Today’s installment concludes British Capture New York,
our selection from History of the State of New York by John R. Brodhead published in 1871. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
If you have journeyed through all of the installments of this series, just one more to go and you will have completed a selection from the great works of three thousand words. Congratulations!
Previously in British Capture New York.
Place: New York City
At eight o’clock the next morning, which was Saturday, the Commissioners on both sides met at Stuyvesant’s “bouwery” and arranged the terms of capitulation. The only difference which arose was respecting the Dutch soldiers, whom the English refused to convey back to Holland. The articles of capitulation promised the Dutch security in their property, customs of inheritance, liberty of conscience and church discipline. The municipal officers of Manhattan were to continue for the present unchanged, and the town was to be allowed to choose deputies, with “free voices in all public affairs.” Owners of property in Fort Orange might, if they pleased, “slight the fortifications there,” and enjoy their houses “as people do where there is no fort.”
For six months there was to be free intercourse with Holland. Public records were to be respected. The articles, consented to by Nicolls, were to be ratified by Stuyvesant the next Monday morning at eight o’clock, and within two hours afterward, the “fort and town called New Amsterdam, upon the Isle of Manhatoes,” were to be delivered up, and the military officers and soldiers were to “march out with their arms, drums beating, and colors flying, and lighted matches.”
On the following Monday morning at eight o’clock Stuyvesant, at the head of the garrison, marched out of Fort Amsterdam with all the honors of war, and led his soldiers down the Beaver Lane to the water-side, whence they were embarked for Holland. An English corporal’s guard at the same time took possession of the fort; and Nicolls and Carr, with their two companies, about a hundred seventy strong, entered the city, while Cartwright took possession of the gates and the Stadt-Huys. The New England and Long Island volunteers, however, were prudently kept at the Breuckelen ferry, as the citizens dreaded most being plundered by them. The English flag was hoisted on Fort Amsterdam, the name of which was immediately changed to “Fort James.” Nicolls was now proclaimed by the burgomasters deputy-governor for the Duke of York, in compliment to whom he directed that the city of New Amsterdam should thenceforth be known as “New York.”
To Nicolls’ European eye the Dutch metropolis, with its earthen fort enclosing a windmill and high flag-staff, a prison and a governor’s house, and a double-roofed church, above which loomed a square tower, its gallows and whipping-post at the river’s side, and its rows of houses which hugged the citadel, presented but a mean appearance. Yet before long he described it to the Duke as “the best of all his majesty’s towns in America,” and assured his royal highness that, with proper management, “within five years the staple of America will be drawn hither, of which the brethren of Boston are very sensible.”
The Dutch frontier posts were thought of next. Colonel Cartwright, with Captains Thomas Willett, John Manning, Thomas Breedon, and Daniel Brodhead, were sent to Fort Orange, as soon as possible, with a letter from Nicolls requiring La Montagne and the magistrates and inhabitants to aid in prosecuting his majesty’s interest against all who should oppose a peaceable surrender. At the same time Van Rensselaer was desired to bring down his patent and papers to the new governor and likewise to observe Cartwright’s directions.
Counsellor de Decker, however, travelling up to Fort George ahead of the English commissioners, endeavored, without avail, to excite the inhabitants to opposition; and his conduct being judged contrary to the spirit of the capitulation which he had signed, he was soon afterward ordered out of Nicolls’ government. The garrison quietly surrendered, and the name of Fort Orange was changed to that of “Fort Albany,” after the second title of the Duke of York. A treaty was immediately signed between Cartwright and the sachems of the Iroquois, who were promised the same advantages “as heretofore they had from the Dutch”; and the alliance which was thus renewed continued unbroken until the beginning of the American Revolution.
It only remained to reduce the South River; whither Sir Robert Carr was sent with the Guinea, the William and Nicholas, and “all the soldiers which are not in the fort.” To the Dutch he was instructed to promise all their privileges, “only that they change their masters.” To the Swedes he was to “remonstrate their happy return under a monarchical government.” To Lord Baltimore’s officers in Maryland he was to say that, their pretended rights being a doubtful case, “possession would be kept until his majesty is informed and satisfied otherwise.”
A tedious voyage brought the expedition before New Amstel. The burghers and planters, “after almost three days’ parley,” agreed to Carr’s demands, and Ffob Oothout with five others signed articles of capitulation which promised large privileges. But the Governor and soldiery refusing the English propositions, the fort was stormed and plundered, three of the Dutch being killed and ten wounded. In violation of his promises, Carr now exhibited the most disgraceful rapacity; appropriated farms to himself, his brother, and Captains Hyde and Morely, stripped bare the inhabitants, and sent the Dutch soldiers to be sold as slaves in Virginia. To complete the work, a boat was despatched to the city’s colony at the Horekill, which was seized and plundered of all its effects, and the marauding party even took “what belonged to the Quacking Society of Plockhoy, to a very naile.”
The reduction of New Netherlands was now accomplished. All that could be further done was to change its name; and, to glorify one of the most bigoted princes in English history, the royal province was ordered to be called “New York.” Ignorant of James’ grant of New Jersey to Berkeley and Carteret, Nicolls gave to the region west of the Hudson the name of “Albania,” and to Long Island that of “Yorkshire,” so as to comprehend all the titles of the Duke of York. The flag of England was at length triumphantly displayed, where, for half a century, that of Holland had rightfully waved; and from Virginia to Canada, the King of Great Britain was acknowledged as sovereign.
Viewed in all its aspects, the event which gave to the whole of that country a unity in allegiance, and to which a misgoverned people complacently submitted, was as inevitable as it was momentous. But whatever may have been its ultimate consequences, this treacherous and violent seizure of the territory and possessions of an unsuspecting ally was no less a breach of private justice than of public faith.
It may, indeed, be affirmed that, among all the acts of selfish perfidy which royal ingratitude conceived and executed, there have been few more characteristic and none more base.
This ends our series of passages on British Capture New York by John R. Brodhead from his book History of the State of New York published in 1871. This blog features short and lengthy pieces on all aspects of our shared past. Here are selections from the great historians who may be forgotten (and whose work have fallen into public domain) as well as links to the most up-to-date developments in the field of history and of course, original material from yours truly, Jack Le Moine. – A little bit of everything historical is here.
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