Narrows, and on the 12th began his voyage up that noble river which now justly perpetuates his fame, pronouncing the
country along the river's banks “as beautiful a land as one can tread upon.” Hudson ascended the river with his ship as far as where the present city of Albany stands, and thence sent a boat which probably explored somewhat beyond Waterford. Mr. Hildreth stigmatizes Hudson's conduct towards the natives on several occasions, as marked by “reckless cruelty,” which is hardly borne out, we think, by the facts on record.” Descending the river, Hudson, on the 4th of October, set sail for home, and in little more than a month
* See Cleveland’s “Life of Henry Hudson,” ch. iv.
f Mr. Bancroft's language, after narrating Hudson's departure for Europe, will interest those who would like to know something about “New York as it was :” —“Sombre forests shed a melancholy grandeur over the useless magnificence of nature, and hid in their deep shades the rich soil which the sun had never warmed. No axe had levelled the giant progeny of the crowded groves, in which the fantastic forms of withered limbs, that had been blasted and riven by lightning, contrasted strangely with the verdant freshness of a younger growth of branches. The Wanton grape vine, seeming by its own power to have sprung from the earth and to have fastened its leafy coils on the top of the tallest forest tree, swung in the air with every breeze like the loosened shrouds of a ship . . . ... Reptiles sported in stagnant pools, or crawled unharmed over piles of mouldering trees. The spotted deer crouched among the thickets; but not to hide,
arrived safely at Dartmouth in England. The ship, after some eight months' delay, was allowed to continue its voyage to Holland, but Hudson was detained by a royal order, and soon after fitted out for a fourth voyage. From that voyage he never returned, but, set adrift in an open boat with his young son and eight others, he perished in the frozen regions of that Bay which still bears his name and reminds us of his fearful fate. The Dutch East India Company claimed a right to the new lands discovered by their agent; and vessels were immediately despatched to open a trade with the natives. A few fortified trading houses were erected for this purpose on the island of Manhattan, the nucleus of the future city of New York. Argall, it is said, returning to Virginia from his attack on the French settlements, entered the harbor, and claimed the right of possession for England. Too weak to dispute his claim, the Dutch affected submission, but only till his vessels were out of sight. But this statement lacks confirmation, and is positively denied by the best authorities.” The States-general had meanwhile granted a four years' monopoly to any enterprising traders, and an Amsterdam company sent out five ships. One of these adventurers, Adriaen Block, extended the sphere of discovery by way
of the East River, ran through the formidable “Hellegat,” or Hell Gate, and traced the shores of Long Island and the goasts of Connecticut as far as Cape Cod. A few years later, Captain Thomas Dermer was the first Englishman who visited the Dutch at Manhattan and sailed through Long Island Sound. A fort was erected on Manhattan Island, and another a few miles below Albany, more, however, as centres of traffic with the Indians, than with the view of permanent colonization. After a further duration of three years, during which they were first brought into contact with the Mohawks, the easternmost of the Iroquois or Five Nations, and succeeded in opening friendly relations with different tribes of Indians, the trading monopoly passed into the hands of the Dutch West India Company, who were endowed with the exclusive privilege of trafficking and colonizing on the coasts of Africa and America.”
This wealthy and important corporation, combining military with commercial operations, was divided into five chambers, established in five of the principal Dutch cities. Its affairs were managed by a Board of Directors called the Assembly of Nineteen; and its attention was devoted more especially to making reprisals on Spanish commerce, purchasing slaves, the conquest of Brazil, etc. New Netherland was committed to the charge of the
for there was no pursuer; and there were none but
* It deserves to be put on record here, to the credit of a Dutch navigator, that, in the year 1616, William Cornelis Schouten, a merchant of Hoorn, in North Holland, first sailed around the southernmost point of South America : in honor of his native city, he called
it “Cape Hoorn.” .
Amsterdam Chamber. Two vessels - were sent out under command of Cornelis Jacobsen May, the companion of Block, who became the first Director of New Netherland. During his brief administration of one year, a fort was built on the Delaware called Massau: there was also built, on the Hudson, where Albany now stands, a fort named Fort Orange. A number of Walloons, who had been denied the privilege of settlement within the territory of the Virginia Company, came out in the vessel under command of May: these, who were, properly so called, the first colonists, settled on the north-west corner of Long Island, at Waal-Bogt – “Walloon's Bay”—now, Wallabout. In May, 1626, Peter Minuit arrived at Manhattan as Director-general of New Netherland, and entered vigorously upon the duties of his office. Manhattan Island was purchased of the Indians for sixty gilders— about $24—and a block-house, surrounded by a palisade, was built at the southernmost point: this was called JFort Amsterdam. Staten Island was also purchased of the Indians, and the Dutch sent over to Holland specimens of wheat, rye, barley, flax, etc., as evidence of the fertility and goodness of the soil. Although the fur trade had already reached, in the value of the exports, about $20,000 per annum, the Dutch had not as yet entertained seriously the project of actual colonization and settlement on the banks of the Hudson. content to enjoy the profits of trade, and to have friendly intercourse with
the English at New Plymouth, who, however, with characteristic feeling on the subject, did not fail to remind them that England claimed the region of country they were occupying; and when England claimed any thing, she was not likely very soon or easily to give it up. The States-general were induced, however, the next year, to approve a plan for colonization which the Assembly of Nineteen had drawn up. “Any member of the Company, who might establish in any part of New Netherland, within four years after the notice of his intention, a colony of fifty persons upwards of fif. teen years of age, was to be entitled, by the name of Patroon, to a grant of territory so occupied, sixteen miles in extent along the sea shore, or the bank of some navigable river, or eight miles where both banks were occupied, with an indefinite extent inland. The island of Manhattan and the fur trade with the Indians were expressly reserved to the Company; and upon all trade carried on by the patroons, an acknowledgment of five per cent. was to be paid. These patroons were to extinguish the Indian title, and were to settle their lands with tenants, farmers having indented servants the same with those of Virginia; but the feudal privileges reserved to the patroons, some traces of which still exist, present a marked difference between this Dutch scheme of settlement, and the free tenure of lands adopted in Virginia. Free settlers who emigrated at their own expense, were to be allowed as much land as they could cultivate, and settlers of