Each of the Directors the Dutch West India Company sent to New Amsterdam played first for his own hand. After caring for himself, the governor’s care was for what remained of the interests of the Company and those he either muddled or marred. Caring for the interests of the colonists, in every case, was the last consideration of all. (Background: William the Testy Not a Myth, Ersjdamoo’s Blog, November 6, 2014.)
In other words, the appointed governors of New Netherlands such as Wilhelmus Kieft (William the Testy) and Peter Stuyvesant (image) sought first to line their own pockets. Secondarily they paid a little attention to the matter of profits for the Dutch West India Company. Only lastly, if at all, did they concern themselves with the interests of the people they governed.
How quaint – except consider our own two political parties, Democrat and Republican. First consideration of politicians: get themselves elected/re-elected. Second matter of importance: work in behalf of today’s “Dutch West India Companies” – large corporations with immense influence – to help their profits. Last on the list: pay a little attention to the cries of those for whom you govern. It is like the return of the Dutch West India Company. There are parallels between the microcosm of New Amsterdam and the macrocosm of the current United States.
The Remonstrance was a document which, in part, was a statement of the wrongs suffered by the Dutch colonists, and a prayer for certain specified easements and reliefs. Three of its signers, Adriaen Van der Donck, Wolfert Gerritsen Van Couwenhoven, and Jan Everts Bout, were delegated to take it to Holland and to lay it before the authorities at The Hague.
Further “remonstrances” followed. Thanks to these, an official inquiry was made into the affairs of the West India Company in the year 1638 that resulted in checking some of the worst of the colonial abuses; and that also led to the promulgation (1640) of a new charter of Liberties and Exemptions.
When Peter Stuyvesant, the last of the Dutch West India Company’s incompetent Directors, took over the government of New Netherland (May 11, 1647) things were in a hopelessly bad way. Two years later, the Remonstrance of the year 1649, while dealing generally with the manifold misfortunes brought upon the colonists by bad government, dealt particularly with the misdoings of Stuyvesant. “His first arrival,” declared the remonstrants, “was peacock like, with great state and pomposity”; and the burden of their complaint, constantly recurred to, is of his brutally dictatorial methods and of his coarsely arrogant pride.
In regard to the right of appeal to the home government, Stuyvesant declared, “People may think of appealing during my time, should any one do so, I would have him made a foot shorter, pack the pieces off to Holland, and let him appeal in that way.”
But a better man than Stuyvesant, while he might have lost it with more dignity, could not have saved to Holland the colony of New Netherland. Forces from within and forces from without were working for its destruction. Internally, its affairs were administered with incompetence tempered with injustice, and it owed its bad government to the fact that it was but a by-venture in a great scheme of combined money making and statecraft.
The evil star of the Dutch West India Company was the most conspicuous among the several stars in their courses which fought against the Dutch in their struggle to hold fast to their American colonies. The state of affairs in its worst managed colony, our own New Netherland, became almost unendurable as the Company drew nearer and nearer to collapse. As a warning, the history of its few triumphs and of its many failures has a permanent value. And especially does its history point the moral that it is unwise, to say the least, to try to get from invested patriotism a dividend in cash.
The shame of the taking of New Netherland by the English was not that it was conquered; it was that its people, in their eagerness to escape from a government that had become intolerable, almost welcomed their conquerors. The inhabitants of New Amsterdam almost openly sided with the English when the formal demand for a surrender was made, and the town passed into British possession and became New York, without the striking of a single blow.
(Source: The Dutch Founding of New York, by Thomas A. Janvier. Available as a Kindle e-book.)