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Peter of Amsterdam by  James Otis

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UNJUST COMMANDS

IT would be useless for me to try to tell you all with which our people charged Master Kieft before he had been in New Amsterdam a year. It is better I should spend any time relating what he did which cost the [89] lives of so many white men, for to his door may be laid much of the suffering which we knew while he ruled over us, although we were in the meanwhile called upon to answer for the crime of the negroes who had killed the Indian, as I have told you.

First let me say, that on a certain morning, very shortly after Master Kieft came among us, we found posted on the trunks of trees, on rocks, and on the corners of the houses, written notices, signed by the new Director, stating that whosoever traded with the Indians, save while doing so at the command of the West India Company, should suffer death; and that the Company's servants must begin work at a certain hour very shortly after daybreak, and not cease labor until sunset.


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Also, among many other things, it was declared that the Indians themselves should pay a certain amount of wheat, wampum, or furs toward the support of the soldiers employed by the Company in different parts of the country.

There were many matters in these written notices [90] that it is not necessary for me to speak about. The last was that which caused us the most trouble, for the Indians openly refused to obey any such command, and Master Kieft went so far as to hang four whom he accused of trying to persuade others of their tribe not to do as he had ordered.

Now you can well fancy that such cruel acts served to make enemies of those Indians who had been our friends.


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