| 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 |
IT was during this year of our Lord, 1626, when the
venture of making a village in the New World was
well-nigh shown to be a success, that the first serious crime
was committed, and one which cost, before many years
had passed, much of white blood.
Among the laborers who had been brought over in
the Sea Mew, were nine negro slaves, the West India
Company having sent them in the belief that because
 of their skins' being black they might do much toward
gaining favor with the brown men.
In Holland these fellows had shown themselves to
be fairly good servants, although not greatly given to
industry; but no sooner were they landed in the New
World than they became indolent and ill-tempered,
seeming to believe that because of this country's being
inhabited by people whose skins were dark, they were
entitled to a full share of everything, with no longer
the need to look upon any man as master.
The result of it all was that the negroes became
troublesome, ready to quarrel with any man who crossed
their path, and unwilling to do so much of labor as
would have provided them with food to eat.
 They swaggered here and there around the village,
taking good care, however, not to cross Master Minuit's
path, else would he have pulled them up with a round
turn. At night, when the head men of the village
were in their dwellings, these black fellows did not
hesitate to quarrel with, or even illtreat, the hard
working Dutchmen who had never a harsh word for any
Now I have heard it said later that Master Minuit
was at fault because of his not giving to those negroes,
when they first showed signs of being unruly, such a
punishment as would never have been forgotten; but
it must be borne in mind that my master was an
exceeding busy man, having the care of
everything whatsoever on his shoulders, from the cutting
of stone to the dealings with the West India Company.
Then again, there is a question in my mind as to
whether he knew how overbearing they were growing,
for our people, realizing that his cares were many,
suffered much in the way of small injuries rather than
complain to him.
However this may be, I shall always hold that the
behavior of these negroes was no affair of Master
Minuit. Until some of the people had called his
attention to it, matters went on as they began, with the
black men growing more and more unruly.
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