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Peter of Amsterdam by  James Otis

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THE GOVERNMENT

WHILE the people were working on the mill, the fort, and the storehouse, or at the quarry, Master Minuit, busy man though he was, found time to set up a regular government in this town of huts which he called New Amsterdam, himself being at the head of it with no one to say him nay, and a Council of five chosen by the West India Company from among the white people.

There was also a secretary for this Council, and a Dutch official, which in Holland is called schout-fiscal, which means about all of the offices that could be held in an ordinary village, for he was sheriff, constable, collector of customs, tithing-man, and almost anything else you chose to call him.

The secretary and the schout-fiscal were also appointed by the Company in Amsterdam, and every act of the Council, as well as the rules and regulations laid down [61] by Master Minuit, were all to be approved by the gentlemen in Holland before our people would be bound by them. Thus it can be seen that while one might suppose the citizens of New Amsterdam made their own laws, it was in fact the West India Company which had full direction of affairs.

After a time, when I had been so far entrusted with the business of the settlement as to understand how it was conducted, I came to realize that all which was done by us of New Amsterdam was for the profit of the Company, rather than for the benefit of the people, and this finally came to be one of the causes which worked for the downfall of Dutch power in the New World.


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