Old Bergen

Chapter VI.

Daniel Van Winkle

Published 1902

Web version, edited by GET NJ
Copyright 2002

IT is interesting to note, as illustrative of the characteristics of the early Dutch settlers, an extract from a letter of George Bradford, Governor of New Plymouth. He says:

About Midmarch we received message from the Governor of the Dutch plantation, dated from the Manhattas, in the Fort Amsterdam, March 9, 1627. They (the Dutch, author's note) had traded in these northern parts, divers years after our coming. In their letter, they congratulate us on our prosperous, and praiseworthy undertaking, and government of our colony, with the presentation of their good will, and service to us, in all friendly kindness and good neighborhood; offer us any of their goods, that maybe serviceable to us, declare they shall take themselves, bound to accommodate, and help us with them for any wares we are pleased to deal for.

In response, Governor Bradford sent a letter of appreciation of the kindly offers, and signified his graceful acceptance; "alluding likewise to the hospitable asylum, afforded to the Pilgrims in Holland, when compelled to fly from the intolerant bigotry of their native land." The harmonious relations of the two colonies, thus amicably established, continued for many years, to their mutual advantage.

Notwithstanding these seemingly amicable relations, the fact remains that the growing prosperity of the Dutch excited a fear in the minds of their English neighbors lest their shrewd business tact and enterprise should overshadow them, and in time the Dutch become the recognized masters of the New World. As will be seen afterward, this led to the forcible attempt of the English government to displace and drive out the intruders, as they were considered from the English standpoint.

The previous occupation by the English of Virginia, and their successful development of its territory, in connection with their efforts from time to time to effect settlements within the jurisdiction of the New Netherlands, led the States General to make overtures to the British government to join with them and unite the trade of the two countries. These were rejected for the reason, as stated by an English statesman, "that in case of joining, if it be upon equal terms, the art and industry of their people, will wear out ours," a commentary upon the esteem in, which the early Dutch settlers were held even at this date.

Previous to 1629, the Company did not secure much profit, on account of the heavy expenditures incurred in establishing and maintaining the settlements. In order, therefore, to incite private enterprise, and effect the more rapid development of the country, they offered special privileges to such of their own number as should within four years plant a colony of fifty adults in any part of New Netherlands, other than Manhattan Island. They should be recognized and acknowledged as Patroons, and have full control of and right to the territory assigned to them. This offer occasioned considerable strife and competition among the members of the Company, and the game of "freeze out" was played with as much shrewdness and vigor as at the present day. Some of the members thus secured possession of the choicest sections of land, to the detriment and loss of their less fortunate fellows. According to the complaints made, " some of the Directors helped themselves by the cunning tricks of the merchants, and made most advantageous selections, to the exclusion of others." This caused much dissatisfaction and jealousy, and led to fierce and open discussion. Through the pressure of public opinion, the fortunate Directors were compelled to relinquish their ill-gotten holdings, and re-convey their selections to the Company.