of the Half Moon
Click on the image to go to the website for The Half Moon and the New Netherland Museum website.
of New Netherlands Circa 1650
of Mannados (Manhattan) or New Amsterdam circa 1661.
of New Amsterdam Circa 1651
of Bergen Town circa 1727 surveyed by Robert
Crooke. "Pavonia" is identified on the lower right. The actual Pavonia
patroonship originally included most of Hudson County
and part of Staten Island.
Courtesy, Jersey City Free Public Library
The Dutch were the
first Europeans to establish a settlement along the Hudson River between
the Connecticut and Delaware Rivers. Their stockade, called the village
of Bergen, is regarded as New Jersey's first permanent settlement and
the genesis of the present Jersey City.
Dutch West India
In 1621, the Estates-General of the Netherlands chartered the Dutch West India Company to develop its American claims. Its purpose was to open trade in North and South America and to build forts, maintain troops, and challenge Spanish trade in America, especially in the West Indies. Three years later the company sent Cornelius J. Mey (variation of name for Cape May) to colonize its land claims on both sides of the Hudson River. Dutch forts on Manhattan Island and at Orange (Albany), Long Island and Nassau (Delaware River) were founded.
The Dutch West India Company hired Peter Minuit, known for the purchase of Manhattan, as the director-general of New Netherland in 1626. Under company guidelines, settlers were servants and subject to the rules of the colony’s directors. They were expected to be members of the Dutch Reformed (Calvinist) church, but a stronger drive to populate the colony left open the opportunity for settlement by Puritans, Pilgrims, Anglicans, Jews and Lutherans.
General satisfaction with conditions at home in the Netherlands countered efforts to encourage their nationals to leave for America. Early settlers who did respond to the call worked in grain production, furs, breweries and plundering Spanish fleets traveling to the Caribbean. Over the years, the Dutch West India Company also tried to reorganize the colony by permitting slavery as well as overseas trade to boost the labor supply and economy.
To promote the agricultural development of the colony, the Dutch West India Company offered an incentive program called the patroonship under the Charter of Freedom and Exemption of 1629. Under this system, members of the company were eligible to receive a grant of land in America if they settled it with fifty adults, over age fifteen, within four years. The patroon, or grantee, was, in effect, a landlord and local lawgiver, and the settlers were tenants who paid rent during the length of a lease. The patroons were granted an eight-year exemption from taxes and the settlers given a ten-year exemption. However, of five patroonships in New Netherland, the grant to Kiliaen Van Rennselaer (called Rennselaerswyck) in Albany County was the only one that was successful.
On November 22, 1630, Michael Reyniersz Pauw, a member of the Dutch West India Company and Burgomaster of Amsterdam, was granted an estate on the western shore of the Hudson River. He named it Pavonia, meaning "Land of the Peacock," a variation of his name. In 1634, he appointed Jan Evertsen Bout, who settled at Communipaw, as his superintendent. The Pauw grant resulted in the construction of two houses, the first homes on the west side of the Hudson River. In 1636 Pauw appointed Cornelius Van Vorst, his second superintendent, who remained as a local leader for the nascent community and built a home at the area near Fifth and Marin Boulevard. Pauw did not obtain the required number of settlers and never left Amsterdam to live on his estate.
The governance of New Netherland on both sides of the Hudson River was in the hands of an appointed director-general or governor and council. They were located at New Amsterdam, at the lower end of Manhattan Island, where they received their orders from the Dutch West India Company. Minuit (1626-1633), the first director-general was succeeded by: Wouter Van Twiller (1633-1638); William Kieft (1638-1646); and Peter Stuyvesant (1647-1664).
Colonial histories portray Van Twiller as offering no particular direction for New Netherland. He left behind a reputation for a quarrelsome personality and an interest in expanding the brewery business in New Amsterdam.
The next director-general William Kieft embroiled New Netherland in Indian warfare that nearly dismantled the colony due to his lack of diplomacy.
While in Holland, Kieft worked as a merchant and was selected for his potential to make the colony profitable. Soon after his arrival in September 1639, Kieft levied a tax on the Indians living in all of New Netherland. The purpose of the tax in maize or wampum was said to provide the local Indians "protection" from rival tribes, portraying him as an interloper from the perspective of the indigenous peoples. David F. Winkler, in his article "Revisiting the Attack on Pavonia," comments that Kieft’s decision to impose a tribute for Dutch security only earned the disdain of Indian chiefs.
Algonquian-speaking Indians had previously killed two colonists, and Kieft sought to place the suspects on trial under Dutch law. To advise him on recurring incidents, Kieft formed a "Council of Twelve." In 1641, hostilities mounted and members of the Council petitioned Kieft to avenge the deaths of Dutch settlers. Winkler writes that despite claims of Kieft's war aggression, there are conflicting accounts of "Kieft's war" that bring into question "his enthusiasm for the anti-Indian expeditions" (10).
Kieft ordered an attack on the Indians at Pavonia, but he told his soldiers to spare the women and children. Eighty Dutch soldiers reached Pavonia on the night of February 25, 1643. The soldiers failed to heed the exemption and killed eighty men, women and children in a rampage. Winkler notes that while his orders were not followed, "Kieft thanked and rewarded the troops for their conduct" (11).
Eleven Indian tribes grouped for retaliation across New Netherland. According to Jersey City historian Joan D. Lovero, "Dirck Straatmaker from Caven Point ventured out to see what had happened and was struck by a poisoned arrow. . . . The [Cornelius] Van Vorst home at Harsimus was set ablaze and a child, Ide Van Vorst, taken as captive. The less unfortunate Dutch escaped to New Amsterdam, where they watched the fires that ravaged their homes and their crops. Pavonia was desolate" (10). Peace did not return to the area until a cease-fire agreement ended the hostilities in August 1645.
Settlers in the colony asked the Dutch West India Company to recall Kieft to Holland for an investigation of his actions. In 1647, Kieft died in a ship wreck off the coast of England and his papers were also lost at sea. He was never able to report his version of the war associated with his administration to redeem his name. The Indian hostilities convinced some settlers to return home to Europe; this diminished the confidence of the remaining settlers in the Dutch colony.
Peter Stuyvesant, 1646-1664
The fourth and last Director-General of New Netherland was the somewhat notorious Peter Stuyvesant. A former soldier, he had served as governor of the Dutch Caribbean Island of Curacao, where he lost his right leg. The injury left him with the unfortunate nicknames of "Peg Leg Pete" and "Old Silver Nails" from the stick of wood studded with silver nails that was his artificial limb. The uncomfortable prosthesis may have been the reason for his reputed ill-tempered manner and autocratic style.
The Dutch West India Company appointed Stuyvesant to replace William Kieft in July 1646 at a time when the colony was most vulnerable to failure. As the new governor, Stuyvesant's charge was to improve the economic status of the colony and to quell the Indian hostilities that interfered with the growth of Dutch settlements like Pavonia.
A staunch member of the Dutch Reformed Church, Stuyvesant knew the Bible well, and was known as a strict adherent to the rules of his employer. These factors would come into play in 1655 when the Dutch West India Company ordered Stuyvesant, illiberal in matters of religion, to rescind his initial objection to the arrival of Dutch Jews from Brazil to live in the colony.
In August 1655, with the support of some 600 soldiers, he left New Amsterdam to secure the colony of New Sweden along the Delaware River for the Dutch. During his absence, on September 15, 1655, a young Indian girl entered the orchard of Henry Van Dyck on Manhattan Island. She climbed a tree to pick a peach she had spied. Van Dyck took offense at her indulgence and took the extreme reaction of killing her with his rifle. Seizing what they believed to be an opportune time to retaliate, five hundred Indians attacked Hoboken, Pavonia and Staten Island for three days. It caused the death of 100 Dutch, the capture of 150, the wounding of Van Dyck, and the devastation of many homes.
On his return to New Amsterdam from the New Sweden victory, he faced a grave situation at Fort Amsterdam and Pavonia that became known as the "Peach Tree War." The task before him was to negotiate with the Indians and bargain for the ransom of the captives, who were being held at Paulus Hook. The captives were returned for ransom, which included powder and lead.
entered into negotiations that later culminated in a treaty signed on
March 6, 1660, making the "Peach Tree War" the last major Dutch-Indian
hostility in New Netherland. The event led to the establishment of the
fortified village of Bergen by Stuyvesant. Following this last Indian
crisis, Stuyvesant directed settlers at Pavonia to establish a fortified
town for defense rather than return to live on their isolated farms and
estates along the Hudson River.
30, 1658, as part of the peace negotiations, Stuyvesant met with local
Indian chiefs at Fort Amsterdam for the repurchase of the western shore.
It included "all the lands between the Hackensack and North (Hudson)
rivers from Weehawken and Secaucus to the Kill van Kull" (Lovero
12). At his request, the Council of New Amsterdam approved a hilltop site
for a garrison-style town or village. Settlers from the colony were invited
to move to the fort and live behind a square wooden palisade where they
could defend themselves with a militia against the Indians. On March 1,
1660, a request for a fortified settlement had come from Teilman Van Vleck
and other settlers.
Van Reypen purchased the first lot, now 201 Academy Street. According
to Owen J. Grundy and Luis P. Caroselli, "What is now Bergen Avenue
was the road that ran through its center, with gates and block houses
at either end. . . . A well in the middle was the city’s first water
works." The eight hundred foot area is now Bergen Square at Bergen
Avenue and Academy Street.
The Duke of York commissioned Colonel Richard Nichols with four ships and 400 soldiers to take over the Dutch colony. Nichols first went to Boston for additional recruits. When the English naval fleet arrived at the entrance of the New Amsterdam harbor on August 27, 1664, Nichols sent notice to Stuyvesant to surrender. Stuyvesant failed to rally support among the settlers to defend the colony. Rather, the settlers and his council offered no resistance and advised him to surrender. After years of discontent with Dutch rule and Indian warfare, the colonists held back while the English claimed control of the colony. Stuyvesant surrendered to the English on September 8; the Dutch government in Europe agreed to a peace treaty a few years later in 1667.
After the English took over the colony of New Netherland in 1664, a charter granted by Governor Philip Carteret recognized Bergen Township. On April 7, 1668, Carteret and his council of East New Jersey renamed the site "The Towne and Corporation of Bergen" that extended west to the Hackensack River. The settlers could keep their property, religious freedom and continue trade with the Dutch. These conditions allowed the Dutch to retain their ethnic culture in America through their customs and the institution of the Dutch Reformed Church. Many Dutch settlers, as well as Stuyvesant, remained in America and accepted English rule and law that included the promise of town government. Peter Stuyvesant retired to his farm on Manhattan Island and is buried on the grounds of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on the Bowery.
After forty years
in America, the Dutch failed to establish a successful colony at New Netherland.
Several factors were responsible: First, the concept of patroonship failed
to lure settlers. As a result, settlers of diverse nationalities and religions
populated the colony. Second, commerce was a priority for the Dutch West
India Company, and agriculture, which might have attracted more settlers,
was not considered profitable. Finally, somewhat autocratic governance
from New Amsterdam and the absence of local participatory democracy discouraged
loyalty to the colony. The governor had an unofficial advisory council,
but this did not compensate for the tradition of self-rule and home rule
experienced by settlers in the surrounding colonies.
A statue of Stuyvesant once marked the site of the village of Bergen. It stood in the courtyard of the Martin Luther King, Jr. School, formerly School No. 11, at 866 Bergen Avenue. The statue was proposed in 1910 at the commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of the founding of the village of Bergen. Sculpted by Scottish artist J. Massey Rind, the eight-foot high statue originally stood on an elaborate base, twelve-feet long and eight-feet high that was later modified.
unveiling of the statue took place on October 18, 1913. The inscription
on the base read: "In the year of our Lord 1660, by permission of
PETRUS STUYVESANT, Director-General, and the Council of New Netherland,
around this Square, was founded and built the Village of BERGEN, the first
permanent settlement in NEW JERSEY." The statue was removed from the school site on February 5, 2010, amidst some controversy. It is now in storage at The Beacon, the former Jersey City Medical Center. There are plans for the statue to be restored and eventually be placed on a new base within historic Bergen Square.
"Stuyvesant Statue Belonged Where It Was," Jersey Journal
16 February 2010.
| By: Carmela Karnoutsos
Project Administrator: Patrick Shalhoub