CHAPTER VI. THE MIDDLE AND SOUTHERN COLONIES

THE COMING OF THE DUTCH. - We have now seen how English colonies were planted in the lands about Chesapeake Bay, and in New England. Into the country lying between, there came in 1609 an intruder in the form of a little Dutch ship called the Half-Moon. The Dutch East India Company had fitted her out and sent Captain Henry Hudson in her to seek a northeasterly passage to China. Driven back by ice in his attempt to sail north of Europe, Hudson turned westward, and came at last to Delaware Bay. Up this the Half-Moon went a little way, but, grounding on the shoals, Hudson turned about, followed the coast northward, and sailed up the river now called by his name. He went as far as the site of Albany; then, finding that the Hudson was not a passage through the continent, he returned to Europe. [1]

DISCOVERIES OF BLOCK AND MAY. - The discovery of the Hudson gave Holland or the Netherlands a claim to the country it drained, and year after year Dutch explorers visited the region. One of them, Adrien Block, (in 1614) went through Long Island Sound, ascended the Connecticut River as far as the site of Hartford, and sailed along the coast to a point beyond Cape Cod; Block Island now bears his name. Another, May, went southward, passed between two capes, [2] and explored Delaware Bay. The Dutch then claimed the country from the Delaware to Cape Cod; that is, as far as May and Block had explored.

THE FUR TRADE. - Important as these discoveries were, they interested the Dutch far less than the prospect of a rich fur trade with the Indians, and in a few years Dutch traders had four little houses on Manhattan Island, and a little fort not far from the site of Albany. From it buyers went out among the Mohawk Indians and returned laden with the skins of beavers and other valuable furs; and to the fort by and by the Indians came to trade. So valuable was this traffic that those engaged in it formed a company, obtained from the Dutch government a charter, and for three years (1615- 18) enjoyed a monopoly of the fur trade from the Delaware to the Hudson.

THE DUTCH WEST INDIA COMPANY. - When the three years expired the charter was not renewed; but a new association called the Dutch West India Company was chartered (1621) and given great political and commercial power over New Netherland, as the Dutch possessions in North America were now called. More settlers were sent out (in 1623), some to Fort Orange on the site of Albany, some to Fort Nassau on the South or Delaware River, some to the Fresh or Connecticut River, some to Long Island, and some to Manhattan Island, where they founded the town of New Amsterdam.

THE PATROONS. - All the little Dutch settlements were forts or strong buildings surrounded by palisades, and were centers of the fur trade. Very little farming was done. In order to encourage farming, the West India Company (in 1629) offered an immense tract of land to any member of the company who should take out a colony of fifty families. The estate of a Patroon, as such a man was called, was to extend sixteen miles along one bank or eight miles along both banks of a river, and back almost any distance into the country. [3] A number of these patroonships were established on the Hudson.

THE DUTCH ON THE CONNECTICUT. - The first attempt (in 1623) of the Dutch to build a fort on the Connecticut failed; for the company could not spare enough men to hold the valley. But later the Dutch returned, nailed the arms of Holland to a tree at the mouth of the river in token of ownership, and (1633) built Fort Good Hope where Hartford now stands. When the Indians informed the English of this, the governor of Massachusetts bade the Dutch begone; and when they would not go, built a fort higher up the river at Windsor (1633), and another (1635) at Saybrook at the river's mouth, so as to cut them off from New Amsterdam. The English colony of Connecticut was now established in the valley; but twenty years passed before Fort Good Hope was taken from the Dutch.

DUTCH AND SWEDES ON THE DELAWARE. - The Dutch settlers on the Delaware were driven off by Indians, but a garrison was sent back to hold Fort Nassau. Meantime the Swedes appeared on the Delaware. After the organization of the Dutch West India Company (1623), William Usselinex of Amsterdam went to Sweden and urged the king to charter a similar company of Swedish merchants. A company to trade with Asia, Africa, and America was accordingly formed. Some years later Queen Christina chartered the South Company, and in 1638 a colony was sent out by this company, the west bank of the Delaware from its mouth to the Schuylkill (skool'kill) was bought from the Indians, and a fort (Christina) was built on the site of Wilmington. The Dutch governor at New Amsterdam protested, but for a dozen years the Swedes remained unmolested, and scattered their settlements along the shores of Delaware River and Bay, and called their country New Sweden. Alarmed at this, Governor Peter Stuyvesant (sti've-sant) of New Netherland built a fort to cut off the Swedes from the sea. But a Swedish war vessel captured the Dutch fort; whereupon Stuyvesant sailed up the Delaware with a fleet and army, quietly took possession of New Sweden, and made it once more Dutch territory (1655).

DUTCH RULE. - The rulers of New Netherland were a director general, or governor, and five councilmen appointed by the West India Company. One of these governors, Peter Minuit, bought Manhattan (the island now covered by a part of New York city) from the Indians (1626) for 60 guilders, or about $24 of our money. [4]