| 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 |
THE "BROWN MEN" OR SAVAGES
HERE and there, either in this odd village, or near the
bark huts of the Dutch people, wandered colored men,
not black like those negro slaves we had on board the
 Sea Mew, but rather the color of a copper kettle that
has been somewhat used over a fire. For clothing,
they wore nothing more than a piece of skin tied around
the waist, or leggings of hide.
Their heads were bare, with the hair shaven from off
a goodly portion, leaving a long tuft directly on the top,
which by means, as I afterward learned, of animal fat,
was made to stand upright like a horn.
These were the savages, and I looked no longer at
the dwellings built in the shape of a half-moon, or at
the loosely stacked strips of bark which marked the
home of some Dutchman who had come here at the
bidding of the West India Company, for all my thoughts
were centered upon these brown men, of whom I had
heard as one hears a fairy tale, not believing in its truth.
Now although the land was goodly and fair to look
upon, a veritable garden of pleasure, to those who had
come from a long voyage on the angry waters, as had
we of the Sea Mew, yet there came into my mind the
fear that these brown men who wandered here and
there, giving little heed to us who were so lately
arrived, and who were the owners of this New World,
might come at some future time to say to themselves
that it were better the Dutch had never landed in
their midst. If that day ever did arrive, woe unto
us whose skins were white!
Little did I believe, even as I dreamed, that such
 would come to be the truth; that the day was not far
distant when these savages who made even of their
hair a seeming weapon, would come to thirst for the
blood of us who hoped to find fame or fortune, or
both, in this New World of America.
At a mile or more from the point where we had
anchored, we were told there was a strip of marshy
ground, stretching across from river to river, and lying
so low that when the tide was at its height, the streams
were united, making of this settlement an island,
which the Indians called Manhattan.
There were trees in the forest before me enough to
make all the masts that could be used by the people of
the world, and in such a wilderness how abundant
must be the game! In these huge rivers how great in
number the fish!
I panted to leave the narrow space of ship; to go on
shore where I could wander among the trees and amid
the flowers; where I could see these strange, brown
people, whose huts were to me much like hills thrown up
by ants; to come in contact with all these things which
God had made, and in so doing rejoice that I lived.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics