Monday, October 26, 2015

1647 - New Director General Peter Stuyvesant

Peter Stuyvesant (1610-1672)
Director General of the New Netherlands
January, 1647 - A group of merchants of New Haven charters a 150-ton vessel called the Great Shippe, intending to support the colony’s trade, drastically weakened by the dynamism of Boston and New Amsterdam. 
The boat has been urgently built in the Boston shipyards but according to John Winthrop's report, it seems badly suitable to the open sea. Most investors bring by the throat,its departure is planned without delay despite the tough winter

The Ghost Ship 
painted by Jesse Talbot (1850)
Bound for London, the ship was heavily loaded with marketable goods as wheat and beaver pelts but it also carried for its maiden voyage half-dozen among the most influential citizens of New Haven. After being laboriously extracted from the partially icebound harbor, it barely reached deep waters in Long Island Sound when it began to list. The ship soon disappeared in the fog and Rev. John Davenport left it to divine providence so that it arrives safe and sound.
It vanished with all hands and therefore entered the legend. One day in June, it was believed to be seen out of the mist slowly moving towards the port of New Haven but it was only a collective delusion. Aside from the emotional shock that represented this loss, it was also for the young colony an economic disaster and it took more than a century before Connecticut dare refloat another ship for oversea trade.

March 29, 1647 - a white whale is seen in the Hudson River at Fort Orange.

The mysterious animal was correctly identified as a whale and it was amazing that it could swim upstream on such a distance, certainly driven by a large spring tide. The whale was especially snow-white color, something unusual. Another whale was sighted in the same place a few weeks later, but this one was brown.

April 11, 1647John Haynes is elected Governor of Connecticut

May 11, 1647 – appointed since July 28, 1646, Peter Stuyvesant arrives in New Amsterdam to take his duties as Director General of the New Netherlands in place of Willem Kieft.
Peter (Peitrus) Stuyvesant and his wife Judith Bayard come from Curaçao aboard the 600-ton merchant vessel Princess Amelia.   

The arrival of Peter Stuyvesant

He found a colony in disarray. The wars led against the Indians by the former governor and boundary disputes with the English had awfully affected the vitality of the colonial society. Stuyvesant did not wait to set to work by drafting orders, regulating inns and tackling smuggling, eager to assert his authority upon people used to a long lineage of ineffective directors.

Peter Stuyvesant (Peperga (Friesland) 1611- New York 1672) 
Son of a minister, he studied at the Franekker University, Netherlands and started his career in 1636 as a clerk in the service of the Dutch West India Company. He was sent as a commercial officer to Fernando-de-Noronha, an island Northeast of Brazil, then to Curaçao, the largest Dutch colony in the Caribbean the director of which he was from 1642 till 1644.
He mounted that year an expedition to seize St-Martin Island owned by the Portuguese. His right leg was taken off by a cannonball while crossing the other side’s wall. He kept nevertheless at the siege during almost a month before being repatriated in the Netherlands where he was fit with a wooden leg.

May 19, 1647 - The Rhode Island General Assembly held in Portsmouth drafts a constitution that separates the Church and the State and allows public referenda. John Coggeshall is chosen first "President". 4 assistants are appointed: Roger Williams for Providence, John Sanford for Portsmouth, William Coddington for Newport and Randal Holden for Warwick.

Founded by personalities like Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson (deceased in 1644), William Coddington and Samuel Gorton who had all strongly opposed to the intolerant theocratic government prevailing in Massachusetts, the Rhode Island territory consisted of Providence, Portsmouth, Newport and Warwick plantations had not been admitted among the United Colonies of New England.

John Coggeshall (Halstead, Essex 1591 - Newport (R.I.) November 27, 1647) - from a wealthy family committed to puritan ideals, he had started a thriving career in silk trade when King Charles-backed religious persecutions brought him to set sail in 1632 towards New England aboard the Lyon together with his wife Mary and their eight children. The family settled first in Roxbury then in Boston where. John Coggeshall was admitted to the church and further appointed as selectman. He became then a wild supporter of his neighbor Anne Hutchinson and entered religious dissenting. He conducted her defense during her trial and appeared among the three members of parliament who voted for her acquittal.
This statement earned him being dismissed by the General Court then expelled from Massachusetts in March, 1638. He therefore found himself alongside Roger Williams and William Coddington. He was involved with them in the signing of the Portsmouth Compact (March 7,1638) and the purchase of Aquidneck Island. Dissensions that occurred within the group led Coggeshall and Coddington to move a year later to the south of the island where they founded the town of Newport. In the 1640's, he became an increasingly influential personality and succeeded with Roger Williams to realize in the spring, 1647 the union of the 4 cities of Narragansett Bay become the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

Edward Winslow
May 25, 1647 - the English Parliament signs a judgment in favor of Samuel Gorton. Edward Winslow, who was sent to London by  the United Colonies to justify their position and prove that New England is not intolerant, has not been listened.

After being expelled from Massachusetts and Newport but always firmly decided to get rid of the judges, Samuel Gorton had left again for London where he had presented a manuscript entitled Simplicity’s Defence Against Seven Headed Policy in reponse to another Edward Winslow's particularly virulent pamphlet entitled Hypocrisie Unmasked.  With the help of his friend the Earl of Warwick, Gorton was heard by the Parliament after Charles 1st had stepped down from power. He was granted a Royal Charter and a safe-conduct to return to New England.

May 26, 1647 - Governor of Massachusetts John Winthrop mentions in his diary that Alse Young, a woman from Windsor, Connecticut was found guilty of witchcraft and hanged in Hartford. She is the first sentenced to death for such accusations. 
There is neither record, however, of John Winthrop’s mention in the archives of Connecticut nor trial related to some Alse Young.

By reference to the Old Testament (Exodus, Léviticus, Deuteronomy), the law of Connecticut condemned witchcraft to death penalty. Since King James 1 had published a book entitled Demonologia, the religious strife had raised a genuine paranoia among the governments and people accused of witchcraft were every year more and more.
Special courts were set up, inquisitors of a new kind as Matthew Hopkins in England used all means including the most horrifying torture before leading to death hundreds of people, mostly innocent. We do not find such a violence in America but the "witch-hunt" would forever make the history of Massachusetts and Connecticut in the second half of the 17th century.

May 26, 1647 - the Jesuit priests are forbidden on pain of death to enter the Massachusetts colony.

The English Puritans feared the Jesuits for several reasons. The first one, simply because they were Catholic, namely idolatrous blasphemers doomed to eternal damnation. The second, because they were French and that France and England were both engaged in America in a struggle for influence. And the third, because the Jesuit missionaries had already converted a number of Indians in Canada who risked thereby to becoming allies with the French.
The Puritans were hardly welcoming to those who did not share their religious ideas but they hated especially Catholics. They were separated from the Church of England because they considered that it had not fully shed corrupt Catholic practices. They had their side removed rituals, external religious symbols, holy water, statues, liturgical vestments and stained-glass. They had moreover rejected hierarchy and abolished priesthood. And for them, the pope was " the Antichrist " and his followers were in league with the devil.

May 27, 1647 - In New Amsterdam, newly appointed Director General Peter Stuyvesant declares to the settlers "I'll govern you as a father his children". 

June 6, 1647 - The new council of New Amsterdam orders the Dutch West India Company ships Groote GerritDe Kath and De Liefde to get ready to set sail as privateers against the Spaniards 

June, 1647 - William Bradford is once again reappointed Governor of Plymouth. He is also chosen with John Browne as commissioner to the United Colonies.

June 9, 1647 – Governor of Maryland Leonard Calvert dies at St Mary’s City at the age of 40. He named as his successor Thomas Greene, known for his Catholic and royalist convictions.

Thomas Greene (1610 - 1650) a native of Bobbing, Kent, he was among the first settlers landed from the Ark and the Dove in 1634. Member of the Provincial Council since 1643, he married, it seems, Elizabeth Calvert, the governor’s sister. 

Leonard Calvert bequeathed his estate to Margaret Brent who had arrived 9 years earlier in Maryland together with her sister and her two brothers. She was the first woman to be personally granted a land that made her one of the largest owners in the colonies, even using the title of Lord, yet generally denied to women, to conduct her business.

Margaret Brent (Gloucester, 1601-1671) was the first woman lawyer of the American history to plead in front of a Court.
Descended from the Catholic gentry, she chose to emigrate with members of her family during the time of unrest prior to the Civil war. She was one of the six daughters of Richard Brent, Lord of Admington and Stoke and of his wife Elizabeth Reed, both from the old English-Norman nobility. She arrived at St Mary’s City with her sister Anne (Governor Leonard Calvert’s bride) and her brothers Giles and Fulke on November 22, 1638.
They would all be granted privileges and lands because of their prestigious lineage and political affinity while Margaret got closer to Governor Leonard Calvert with whom she shared the care of Mary Kitomaquund, daughter of the Piscataway Chief. She built up over the years a vast property of which in particular a 1000-acre land on Kent Island which was given to her by her brother Giles to repay a debt. This is why she felt free to train a group of volunteers to assist Governor Calvert after his return in the colony and put an end to William Claiborne's rebellion. Widower of Anne Brent since 1646, Leonard Calvert appointed her, when he died, as executrix of his estate.

July 7, 1647 – Rev. Thomas Hooker who was mainly involved in the foundation of Connecticut dies in Hartford the day of his 61st birthday.

Susquehannock longhouses
Summer, 1647 - the Hurons seal a war alliance with the Susquehannock to counter the Iroquois hold on pelt-trade. 

Despite  the conclusion two years earlier of a peace treaty with the Five Nations (Iroquois, known as the Haudenosaunee), the Susquehannock felt contempted as soon as the French kept granting a fur monopoly to the Hurons in the Great Lakes area while the resources on their own territory did not stop decreasing. The hostilities were latent and provocations increasingly common.
Bring some serenity in the relations between both peoples was a mission that came to Susquehannock. But the divisions were such that the negotiations had little chance of success. The Mohawk were keen to keep their trade privileges with the Dutch arousing the envy of the Onondaga, Oneida and Cayuga. For their part, the Seneca who already maintained trade relations with the Hurons and the French did not want to wage war.
The Susquehannock tried then a separated peace with the Onondaga and Oneida but their messengers were intercepted and the undertaking ended in a definitive failure.
Onondaga (People of the Hills) - one of the five Iroquois nations living south-east of Lake Ontario, in a region corresponding to the current County of the same name. Being located at the geographical heart of the confederacy, it was on their territory that was the Iroquois capital.

Oneida (People of the Standing Stone) - they lived in the middle of the current state of New York. They got their name from a legend according to which, chased by an enemy, people of the tribe had sought refuge in the woods where they had suddenly vanished, turned to stones. The Oneida society was based on clans whose membership was transmitted by women. Each of them had its own responsibilities and duties. The three main clans were those of the wolf, the otter and the bear.
The current descendants of the Oneida have maintained traditions and always recognize the clan of their origins.
Cayuga (People of the Great Swamp)  - they lived in the area between Onondaga on the East and Seneka (People of The Mountains) in the West. They were at the time about 2000 people.

The Five Nations

August 8, 1647 - The residents of Lynn, Massachusetts see landing in their town a group of strange people who are neither Indian nor Christian. They take them for Egyptians or gypsies, tramps, thieves and beggars and believe that they are engaged in devilish rites and in witchcraft.

They had never heard that such people are brought in Virginia or by the Dutch but it was however possible that they came from gypsie communities that Spaniards had got used to transfer towards the West Indies since the beginning of the 16th century.

August 16, 1647 -  the Princess Amelia, captained by Jan Claesen Bol in the service of the Dutch West India Company sets sail from New Amsterdam to Holland.

The ship had arrived in May carrying the new Director General Peter Stuyveasant and a large dyewood shipment loaded in Curaçao. It left the Dutch colony with nearly 14,000 beaver pelts and 107 passengers including former director Willem Kieft who returned to Amsterdam defend against various charges brought against him, Rev. Everardus Bogardus, the two settlers Jockem Pitersen Kuyper and Cornelis Melyn, former members of the Council of Eight Men, both banished from New Netherlands for insubordination to new Director Peter Stuyvesant and several soldiers who went back home after serving in Curaçao.

September 24, 1647 - Peter Stuyvesant forms a Board of Nine to help him to govern the New Netherlands.

The population of the colony was approximately 2000. Several steps were immediately taken, such as the mandatory Sunday rest and the prohibition to sell alcohol and weapons to Indians. It was also planned to create a market, an annual cattle-fair and a public school. 

September 27, 1647 – the Princess Amelia, carrying back former governor Willem Kieft to Holland is taken in a storm off the Wales. Kieft as well as several passengers die drowned.

Captain Bol who commanded the ship confused  Bristol Channel and English Channel, letting his boat run aground off Swansea where it broke apart. 21 of the 107 passengers were saved among whom both accusers of the dismissed Director General, Cornelis Melyn and Jockem Kuyter who succeeded in protecting the documents that they planned to use with the aim of a trial which finally would never take place. It is said that shortly before to die, Kieft confessed all that he did wrong and asked for forgiveness.

November 27, 1647 - Elected a few months earlier first President of Rhode Island, John Coggeshall dies in Newport at the age of 56.

December, 1647 - While New Netherlands are virtually bankrupt, Peter Stuyvesant makes throw in prison Adriaen Van Donck, head of the Board of Nine, blamed for writing a petition suggesting to put an end to the powers granted to the Dutch West India Company.

Stuyvesant had to release him soon after but Van Donck continued to advance his position aimed at moving the colony under the direct administration of the States General government. He was sent to Holland with a Stuyvesant’s envoy so that the case is judged by the Dutch authorities. These granted a charter to incorporate New Amsterdam while maintaining the rights of the Company.

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