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Conflicts of New Netherland

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  • Conflicts of New Netherland

    This thread is intended to be a place to discuss the various conflicts the Dutch were involved in during their brief yet important colonization of North America. New Netherland lasted less than 50 years, and in that time was involved in several conflicts with the Indians within it's borders and it's European neighbors. Most of these minor conflicts are forgotten today, but had lasting consequences for the development of North America.

    "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."

  • #2
    The following is an excerpt from an article titled "Governor Kieft's Personal War" by Walter Giersbach. It describes one of the early conflicts between the inhabitants of New Netherland and their Indian neighbors, known as Kieft's War (after Willem Kieft, director-general of New Netherland) or the Wappinger War.

    Antagonisms Turn Bloodthirsty

    If Kieft's policy and conduct at this point had been as wise and just as it was firm and energetic, his administration would have been marked by peace and great prosperity. Against this background, however, he pursued a policy that inflamed the Indian populations. His partiality for the Mohawks, with whom the Dutch had traded at Fort Orange, aroused the jealousy of other Hudson River tribes. Dishonest traders also exacerbated the situation by bilking the Indians when they were drunk, Kieft tended to turn a blind eye to these misdemeanors while sharing in the traders' gains. He also required a tribute of furs, corn and wampum from the Manhattan-area tribes.

    Kieft wasn't ignorant of the growing resentment. In 1640, it was reported that swine had been stolen by white people from De Vries' plantation on Staten Island. The governor charged the innocent Raritans of New Jersey with the crime and sent 100 men, armed with muskets and pikes, across the harbor to the island. The troops killed several Raritans, including a sachem. A show of power, Kieft probably concluded, would deter the Indians' vengeance.

    The tactic backfired. Neighboring tribes were angered and they refused to pay tribute any longer. In retaliation, the Raritans burned a farm and killed four Dutch workmen. Settlers then were murdered whenever the Indians met them in the forests of New Jersey, and De Vries' innocent settlement was ruined.

    Kieft's reaction to the growing hostilities was to outlaw the Raritans and eliminate them through genocide. He placed a bounty of "10 fathomes of wampum" on the head of each Raritan who was killed. It was not an effective policy, economically or strategically. A group of Metoac brought Kieft just one head whose owner was never identified.

    Another event also came to a climax. Many years earlier, some of Peter Minuit's men had murdered an Indian from the Wecquaesgeek tribe north of the Harlem River. His nephew, who was then a boy, vowed revenge. In 1641, amid the growing tension, the boy who was now grown attacked an innocent Dutch man in his wheelwright shop at the north end of Manhattan Island. While the mechanic was bent over his task, the young Indian seized an axe and almost cut the worker's head from his body. The Indian returned to his tribe in triumph, carrying the worker's scalp.

    Governor Kieft ordered the murderer turned over, but the chief refused to give him up, saying the young man had been rightfully avenged.

    Kieft was determined to punish the Wecquaesgeek the way he had the Raritan, and told the settlers in New Amsterdam to pick up their weapons. The townspeople saw the rashness of this order and refused. In fact, they charged Kieft with inciting a war that could "make a wrong reckoning with the Company." They added insult to their refusal, calling Kieft a coward. Collectively, they stated, "It is all well for you who have not slept out of the fort a single night since you came, to endanger our lives and our homes in undefended places."

    Pastor Bogardus was one of the enraged colonists, calling the governor "a child of the devil" to his face. On one occasion, Bogardus said that if Kieft would not behave himself he would give him such a "shake from the pulpit the next Sabbath as would make him tremble like a bowl of jelly."

    This tongue-lashing may have soured Kieft from attending services. He may also have become aware of the tenuousness of his position. He called an assembly of "masters and heads of families" to choose 12 men. Without becoming aware of it, he in effect created the first representative assembly in New Netherlands. David De Vries was chosen president. On Jan. 2, 1642, Kieft convened the Council of Twelve Men to plan a campaign against the Algonquins. His charge to the organization was whether the wheelwright's murderer ought to be demanded of the tribe, or if the Indians refused to surrender him to make war and burn the village.

    The Twelve Men under De Vries counseled peace and turned their attention to considering the needs of governing their own settlement. We can imagine Kieft's anger at this intrusion on his power. Cunningly, he offered a compromise: he would make popular concessions to the Twelve if they would authorize him to make war at an appropriate time. The group trusted the governor and agreed, only to see Kieft dissolve the Council of Twelve on Feb. 18 and forbid it to reorganize.

    This was turning into a bad year for the settlement. Kieft acted on Feb. 25 by sending an expedition against the tribe in Westchester County—only to be thwarted by their getting lost en route and, eventually, the signing of a treaty. (The murderer may also have taken refuge with another tribe.)

    Another situation involving the Hackensacks developed across the Hudson. The Hackensacks were already irritated over a questionable takeover of their land by Myndert Van der Horst when the son of one of the tribe's leaders was invited to a Dutch establishment and gotten drunk. When the Indian woke up, he discovered his hosts had stolen his beaver-skin coat. In response, he shot an arrow into a worker who was thatching the roof of Van der Horst's home. Kieft, of course, demanded the surrender of the killer only to get the usual response: the murderer had fled to another tribe.

    Tensions were further aggravated when the Narragansett sachem Miontonimo, with 100 of his warriors from Rhode Island, visited the Metoac villages on Long Island that summer to recruit allies for a war against the Mohegans in Connecticut. Kieft in his paranoia misinterpreted Miontonimo's intention and became convinced that a secret uprising was being organized against the Dutch and English.

    In what is now upstate New York other developments were taking place that would have repercussions for the Dutch on Manhattan Island. After years of fur trading, the beaver were being hunted to exhaustion. The Mohawks and the Mahicans needed new hunting territory, which necessitated more weapons to fight outside their territories. The currency for gun-buying was wampum, so the Indians demanded tribute from weaker tribes—particularly the Metoacs, Wappingers and Munsee Delawares who the Dutch would not arm. While the Mohawks pressured the Munsees west of the Hudson, the Mahicans went after the Wappingers on the east side of the river. In the winter of 1642-43, Mahican warriors came to the Wappinger (Wecquaesgeek) villages, but their extortion was resisted. In the fighting, seventeen Wappinger were killed and many of the women and children were taken captive. Some 500 Wappinger fled south to—they presumed—the protection of the Dutch.

    Following a short rest, the Wappinger moved across the Hudson River to the Hackensack and Tappan villages at what is now Jersey City, New Jersey.

    Governor Kieft saw their arrival and became convinced an uprising was being prepared. David De Vries, always the humanitarian, proposed a treaty and a lasting peace. Kieft and some of the leading citizens, however, overruled this merciful gesture and ordered a preemptive massacre.

    On a cold night in February 1643, the fugitives at Jersey City and others at Corlaer's Hook (now the foot of Grand Street at the East River) in Manhattan were asleep. Two armed parties were mustered out from the fort. One group went north to slay those at Corlaer's Hook. They set upon the unsuspecting Indians and proceeded to indiscriminately kill forty of them.

    Another group of armed men was sent to Jersey City. Silently crossing the river, the Dutch invaded the encampment and turned the snow red with the blood of men, women and children. The sky, it was reported, was lit with the fires from their tents.

    "Warrior and squaw, sachem and child, mother and babe were alike massacred," stated the 19th Century historian John Romats Brodhead. "Daybreak scarcely ended the furious slaughter. Mangled victims, seeking safety in the thickets, were driven into the river, and parents rushing to save their children, whom the soldiery had thrown into the stream, were driven back into the waters and drowned before the eyes of their unrelenting murderers."

    Between 100 and 110 Wappingers reportedly were murdered that night in what has been called the Pavonia Massacre and a prelude to the Wappinger (Kieft's) War.

    It is said that De Vries watched the fighting and flames from the wall of Fort Amsterdam. He reportedly told Governor Kieft, who had remained in safety, that he had commenced the ruin of the colony. Kieft ridiculed De Vries. When the Dutch troops returned to the fort with 30 prisoners and the heads of a number of Indians on their pikes, he shook their bloody hands delightedly, praised them and gave them presents. The soldiers, it was reported, also used the severed heads to play kickball.

    The massacres had the disastrous effect of bringing the tribes together and defusing their animosities in common cause against the Dutch.

    The Wappingers retaliated with the assistance of the Hackensack and Tappan tribes, and attacked outlying Dutch farms and settlements. The Dutch withdrew into Fort Amsterdam. Kieft prepared for a prolonged siege by sending troops to seize corn from the Metoacs. Three Canarsees were killed and the war spread to the Metoacs on western Long Island.

    Twenty tribes ultimately consolidated in the fight against the Dutch: Hackensack, Haverstraw, Munsee, Navasink, Raritan and Tappan from New Jersey; Wecquaesgeek, Sintsink, Kitchawank, Nochpeem, Siwanoy, Tankiteke, and Wappinger from east of the Hudson; and Canarsee, Manhattan, Rockaway, Matinecock, Massapequa, Secatoag, and Merrick on Long Island.

    The colonists must have been amazed at the maelstrom Kieft had unleashed. However, David De Vries believed the situation might still be salvaged. That spring, De Vries convinced 18 Metoac sachems to sit down in a meeting with Governor Kieft. Still denouncing the Dutch as "corn thieves," the Metoac agreed to a truce and sent envoys to the Tappans and Hackensacks urging them to do the same. The Wappingers were not mollified, however, and the fighting resumed that fall of 1643.

    Governor Kieft may have become aware he had unleashed a whirlwind of terror. On Sept. 13, 1643, he again asked the prominent family heads to create a new counsel, calling the group the Eight. Instead of sanctioning Kieft's actions, the Eight sought an expanded role in New Amsterdam's government and, ultimately, asked for relief from the government in Holland.

    Kieft tried a flanking movement to stanch the war by traveling north to Fort Orange, where he signed a treaty of trade and friendship with the Mahicans and Mohawks. Neither of these tribes had taken a position in support of the Dutch, but the mere threat of the upriver Indian alliance discouraged more tribes from entering the war.

    The Dutch offensive was renewed in the spring of 1644. After an unsuccessful expedition against the Raritans on Staten Island, the English and Dutch combined strategically to decimate the Canarsee, Merrick and Massapequa villages on the western end of Long Island. Governor Kieft hired the English mercenary and veteran of the recent Pequot War, John Underhill, for 25,000 guilders. Underhill brought with him two companies of 120 to 150 volunteers and Mohegan scouts. Underhill's company proceeded to kill over 120 Indian men, women and children where they lived near today's town of Massapequa.

    After some 500 Indians were killed on Long Island, the governor declared a day of thanksgiving. Other attacks followed against the Wappinger on the north shore of Long Island. (The population of all the Long Island tribes in 1600 was estimated at 10,000. The effects of warfare and sickness reduced this population to 500 by the year 1659.)

    Underhill's army also attacked Indian encampments north of Stamford, Connecticut, killing some 700 people before sunrise on a single day. Underhill again had fulfilled his bloody reputation as the "scourge of the Indians" and exercised his unusual Christian belief that "Scripture declareth women and children must perish with their parents."

    The Wappinger were threatened now with total annihilation. By the time their sachems came to make peace at Fort Amsterdam, they and their allies had lost at least 1,600 of their people in the fighting. The Dutch still had their hands bound, however, because the Metoacs, who had suffered more than 1,000 dead, refused to stop fighting.

    By summer of the following year—Aug. 9, 1645—the Dutch and Wappingers used the Mahicans' influence to establish a tenuous peace. The Metoacs, realizing their tribe was threatened with extinction, finally agreed to terms. A treaty was signed at Fort Orange making the Wappingers and western Metoacs subjects of the Mahicans and forced to pay an enormous annual tribute of wampum to the Mahicans.

    This agreement effectively put the Mahicans (and indirectly the Mohawks, which paid tribute according to the treaty of 1628) in control of the wampum trade on Long Island. Insultingly, the Mahicans didn't collect the tribute personally, but used the Wappingers as collection agents.

    By Aug. 30, New Amsterdam was left with only 100 white settlers. Kieft's War—the Wappinger War—had ended. Peace was celebrated with a salute from three cannons. During the firing, one of the cannons—a six-pounder—exploded killing Jacobsen Roy, a gunner.

    The Counsel of Eight, upon whom the entire colony now relied, had no legal executive power. Their plans, such as De Vries' treaties, were often frustrated by Governor Kieft. When the Eight protested his methods of taxation, Kieft declared, "In this country, I am my own master and may do as I please." In response to the will of the people—those who were left—the Eight sent a petition to the States General advising them of the critical situation and asking for Kieft's recall.

    One year later, on July 28, 1646, Governor Kieft was ordered to give up his post.

    On May 11, 1647, the new director general, Pieter Stuyvesant, arrived from the Caribbean to replace Kieft. His governance included all of New Netherland, Curaçao, Bonaire, Aruba and other of Holland's dependencies.

    Was this change of administration for the better? Not really. While today Stuyvesant is chiefly remembered for his relations with the English, he was described in the 1649 Breeden Raedt as conducting himself arrogantly and promptly taking the side of his predecessor against Cornelius Melyn and Joachim Petersen Kuyter, leaders of New Amsterdam's populist party. Stuyvesant had been successful (except for the loss of a leg) prosecuting the Company's business and wars in the Caribbean. This son of a clergyman was no prince of peace; in Holland, he had robbed the daughter of his own landlady, was caught, and was released because of his father's influence.

    The colonists, including Pastor Bogardus, had petitioned for Kieft's recall and his departure was celebrated with cannon salutes. Kieft sailed for Holland on Aug. 16, 1647, on the ship Princess Amelia carrying 400,000 guilders—more than $100,000. His fellow passenger was Pastor Bogardus, who was returning to Holland to answer charges brought by Kieft. Two others on board were prisoners, Melyn and Kuyter, who were being sent back after being tried, convicted and sentenced to be fined by Stuyvesant.

    It must have been an uncomfortable voyage, but its end was more painful to all. The Princess Amelia was wrecked by mistakenly entering Bristol channel on the coast of Wales. Governor Kieft, Pastor Bogardus and 81 others were drowned.

    The Breeden Raedt pamphlet states that when the ship foundered, "this ungodly Kieft seeing death before his eyes, sighing very deeply, dubiously addressed both [Kuyter and Melyn] 'Friends, I have done you wrong, can you forgive me?'"

    Melyn and Kuyter were able to remain afloat as the ship broke into pieces that night, and they were washed ashore and saved. Both were frantic to secure the papers on board the ship, which were critical for their defense in Holland against Stuyvesant's sentences. Three days after the shipwreck, they found the box with these papers and proceeded to Amsterdam to plead their case before the States General.

    The States General suspended the sentences and granted the men an appeal, which they later won.

    Although Governor Kieft's reforms and improvements in the colony were of lasting benefit, his governance was marked by such tyranny and his petty, bellicose nature was vented in such cruelty that he was rather universally detested. He died without wife, descendents or memorial.
    The full article can be found here.
    "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."

    Comment


    • #3
      Excellent work, HG.

      I'm starting to sound like a broken record.
      Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

      Comment


      • #4
        I've been taking an interest in the Swedish colony of New Sweden (Delaware), which was of course even more short-lived than New Netherlands (1638-1655), but then it was 1) originally captured from the Dutch, 2) for its duration pretty much constantly in conflict with the Dutch (the side getting their ships through would have the upper hand for a while), and 3) finally recaptured by the the Dutch under Stuvesant.

        If it's not going to be it's own thread, and you HG don't think it amiss, I might post a little write up in this thread. It would be interesting to compare the notes of the Swedes on the matter with what's there about the Dutch.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Johan Banér View Post
          I've been taking an interest in the Swedish colony of New Sweden (Delaware), which was of course even more short-lived than New Netherlands (1638-1655), but then it was 1) originally captured from the Dutch, 2) for its duration pretty much constantly in conflict with the Dutch (the side getting their ships through would have the upper hand for a while), and 3) finally recaptured by the the Dutch under Stuvesant.

          If it's not going to be it's own thread, and you HG don't think it amiss, I might post a little write up in this thread. It would be interesting to compare the notes of the Swedes on the matter with what's there about the Dutch.
          Another aspect of colonial history I'm embarrassingly unacquainted with
          Looking forward to how this thread evolves and will try to look into it from the Dutch angle. My daytime job keeps me pretty busy these days.
          BoRG

          You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by MajorSennef View Post
            Another aspect of colonial history I'm embarrassingly unacquainted with
            Looking forward to how this thread evolves and will try to look into it from the Dutch angle. My daytime job keeps me pretty busy these days.
            Don't feel bad MS, I've never even heard of a Swedish colony in the US before now. Looking forward to more info.
            Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Johan Banér View Post
              I've been taking an interest in the Swedish colony of New Sweden (Delaware), which was of course even more short-lived than New Netherlands (1638-1655), but then it was 1) originally captured from the Dutch, 2) for its duration pretty much constantly in conflict with the Dutch (the side getting their ships through would have the upper hand for a while), and 3) finally recaptured by the the Dutch under Stuvesant.

              If it's not going to be it's own thread, and you HG don't think it amiss, I might post a little write up in this thread. It would be interesting to compare the notes of the Swedes on the matter with what's there about the Dutch.
              Thank you for bringing up New Sweden Johan. By all means, please post more about the Swedish and Dutch conflicts. That's what this thread is for.
              "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."

              Comment


              • #8
                Great work, HG! Thanks.
                History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon. Napoleon Bonaparte
                _________
                BoRG
                __________
                "I am Arthur, King of the Britons!"

                Comment


                • #9
                  Outstanding stuff, gents. When time allows, I'd like to offer my own contribution -- with your permission, of course.
                  I was married for two ******* years! Hell would be like Club Med! - Sam Kinison

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    What (I think) I remember of the relation between New Netherlands and New Sweden. IIRC some years ago Pergite and I discussed a similar item in a thread here in ACG.

                    Interestingly, Peter Minuit born in the French speaking territories of the Low Countries and who bought Manhattan for the Dutch from the Indians in 1626, was also the founder of New Sweden.
                    Minuit had a conflict with the Dutch authorities in 1631 and was relieved form his position of Director General of New Netherlands.
                    Because of his unique knowledge of the area Minuit was contracted by the Swedish trading company to lead a Swedish expedition to the New World. This expedition of only two ships founded a Swedish colony (Ft. Christina) on the western board of the Delaware river in 1638.

                    Because of the friendly relations between the Netherlands and Sweden in Europe the Dutch decided not to intervene. The Swedish colony thrived because on the fur trade. Only in 1655, when the initial good European relations between the two countries had deteriorated, was 'Nya Sverige' annexed into 'Nieuw Nederland'. Swedish souvereignity of the colony had ended but the Swedish presence there and and its way of life remained.
                    Last edited by Colonel Sennef; 26 Oct 09, 14:20.
                    BoRG

                    You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Esopus Wars

                      Two other minor conflicts between the settlers of New Netherland and the local Indians were known as the Esopus Wars. The First "War" lasted from Sept. 1659 until July 1660 and was largely the result of paranoid settlers attacking the local Esopus Indians. The second "War" a few years later was the result of continuing tensions with the Esopus Indians.

                      This website here has a more detailed history of these conflicts.
                      "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        HG, would those have take place near the Kingston area of NY state? I'm dimly remembering a Esopus Creek/River? running through that area.
                        Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by R. Evans View Post
                          HG, would those have take place near the Kingston area of NY state? I'm dimly remembering a Esopus Creek/River? running through that area.
                          Yep, at the time it was called Wiltwijck. The English changed the name to Kingston.
                          "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by HiredGoon View Post
                            Yep, at the time it was called Wiltwijck. The English changed the name to Kingston.
                            Thanks.
                            Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Johan Banér View Post
                              I've been taking an interest in the Swedish colony of New Sweden (Delaware), which was of course even more short-lived than New Netherlands (1638-1655), but then it was 1) originally captured from the Dutch, 2) for its duration pretty much constantly in conflict with the Dutch (the side getting their ships through would have the upper hand for a while), and 3) finally recaptured by the the Dutch under Stuvesant.

                              If it's not going to be it's own thread, and you HG don't think it amiss, I might post a little write up in this thread. It would be interesting to compare the notes of the Swedes on the matter with what's there about the Dutch.
                              Johan,

                              I will add my lack of knowledge regarding New Sweden. Please feel free to enlighten us with whatever information you have about this colony. I would suggest that it deserves it's own thread.
                              Lance W.

                              Peace through superior firepower.

                              Comment

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