You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war. — Winston Churchill

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

The Beginning of New York

Charles II. was such a very merry and easy-going king that whenever his followers asked him for land in America, he readily granted it to them. In fact, he was so free-handed that sometimes he even gave away what really did not belong to him! Thus, he told his brother James, Duke of York, that he could have all the country claimed by the Dutch, saying that it was English because Cabot had visited it first.

As you will see, this led to trouble; for the Dutch, after building their first trading post on Manhattan Island, in 1614, had begun to form a colony in the New World. At first, the Dutch settlers were on very good terms with the Indians; but, owing mostly to the fire water they so freely sold, quarrels soon arose.

Seeing this, the Dutchman Minuit purchased the whole of Manhattan Island, in 1626, for about twenty-four dollars' worth of beads and trinkets. The town on it was called New Amsterdam, after a great city in Holland, and this sale, which gave the Dutch land for one sixth of a cent an acre, was soon followed by many others. Indeed, they soon owned all the Hudson and Delaware valleys, besides a strip of coast between the mouths of these two rivers.

Under Governor Kieft, the Indians, exasperated by the treatment they received, planned to murder all the Dutch. But a grateful Indian gave a colonist timely warning of the coming danger. Kieft now tried to make friends with the redskins, and appointed a meeting with their chiefs on Long Island. When called upon to state their causes of complaint, the Indians brought forth a bundle of sticks, and laying them down, one after another, related a special wrong for each stick.

Realizing that they had good cause for complaint, Kieft made a treaty with them, which, however, was soon broken. Again farms were attacked and settlers were scalped, and it was only after the number of whites had been greatly reduced, and more than a thousand Indians killed, that peace was finally made, in 1645. It was during this war that Mrs. Hutchinson, who had left Rhode Island and settled in the western part of Connecticut, was slain, with all her children except one, who was carried off into captivity.

To induce people to come and settle in the New Netherlands,—as the Dutch called their share of the New World, rich settlers, or patroons, were promised a farm of sixteen miles water front, provided they brought out fifty colonists with the, necessary farming tools and stock. The result of this offer was that many comfortable Dutch houses arose in the New Netherlands, which soon had many prosperous settlements, in each of which was a free school, so the children should not grow up ignorant.

These colonists were simple-hearted, jolly, and fond of good things to eat. On their numerous holidays they danced gayly, a pastime which the Puritans considered very wicked, and they often assembled to help one another and have a good time. Their principal festivals were held in honor of St. Nicholas, and on January 1, when they called upon all their friends to wish them a happy New Year.

In 1656, about ten years after the Indian troubles ended, there were about one thousand inhabitants in the city of New Amsterdam, which stood on the lower part of Manhattan Island. Protected on three sides by the waters of the North and East rivers and the Bay, the town was cut off from the rest of the island by a high palisade running from shore to shore. This was called the "Wall," and the place where it once stood is still known as Wall Street. Beyond this palisade were many farms, among others one on Bowery Lane, which belonged to Peter Stuyvesant, the fourth governor of the city.

The settlers having been driven away from Fort Nassau, on the Delaware, by the Indians, some Dutch merchants soon sent Swedes to form a colony on the spot where Wilmington now stands. The country around there was therefore called New Sweden. But the newcomers could not live in peace with the Dutch; so Governor Stuyvesant attacked them, seventeen years later, and took possession of their town, so that New Sweden ceased to exist.


It was while this fighting governor was at the head of affairs that King Charles's brother James, admiral of the English navy, first claimed his new territory. His ships appeared unexpectedly at New Amsterdam, and the astonished Stuyvesant soon received a letter ordering him to surrender the city. Although Stuyvesant had but one leg, he was a brave man, and wanted the people to resist. But they refused to fight, and made him so angry by their talk of yielding that he tore the English letter all to pieces.

In spite of his rage, however, New Amsterdam surrendered, and Stuyvesant had to march out of the town and return to Holland. The Dutch flag was hauled down and replaced by the English; but, as the city had been seized in time of peace, Holland soon showed her displeasure by declaring war against England. Vessels were sent out to retake New Amsterdam, which surrendered the second time as easily as the first, and the Dutch again ruled over their city.

But when the war was all over, the whole province of the New Netherlands was given up to the English. New Amsterdam's name was changed to New York (1664), and Holland never again claimed any part of our country. But the Dutch settlers continued to occupy their farms, and there are many people now in America who proudly claim descent from the early settlers of the New Netherlands. Interesting stories are told about the Dutch settlers, the most famous of all being Washington Irving's tales of Sleepy Hollow and of Rip Van Winkle.

The Duke of York, owner of all the land in the New World which had once belonged to Holland, shortly gave part of it to two of his friends, who called their tracts East and West New Jersey. The owner of West New Jersey did not keep his share long, but sold it to some Quakers, who settled near Burlington. East New Jersey was likewise sold to William Penn and others; but both provinces were given up to the crown in 1702. New Jersey—as they were now called—was under the same rule as New York until 1738, when it became a separate colony.


Front Matter

Our Country Long Ago
The Barbarous Indians
The Mounds
Where the Northmen Went
The Northmen in America
Queer Ideas
Prince Henry the Navigator
Youth of Columbus
Columbus and the Queen
"Land! Land!"
Columbus and the Savages
Home Again
Columbus Ill-treated
Death of Columbus
How America Got its Name
The Fountain of Youth
"The Father of Waters"
The French in Canada
French and Spanish Quarrels
The Sky City
Around the World
Nothing but Smoke
Smith's Adventures
The Jamestown Men
Smith Wounded
Pocahontas Visits England
Hudson and the Indians
The Mayflower
Plymouth Rock
The First Thanksgiving
Snake Skin and Bullets
The Beginning of Boston
Stories of Two Ministers
Williams and the Indians
The Quakers
The King-Killers
King Phillip's War
The Beginning of New York
Penn and the Indians
The Catholics in Maryland
The Old Dominion
Bacon's Rebellion
A Journey Inland
The Carolina Pirates
Charter Oak
Salem Witches
Down the Mississippi
La Salle's Adventures
Indians on the Warpath
Two Wars with the French
Washington's Boyhood
Washington's Journey
Washington's First Battle
Stories of Franklin
Braddock's Defeat
Wolfe at Quebec
England and her Colonies
The Stamp Tax
The Anger of the Colonies
The Boston Tea Party
The Minutemen
The Battle of Lexington
Bunker Hill
The Boston Boys
The British leave Boston
Declaration of Independence
A Lady's Way of Helping
Christmas Eve
The Fight at Bennington
Burgoyne's Surrender
Winter at Valley Forge
The Quaker Woman
Putnam's Adventures
Indian Cruelty
Boone in Kentucky
Famous Sea Fights
The "Swamp Fox"
The Poor Soldiers
The Spy
A Traitor's Death
Two Unselfish Women
Surrender of Cornwallis
British Flag hauled down
Washington's Farewell