| Peter of New Amsterdam|
|by James Otis|
|The story of the Dutch colony at New Amsterdam, through the eyes of the young lad Peter. Relates its settlement by the West India Company under the leadership of Peter Minuit, their transactions with the Indians including the purchase of the island of Manhattan, their overthrow of the Swedish forts to the south, and their surrender to English forces in 1664. The portrait of the contrasting figures of Peter Minuit and Peter Stuyvesant enlivens the narrative. Numerous black and white illustrations complement the text. Ages 8-10 |
FIRST, the seamen of the Blessing whispered here and
there stories concerning him which were not to his
credit; that he had failed in business in Holland, and
as a punishment his portrait had been nailed to the
gallows; again, that when he was sent by the king to
Turkey, having been given charge of money to be paid
for the release of some Dutch people who were held in
slavery there, he put it in his own pocket, allowing
the poor men to wear out their lives as slaves to the
He was a small man, with a sharp nose, sharp chin,
and a face generally that gave one the idea of a weasel,
or of a person who is ever ready to shed blood even
though he does not benefit thereby.
 Perhaps I am overly severe in describing this new
Director of ours, because of the trouble which we in the
storehouse had with him.
Under Master Van Twiller we had conducted the
business as we thought best; but all that was changed
before Director Kieft had been with us eight and forty
hours, for he soon gave the people in the employ of
the West India Company to understand that matters
in New Amsterdam would, from then out, go according
to his liking, and with no reference whatsoever to the
Council, or to any other officers in the town.
And all this he did with a high air, which chafed us
the more because of Master Van Twiller and Master
Minuit having ruled us with kindly hands.
 He set himself up almost as a king, by discharging
the members of the town Council, and by appointing
all the public officers, even so important an one as the
He decided, without heed to judge or jury, all cases
which were brought up in court, and, in fact, took
upon himself the entire government, regardless alike of
Council or of the West India Company.
But, in justice to Vaster Kieft, I must say that he
took heed to that which was wrong among us, for
straightway he caused all our vessels to be repaired,
and indeed they were in sore need of attention.
He enlarged and beautified the storehouse, of which
I was in charge, and, what was more to my liking,
put an end to the trading with the Indians by the
people of the town, which had become, as I believed,
a serious evil, for almost every man in New Amsterdam
was buying furs of the savages on his own account,
which was much to the loss of the West India
Company, and served greatly to cheapen our goods.
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