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proper occasions, the memory and merits of the original founders of their republics, in productions of great genius and classical taste. Why should we, in this state, continue any longer comparatively heedless of our own glory, when we also can point to a body of illustrious annals ? Our history will be found, upon examination, to be as fruitful as the records of any other people, in recitals of heroic actions, and in images of resplendent virtue. It is equally well fitted to elevate the pride of ancestry, to awaken deep feeling, to strengthen just purpose, and enkindle generous emulation.
Such historical reviews have a salutary influence upon the morals and manners of the times ; for they help us to detect pretended merit, to rebuke selfish ambition, to check false patriotism, and humble arrogant pretension.
The discovery of the Hudson, and the settlement of our ancestors upon its borders, is a plain and familiar story, on which I shall not enlarge. Our origin is within the limits of wellattested history. This at once dissipates the enchantments of fiction ; and we are not permitted, like the nations of ancient Europe, to deduce our lineage from super-human beings, or to clothe the sage and heroic spirits who laid the foundations of our empire, with the exaggerations and lustre of poetical invention. Nor do we stand in need of the aid of such machinery, It is a sufficient honour to be able to appeal to the simple and severe records of truth. The Dutch discoverers and settlers of New-Netherlands, were grave, temperate, firm, persevering men, who brought with them the industry, the economy, the simplicity, the integrity, and the bravery of their Belgic sires; and with those virtues they also imported the lights of the Roman civil law, and the purity of the Protestant faith. To that period we are to look with chastened awe and respect, for the beginnings of our city, and the works of our primitive fathers -our Albani patres, atque altæ mænia Romæ.
It does great credit to the just and moderate views of the Dutch during their government in this colony, that though they selected and settled on some of the best bottom-lands on the shores of the Hudson and its tributary waters, they lived upon friendly terms with the powerful confederacy of the Five Nations of Indians, whose original dominion extended over all the lands occupied by the Dutch. They were, at times, involved in hostilities with restless clans of neighbouring Indians, but the original and paramount lords of the soil
, and generally the Long Island Indians, gave them no disturbance.* The reason was,
Smith's History of New York, vol. i. 23. Trumbull's History of Connecticut, vol. i. 138—140. Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vol. iii. 324, 357. Wood's Sketch of the First Settlement on Long Island, p. 29–32.
that the Indian right to the soil was recognized by the Dutch, and always regarded by them, as well as by the English, their successors, with the best faith ; and they claimed no lands but such as were procured by purchase. The speech of the Indian called Good Peter to the commissioners of Fort Schuyler, in 1788, is a strong attestation of this fact. He observed, that when the white men first came into the country, they were few and feeble, and the Five Nations numerous and powerful. The Indians were friendly to the white men, and permitted them to settle in the country, and protected them from their enemies; and they had wonderfully increased, and become like a great tree overshadowing the whole country.
The Dutch colonial annals are of a tame and pacific character, and generally dry and uninteresting. The civil officers, as well as the ministers of the Dutch churches, were well-educated men, who imbibed their religion and learning in Holland ; and in their long and sharp controversies with the New England Colonies, the governors of this Colony showed themselves to be no ways inferior in their discussions to the most sagacious of the Puritans, either in talent, doctrine, or manners. Their disputes were concerning territorial jurisdiction, and particularly in respect to the country on Connecticut river, and they also had contentions concerning fugitives from justice, and interferences with the Indian trade. Strength and arrogance of deportment were evidently on the side of the English. Governor Keift, in his letter to the commissioners of the United Colonies of New England, in 1646, observed, that their complaints of ill-usage were the complaints of ihe wolf against the lamb.I Governor Stuyvesant also observed, in his letter to the Dutch West India Company, in 1660, that the New Englanders were in the ratio of ten to one, and able to deprive the Dutch of their
country. The Dutch governors charged the English, in di, rect terms, with an insatiable desire of possessing their lands;
and whatever might have been the real merits of the Dutch title to lands on Connecticut river, founded on assumed prior discovery and prior Indian purchase, it appears, at least from the diplomatic papers of the time, that their manner of vindicating their claim, and repelling accusation, and remonstrating against aggression, was forcible, sagacious, and temperate.
Peter Stuyvesant administered the Dutch government from 1647 to the surrender of the Colony to the English, in 1664,
Wood's Sketch, p. 12, 22, 23, gives the names of the several tribes from whom all the lands on Long Island, whether settled by the Dutch or English, were purchased. + Collections of the New York Historical Society, vol. iii. 326,
Hist. Coll. New York Society, vol. i. 196.
and he held his power in difficult times, and was surrounded with perils ; but he was a man of military skill, aritt- of great firmness, judgment, and discretion. He manifested his desire for peace, and showed the magnanimity of his character, in going, in proper person, in 1650, to Hartford, to meet and ne! gotiate with the commissioners of the New England Colonies, Though standing alone in the midst of a body of keen and wellinstructed opponents, he conducted himself with admirable ad dress and firmness. The correspondence between him and the commissioners, is embodied and preserved in the collections. of this Society, and it does credit to his memory.* The commissioners took offence at the date of his first diplomatic note, which, though written on the spot, was dated New-Nether: lands. Governor Stuyvesant consented to date it at Connec ticut, leaving out New-Netherlands, provided the commissioners would date theirs at Hartford, leaving out New-England; and to this they assented. Both parties managed the contro; versy with great discretion and good sense. When the commissioners complained of the vagueness and harshness of some parts of his letters, Governor Stuyvesant replied, that he came ihere from the love of peace, and not for altercation ; and that they all knew he could not deliver himself so promptly and clear ly in the English as in his own native tongue, and no advantage ought to be taken of any inaccuracy of expression. The meeto ing adjourned without any decisive results ; and he afterwards, in the year 1653, sent an elaborate vindication of his rights to the New-England commissioners at Boston, which contained sound expositions of national law. The English had complain : ed of the exaction of duties upon them in their trade and purchases at New-Amsterdam; and he in his turn insisted, that every civil government had a right to make what laws it thought fit, and every person who came within a foreign jurisdiction, must expect to find, and not to bring laws with him. He resented, in proper terms of indignation, the atrocious ch of being concerned in a conspiracy with the Indians to plunder his neighbours, and shed innocent blood; and he said that he reposed on the mens conscia recti, and despised the tongue of calumny. Though he sought nothing but peace and neighbourly intercourse, yet, if he must be driven to extremities, he had confidence that a just God would smile on and bless a righteous defence.
With that wise and good man terminated the Dutch power in this Colony.
Collections, vol. i. 189—290, taken from Hazard's Historical Collections, vol. ii.
The English took possession of the government in 1664, and administered it in the name, and under the authority of the Duke of York, who was the patentee. The terms of surrender of the Dutch power were exceedingly liberal. The inhabitants were made secure in their persons, property, and religion." Their titles to land were previously free from the appendages and services of feudal bondage. The conquest of the Colony proved to be a very fortunate event for the Dutch. They were relieved from perilous controversies with their eastern neighbours, and they became entitled to the privileges of English subjects. In a few years they participated in the blessings of a representative government, and they exchanged their Roman jurisprudence for the freer spirit, the better security, and more efficient energy of the English common law. The Dutch and English inhabitants became thoroughly united and formed but one indivisible people. The Dutch race in this colony kept at least equal pace with their English brethren, in every estimable qualification of good citizens. Through all the subsequent periods of our eventful story, down to the present day, they have furnished their full proportion of competent men.
This they have done in every variety of situation in which our country was placed, whether in peace or in war; and whatever was the duty in which they were engaged, whether in the civil or military, political or professional departments. I
Within twenty years from the conquest of the Colony, a free government, upon the plan of the English constitution, was given to it, consisting of a Governor and Legislative Council, appointed by the Crown, and a House of Assembly, chosen by the people. I The Assembly was composed, in the first instance, of seventeen members only, and it was never enlarged, even down to the period of the American war, beyond the number of twenty-seven. The members, during the earlier periods of our colony history, were elected for an indefinite period ; and new elections seemed to have been held only upon the dissolution of the legislature by the act of the governor. After long struggles for triennial elections, the assembly finally succeeded in 1743, to have the assembly made septennial by law. But we should be greatly mistaken if we were to conclude that so small a body of representatives, and chosen for such indefinite or protracted periods, was unable to withstand the influence of the executive branch of the government. The house, almost as soon as it was organized, began to feel its strength, and to display its independent genius. Through the whole period of our colonial history, the general assembly rarely ceased to sustain its rights, and assert its dignity with becoming spirit, against the whole weight and influence of the delegated powers of royalty. This character of the house, was a consequence naturally flowing from the healthy and vigorous principle of popular election, which, like the touch by Antæus of his mother Earth, in his struggles with Hercules, always communicated fresh strength and courage to renew the contest.
* Smith's History of New York, vol. i. 32.
† This is to be inferred from the conditions which had been offered by the Burgomasters of Amsterdam, in 1656, to the settlers in New-Netherlands, one of which was, that every farmer should have a free, fast, and durable property in his lands.- New York Historical Collections, vol. i. 291.
| It is worthy of notice, that the only two regiments of infantry from this state, in the line of the army of the United States, at the close of the Ameri. can war, were commanded by Dutchmen. I allude to the regiments commanded by Col Van Cortlandt and Col. Van Schaick And I hope I may be per. mitted to add, without meaning any invidious comparisons, that we have now living in this state, in advanced life, three lawyers of Dutch descent, who are not surpassed any where in acuteness of mind, in sound law learning, and in moral worth. The reader will readily perceive that I have in my eye Egbert Benson, Peter Van Schaack and Abraham Van Vechten.
n Smith's History, vol. i. 43. 58.
The house of assembly, from the very beginning of it, exercised its discretion as to the grant of supplies for the support of government, both in respect to extent and the duration of the grants. The governors, however, constantly complained, and insisted upon a permanent provision for the officers of government, and they interposed royal instructions, and sharp remonstrances, for that purpose.
Governor Fletcher, in 1695, first began the struggle with the assembly upon that point, and the contest was continued down to the era of our revolution ; but the assembly retained the control of their funds with inflexible firmness. As the governor and council were appointed by the crown, and held their offices at its pleasure, and as the judges were appointed by the governor and held at his pleasure, the colonial assembly had good reason to be tenacious of reserving to themselves some check upon the executive and judicial departments, by means of their support.
In 1708 the house of assembly declared that it was the unquestionable right of every freeman in the colony to have a perfect and entire property in his goods and estate ; and that the imposing and levying of any moneys upon the subjects of the colony, under any pretence or colour whatsoever, without their consent, in general assembly, was a grievance, and a violation of right. They further declared that the king could not erect a court of equity in the colony without the consent of the legislature. This last resolution was again and again adopted, between 1702 and 1735, in despite of the influence and menaces of the royal representative.* In 1749, the claim upon the assembly to pass a permanent supply bill, was renewed in the
* Colony Journals, vol. i. 223,