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THE MEMORIAL HISTORY OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, FROM

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ITS FIRST SETTLEMENT TO THE YEAR 1892. Edited by James Grant Wilson. With maps, plans and illustrations. Volume I. Large 8vo.

pp. xxiv-605. New York History Company.

The first volume of the memorial history of New York, edited by General James Grant Wilson, aided by a large corps of distinguished writers, fully justifies the claim that it is to be an exhaustive work, and in all respects worthy the importance of its subject. No pains or expense have been spared in the preparation of this book. It is printed on heavy laid paper in large type and is illustrated with fine steel full-page engravings, hundreds of wood-cuts in the text, and a large number of fac-similes, maps and plans. Many of these fac-similes, and many also of the historical documents which appear in the work, are now published for the first time. The archives of Holland have been ransacked to furnish new material for the history of the Dutch occupation, and many interesting and important facts have been ascertained through search among the family papers which have been preserved for generations by the descendants of distinguished early colonists, both Dutch and English.

At such a distance in time, and after so many laborious inquests as have been made into the beginnings of New York, it inight be thought that the last word must have been said on every really important event and question, But this is not the case. The researches of General Wilson and his contributors have resulted in the discovery of much new evidence materially affecting the conclusions to be drawn in several matters of consequence, so that an element of novelty enters into this history which differentiates it from all its predecessors. The work opens, as such a work should do, with a review of the explorations of the North American coast previous to the voyage of Henry Hudson. Here are presented sketches of the Northmen's voyages (the writer being a believer in the story of "Vinland the Good"), the voyages of the Welsh, of the Zeno brothers, Sebastian Cabot, Ayllon and the Spaniards, Verrazano, Gomez- -from whose time (1525) the situation of the Bay of New York was known-and closes with an examination of the question whether the Dutch were on Manhattan Island in 1598. Whether they were or not is not indeed vital, nor does it seriously interfere with the claim of Henry Hudson as a discoverer, In all such cases a period of reconnoissance precedes the period of practical and fruitful work It is credible that the Bay of New York was entered by a score of navigators before the keel of the Half Moon furrowed its waters. But all these early explorers were looking for a passage to Cathay and had no eyes for anything else. Hndson's voyage was the first to have effects of historical significance, for it was followed almost immediately by trade and settlement.

The second chapter of the memorial history treats of the native inhabitants of Manhattan and its Indian

antiquities. It contains an interesting disquition upon the identity of the so-called Manhattan Indians and the origin and meaning of the name Manhattan. In the third chapter the antecedents of New Netherland and the Dutch West India Company are carefully and thoroughly discussed, with corelated subjects having a direct or indirect bearing upon the Dutch occupation. The account of the strange vicissitudes of the Dutch West India Company is but another illustration of the “sic vos non vobis" tendency of human affairs; of the manner in which the crops sown by one hand are so often gathered by another. This tendency in fact appears again and again in the history of New York, and more than once it has been helped by what can only be characterized as deliberate disregard of equity on the part of the stronger disputant. The present historian exhibits a perhaps not unnatural satisfaction in the circumstance that the Puritans of Massachusetts, though pre-eminent sticklers for integrity and just dealing, were far less scrupulous than the comparatively unregenerate people of New York in their land transactions with the natives, and in their general treatment of the latter. In truth, it must be said that the Pilgrim Fathers were as worldly as their neighbors when it came to questions of the kind, and that none were more eager to acquire possession of land, in particular.

The editor contributes the chapters on Henry Hud son's voyage and its results in trade and colonization. and on Peter Minjuet and Walter Van Twiller, who ruled New Netherland from 1626 to 1637. In beginning the direct history of the Dutch occupation he pays à tribute to Irving in observing that since Diedrich Knickerbocker's veracious history appeared it has been difficult to treat this period with the proper seriousness. The comic view of the Dutch colony and its rulers has been so deeply implanted by Irving's genius that whoever thinks of them insensibly recalls the Knickerbocker account, and one result of this is to do injustice to those honest Dutchman who really were not the bibulous, indolent, tobacco-stupefied boors they have been caricatured as. General Wilson's sense of justice leads him to vindicate the people of New Netherland

impressing upon the reader that they were part and parcel of that Dutch nation which was then renowned throughout the world for its industry, its enterprise, its inventiveness and its magnificant gallantry. The Dutch, he asserts, were the Yankees of the sixteenth century, and the English of that age were far behind them in material progress. Yet, while all this may be admitted, the fact remains that in the administration of their colonial affairs the New Netherland people do not appear to have manifested much energy or fore

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sight. Take the case of the Fort, which they could not be persuaded to either finish or to keep up: Yet it must have been clear to most of them that their security, that even their tenure of Manhattan Island, might, and quite probably would depend upon their ability to defend themselves.

A chapter is given to the administration of William Kieft, and another to that of Peter Stuyvesant, who has, perhaps, suffered more than any of his compatriots from Washington Irving's humorous travestie. Stuyvesant was a strong and honest Governor, choleric, no doubt, but conscientious, a hard worker, and one who did much to improve New York. When the time came for the surrender of his charge he was tempted to make a fight, but more prudent counsels prevailed, and the transfer to English rule was effected without irouble of any kind. When New Amsterdam had become New. York, and Richard Nicolls was the first English Governor, there was a period of quiet and steady progress, and an incident during this period shows that infant New York was in at least one respect more advanced than her neighbor Massachusetts. There was a trial on a charge of witchcraft, and the accused was acquitted. It can hardly be believed that the same result would have occured in Boston at the time. In liberality of sentiment, especially regarding religion, New York was notably advanced, both under Dutch and English rule, and many victims of New England bigotry found shelter and welcome on the Island of Manhattan.

The memorial history account of the administration of Sir Edmund Andros (1674-1682) presents that Governor in a far better light than he occupies in most of the earlier histories. In his measures for the health and order of New York, and his arrangements for dealing with the Indians, he was in advance of his age. He was also prepared to give the people of New York representative institutions - which, however, the King refused to allow. Respecting the charges of tyranny and oppression preferred against Andros, the history

The charges of tyranny which the Dutch and the dishonest English traders whose peculations he had exposed and circumvented zealously circulated even to the foot of the throne itself, will not compare either for harshness or intolerance with the acts of persecution previously practiced by Director Stuyvesant against the Quakers and members of the Church of England both upon Manhattan and Long Islands; and yet,

from the peculiar position in which Andros was placed, the least malignant of the epithets bestowed upon was, most unjustly, that of the arbitrary and sycophantic tool of a despotic King !' The administration of Gov. ernor Andros, moreover, forms not only a distinct but a memorable epoch in the colonial history of the City of New York. It is true that he failed in his efforts to place the currency of the colony on a healthier basis inan it was under Dutch rule, but in nearly every other measure of reform he was entirely successful. He effected a complete reorganization of the militia; repaired the fort, and strengthened the defences of the harbor; increased the trade of the province; beautified the city; largely augmented the revenue from the excise; and by a personal supervision of municipal affairs and an untiring industry gave such a tone to the political and social condition of the people that its effects were apparent for fully a century after the period of his incumbency."

That is certainly high praise, and moreover it appears to be deserved. But Governor Andros was not the only early ruler of New York who has suffered from harsh and prejudiced judgment. One of the most intere ting chapters in the present volume is that on the period of the Leisler troubles (1688-1692). The view iaken by the editor and his contributor is strongly favorable to Jacob Leisler, whose tragic fate was caused by the spirit of faction and class hatred. It has been common to represent him as a mere demagogue at the head of a mutinous rabble, and as such his enemies at the time undoubtedly regarded him. But the circumstances were most unfavorable to c ol observation. The Revolution which drove the last Stuart from the English throne had left the colonists in North America uncertain as to where authority lay. Boston was the first to revolt from the Stuart role, to recognize William and to overthrow the local government representing

James. New York followed more cautiously. There the James Government desired to hold on, but the people would not have it so, and the train-bands, or militia, practically settled the matter by marching to the Fori, demanding the keys, and resolving that the government should alternate among the militia captains, each of whom should be supreme during his term of duty. Jacob Leisler was the senior captain, and so naturally came into this arrangement, and when, later, William's cautious, not to say ambiguous, leiter arrived, its tenor certainly warranted the choice of Leisler as Lieutenant-Governor.

Had the new Governor, Sloughter, reached New York at the same time as Major Ingoldesby, there would have been no question of authority raised. But when Ingoldesby arrived first, and without credentials demanded the instant surrender of the Fort, Leisler was justified in refusing to comply with the demand. What lead to the unjust trial,

and the still more unjust execution, of Leisler was the fury of the James Government of New York, which had been chafing for months over the disappointment of its hopes and expectations and which found in the new Governor a weak and pliable instrument of vengeance. The reversal of the colonial proceedings in this case by the English Parliament, after a full and and dispassionate investigation, should have put an end to all controversy in the premises it might be thought; but the Leisler party was far less intuential than the anti-Leislerites, and thus it happened that the memory of this victim of faction has never been completely cleared from the false imputation of demagoguism. The elaborate pre. sentation of the case in the memorial history ought to determine it finally; for no unprejudiced person can read this statement without becoming convinced that Jacob Leisler died the death of a martyr.

Benjamin Fletcher appears here as a good Governor, contrary to many previous opinions, but the editor never forgets that the early New Yorkers were a turbulent, factious, censorious and insubordinate folk, and and that consequently it is necessary to receive their accounts of their rulers with a good deal of allowance. The old Dutch element was disposed to quarrel with every English Governor, and the Dutch, English and French merchants regarded and treated as enemies and oppressors all who would not let them do as they pleased without any restriction in matters of trade and taxation. It was in Fletcher's administration that the rise of piracy occurred, to make New York picturesque, to fill the pockets of scores of her merchants, and to do no good to her morals. We see here the first act in the drama of Captain Kidd, “as he sailed," and Lord Bellemont, so mysteriously associated wtth ihe man who went out to suppress piracy by becoming a pirate himself. Fletcher seems really to have been innocent, but Bellemont, whose own innocence is disputed, persecuted him, and being able to pack the Board of Investigation, succeeded in ruining his antagonist, who forth with disappears from history. The two concluding chapters of this volume are occupied with the constitutional and legal history of New York in the seventecnth century, and with an account of printing in New York during the same period. The first-named chapter is an erudite judicial treatise which leaves little or nothing to be said on the subjects treated. The chapter on printing in the seventeenth century in New York is illustrated by quite a profusion of fac-similes, mostly examples from the press of William Bradford, who held the post of royal printer in the city for upward of halt a century. We have omitted to mention in its proper order the administration of Thomas Dungan, one of the most useful and beneficent in the line of royal Governorships, and which is here illustrated by the full text of the charter granted to New York by Dungan, together with fac-simile specimens of the original docu

The steel engravings, which include portraits and scenes, are very good, and so are the wood-cuts in the text, and the examples of old printing, book-titles, etc. In short, the memorial history has been written and made mechanically in the most careful and thorough manner, and the first of its four volumes gives conclusive evidence that it is to be a monumental work, and standard.

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