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THE MIDDLE COLONIES
94. New Netherland established. Soon after the Hudson River had been discovered for Holland by Henry Hudson (1609), the region was named New Netherland,' and enterprising Dutch traders began to buy furs from its aborigines. In 1623 the Dutch West India Company, a rich and powerful corporation which now had a monopoly of the
Dutch fur trade in America, sent over a number of settlers, who built Fort Orange, near the site of the present Albany, and made several other small settlements in vari
ous parts of New Painting by Fredericks. Courtesy, Tille Guarantee and Trust Co., N. Y. Netherland. THE PURCHASE OF MANHATTAN ISLAND
95. New Am
sterdam. Three years later, it was decided to erect a large fort at the mouth of the Hudson River, to be called New Amsterdam. For this purpose, Governor Peter Minuit, the Company's American director, bought from the Indians the whole of Manhattan Island for twenty-four dollars' worth of beads, ribbons,
1 New Netherland extended up the Hudson River as far as Albany, and included all the land between the Hudson (then known as “North River") and the Delaware (which the Dutch called “ South River'').
2 In 1614 or 1615, Dutch fur traders erected Fort' Nassau on an island in the river near Albany; but because of a flood this place was abandoned in 1617.
and other ornaments; this was at the rate of about two and a fifth cents an acre.
The Dutch predicted that New Amsterdam would in time become the chief town in North America. This prophecy was, years later, fulfilled under the American rule; and ever since then not only has the city on Manhattan Island been our most populous seaport but her harbor has been one of the busiest in the world.
New Amsterdam grew steadily. Settlers came from various European countries, from which many had been driven because of their religious ideas; for the same reason not a few of the inhabitants migrated here from New England. In 1643 it was reported that eighteen languages were spoken on Manhattan Island. 2
96. Early prosperity. For two years, commencing in 1643, the Algonquian Indians of the neighborhood made war on New Netherland. But fortunately the Iroquois, of northern New York, — who were enemies both of the French settlers in Canada and of the Algonquians, --soon became friendly with the Dutch fur traders, and helped them put down the uprising.
Theearly governors sent out by the Company were neither sensible nor honest. In 1647, however, there arrived a brave
1 November 5, 1626, one Peter Schaghen wrote to the States-General of the Netherlands, at The Hague: “They have purchased the Island Manhattes from the Indians for the value of 60 guilders ($24 in American money]; 't is 11,000 morgens (acres) in size."
The present acreage of Manhattan Island is 14,038, for since 1626 there has been much filling along the shores. The assessed valuation of the bare land composing the island is now over $2,500,000,000; the buildings and other property upon it are valued at about $1,500,000,000 more. A single square foot of soil on Manhattan is, in some places, now worth nearly twenty-five times what Minuit paid for the entire island.
2 In 1629 the Dutch West India Company devised a scheme for inducing farmers to settle along the Hudson River. Any member of the Company might bring over from Europe, at his own expense, at least fifty persons over fifteen years of age, and place them on land to be bought by him from the Indians. For this service to the colony, he was given the title of “patroon” (or patron), He made all the laws for his people, to whom he had given tools, cattle, and houses, and he was their governor and judge. For ten years they could not leave their homes without his consent. Several rich Hollanders were attracted to New Netherland by this aristocratic system, and their families long continued to be leaders in the politics and society of New York State.
old soldier, Governor Peter Stuyvesant, who had both of these virtues. He was irritable and tyrannical, and always quarreling with the people; but under his rule the colony prospered as it never had done before, and both the population and the fur trade doubled.1
97. Captured by the English. In 1664 New Amsterdam had a population of fifteen hundred souls. The village was built on the southern part of the island, and extended from
Painting by E. N. Henry. Courtesy, Title Guarantee and Trust Co., N. Y.
A STREET IN NEW AMSTERDAM In the distance is shown the old wall from which Wall Street takes its name the East River to the Hudson River. Its northern boundary was a great wall of earth, along the top of which was planted a stout palisade of logs; the great timbers were set on end, their tops sharpened to a point, and all joined securely together by bolts and straps of iron. This formed a barrier against an enemy that might approach by land, from the north. Wall Street, which is now the banking center of the United States, occupies the ground where this old defense stood. At the little stone battery on the southern extremity of the island, overlooking both the bay and the two rivers,
1 Stuyvesant had lost a leg in war for his country. The wooden substitute which he wore was bound with ferules of silver, so the people called him “Old Silverleg."