de Halve Maen Journal of The Holland Society of New York Winter 2018â&#x20AC;&#x201C;2019
de Halve Maen
The Holland Society of New York 1345 SIXTH AVENUE, NEW YORK, NY 10105 President Andrew S. Terhune Vice President Col. Adrian T. Bogart III Treasurer R. Dean Vanderwarker III
Magazine of the Dutch Colonial Period in America Secretary James J. Middaugh Domine Rev. Paul D. Lent
Advisory Council of Past Presidents Roland H. Bogardus W. Wells Van Pelt Jr. Kenneth L. Demarest Jr. Walton Van Winkle III Robert Schenck William Van Winkle Peter Van Dyke Charles Zabriskie Jr. Trustees Laurie Bogart Andrew A. Hendricks Bradley D. Cole David D. Nostrand D. David Conklin Gregory M. Outwater Christopher M. Cortright Samuel K. Van Allen Eric E. DeLamarter Frederick M. Van Sickle David W. Ditmars Stuart W. Van Winkle Philips Correll Durling Kenneth G. Winans Trustees Emeriti Adrian T. Bogart Kent L. Stratt John O. Delamater David William Voorhees Robert G. Goelet Ferdinand L. Wyckoff Jr. Robert Gardiner Goelet Stephen S. Wyckoff David M. Riker Donald Westervelt Rev. Everett Zabriskie
Vice-Presidents Connecticut-Westchester R. Dean Vanderwarker III Dutchess and Ulster County Florida James S. Lansing International Lt. Col. Robert W. Banta Jr. (Ret) Jersey Shore Stuart W. Van Winkle Long Island Eric E. DeLamarter Mid-West David Ditmars New Amsterdam Eric E. DeLamarter New England Niagara David S. Quackenbush Old Bergen-Central New Jersey Gregory M. Outwater Old South Pacific Northwest Edwin Outwater III Pacific Southwest (North) Kenneth G. Winans Pacific Southwest (South) Paul H. Davis Patroons Robert E. Van Vranken Potomac Christopher M. Cortright Rocky Mountain Col. Adrian T. Bogart III South River Walton Van Winkle III Texas James J. Middaugh Virginia and the Carolinas James R. Van Blarcom United States Air Force United States Army Col. Adrian T. Bogart III United States Coast Guard Capt. Louis K. Bragaw Jr. (Ret) United States Marines Lt. Col. Robert W. Banta Jr., USMC (Ret) United States Navy LCDR James N. Vandenberg, CEC, USN
Editorial Committee Peter Van Dyke, Chair Christopher Cortright John Lansing
Copy Editor Rudy VanVeghten
IN THIS ISSUE: 74
Opportunities and Insults: Understanding the Minimal Jewish Presence in New Netherland
Revisiting the Tolerance Question: Calvinists and Their Competitors in New Netherland and the Dutch Atlantic World
Here and There in New Netherland Studies
Burgher Guard Captain Sarah Bogart
Editor David William Voorhees Production Manager Sarah Bogart
by Noah L. Gelfand
by D. L. Noorlander
The Holland Society of New York was organized in 1885 to collect and preserve information respecting the history and settlement of New Netherland by the Dutch, to perpetuate the memory, foster and promote the principles and virtues of the Dutch ancestors of its members, to maintain a library relating to the Dutch in America, and to prepare papers, essays, books, etc., in regard to the history and genealogy of the Dutch in America. The Society is principally organized of descendants in the direct male line of residents of the Dutch colonies in the present-day United States prior to or during the year 1675. Inquiries respecting the several criteria for membership are invited. De Halve Maen (ISSN 0017-6834) is published quarterly by The Holland Society. Subscriptions are $28.50 per year; international, $35.00. Back issues are available at $7.50 plus postage/handling or through PayPaltm. POSTMASTER: send all address changes to The Holland Society of New York, 1345 Sixth Ave., 33rd Floor, New York, NY 10105. Telephone: (212) 758-1675. Fax: (212) 758-2232. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.hollandsociety.org Copyright © 2019 The Holland Society of New York. All rights reserved.
David M. Riker Rudy VanVeghten
Cover: Detail from Rembrandt van Rijn,“Concord of the State”(1642), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.
OLERATION IS A coded word. It suggests that there is an accepted cultural norm. Any deviation from that norm is an aberration only “tolerated” by the indulgence of a controlling elite. New Netherland, for example, is cited as a place where many differing cultures intermixed and laid the foundation for modern multicultural New York. Yet, was there as great a variety of cultural differences in the Dutch West India Company colony as is believed? Or was the diversity more nuanced? This issue of de Halve Maen explores the concept of toleration in New Netherland with the publication of two papers presented on November 8, 2018, at the New Amsterdam History Center Lecture, “Was New Amsterdam’s Reputation for Religious Tolerance Earned? An Atlantic Perspective.” Seventeenth-century Dutch law allowed its citizens liberty of conscience, that is, freedom in private thoughts from investigation or prosecution. This in itself is a remarkable concept. The Dutch Reformed religion, however, was the only denomination permitted public expression. In his essay opening this issue, Noah Gelfand explores Jewish colonization in New Netherland in this context. He notes that when in late summer 1654 twenty-six Jews arrived in New Amsterdam, New Netherland Director-General Petrus Stuyvesant wrote to the West India Company Amsterdam Chamber that these Jews were “very repugnant” to nearly everyone in the community, and asked they “be not allowed further to infect and trouble this new colony.” Gelfand suggests, however, that Stuyvesant’s views about the Jewish refugees should be understood within the concept of a unified church-state society. Gelfand places the story of New Netherland’s failed Jewish community within the broader context of the Sephardic Diaspora. The mid-seventeenth century, he informs us, offered Jews a myriad of possibilities. In 1656, England readmitted Jews to that country, and in 1657 Dutch Jews were officially declared subjects of the Dutch Republic, entitled to the same protection as all other subjects. As a result, the Anglo-Dutch Atlantic World contained settlements where Jews could pursue economic opportunities and worship relatively freely. The religious freedoms that Jews secured elsewhere provide a stark contrast to New Netherland, where Jews were allowed only to worship privately in their homes. Gelfand suggests here that while “anti-Semitism in New Netherland cannot be entirely dismissed,” Sephardic trade patterns and familial associations are more important factors in
explaining why Jews did not make New Netherland their permanent home. Danny Noorlander in his essay similarly questions why the theme of Dutch tolerance has had an especially long life in the literature about New Netherland. He does not reject this assessment totally but rather raises “some cautionary flags, because it’s very easy to slip into simple, superficial, and downright erroneous ways of communicating about these matters.” Noorlander opens his essay with a few key reasons behind the Dutch reputation for tolerance and finds that the Dutch were “relatively tolerant.” Yet the word “relatively,” he writes, “bears a lot of weight,” and it is that weight that Noorlander focuses on. Hence, there is no single response to the question of tolerance. Civic authority was quite dispersed in the Dutch world, Noorlander tells us. At a time when other European states were starting to centralize and create modern bureaucracies, the Dutch went in the opposite direction. The long history of disunity in the Low Countries and the jealous protection among urban oligarchs of traditional powers and privileges resulted in a loosely organized confederacy. Noorlander concludes that the Dutch “commitment to freedom of conscience created a private right and greater security against persecution than outsiders enjoyed in many places at the time.” For this reason, “the limited, private religious toleration that existed in New Netherland is worthy of the positive reputation that exists among the general public today.” Did Dutch “toleration” leave a permanent impression in New York? If it did, then one must resolve why while various Protestant doctrines eventually received tolerated acceptance under the English the Roman Catholic church was banned by the descendants of the Dutch in New York from 1691 until the repeal of the anti-priest law in 1784; why Jews faced discrimination well into the twentieth century; why sexual relations between Europeans and non-Europeans were severely punished; and why the laws regulating those of African descent were among the harshest in the English colonies. Perhaps tolerance is truly only in the eyes of the ruling class. We still have much to learn about the mindset of our ancestors.
David William Voorhees Editor
de Halve Maen
Opportunities and Insults: Understanding the Minimal Jewish Presence in New Netherland
by Noah L. Gelfand
EW NETHERLAND HAS been celebrated as a place where many different ethnic cultures intermixed and laid the foundation for the multicultural society that eventually developed in New York and the United States.1 The population of New Netherland was indeed quite diverse. Scandinavians, Germans, French, English, Scots, Irish, Iberians, Bohemians, and Africans joined Dutch settlers in immigrating to the colony during its forty year existence. These settlers brought with them a variety of religious beliefs, so that there were Dutch Reformed, Lutherans, Quakers, Puritans, Catholics, Jews, and possibly even Muslims, to say nothing about the religious beliefs of Native Americans, living in the colony. As an English governor summed it Noah L. Gelfand earned his Ph.D. in Atlantic History and US History to 1877 from New York University, where he received numerous awards, including a Quinn Foundation fellowship from the McNeil Center for Early American Studies and a Touro National Heritage Trust fellowship from the John Carter Brown Library. He currently teaches history at the University of Connecticut at Stamford and at Hunter College.
Jan Luyken, “Kerk-Zeeden ende Gewoonten die huiden in gebruik zijn onder de Jooden” [Church Rules and Habits practiced today by Jews] (1683).
up in the 1670s, not long after the Dutch permanently relinquished control of New Netherland, there were “religions of all sorts” in the colony.2 While it is clear that there was a great variety of beliefs in the Dutch colony, the degree to which this religious diversity was tolerated is a much more complicated topic. The West India Company’s colonial charters for New Netherland—both the Provisional Regulations (1624) and Articles for the Colonization and Trade of New Netherland (1638)—established the Dutch Reformed religion as the only denomination permitted divine worship in the colony.3 At the same time, though, under Dutch law all of the colony’s inhabitants were entitled to liberty of conscience, which meant the right to believe whatever they wanted in their own homes without fear of investigation or prosecution. Problems arose, however, when dissenting (non-Reformed) settlers tried to move beyond their own homes to organize religious worship with coreligionists in public congregations. Colonial authorities enforced the Dutch Reformed Church monopoly on public practice and denied all other religious minorities the privilege of public church worship.4 Ultimately, as historian Eric Foner has written about New
Netherland, “religious dissent was tolerated . . . as long as it did not involve open and public worship.”5 In some ways, the limited, private religious toleration that existed in New Netherland is worthy of the positive reputation that exists among the general public today.6 One need only look north to the Massachusetts Bay settlement to find a contemporary colony where religious dissent was not tolerated at all. Yet, when examinSee Russell Shorto, The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America (New York, 2004), 125.
“Answer of Governor to Enquiries About New York,” April 16, 1678, in Ecclesiastical Records, state of New York, Hugh Hastings, ed., 7 vols. (Albany, 1901–1916), 1: 709.
Jaap Jacobs, The Colony of New Netherland: A Dutch Settlement in Seventeenth-Century America (Ithaca, N.Y, 2009), 144, and E. B. O’Callaghan and B. Fernow, trans. and eds., Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York (Albany, 1853–1883), I: 110 (hereafter DRCHNY).
See Jacobs, The Colony of New Netherland, 161–71.
Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty!: An American History, Volume 1 to 1877 (New York, 2017), 41. 5
6 See, for example, the New Amsterdam History Center’s event “Was New Amsterdam’s Reputation for Religious Tolerance Earned? An Atlantic Perspective,” November 8, 2018; Kenneth T. Jackson, “A Colony With a Conscience,” The New York Times, December 27, 2007; and Governors Island Tolerance Park, an organization dedicated to commemorating the alleged Dutch legacy of religious toleration in the United States at www.tolerancepark.org.
Depiction of Asser Levy created by artist Alex Shagin for the Jewish American Hall of Fame. From http:// newamsterdamhistorycenter. org/2018/02/12/firstmanhattan-jewish-resident/
ing New Netherland in comparison with other Dutch Atlantic colonies, the North American colony appears more restrictive in terms of religious freedoms. In contrast to New Netherland, some non-Reformed settlers were actually able to establish public worship in Dutch colonies in Brazil, Surinam, and Curaçao. The story of Jewish colonization in the seventeenth century Dutch Atlantic world illustrates this point, while at the same time helping to explain the limited and transitory Jewish presence in New Netherland.
ews and New Netherland. On August 22, 1654, the Peereboom arrived in New Netherland from Amsterdam via London. 7 Traveling to the Dutch West India Company’s North American colony on board this ship were three Jews: Jacob Barsimon, Solomon Pietersen, and Asser Levy.8 A few weeks later on September 7, 1654, twenty-three Sephardic Jewish refugees from Dutch Brazil disembarked from the St. Catrina in New Amsterdam.9 The twenty-six total Jews, who arrived aboard these two ships in the late summer 1654, were the first to appear in the colony. Two weeks later on September 22, 1654, Petrus Stuyvesant, the director general of New Netherland, wrote a letter to his superiors at the Amsterdam Chamber of the Dutch West India Company regarding twenty-three Sephardic Jewish refugees who had recently arrived in his colony from Brazil. Claiming that these Jews were “very repugnant” to nearly everyone in the community, Petrus Stuyvesant told the directors of the West India Company that he had “deemed it useful to require them in
a friendly way to depart,” adding that such a “deceitful race . . . be not allowed further to infect and trouble this new colony.”10 For Stuyvesant, a staunch Calvinist who was already having trouble maintaining order in the pluralistic religious culture of New Netherland, the addition of these particular Jews was not a welcomed development. Stuyvesant’s views and comments about the Jewish refugees, however, should be understood within the context of his preference for a monoreligious society and his similar treatment of other religious minorities in New Netherland, such as Lutherans and Quakers. In other words, Petrus Stuyvesant’s attempt to rid New Netherland of Jews was not simply a manifestation of his anti-Semitism (though, he certainly harbored prejudices against Jews that were typical of the age), but rather consistent with his larger attempt to limit the practices of dissenting denominations in the colony. Instructions from the directors of the Amsterdam Chamber of the West India Company to Stuyvesant help shed light on his attitude toward Lutherans and highlight the Company’s policy regarding religious minorities in the colony. See “Letter from the Directors to Stuyvesant,” June 14, 1656, in which they state “We would also have been better pleased, if you had not posted the placard against the Lutherans—a copy of which you sent us—and committed them to prison, for it has always been our intention, to deal with them quietly and peacefully. Hereafter you will therefore not post such or similar placards without our knowledge, but you must pass it over and let them have free religious exercises in their homes.”11
Stuyvesant’s letter to the directors of the West India Company elicited a protest from the Sephardic community of Amsterdam. Jewish community leaders there wrote their own letter to the West India Company asking for guarantees for their co-religionists to be able to live and conduct business in the North American Dutch colony. Astutely they argued that these Jews had been faithful in their service in Brazil; that they subsequently suffered poverty as a result of the Dutch defeat there; that they were a loyal and taxable population; and that trade would surely increase as a result of their being allowed to reside in New Netherland. Moreover, they shrewdly mentioned their investments in the company and the fact that the French allowed them to trade and settle in Martinique and the English had welcomed them in Barbados.12 In April 1655, the West India Company declared that the Sephardic Jews “may travel and trade to and in New Netherland and live and remain there, provided the poor among them shall not become a burden to the company or to the community, but be supported by their own nation.”13 The company was most concerned with making sure that the twenty-three did not become a financial drain on the struggling colony. If they could support themselves, the West India Company made it clear to Stuyvesant that Jews were as welcome to stay as any other group. Financial solvency, rather than religious identification, appears to be the key factor in this episode. Significantly, this explains why Barsimon, Pietersen, and Levy, who presumably all had sufficient reLeo Hershkowitz, “By Chance or Choice: Jews in New Amsterdam, 1654,” de Halve Maen 77 (2004): 23.
Leo Hershkowitz makes the case for Barsimon, Pietersen, and Levy all arriving on the Peereboom. See Ibid., 23.
“Record from the burgomasters and schepens of New Amsterdam,” September 7, 1654, in Arnold Wiznitzer, “Exodus from Brazil and Arrival in New Amsterdam of the Jewish Pilgrim Fathers, 1654” Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society 44, no. 2 (December 1954): 87, 91–93.
Extract from “Letter of Petrus Stuyvesant to the Amsterdam Chamber of the Dutch West India Company, Manhattan,” September 22, 1654, in Morris U. Schappes, ed., A Documentary History of the Jews in the United States, 1654–1875 (New York:, 1950), 1–2 (hereafter DHJUS).
“Letter from the Directors to Stuyvesant,” June 14, 1656, in Charles T. Gehring, trans. and ed., Correspondence, 1654–1658, New Netherland Documents Series, vol. 12 (Syracuse, N.Y., 2003), 93.
12 Petition of the Amsterdam Jews “To the Honorable Lords, Directors of the Chartered West India Company, Chamber of the City of Amsterdam,” January 1655, in DHJUS, 2–4. 13 Extract from “Reply by the Amsterdam Chamber of the West India Company to Stuyvesant’s letter,” April 26, 1655, in DHJUS, 4–5.
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sources, were not included in Stuyvesant’s original insulting demand to depart the colony. A small number of Jews began to migrate to New Amsterdam from the Netherlands in the next few years. However, the twentythree Brazilian refugees did not choose to stay long in New Netherland.14 These people were not zealous pioneers intent on founding a Jewish community in New Netherland, but rather displaced persons who preferred to return to Europe or the Caribbean. It is not surprising then, that they quickly disappeared from the colony’s records. Those Jews who did deliberately travel to New Netherland—about fifty people total for the entire history of the colony, but much smaller at any given moment— petitioned for the privilege to pray publicly in a synagogue, but were permitted only to worship privately in their homes.15 As discussed earlier this policy was consistently applied to other minority faiths in Manhattan in the 1650s and 1660s. So, Jews were not denied public worship simply for being Jews. Nevertheless, the Jewish inhabitants of the colony did try to facilitate the practice of Judaism, even if only in their New Amsterdam homes. A green veiled Torah arrived in the colony from the Netherlands in 1655.16 Jews were also granted the right to purchase a plot of land to bury their dead in February 1656, though its location and whether any Jews were actually ever buried there is unknown. A second burial plot was
Seventeenth-century Italian embroidered velvet Torah mantle. Similar (but not actual) to one Jews brought from Amsterdam to New Amsterdam. From http://www.hammersite. com/Requestbid/4203.aspx
purchased by Joseph Bueno de Mesquita in 1682. He was buried there in 1683—the oldest surviving Jewish grave in the city. This cemetery has survived and is located near Chatham Square in present-day Chinatown.17 Despite these important developments, and others, including winning the Burgher Right through another round of petitioning, a permanent Jewish community did not form in New Netherland. Tellingly, there is no record of a rabbi ever traveling to the colony. Almost all of the Jewish men and women who arrived in the 1650s and early 1660s were gone by 1664. Indeed, by 1663, the green-covered Torah was back in Amsterdam, apparently because a minyan could not be maintained in the city.18 The following year, Asser Levy and his wife appear to have been the only Jews present
Sixteenth-century Sephardic Torah scroll. Similar (but not actual) to the one Jews brought from Amsterdam to New Amsterdam. From https://blogs.timesofisrael. com/what-can-the-torah-teachthis-wall-street-marketer-plenty/
in the Dutch colony when it fell to English invaders. The almost complete disappearance of Jews from the colony was not because of a hostile, anti-Semitic environment fostered by Petrus Stuyvesant and others, nor because of the way each privilege had to be grudgingly extracted from authorities by Jews (although these things did not help). Instead, Jews did not create a permanent settlement in New Netherland because of prevailing patterns within the Sephardic Diaspora and greater opportunities elsewhere in the Atlantic world.
tlantic World Context. The midseventeenth century offered Jews willing to migrate to the New World a myriad of possibilities. Barbados, Jamaica, Martinique, Surinam, and Curaçao all developed settlements where Jews could 14 Leo Hershkowitz identified some of the Brazilian refugees as well as other early Jewish migrants to New Netherland. In addition to Barsimon, Pietersen, and Levy, Hershkowitz claims Riche Nunes, Judith de Mereda, Abraham Israel, David Israel, Moses Ambrosius, and Jacob Lucena were in the colony by autumn 1654. Jacob Cohen Henriques, Salvador d’Andrada, Abraham de Lucena, Joseph de Costa, Benjamin Cardozo, Isaac Israel and David de Ferera appear by the beginning of 1655, and Elias Silva and Moses de Silva by 1656. See Leo Hershkowitz, “Asser Levy and the Inventories of Early New York Jews,” American Jewish History 80 (Autumn 1990): 26. 15 There were between ten and fifteen Jewish families, or according to Joyce Goodfriend, about fifty Jewish individuals, who inhabited New Netherland during its existence as a colony. See Joyce D. Goodfriend, Before the Melting Pot: Society and Culture in New York City, 1664–1730 (Princeton, N.J., 1992), 12. 16 See Isaac S. Emmanuel, “New Light on Early American Jewry,” American Jewish Archives 7 (January 1955): 17–23. 17 See David De Sola Pool, Portraits Etched in Stone: Early Jewish Settlers, 1682–1831 (New York, 1952), 8, 10-11. 18 See Jonathan D. Sarna, American Judaism: A History (New Haven, Conn., 2004), 10. A minyan is the prayer quorum of ten males over the age of thirteen.
pursue economic opportunities and worship relatively freely during this period.19 Additionally, on the European side of the Atlantic, London became a promising destination for Jews after their readmission to England in 1656. Moreover, in 1657, Dutch Jews were officially declared subjects of the Netherlands, entitled to the same protection abroad as all native Dutch subjects. According to Herbert Bloom this declaration was designed to facilitate trade between Dutch Jews and Spain by protecting Jews and their goods from illegal seizure by Spanish officials.20 Comparatively speaking, then, in economic matters, New Netherland was a much less attractive option for Jews than these other locations. The reason for this lies in the commercial patterns developed by the Sephardic Jews who settled in Amsterdam during the first half of the century. Amsterdam’s Sephardic Jewish merchants were able to develop family networks involving New Christian kin along Portuguese trade routes to create an economic niche for themselves in the transatlantic trafficking of sugar. The special language skills and family connections that Jews possessed, which enabled them to bring sugar into the Dutch Republic, even through indirect continental routes during times of war between the Netherlands and Spain, were not applicable in the North American colony. New Christians were not present in any numerically significant number in New Netherland and the initial cash commodity—furs—was not something that Jews specialized in trading. In fact, after the West India Company abandoned its trade monopoly on furs in 1639–1640, anyone in the colony could participate in the exchange.21 While Jews had the advantage of being key importers of sugar in the Netherlands and essentially competed amongst themselves for shares in the traffic, they did not have any special advantages in the fur trade. Nor did they possess special skills in the two commodities that became important to New Netherland’s economy during its last decade: tobacco and lumber. Thus, most of the Jewish merchants who traveled to New Netherland found the economic conditions unsuitable and chose to move on to explore other opportunities.22
vah baths, religious schools for children, and kosher butchers for a population of about 1,000, Jewish adventurers looking to establish normative religious communities in the Americas targeted the Caribbean and South America.23 This makes sense because in these places Jews could utilize their language skills, expertise in handling the sugar trade, and commercial ties with New Christian kin in Spanish America to their great advantage. In 1659, Jewish entrepreneurs secured from the West India Company a charter to settle in Cayenne in South America.24 The Company hoped to attract Jewish settlers as a way to foster the colony’s structural and productive development, which it was hoped, would provide the WIC with a critical mass of colonists, thus strengthening the Dutch hold on the territory. To this end, the charter they granted to Jews contained numerous economic advantages, including tax exemptions and the ability to engage in the slave trade. In religious matters, the charter granted Jewish settlers the privilege of public worship in a synagogue.25 In contrast to the limited notion of freedom of conscience in New Amsterdam, the West India Company officially sanctioned the establishment of a very open Jewish community in Cayenne. But in South America, the Dutch were not the only European power to promote public Jewish worship. Once the French captured Cayenne in 1664, about 100 Jews migrated to nearby Surinam, which was then an English colony. Under the English, Jews in Surinam received extraordinary privileges, because as the charter read, they had already “proved themselves useful and
beneficial to this colony,” and thus should be encouraged to continue “their residence and trade here.”26 Indeed, the inhabitants of Surinam were already well aware of the advantages, which could accrue from trade with Jewish merchants based in the Netherlands.27 In religious matters, the colony’s 19 The legal Jewish involvement with the French Atlantic ended in 1685 with the institution of the Black Codes, which banned Jews from French colonies. Barbados began implementing restrictions on Jewish commercial practices toward the end of the seventeenth century, particularly regarding their participation in the slave trade.
See, Herbert I. Bloom, The Economic Activities of the Jews of Amsterdam in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Port Washington, N.Y., 1937), 22. 20
21 For more on the Dutch West India Company and the fur trade see Oliver A. Rink, Holland on the Hudson: An Economic and Social History of Dutch New York (Ithaca, N.Y., 1986), 134–35.
For example, Jacob Cohen Henriques, one of the purchasers of the 1656 cemetery, died in London in 1674.
23 See Noah L. Gelfand, “A People Within and Without: International Jewish Commerce and Community in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries Dutch Atlantic World” (Ph.D. Diss., New York University, 2008), chapter 2. 24 Gemeente Stadsarchief Amsterdam (Amsterdam Municipal Archives, GSA), Notarieel Archief (NA) 334, 1351, September 2, 1659. 25 Charter of David Nassy and Company, articles 2, 8, 11, in Historical Essay on the Colony of Surinam, 1788, translated by Simon Cohen, edited by Jacob Rader Marcus and Stanley F. Chyet (Cincinnati, 1974), 183–86. 26
In May 1663, David Cohen Nassy, merchant in Amsterdam, contracted with shipper Joris Govertse of Rotterdam to deliver meat to Surinam in exchange for sugar. See GSA, NA 1542, fol. 65, 67, May 10, 1663. Food, in general, needed to be imported to Surinam as the soil was not great and most of the agricultural effort on plantations went towards producing sugar. Ships from New York and New England supplied the colony with butter, flour, stockfish, mackerel, and other products in exchange for molasses, Surinam brandy, and timber. See Roelof Bijlsma, “Surinam’s Trade from 1683 to 1712,” in Dutch Authors on West Indian History: A Historiographical Selection, edited by M. A. P. Meilink-Roelofsz (The Hague, 1982), 40–41.
outh America and the Caribbean. Following the dispersal of Jews from Dutch Brazil in 1654, where they had been able to establish the first outwardly practicing Jewish community in the New World that included two synagogues, rabbis, mik-
Interior of Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, Curaçao. From http:// www.snoa.com/
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Pierre Jacques Benoit, “Jodensavanne, Suriname,” circa 1830. From Wikimedia Commons in het Nederlands. charter, called the General Privileges, permitted the Jewish community “to practice and perform all ceremonies and customs of their religion.”28 Ten acres of land was also granted to the Jews for the express purpose of building a synagogue and a school, thus making the practice of Judaism in Surinam under the English a matter of public policy, rather than one in which private worship was simply connived at or tolerated. Additionally, Jewish marriages were deemed valid, inheritance practices upheld, and a promise made not to summon them before a court or magistrate on their Sabbath.29 The religious and economic security established in the General Privileges became an open question less than year and a half later when the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665–1667) threw the colony into chaos. The Dutch were awarded the sugarproducing colony in the Peace of Breda, which officially ended the Second AngloDutch War on July 31, 1667.30 Regarding the status of the Sephardim now under the sovereignty of Zeeland, Abraham Crijnssen, the Dutch privateer in command of the colony, declared that they should enjoy the privileges previously granted by the English. Furthermore, Crijnssen added that all of the present inhabitants, whatever their nationality, “shall have and enjoy the same privileges as the Dutch, among whom they shall dwell.”31 Crijnssen’s grants were endorsed by the States of Zeeland the following year. These privileges set the stage for Surinam to develop into a major destination for Sephardic Jews, who became sugar planters
there. By the end of the seventeenth century there were close to 100 Sephardic families enjoying the free exercise of their religion in Surinam.32 The community’s first rabbi, Amsterdam-trained Isaac Neto, arrived in Surinam in 1680.33 In 1685, they built a new synagogue in the Jewish settlement they referred to as the Jodensavanne.34 Named Bracha ve Shalom (Blessing and Peace), the synagogue was made of brick and stood thirty-three feet high, making it the tallest structure in the Jodensavanne.35 The synagogue was dedicated by Rabbi David Pardo, who had also moved to the colony from Amsterdam. Pardo came from one of the most respected rabbinical families in Amsterdam, perhaps suggesting the significance with which the parent community viewed this South American outpost.36 Jewish rituals were observed according to Sephardic practices, though at least twelve Ashkenazi families were present in the Jodensavanne during this period.37 In fact, the biggest tensions were not between Jews and Dutch Calvinist authorities, but between Sephardic and Ashkenazi settlers. The latter were able to establish their own synagogue in 1719, in Paramaribo. Curaçao, a Caribbean island located approximately thirty-five miles north of Venezuela, was the other major destination in the Dutch Atlantic world for Jewish colonists in the seventeenth century. The religious freedoms that Jews were able to secure there provide a stark contrast with New Netherland. In March 1659, Sephardic Jews received a charter from the West India Company in Amsterdam that granted
them “the free exercise of their religion” 28
Ibid., 407. That the English were willing to part with Surinam in the peace treaty suggests that the colony was viewed as marginal within England’s overall empire. The Peace of Breda confirmed their conquest of New York, giving the English possession of an unbroken stretch of the North American coast from present-day Maine through the Carolinas. Moreover, the English possessed other valuable and more developed sugar-producing colonies in Jamaica and Barbados. For the Dutch, and more specifically the Province of Zeeland, taking Surinam represented another opportunity to get involved directly in the sugar trade after their loss of Pernambuco, Brazil thirteen years earlier. 30
“Extract from the articles granted to the inhabitants of Surinam,” May 6, 1667 in Historical Essay on the Colony of Surinam, 191.
Cornelis Christiaan Goslinga, The Dutch in the Caribbean and in the Guianas, 1680–1791 (Assen, 1985), 360. Surinam’s Ashkenazi Jews split off from the Sephardic Jews and formed their own congregation in 1735.
Of course, it is quite possible a rabbi was present earlier in the Jodensavanne, but documentary evidence has not survived. See Kenneth R. Scholberg, “Miguel De Barrios and the Amsterdam Sephardic Community” The Jewish Quarterly Review 53 (1962): 133.
Goslinga, The Dutch in the Caribbean and in the Guianas, 273.
Rachel Frankel, “Antecedents and Remnants of Jodensavanne: The Synagogues and Cemeteries of the First Permanent Plantation Settlement of New World Jews,” in The Jews and the Expansion of Europe to the West, 1450–1800, edited by Paolo Bernardini and Norman Fiering (New York, 2001), 413 and 416. Today, the synagogue is a ruin. According to Rachel Frankel, the remains of the synagogue measure ninety-four feet along its east-west axis and forty-three feet across its north-south width.
David Pardo’s great-grandfather was Joseph Pardo, Amsterdam’s first Sephardic rabbi. Joseph was born in Salonica, moved to Venice by 1589, and settled inAmsterdam by 1608. David Pardo of Surinam’s grandfather was Amsterdam Rabbi David Pardo, who was instrumental in uniting the city’s three Sephardic congregations in 1639. See Miriam Bodian, Hebrews of the Portuguese Nation: Conversos and Community in Early Modern Amsterdam (Bloomington, Ind., 1997), 50–51; 165–166.
Goslinga, The Dutch in the Caribbean and in the Guianas, 360.
in Curaçao, a guarantee of protection by the Company, and permission to build houses for themselves on the island.38 This charter for Jewish settlement is particularly interesting since Petrus Stuyvesant was also the director general of Curaçao at this time. Given the ill-will Petrus Stuyvesant had demonstrated towards the Brazilian Jewish refugees in New Netherland five years earlier, and subsequent stubbornness in granting Jews privileges in that colony, it is not surprising that Jewish migrants secured written privileges and freedoms before they set sail for Curaçao. Having secured from the West India Company the privilege to practice Judaism on the island, Jewish settlers began pouring into the colony. Isaac da Costa and the other Jewish colonists probably left Amsterdam for Curaçao sometime after May 11, 1659. This date is known because of a notarial record, which relates a significant transaction between Isaac da Costa and the mahamad of Congregation Talmud Torah in Amsterdam. According to the document, Isaac da Costa purchased from the mahamad an orange-cloth covered Torah to bring with him to Curaçao.39 That the Amsterdam mahamad sold Da Costa a Torah for the colony suggests their approval of the colonization project and their faith in the West India Company’s promise to uphold their religious liberties in Curaçao.40 The Jews who arrived in 1659 and throughout the 1660s made an effort to create a sense of permanence and forge a community on the island. While they had much economic interaction with the Protestant inhabitants of the island, Jews were a people who occupied a negotiated social space within and without the larger Dutch population. Because of their traditional position on the margins and the fact that their community lives revolved around Congregation Mikvé Israel, the Sephardic Jews of Curaçao, like those of Amsterdam, tended to build houses close to one another and near the synagogue. Typically, Jewish merchants lived with their families in the Punda section of Willemstad, where a street called Joodestraat was located, and which overtime became a predominantly Jewish neighborhood.41 By 1702, there were one hundred twentysix mostly Sephardic families and over six hundred total Jews in Curaçao.42 Curaçao’s Jewish population level rose through continued immigration from locations throughout the Atlantic world and through natural increase. 43 That Curaçao could
sustain an ever-growing Jewish population was the result of both religious privileges and the economic opportunities available to the Jewish residents of the island. Jews were able to conduct legal and extra-legal trade throughout the Atlantic world, own ships and small plantations, and established themselves as brokers in Curaçao. They engaged in a multifaceted, transnational commercial exchange that helped establish the island as the “Amsterdam of the Caribbean,” while they simultaneously forged a religious community based on the example of the Sephardic community of Amsterdam. By the end of the seventeenth century and for most of the eighteenth, Curaçao was the most important center, both economically and religiously, of New World Jewry. Overall, in the aftermath of Dutch Brazil, Sephardic Jews utilized their linguistic and cultural expertise, trade connections, and willingness to relocate to remote colonial regions to negotiate privileges and freedoms from both Dutch and English authorities. This enabled them to develop very public, officially-sanctioned religious communities in South America and the Caribbean. This isn’t to suggest they didn’t face Anti-Semitism in these locations – they did – but their importance to the colonial projects of the Dutch (and English) resulted in authorities upholding their privileges to live, trade, and publicly pray.
onclusion. Given the Sephardic focus on South American and Caribbean locations, where their kin ties to New Christians could be exploited, where their expertise in the sugar trade could be profited from, and where their language skills were prized—the limited Jewish engagement with New Netherland—where these talents did not yet have the same currency—is now much more understandable. While the anti-Semitism of Petrus Stuyvesant and others should not be completely dismissed, Sephardic trade patterns and familial associations were more important factors in explaining why Jews did not make a permanent home in New Netherland in 1650s and 1660s or for that matter, why they did not settle earlier in the colony’s history. Moreover, in light of the larger Atlantic context, it is easier to understand why Asser Levy was such an outlier at the tail end of New Netherland and start of New York. As an Ashkenazi Jew, he was unencumbered by this Sephardic history. He did not have any experience or specialization in the trafficking or production of sugar. And he
was not bound by kinship ties to the Iberian Atlantic. Instead he pursued a diversified business strategy, focusing on the types of products available for trade in New Netherland. Those Jews who migrated to New York after him, followed his lead in taking advantage of a much more complicated series of trade routes in the Atlantic. As Jews started forming communities in London, Barbados, Jamaica, Curaçao, Surinam, and other Atlantic locations, new economic opportunities arose. Chief among these was the provisioning trade that supplied the cash crop plantation colonies (and Curaçao, which, though not a plantation colony was unable to produce enough to be self-sufficient) with food and supplies. Moreover, after the English conquest of New Netherland, New York City became an important port from which merchants could legally engage with the developing English Atlantic, while still managing to illegally traffic with Dutch, French, and Spanish partners in spite of the Navigation Acts. These developments contributed to New York becoming a more attractive location for Jewish settlers and a permanent Jewish community can be traced to the 1680s. Finally, the larger Atlantic perspective provided by this paper further complicates the question of whether or not New Amsterdam’s reputation for religious tolerance was earned. While religious minorities could settle in New Netherland, they were limited to private liberty of conscience. Those adventurers looking to establish outwardly practicing, officially-sanctioned religious communities, like the Jewish colonists discussed in this paper, needed to go to other Dutch Atlantic colonies during the seventeenth century. By this comparative framework, then, New Netherland’s reputation is undeserved. 38 Though the 1659 charter is now lost, Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi and other scholars quote a December 2, 1825 letter from the mahamad of Congregation Mikvé Israel to the governor of Curaçao that lists the 1659 privileges. See Yerushalmi, “Between Amsterdam and New Amsterdam: The Place of Curaçao and the Caribbean in Early Modern Jewish History,” American Jewish History, 72 (1982): 189. 39
GSA, NA 334, 457.
Additionally, the Amsterdam parnasim later provided financial assistance to impoverished Jews wishing to go to Curaçao. 40
41 Klooster, “The Jews in Suriname and Curaçao,” in The Jews and the Expansion of Europe to the West, 1450–1800, edited by Paolo Bernardini and Norman Fiering (New York, 2001), 354. 42 Jonathan I. Israel, “The Jews of Dutch America,” in Ibid., 336–37. 43 About 100 Jews migrated from Martinique after they were expelled from that island in 1685, for example.
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Revisiting the Tolerance Question: Calvinists and Their Competitors in New Netherland and the Dutch Atlantic World by D. L. Noorlander
F NEW NETHERLAND is remembered today for anything in particular, the colony’s commercial connections and commercial orientation, its diversity, and its relative tolerance are among the top contenders. I teach and speak a lot about the early modern Dutch, and I can attest to the widespread acceptance of those ideas among college students and even professionals. From John Romeyn Brodhead’s History of the State of New York (1853) to Russell Shorto’s Island at the Center of the World (2004), the theme of Dutch tolerance has had an especially long life in the literature on New Netherland.1 Most writers recognize, of course, that colonial leaders did not accept all religious outsiders and sometimes treated them with severity. But those realities are often downplayed because the directors of the West India Company (WIC) tried to restrain their subordinates and exhorted them toward greater tolerance. The directors didn’t necessarily change the laws, but in the interest of peace and prosperity they allegedly forced colonial leaders to “connive” at illicit worship.2 The purpose of this essay is not to D. L. Noorlander received a Ph.D. in history from Georgetown University in 2011. He is currently an assistant professor of history at the State University of New York at Oneonta, teaching colonial American history, the Atlantic World, European expansion, and the Dutch Golden Age. His most recent work, Heaven’s Wrath: The Protestant Reformation and the Dutch West India Company in the Atlantic World, will be published in the summer or fall of 2019 by Cornell University Press.
Seventeenth-century rural Dutch Reformed service. Photo Holland Society. reject those assessments out of hand. In fact, I will begin by going through some of the many reasons why the tolerance theme has lasted as long as it has, and why the arguments about tolerance work so well when dealing with the Dutch. But I do want to raise some cautionary flags, because it’s very easy to slip into simple, superficial, and downright erroneous ways of communicating about these matters. It is true that the Dutch were “relatively tolerant.” There were few places in seventeenth-century Europe where one could have found more intellectual and religious freedoms than one found in the Dutch Republic. Yet the word “relatively” still bears a lot of weight, and it’s that weight (meaning the caveats and nuances that can be so easy to forget or miss) that I will focus on here. Two things to keep in mind: First, as small as it was compared to countries
like England and France, the Dutch Re1 John Romeyn Brodhead, History of the State of New York (New York, 1853), 19, 147, 458; Russell Shorto, The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America (New York, 2005), 85, 301, 309–11. See also, for example, Alice P. Kenney, Stubborn for Liberty: The Dutch in New York (Syracuse, N.Y., 1975), 257–67. For a different view (focusing on moments of intolerance) see Frederick J. Zwierlein, Religion in New Netherland, 1623–1664 (New York, 1971; first published in 1910). See also Evan Haefeli, New Netherland and the Dutch Origins of American Religious Liberty (Philadelphia, 2012). Haefeli avoids the simplistic dichotomy of tolerant/intolerant, but he leans more toward Zwierlein in the sense that his view of the question is somewhat more pessimistic than, say, Shorto’s.
The most important source on connivance is George L. Smith, Religion and Trade in New Netherland: Dutch Origins and American Development (Ithaca, N.Y., 1973). Smith argues that connivance was “the Dutch Colonial Contribution to American Religious Pluralism.” Other historians who have reflected on the word include Albert Eekhof, De Hervormde Kerk in Noord-Amerika, 1624–1664 (The Hague, 1913); Jaap Jacobs, “Between Repression and Approval: Connivance and Tolerance in the Dutch Republic and in New Netherland,” De Halve Maen 71, no. 3 (Fall 1998): 51–58; James Homer Williams, “‘Abominable Religion’ and Dutch (In)tolerance: The Jews and Petrus Stuyvesant,” De Halve Maen 71, no. 4 (Winter 1998): 85–91.
public still contained close to two million people, and there were, as a result, a diversity of religious views and ideas about how to deal with those who flouted the law. Obviously the ruling class was much smaller than two million, but attitudes and opinions differed even among rulers. Some of them were more lenient about public dissent, some strict and unforgiving. And there was a lot of room for difference and negotiation in-between.3 Second, civic authority was quite dispersed in the Dutch world, which heightened the influence and impact of local rulers. At a time when other European states were starting to centralize and create modern bureaucracies, the Dutch went in the opposite direction. Their state was, as one historian describes it, “a bourgeois state,” influenced by the long history of disunity in the Low Countries and the jealous protection among urban oligarchs of traditional powers and privileges. The result was a loosely organized confederacy where most power still resided at the level of city and province, and no one could impose any kind of uniform, national policy in most matters.4 In combining those two things—the diversity of opinion among the Dutch and the strength of local particularism—we get a situation where there’s no single, simple answer to the question of tolerance. The reaction to and treatment of religious outsiders in the Dutch world depends on countless complicated factors. It depends on where you look. It depends on what period you happen to be studying. It depends on who was in charge at that point in time. Where New Netherland fits within this kaleidoscope of possibilities I will explain in more detail later. Suffice it to say, if one is looking for what most people today would recognize as tolerant governance and tolerant outcomes, there are better places to look in the seventeenth-century Dutch world than New Netherland. Again, though, I want to start with a few key reasons behind the Dutch reputation for tolerance, beginning with a 1579 treaty called the Union of Utrecht. By that point the Dutch had lived under foreign rule for generations, and they had lived under Spanish, Hapsburg rule since the early sixteenth century. They had come to dislike that arrangement for multiple reasons, not least of which was Spain’s heavy-handed suppression of Protestantism. In fact they opposed the Inquisition so much, and they were so fearful of religious division in their own ranks, that when they
finally rebelled against Spain and established their own government, the Dutch resolved that they would be different. And they expressed that resolution in the Union of Utrecht, which was the treaty that united the northern provinces of the Low Countries about a decade after the Revolt began. For anyone who’s interested in religious history, the relevant passage was the one that declared that, within the new confederacy, each province would determine religious laws within its own borders. But the authors added the critical, limiting condition “that everyone in particular will remain free in his religion, and that no one will be persecuted or questioned because of his religion.” The expression “freedom of conscience” isn’t found in the treaty itself, but that is how the Dutch always designated their preferred approach.5 Another reason for the tolerant reputation was that Holland, among all the different provinces, was very prosperous in the seventeenth century; and its prosperity, combined with religious freedom, made it a diverse place. In other words, a lot of immigrants came to Holland in search of work, peace, and stability.6 It would have been religiously diverse even without immigrants because of the many types of Protestant who already resided there, plus the segment of the population that remained Catholic after the Reformation and after the Dutch Revolt.7 Holland boasted, in addition, sizeable refugee communities from the southern Netherlands and smaller Jewish and French Huguenot communities. More than 100,000 southern Netherlanders had come to Holland in the late sixteenth century because of Spanish military victories and pressures in the lands of their birth.8 The Jews began arriving in roughly the same period and for similar reasons: They were no longer welcome in the Iberian world, where they had lived and worked for so long, but they did find a home in Amsterdam.9 Finally, the Huguenots came in two different waves, the first during the French Wars of Religion, when (as Protestants) they faced various difficulties in France, then again in 1685 because, after a period of limited freedom, the French crown reversed itself and began persecuting Protestants once more.10 Among the many thinkers, writers, and statesmen of the Golden Age, a few stand out as models of tolerance. Most influential probably was Johan de Witt, who was the de facto head of the Dutch Republic in
the 1650s and 1660s. His political platform was called “the True Freedom,” and, as the name suggests, he championed freedom of all types and varieties: freedom from too much centralization, freedom from the overbearing influence of the noble House of Orange, and freedom from the meddling of a powerful church in political, secular affairs.11 The best contemporary explanation of the True Freedom mentality and agenda was The True Interest and Political Maxims of the Republic of Holland (1662), written by De Witt’s friend and collaborator, Pieter de la Court. The book comes across even in the twenty-first century as quite modern. In explaining Holland’s success, De la Court and De Witt decried monarchy and defended a government that served the governed. They criticized corporate monopolies and promoted policies that they believed Population figures come from Jan de Vries and Ad van der Woude, The First Modern Economy: Success, Failure, and Perseverance of the Dutch Economy, 1500–1815 (Cambridge, Eng., 1997), 50–51. On the wide range of views and religious relationships in the Netherlands, see Christine Kooi, Calvinists and Catholics During Holland’s Golden Age: Heretics and Idolaters (Cambridge, Eng., 2012); R. Po-Chia Hsia and Henk van Nierop, eds., Calvinism and Religious Toleration in the Dutch Golden Age (Cambridge, Eng., 2004). For tolerance as a “negotiated process,” see Haefeli, New Netherland, 9.
Marjolein C. ’t Hart, The Making of a Bourgeois State: War, Politics, and Finance During the Dutch Revolt (New York, 1993), 9.
Martin Van Gelderen, The Political Thought of the Dutch Revolt, 1555–1590 (Cambridge, Eng., 2002), 51–52. See also Geoffrey Parker, The Dutch Revolt (Ithaca, N.Y., 1977).
On immigration and work, see A. Th. van Deursen, Plain Lives in a Golden Age: Popular culture, religion and society in seventeenth-century Holland (Cambridge, Eng., 1991), chap. 1; De Vries and Van der Woude, First Modern Economy, 72–78, 635–36.
Only a minority of people in the Netherlands ever belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church. For numbers, see Alastair Duke, Reformation and Revolt in the Low Countries (London, 2003), 269.
8 For 100,000, see Jonathan Israel, Dutch Primacy in World Trade, 1585–1740 (Oxford, 2002), 30.
Noah Gelfand, “A People Within and Without: International Jewish Commerce and Community in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries Dutch Atlantic World” (Ph.D. Diss., New York University, 2008).
10 The French Wars of Religion lasted from the 1560s to the 1590s. Limited religious freedom in France existed under the Edict of Nantes from 1598 to 1685, at which point the Edict was revoked. For the Huguenot experience in Holland and elsewhere, see J. F. Bosher, “Huguenot Merchants and the Protestant International in the Seventeenth Century,” The William and Mary Quarterly 52, no. 1 (January 1995): 77–102.
Jonathan Israel, The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall, 1477–1806 (Oxford, 1995), chaps. 29–30 (and p. 995). See also Herbert Rowen, John de Witt: Statesman of the “True Freedom” (Cambridge, Eng., 1986).
12 Pieter de la Court, Interest van Holland often Gronden van Hollands welvaren (Amsterdam, 1662). For religion and toleration, see chap. 14.
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Adriaen Hanneman, Portrait of Johan de Witt (1652). The original is at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam). would benefit all merchants and producers. And they highlighted the social and economic benefits of toleration. The latter, they said, would bring many new people to the Netherlands.12 The regents of Amsterdam also fostered a reputation for tolerance. They were in fact the pioneers or creators of the connivance tradition that West India Company directors and officers eventually tried to adopt in parts of America. In effect, “connivance” meant closing the eyes or looking the other way when people engaged in illicit religious activity. Roman Catholics, Mennonites, Lutherans, and Arminians all sometimes organized worship services in an attic or barn, Catholics even going so far as to purchase multiple row houses in Amsterdam, then remove the interior walls to create a schuilkerk (“hidden church”) in the new space. The more bold they became, the more obvious their activity, and the louder the Calvinist consistory complained. The regents would hear the complaints, but connivance was also the practice of making whatever promises or
assurances were necessary to appease the complainant, without ever intending to actually do anything about the problem. The regents managed to make Amsterdam one of the freest cities in seventeenth-century Europe through the lax, selective enforcement of the law.13 Now for the aforementioned warnings
and caveats, with at least one warning attached to each of the three main indicators of Dutch tolerance: freedom of conscience (as expressed in the Union of Utrecht), religious diversity, and connivance. As I’ve already suggested in writing about religious laws and hidden churches, freedom of conscience was a complicated, confusing concept. After all, Roman Catholics in Amsterdam would not have had to hide their churches if there were not serious restrictions on said freedom. Freedom of conscience allowed anyone to believe whatever they wanted to believe and worship however they wanted to worship in the privacy of their own homes, with their own families. But public worship throughout the Netherlands was reserved for Calvinists.14 I write “Calvinists” generally and not “the Dutch Reformed Church” specifically because English and French expatriates and refugees could worship just as freely as any Dutchman. But that is not necessarily evidence of religious diversity or tolerance. If English Puritans and Pilgrims were both Calvinists, their presence in the Netherlands increased its ethnic diversity, but they did not do much for religious diversity because the public church was already Calvinist. If French-speaking southern Netherlanders and Huguenots were also Calvinists, they too increased ethnic diversity in the Netherlands. To let them worship did not, however, require any serious religious toleration from the Dutch because the Dutch 13 Smith, Religion and Trade, chap. 6; Haefeli, New Netherland, chap. 2. See also the authors listed in fn. 2, above. 14 For early Calvinist history in the Netherlands, see Duke, Reformation and Revolt; and A. Th. van Deursen, Bavianen en Slijkgeuzen: Kerk en kerkvolk ten tijde van Maurits en Oldenbarnevelt (Assen, 1974).
A survivng schuilkerk, “hidden church,” in Amsterdam. The nave of
Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder, created from joing together the floors of the top two stories of several houses. Source: https://commons. wikimedia.org/wiki/ File:Ons%27_Lieve_Heer_ op_Solder_2396.jpg
didn’t view these outsiders as religiously different from themselves.15 Again, some Roman Catholics and other nonconformists benefited from connivance, but its use wasn’t terribly widespread. Wim Klooster writes that “religious tolerance was uncommon in the Dutch Republic itself . . . despite the famous example of Amsterdam.”16 It would be wrong, in other words, to assume too much about the Dutch world as a whole based on the narrow example of a single city, however wealthy and powerful that city was within the Dutch system. In other cities and provinces of the Dutch Republic, people risked serious trouble if they were too open in their worship. They had to forego worship services, worship privately with family members in their homes, attend services and rites with which they disagreed, or organize illicit, underground meetings with likeminded neighbors, hoping that, if they were caught, authorities would accept a bribe or just look the other way. One’s options, strategies, and experiences differed depending on the precise time and place.17 The same holds true for the Dutch Empire. Probably the most restrictive of all locations within the WIC’s sphere of influence was West Africa. Confined to scattered forts and castles along the coast, the Dutch had no real colonial society in Africa, but were represented instead by a few hundred officers, merchants, and soldiers.18 Given that they were all employees, these men didn’t even enjoy basic conscience rights. To be sure, they came from various religious backgrounds and churches, including, for example, Roman Catholic and Lutheran denominations. But because they weren’t private colonists or burghers, the company could and did require their attendance and participation in regular Calvinist church services. The company’s ministers and lay clergy—all Calvinists—led the soldiers in twice-daily prayers and twice-weekly sermons. Officers imposed fines on men who skipped the prayers or sermons, and they imposed fines and corporal punishments on those who didn’t sit quietly and pay attention. So concerned was the company about religious disputes and violence among employees, it even forbade them from posing religious questions. The expectation and rule was that employees would show respect and deference to Calvinist beliefs and Calvinist services, and they would remain silent about all other religious
Gov. Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen, by Frans Post. Courtesy of the Rijksmuseum, The Hague.
possibilities.19 Some groups enjoyed greater religious privileges in Brazil, large parts of which the WIC conquered and held for about a quarter century (1630–1654). Valued for their experience and mercantile connections in the colony, Jews were even allowed at times to operate synagogues. Similarly, Roman Catholics had their priests and churches because they made up the majority of the colonial population, and they demanded and won limited worship rights during the peace process after the Dutch invasion. Brazil’s famous governor, Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen, gets some credit for this comparatively tolerant atmosphere as well. According to most accounts, the moderate nobleman subscribed to the same worldview and utilized the same quiet, conniving approach as the regents of Amsterdam. Calvinist ministers in Brazil campaigned loudly and endlessly for a more severe, restrictive policy toward Jews and Roman Catholics, yet Johan Maurits managed to thwart their efforts.20 Even Brazil should give us pause, though. Its limited religious freedoms were mostly the result of conquest, grudging negotiation, and necessity. Johan Maurits only governed for a few years, and he didn’t wield total power, but had to operate under the influence of a High Council. The latter consisted of men with
different temperaments and complex views, including Calvinist views, and in their various reform efforts, the Calvinist clergy sometimes got exactly what they wanted from the council. Everyone from the directors to the governor expressed a loathing for the Catholic faith, as well as 15 Keith Sprunger refers to the English churches in the Netherlands as “the English-language wing of the Dutch Reformed Church.” See Dutch Puritanism: A History of English and Scottish Churches of the Netherlands in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Leiden, 1982), 91. See also Keith Sprunger, Trumpets from the Tower: English Puritan Printing in the Netherlands, 1600–1640 (New York, 1994). 16 Wim Klooster, The Dutch Moment: War, Trade, and Settlement in the Seventeenth-Century Atlantic World (Ithaca, N.Y., 2016), 6. Klooster finds greater tolerance in Dutch American colonies. 17 See fn. 3, above—especially the Willem Frijhoff and Christine Kooi essays in the R. Po-Chia Hsia collection. 18 For the Dutch in West Africa, see Johannes Postma, The Dutch in the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1600–1815 (Cambridge, 1990), chap. 3; Klaas Ratelband, Nederlanders in West Afrika, 1600–1650: Angola, Kongo en São Tomé (Zutphen, 2000). 19 D. L. Noorlander, Heaven’s Wrath: The Protestant Reformation and the Dutch West India Company in the Atlantic World (Ithaca, NY, 2019), esp. chaps. 3-4. What I’m writing here about restricted worship rights in West Africa is probably true for all WIC employees and all ships and forts, regardless of location.
For tolerance in Brazil, see Frans Schalkwijk, The Reformed Church in Dutch Brazil, 1630-1654 (Zoetermeer, 1998), chaps. 12–14; Jonathan Israel and Stuart B. Schwartz, The Expansion of Tolerance: Religion in Dutch Brazil (1624–1654) (Amsterdam, 2007); and Evan Haefeli, “Breaking the Christian Atlantic,” in The Legacy of Dutch Brazil, ed. Michiel van Groesen (New York, 2014), 124–45. See also Smith, Religion and Trade, 123–25; and Haefeli, New Netherland, 98–103.
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a desire to eradicate Roman Catholicism in the long term. And the governor and his council did commandeer several Catholic churches and deported many Catholic priests. Nor in most cases did they allow new priests and new church construction in the colony, so that the Portuguese began to fear (not without reason) that the Dutch were trying to destroy their faith through gradual suffocation. When WIC directors adopted more direct means in 1642, issuing orders that they said would satisfy even their critics in the Reformed Church, Johan Maurits was so concerned about the possible Portuguese backlash that he defied the directors, explaining that the colony wasn’t ready for such drastic reforms. Increased controls and restrictions on Catholics after his departure helped inspire the Portuguese uprising of 1645.21 Probably the best evidence of growing moderation in the WIC comes from the Caribbean and Wild Coast (the northern coast of South America), where a new generation of company directors conceded generous religious rights to Jewish settlers in the 1650s and 1660s. As the situation in Brazil deteriorated, some Jews relocated to other colonies and founded patroonships, both at Curaçao and on the Wild Coast. The directors didn’t like or trust Jews in general, and they sometimes expressed their anti-Semitism in their correspondence.22 Yet they did loosen religious laws
for patroons in 1658 and 1659 to allow public worship and instruction in synagogues and schools. A few years later, at the behest of Friedrich Casimir, the Lutheran count of Hanau-Lichtenberg, the directors chartered a Wild Coast patroonship for “all Religions that believe in God.”23 If New Netherland didn’t benefit much from this increasingly tolerant attitude and atmosphere in the West India Company, it had something to do with Petrus Stuyvesant. He was governor for about seventeen years, and he was a Calvinist and fervent supporter of the Dutch Reformed Church. Supporting the church meant a lot of things that most colonists would have considered positive: He paid the clergy more than they had been paid before, paid them more regularly, and finished the chapel in the capital.24 He also supported the church’s campaigns against Sabbath-breaking, excessive drinking, sexual misconduct, and “pagan” holidays and festivities like the Feast of Saint Nicholas and Shrove Tuesday. These things he did, he wrote, because of what was happening in Brazil. The difficulties of “our sister state” (during the Portuguese revolt) were a reminder of God’s wrath and the consequence of sinful living. “He proceeds no longer by words or writings, but by arrests and stripes,” grumbled one colonist. Another said, “Stuyvesant is starting a whole reformation here.”25
The Jews who moved from Brazil to New Netherland had a very different experience from the Jews of the Caribbean—a more restricted one—because they were needy individuals and outsiders in an established society, not patroons, and their new governor wasn’t willing to modify the company’s long-standing policies on nonReformed worship. Nor would any other local leaders, for that matter. Reverend Johannes Megapolensis reported “a great 21 D. L. Noorlander, “Reformers in the Land of the Holy Cross: The Calvinist Mission in Dutch Brazil and the Portuguese Uprising of 1645,” Journal of Early American History 6 (2016), 169–95.
Charles Gehring, ed., Correspondence, 1647–1653 (Syracuse, N.Y., 2000), 154. 22
23 Nationaal Archief, Oude West Indische Compagnie, inv. nr. 18 (July 18, 1669). For “1658 and 1659,” see David Nassi’s Freedoms and Exemptions in Nationaal Archief, Archief van de Staten Generaal, deel 5, inv. nr. 12564.42 (September 12, 1659). Zwierlein thinks the Nassi concessions were modeled on a Zeeland charter from the previous year: Religion, 249, note 2. 24 For examples of Stuyvesant’s support, see E. T. Corwin, ed., Ecclesiastical Records of the State of New York , 7 vols.(Albany, 1901–1916), 1: 296, 363–64, 477 (hereafter cited as ERSNY). See also Smith, Religion, 187–88; Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (New York, 1999), 43–59; Joyce D. Goodfriend, “The Struggle Over the Sabbath in Peter Stuyvesant’s New Amsterdam,” in Power and the City in the Netherlandic World, eds. Wayne te Brake and Wim Klooster (Leiden, 2006), 205–24.
Cited in Burrows and Wallace, Gotham, 58; and Scott Christianson, “Criminal Punishment in New Netherland,” in A Beautiful and Fruitful Place: Selected Rensselaerswijck Seminar Papers, ed. Nancy Anne McClure Zeller (Albany, N.Y., 1991), 86. 25
Frans Jansz. Post, “View of the Jesuit Church at Olinda, Brazil” (1665). In 1637 Post accompanied Johan Maurits, count of Nassau-Siegen, to the Dutch colony of Pernambuco in Brazil. This panoramic view, completed many years after Post’s return to Holland, depicts a church built in a tropical clearing, believed to be the Jesuit church at Olinda. Founders Society Purchase, General Membership Fund, Detroit Institute of Arts.
Gov. Petrus Stuyvesant. Courtesy of the New York State Library, Manuscripts and Special Collections, Albany, New York. This print was probably made from the Hendrick Couturier painting at the New-York Historical Society.
deal of complaint and murmuring” in his congregation when the Jews arrived. He called them “godless rascals,” and when Stuyvesant agreed to deport them, New Amsterdam’s municipal court granted its approbation.26 WIC directors in the Netherlands then reversed the decision because the Jews owed them an unspecified amount of money. After all their losses in Brazil, giving them another chance in North America was also just a matter of fairness, the directors declared. But the colonists did everything in their power to make the Jews feel unwelcome, maybe even promote a self-deportation: they could not trade on the Delaware River, could not have their own burial ground, could not buy their own real estate, could not serve in the militia, and had to pay extra taxes for New Amsterdam’s defense. Stuyvesant and the council wrote vaguely and unhelpfully that they imposed these restrictions and requirements “for important reasons.” When the Jews complained, the governor told them, “consent is hereby given to them to depart whenever and wherever it may please them.”27 As for other religious outsiders, Lutherans and Quakers suffered various repressive measures under Stuyvesant. He rejected the Lutherans’ request for a minister in 1653. After ousting the Swedes from the Delaware River two years later, he let one minister remain, just as the Dutch in Brazil had accepted Roman Catholic priests after the conquest there. Like Calvinists in Brazil, however, the governor tried to minimize the religious consequences of war, deporting two other
Lutheran ministers from the Delaware and turning a third minister around when a new group of Swedes arrived the next year.28 At the same time, to counter a growing number of conventicles, Stuyvesant and his council outlawed the private meetings and immediately began imposing fines and arresting people, even banishing two men on Long Island for “the audacity” of preaching and holding the Lord’s Supper in their homes.29 When the Lutheran church in Amsterdam sent the pastor Johannes Gutwasser to America in 1657, the entire colonial power structure united against him, including secular and ecclesiastical authorities inside the company and out. They forbade him from preaching and ordered him to obey the new laws. Upon further pressure from the Dutch Reformed clergy, without any evidence of misconduct, Stuyvesant agreed to deport Gutwasser “for the honor of God” and the sake of peace. The ailing minister managed to avoid arrest by hiding at a supporter’s farm on Long Island.30 Suppression served two purposes, one of them negative and protective, the other active and evangelical. Authorities intended something like the conventicle law to kill “many dangerous Heresies and Schisms.”31 On the other hand, they were also trying to grow the Dutch Reformed Church. Calvinist clergy objected to Lutheran worship because it would “tend to the injury of our church” and “the diminution of hearers of the Word of God.” They knew very well why some colonists attended their meetings: “For as long as no other religion than the Reformed has been publicly allowed,
all who wish to engage in public worship come to our service. By this means . . . several [Lutherans] have made a profession of religion, and united with us in the Lord’s Supper.”32 Megapolensis reported that after Gutwasser finally departed for Holland, “quietness” was restored: “The Lutherans again go to church, as they were formerly accustomed to do.” Even the Lutheran ringleader among the colonists “is now one of the most punctual attendants, and has his pew near to the pulpit,” Megapolensis concluded. Reverend Gideon Schaats wrote from Fort Orange the next year that “Lutherans . . . are gradually being led to us.” Without competition, “the vineyard of the Lord” would continue to flourish.33 The Quakers suffered even more than Lutherans and Jews because, while they did profess a belief in Jesus Christ, most contemporaries considered them dangerous radicals, unfit for inclusion in the corpus christianum because of their novel views on authority and the provocative, disruptive style of their early years. 34 Stuyvesant’s reaction to the Quakers was less severe than that of the New England Puritans, who sometimes executed the loud interlopers. And some Quakers did acknowledge the difference, perhaps even gratefully. But Stuyvesant was no friend to the Friends, as they were also called. He decried them as an error-ridden, “abomi26 ERSNY 1:335; Berthold Fernow, ed., The Records of New Amsterdam from 1653 to 1674 (New York, 1897), vol. 1, 290–91.
Charles T. Gehring, ed., Council Minutes, 1655–1656 (Syracuse, N.Y., 1995), 128. The rest comes from Jaap Jacobs, The Colony of New Netherland: A Dutch Settlement in Seventeenth-Century America (Ithaca, N.Y., 2009), 198–202. 27
28 The treatment of religious dissenters in New Netherland is covered most thoroughly (though at times problematically) in Zwierlein, Religion, chaps. 6–8. Zwierlein uses some questionable sources. See also Smith, Religion, 190-211; Gerald F. de Jong, The Dutch Reformed Church in the American Colonies (Grand Rapids, Mich., 1978), 35-38; Oliver Rink, Holland on the Hudson: An Economic and Social History of Dutch New York (Ithaca, NY, 1986), 230–33; Jacobs, Colony, chap. 5; Haefeli, New Netherland, chaps. 2–7 (and p. 105 for the deportation of Lutheran ministers from the Delaware).
ERSNY 1:361–62. The two men were English, not Lutherans, and Stuyvesant rescinded one of the banishments.
E. B. O’Callaghan, Laws and Ordinances of New Netherland, 1637–1674 (Albany, NY, 1868), 211. 31
Ibid., 387, 449, 483.
Jaap Jacobs, “‘Hot Pestilential and Unheard-Of Fevers, Illnesses, and Torments’: Days of Fasting and Prayer in New Netherland,” New York History 96, nos. 3–4 (Summer–Fall 2015): 293. 34
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nable Heresy” and a walking, talking disease. In his proclamations he warned the colonists that Quakers might seduce even “true believers,” and in so doing, invite God’s punishment on New Netherland.35 So he tried to deter them with the same conventicle laws and the same harsh punishments he used for the worst criminals and religious dissenters: detention, flogging, hard labor, banishment, and direct deportation. His Quaker policy was “mild” only in the same nuanced sense in which a gunshot to the kneecap is better than a gunshot to the forehead. He inflicted great distress and crippled any potential Quaker growth and contribution to the colony.36 New Netherland’s Quaker problem lasted from 1657 to 1662. It began with three deportations: Dorothy Waugh, May Witherhead, and Robert Hodgson. The first two got into trouble for preaching and quaking in the streets, scaring the people of New Amsterdam; the third was a question of conventicles, held at Hodgson’s home in the English town of Heemstede on Long Island. After arresting him and imprisoning him for several days, the council gave him a choice: pay a hefty fine or “work at the wheelbarrow . . . two years with the negroes.” When he refused to work, they whipped him, then whipped him again a few days later and deported him.37 In the coming months they issued a stricter conventicle law for Quakers and Quaker sympathizers, and they made additional arrests and imposed new fines. In the famous Flushing Remonstrance, thirty English settlers protested the law on the grounds that they could not, in good conscience, execute it. They even argued for a separation of secular and religious authority. But Stuyvesant shut them down
immediately with a series of arrests and trials. Most Flushing magistrates got off on the grounds that they didn’t understand what the Dutch meant with the terms “freedom of conscience” and “freedom from molestation,” both found in their charter. And they were quite sorry for their “errors,” they now confessed. Their supposed leader, the schout Tobias Feake, lost his position and paid a fine of two hundred guilders.38 Quaker controversies flared up again a few years later, ending this time with a slew of banishments and possibly even a small group of self-deporters. Having learned from Calvinist allies among the English on Long Island that Quakers still held conventicles, Stuyvesant sent investigators, including on one occasion Reverend Samuel Drisius. On the village of Rustdorp the governor imposed three new magistrates and a company of soldiers, billeted in the colonists’ homes. The soldiers would remain, he said, until all the men signed a pledge to forego illegal meetings and inform on their neighbors. Only six people refused to sign, and they might have left New Netherland of their own accord when Stuyvesant informed them that they would house and feed the soldiers until they changed their minds.39 Among the people he banished in this second wave of Quaker troubles, the most famous was John Bowne. Like Hodgson before him, Bowne refused to pay the fine for holding conventicles, so the council kept him imprisoned for months. Then Stuyvesant deported him, not to some other colony, but all the way to Amsterdam, where he made his case before the directors and finally agreed to obey the law. What about directors? Didn’t they in-
tervene? Didn’t they force Stuyvesant to connive at illicit worship? We have already seen how they limited his choices with the Jewish immigrants of the mid-1650s. But they did not go so far as to grant free public worship. They said merely that Jews could worship “within their houses, for which end they must without doubt endeavour to build their houses close together in a convenient place on one or the other side of New Amsterdam.” 40 Similarly, they wished that Stuyvesant had proceeded “less vigorously” against the Lutherans, and they told him to deal with Lutherans “quietly and leniently.” They were not pleased with the law against conventicles and instructed the governor to let the Lutherans, like the Jews, “have free religious exercises in their houses,” leaving open the question of whether colonists could worship only as families or as nonfamily groups. These suggestive instructions could have been interpreted liberally to allow conventicles, but that would have required a liberal ruler, which the colony did not have.41 The directors’ clearest instructions on the connivance tradition came in the wake 35
In New Netherland, 166, Haefeli calls Stuyvesant’s Quaker policy “quite mild” (comparatively speaking). That said, Haefeli’s overview of these events is one of the best. 36
Smith, Religion, 224–27; Jacobs, Colony, 167–71; Haefeli, New Netherland, chap. 6.
Haefeli and Jacobs say we don’t know what happened next. However, Zwierlein claims that the six men left for Oyster Bay, “beyond the jurisdiction of the Dutch government.” See Religion in New Netherland, 234.
Ibid., 352, 354–55, 374–75, 378–81, 409–411.
West India Company DirectorGeneral Petrus Stuyvesant’s punishment of Quakers in New Netherland varied little from the punishment depicted here of Quaker James Nailer in London in 1657. British Museum.
of the second Quaker controversy and the Bowne deportation. Regarding Quakers, they wrote in 1663: we doubt very much, whether we can proceed against them rigorously without diminishing the population and stopping immigration, which must be favored at a so tender stage of the country’s existence. You may therefore shut your eyes, at least not force people’s consciences, but allow every one to have his own belief, as long as he behaves quietly and legally. . . . As the government of [Amsterdam] has always practiced this maxim of moderation and . . . has often had a considerable influx of people, we do not doubt that your Province too would be benefitted by it.42 The directors could not have provided better evidence that republicans were finally starting to outnumber the Calvinists and Orangists who had dominated the WIC for so long. However, the Bowne moment was no victory for religious liberty. The directors told Bowne that he must not hold illicit meetings and made him sign a document to that effect. They also expressed dislike for “sectarians” like him.43 Most importantly, the directors’ hints and requests for moderation had no discernable effect in New Netherland. Whether they wanted Stuyvesant to allow
Lutheran worship or even connived in sending the Lutheran minister, he shipped the latter back to Europe and Lutherans never attained religious freedoms. Whether the directors wanted Stuyvesant to wink at Jewish and Quaker worship, he never did. He and his Calvinist allies worked together to suppress all nonconformists. Then the colony fell to English conquerors just months after he was ordered to “shut [his] eyes.” The Amsterdam church even expressed its satisfaction with the directors from time to time. After quashing the Lutherans, the church in Amsterdam thanked them for their assistance. Regarding Jews and their “blasphemous religion,” the directors “acted . . . in a very Christian manner,” the church reported.44 Indeed, Calvinists realized their wishes on almost every front. New Amsterdam never adopted the connivingly tolerant traditions of its namesake city on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. In conclusion, let’s revisit the primary reasons for the Dutch reputation for tolerance: Their commitment to freedom of conscience created a private right and greater security against persecution than outsiders enjoyed in many places at the time, which attracted immigrants from those other places. Some Dutch rulers went further, advocating the benefits of a tolerant society or, even if they didn’t
try to change the worship laws, looking the other way or accepting bribes when non-Calvinists asserted themselves in the public realm. Rulers enjoyed some leeway in these matters because of the decentralized, federalist nature of Dutch political organization and governance. One’s ability to worship freely in the Dutch Republic and Dutch Empire depended on whether one belonged to the Reformed Church, whether he was a company employee or free burgher, which generation of directors he happened to serve under, who his governor was, the religio-political makeup of the colonial council and other administrative bodies, and probably other factors, as well. If he was Roman Catholic or Jewish—and if he cared about worshiping with other Catholics and Jews—his best chance of living that life was to settle in Amsterdam, Dutch Brazil in the late 1630s and early 1640s, and certain Caribbean colonies after about mid-century. The directors probably would have forced New Netherland to liberalize after 1664, had the colony remained in their hands. But it did not remain in their hands, and there is no evidence that their growing moderation had any impact on the ground before New Netherland became New York. 42
Ibid., 530 (emphasis added).
Ibid., 349, 470.
Ironically, one of the most popular contemporary images of New Amsterdam lifts figures in the foreground from another print depicting English Quakers running a tobacco plantation on the Caribbean island of Barbados. From Carel Allard, Orbis Habitabilis.
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Here and There in New Netherland Studies Metropolitan Museum of Art Exhibition, “In Praise of Painting: Dutch Masterpieces at The Met.”
ROM NOW until October 4, 2020, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is highlighting the museum’s founding purchases in 1871 of Old Masters with an exhibition devoted to works by seventeenth-century Dutch artists. This exhibition brings together some of the museum’s greatest Dutch paintings of the Golden Age to reexamine this remarkable chapter in art history. Through thematically organized sixty-seven works of art by Rembrandt van Rijn, Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer, and other masters, “In Praise of Painting” orients visitors to key issues in seventeenthcentury Dutch culture—from debates about religious doctrine and conspicuous consumption to painters’ fascination with the domestic lives of women. Through such art works we can gain a fuller understanding of the milieu and aspirations of those who settled New Netherland at this time. On Monday, January 28, 2019, the New Amsterdam History Center hosted a tour of the exhibit. The tour was led by Adam Eaker, assistant curator of European paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Members of The Holland Society of New York, the Holland Dames, the New Netherland Institute, and other similar organizations, in addition to those of the New Amsterdam History Center attended.
Remembering New York’s Colonial Past through Archaeology, History, and Art
ILLIAM STARNA, Paul Huey, and Len Tantillo joined forces on Sunday, November 11, 2018, at the New York State Museum’s Huxley Theater to give presentations and host a panel discussion on various aspects of early New Netherland. William Starna’s presentation, “ ‘We Will
Right: Adam Eaker, assistant curator of European paintings, guiding New Amsterdam History Center tour.
Give You a Place to Build a Town’: Mahican-Dutch Encounters in the Seventeenth Century,” took a new look at the early seventeenth-century encounter between Dutch interlopers and the Mahicans—the Native residents of the upper Hudson River Valley. His presentation described a “before and after” period of Mahican society as it engaged with an expanding colonial power, ushered in a new economy, forced cultural accommodations, and led to land loss. In “Finding Fort Orange” Paul Huey discussed the archaeology of the original
site of Fort Orange outside Albany, occupied from 1624 to 1676. Undertaken in the path of the construction of Interstate 787 in the early 1970s, Huey noted that excavations revealed that portions of the original site remained despite centuries of later construction. The artifacts and other archeological evidence that were rescued suggest the level of sophistication in material culture that was achieved by the Dutch in New Netherland and highlight how this colony was unique among Dutch colonies worldwide. In “An Artist’s Interpretation
of New York History,” artist Len Tantillo discussed how over the past thirty years he has derived inspiration from numerous historians, along with the study of primary source documents, such as maps, drawings, and panting. He believes that picturing the past is one of the most effective ways to engage an audience, pique their interest, and increase awareness of regional history. A lively question and answer discussion followed.
Peter Gansevoort Ten Eyck Lecture Series
HROUGHOUT April and June of 2019, the New Netherland Institute in partnership with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, hosted a series of eleven lectures on various aspects of New Netherland, each at a different venue in New York City, the Hudson Valley, and the Capital Region. Russell Shorto, “Finding New York’s Dutch Roots: A Field Guide,” on April 16 at the Brooklyn Historical Society in Brooklyn. Shorto, author of The Island at the Center of the World, presented a “travelogue” of New Netherland, from Brooklyn to Rensselaer as he (virtually) roams the Hudson River from western Long Island to Albany, bringing the Dutch period back to life. Sam Huntington, “To Serve in a Free Country: Slavery and Freedom in New Netherland,” on April 27 at the Senate House State Historic Site in Kingston, New York. Huntington discussed how slavery in New York State grew out of the Dutch West India Company’s interconnected web of the African, Caribbean, South American, North American, and European trade networks. Following the lecture, panelists Cordell Reaves (historic preservation program analyst for New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation) Ashley Elizabeth Trainor (collections manager for Historic Huguenot Street), and Huntington discussed the ways that the Dutch role in the slave trade and the lives of enslaved Africans are interpreted at historic sites today. Michael J. Douma, “The Trouble with Translating the Constitution into Dutch (and Why New Yorkers Wanted to),” on May 2, at the Albany Law School in Albany. In the spring of 1788, rival Federal and Anti-Federal committees in Albany debated
the merits of the new national Constitution in Dutch. Over the next decade, two separate Dutch translations prefigured a debate over the meaning of the Constitution that occupies legal scholars to this day Wim Klooster, “Amsterdam’s Interest in New Netherland: The 1667 Petition to Keep the Colony,” on May 10 at the University Club of Albany. With the Second Anglo-Dutch War winding down, a group of seventy merchants in Amsterdam wrote a petition in 1667 in which they requested that the Dutch government negotiate the return of New Netherland to Dutch rule. Klooster presents their arguments and shows that the merchants formed a remarkable cross-section of the Amsterdam mercantile elite that included a victim of the Portuguese Inquisition and a man who would later head a famous diplomatic mission to the Russian czar. Ian Stewart and Bill Brandow, “From Ghent to Rotterdam: Netherlandish Architecture in the Northern Hudson Valley,” on May 14 at the New York State Museum in Albany. Brandow and Stewart, architectural historians, explored the forms and origins of Netherlandish architecture in the northern Hudson River Valley. From urban to rural forms, from vernacular to high style, the history and evolution of these building forms was discussed. Maeve Kane, “Shirts Powdered Red: Dutch-Haudenosaunee Trade in the 17th and 18th Centuries,” on May 18 at Clermont State Historic, Germantown, New York. Clothing carries many meanings, and in early Dutch-Haudenosaunee trade it communicated messages about race, piety, diplomacy, education, resistance, and community. Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) people sought out trade with Dutch settlers for many reasons which shaped intercultural interactions. Clothing offers a valuable lens to see how Haudenosaunee women in early New York viewed themselves, their communities, and their interactions with Dutch settlers. William A. Starna, “‘Those who make up a house’: Togaháyon, Jacob Eelckens, and the Genesis of the League of the Iroquois,” on May 23 at the Mabee Farm Historic Site in Rotterdam Junction, New York. Questions surrounding the genesis of the League of the Iroquois (Hodinöhsö:ni’)— the Confederacy—has produced a vast literature related to the role of Euro-American conceptions in constructing the histories of American Indians before and immediately following contact.
Amy Ransford, “ ‘She is a truly worldly woman’: Trading Women of the Colonial Hudson River Valley,” on June 11 at Rough Draft Bar & Books, 82 John St., Kingston, New York. Indian, Dutch, French, and English women throughout the seventeenthand eighteenth-century Hudson River Valley played an important role as traders and merchants. This talk will animate the lives of a number of women to discuss the ways in which female merchants were active participants in the economic, political, and cultural spheres of the colonial Hudson River Valley Andrea Mosterman, “Social Power and Slavery in Early New York’s Dutch Reformed Churches,” on June 12 at Philipse Manor Hall State Historic Site, 29 Warburton Ave, Yonkers, New York. The Dutch Reformed Church proved an incredibly important institution in New York’s Dutch communities. In addition to being a religious institution, the church also served as a social and cultural organization, and its buildings functioned as important social and cultural spaces. Mosterman argues, however, that while these churches provided a sense of belonging and social standing to its congregants, the buildings and churchyards were also used to reinforce society’s social hierarchies and as powerful tools of social power that helped sustain slavery in these communities. Stephen McErleane, “The Purchase of Manhattan, Historical Memory, and William Ranney’s 1853 Painting,” on June 13,at the West End Collegiate Church, 245 West 77th Street in Manhattan. Although it is known today as a fundamental piece of the early history of New York , it was not until 217 years after the event that New Yorkers first learned of the now infamous 1626 purchase of the island of Manhattan by the Dutch from the Indians for twentyfour dollars. This talk follows the construction of that story from its first appearance in the 1840s and focuses on an important and overlooked piece, an 1853 painting of the purchase by the American artist William Ranney. Russell Shorto and Len Tantillo, “Imagining New Amsterdam,” on June 22 at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, 131 East 10th Street, Manhattan Four centuries ago, Dutch traders, American Indians, Africans, and others collaborated and clashed on lower Manhattan. In this visually compelling program, artist Len Tantillo and author Russell Shorto compare their methods of bringing New Netherland’s origins to life.
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Society Activities New Holland Society Headquarters Office
EGINNING IN 2019, The Holland Society of New York’s headquarters will move to a new space in Manhattan. In response to Society President Andrew Terhune’s request at the Annual Meeting of April 6, 2018, Richard E. Van Deusen volunteered to research the most appropriate office structure to house the Society’s headquarters. After relinquishing the Society’s former library and office space at 20 West 44th Street in Manhattan, and turning the Holland Society library over to the New Netherland Institute and New York State Library in Albany, Dean Vanderwarker successfully found the Society’s present office location at 708 Third Avenue. After debating the question whether The Holland Society benefits by maintaining a physical presence in Manhattan, Mr. Van Deusen suggested moving many of the Society’s activities and files more toward a “virtual office” configuration. A simple definition of virtual office is, he writes, “the activities of a business carried out by people who communicate by telephone, email, and the internet, etc., rather than working together in a building.” A virtual office, as Mr. Van Deusen noted, can be a large office, a small room or just a cubicle with a telephone, internet access, mail address and a place to plug in a computer. The suggestion was not simply a matter of cost, but rather a matter of the Society’s volunteer members and officers being able to manage the organization efficiently as well as make effective use of the Society’s resources. In fact, as long as the Society has had only one on-site employee with few if any visiting members or guests, it has been functioning as a virtual office for some time, even with the library. It was determined, however, that it is important to maintain a physical presence on Manhattan so that members would continue to receive the same level of service. In addition, it was recommended that the Society acquire the latest technology
to further empower our administrator to efficiently meet the needs of our members. On the basis of two visits to the current office, a visit to a prospective new space, and conversations with Treasurer Dean Vanderwarker and Administrator Sarah Bogart Cooney, Mr. Van Deursen concluded that only minimal file space is needed at an office location. By 2019, it is anticipated that the membership files will have been completely digitized, at which time the paper files can be moved to off-site storage at Hudson MicroImaging in Port Ewen, New York. All files relating to the publication of the Holland Society’s journal de Halve Maen and other Society publications, as well as hard copies of the Society’s Yearbooks from 1885 to 1929, other publications, and back issues of de Halve Maen, as well as correspondence relating to them, are currently located at the Jacob Leisler Institute for the Study of Early New York History at 46 Green Street in Hudson, New York. The City of Hudson is only thirty miles, or a forty-minute drive, from Port Ewen, and located half way between Port Ewen and the Holland Society library’s new location in the Cultural Education Center in Albany, New York. The recommendation for the new office configuration was approved at the November Trustees Meeting move to the new space on February 1, 2019. Following a considerable search, Mr. Vanderwarker identified another even lower-cost space for consideration. The Holland Society of New York office address in Manhattan beginning on February 1, 2019, is 1343 Sixth Ave. 33rd Floor, New York, NY 10105. Office hours will be by appointment.
John Milnes Baker Book Signing
OLLAND SOCIETY OF New York Member, architect, and author John Milnes Baker, author of American House Styles, held a book signing at Kent Memorial Library, Kent, Connecticut, on September 19, 2018. The event
Holland Society Member and author John Milnes Baker. included a twenty-two-minute presentation with a slideshow of images from American House Styles. Mr. Baker is an award-winning architect who specializes in residential design—new homes, alterations and additions, and historic preservation. The Connecticut Chapter of the AIA and the Fairfield County Historical Society are cosponsoring Part I of Mr. Baker’s two-part program on the History of the American House on April 2, 2019. Mr. Baker is the author of American House Styles: a Concise Guide, originally published by W. W. Norton & Co. in 1994. A new expanded edition was published in July 2018. He is also the author of How to Build a House with an Architect, published in 1988 by Harper & Row. As an adjunct professor, he taught courses on the history of the American house at The New School in New York City. Mr. Baker’s work has appeared in numerous architectural journals and three of his designs were among Better Homes & Gardens’ Home Plan Ideas—Top Ten All-Time Favorites. One of these houses, “an elegantly simple contemporary salt-box,” was featured as “their Readers’ All-Time Favorite.” American House Styles is available at House of Books in Kent, Connecticut, Norton Publishers, and Amazon.com.
In Memoriam Eli Drannon Buskirk Jr. Holland Society of New York Life Member Eli Drannon Buskirk Jr., of West Hanover Township, Pennsylvania, died on October 14, 2018, at the age of seventyfour in Crescent City, California, where he and his wife were serving as volunteer lighthouse keepers. Dr. Buskirk was born on October 15, 1943, in Charleston, West Virginia, son of Eli Drannon Buskirk and Theodora Wallace Altman. He claimed descent from Laurens Andriessen van Boskerck from Holstein, Denmark, who was probably here by 1655. Mr. Buskirk became a Life Member of the Holland Society in December 1996. Dr. Buskirk received an A.B. from St. Andrews Presbyterian College, Laurinburg, North Carolina, in 1966. He then attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he received an M.S. with a field of specialization in natural resources in 1974, and a Ph.D. in water resource management in December 1976. His doctoral dissertation was “Economic Impact Analysis of Reservoir and Riverine Fisheries in the Mekong River Basin in Northeast Thailand.” In his subsequent forty-year professional career, Dr. Buskirk taught graduate students in urban and regional planning at Penn State̕s Harrisburg campus, worked as an environmental consultant on projects throughout Asia and Africa, and designed and taught an environmental studies curriculum at Harrisburg Area Community College. Dr. Buskirk married Carol Martha Hinrichs on June 15, 1968, in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. The couple had a daughter, Martha Altman Buskirk, born on August 13, 1978, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Dr. Buskirk’s passion for educating about water quality issues led to the founding of the Paxton Creek Watershed and Education Association in Harrisburg, Pennyslvania, in 2001. In retirement he enjoyed collecting family history stories, traveling, and learning new things. “Mr. Buskirk believed people should be remembered by their personal stories, rather than by statistics.” Dr. Buskirk is survived by his wife of fifty years, Carol, his sister Dana Buskirk of Columbia, South Carolina, daughter Martha “Mattie” (Jason) Robinson of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, and grandchildren Thea
and Finn Robinson. A memorial gathering was held on November 25, 2018. at the Olewine Nature Center at Wildwood Park, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Carlton Chapman Durling Holland Society of New York Life Member Carlton Chapman Durling of Whitehouse, New Jersey, and Vero Beach, Florida, passed away at home on November 14, 2018, at the age of eighty-nine. Mr. Durling was born on October 2, 1929, at Whitehouse, New Jersey, the son of Augustus Carlton Durling and Gladys Harriet Chapman. He claimed descent from Jan Gerritse Dorlandt, who arrived in New Netherland in 1652, settling on a small farm in Flatbush, Long Island. Mr. Durling became a member of the Holland Society on January 1, 1978. Mr. Durling graduated from Blair Academy, Blairstown, New Jersey, in 1947. He then attended Penn State University, State College, Pennsylvania. Following college, Mr. Durling joined his father as vice president of Durling Farms, a family-operated milk processing and distributing company that was founded by his grandfather Augustus C. Durling in 1888. Aware that the distribution of diary products was rapidly undergoing changes, in 1967 founded the QuickChek convenience store company. QuickChek now operates a chain of stores with $1 billion in annual sales at 143 locations serving northern New Jersey and lower New York state and 4,000 employees. Mr. Durling married Betty Jane Correll on June 23, 1917. The couple had two sons, Carlton Correll Durling, born on April 3, 1952, and Dean Chapman Durling, born on April 24, 1954, and a daughter, Denise Durling, born on 19xx, all born in Whitehouse, New Jersey. Mr. Durling was an avid sportsman and a member of Club Limited, he spent endless days hunting and fishing in the United States, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Scotland, Africa, and Russia. For many years, he and his wife, Betty, hunted with the Essex Fox Hounds in Far Hills, New Jersey. They also enjoyed skiing from their home in Deer Valley, Utah, and other venues. In addition to his membership in the
Holland Society of New York, Mr. Durling was a member of the Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, New Jersey, as well as the Red Stick and Windsor clubs in Vero Beach, Florida. Mr. Durling is survived by his wife of sixty-eight years, Betty, sons, Carlton Correll Durling of Whitehouse, New Jersey, and Dean C. Durling of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, both Holland Society Members, daughter Denise Holmberg of Charlotte, Vermont, ten grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements were entrusted to the Kearns Funeral Home of Whitehouse, New Jersey. Funeral services were held at the Lamington Presbyterian Church, Lamington, New Jersey, on November 20, 2018.
Paul Hamilton Ten Eyck Holland Society of New York Life Member Paul Hamilton Ten Eyck of Maryville, Tennessee, died on December 8, 2018, at the age of twenty-three. He was born on April 26, 1995, in Texarkana, Texas, the son of Andrew Worley Ten Eyck, a Member of The Holland Society, and Nancy Jeanne Hocker. Mr. Ten Eyck claimed descent from Coenraet Ten Eyck, who emigrated from Holland to New Netherland in 1650. Mr. Ten Eyck became a Member of the Holland Society on June 8, 1995. Mr. Ten Eyck was a 2013 graduate of Maryville High School where he was on the football and wrestling teams. He was a recent graduate of Tennessee Tech University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Paul was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, a lifetime member of the Holland Society of New York, and a member of New Providence Presbyterian Church. Mr. Ten Eyck is survived by his parents, Andrew Worley and Nancy Jeanne Ten Eyck, brother Andrew Biddle Ten Eyck of Maryville, Tennessee, a Holland Society Member, and sister Julia Virginia Ten Eyck. Smith Funeral and Cremation Service of Maryville oversaw funeral arrangements. A funeral service was held on December 15, 2018, at New Providence Presbyterian Church, Maryville, Tennessee; interment took place on December 22, 2018, in the family plot in Beaufort, South Carolina.
de Halve Maen
Journal of Dutch Colonial History in America Published since 1922 Edited by Dr. David William Voorhees de Halve Maen features the most recent articles by foremost scholars concerned with the Dutch colony of New Netherland and all its peoples as well as to genealogies relating to those families arriving in the colony prior to 1675. de Halve Maen is available for subscription at the following rates: $45.00 for four issues [Domestic] $55.00 for four issues [International] $7.50 for single issues These rates include First Class Postage, ensuring delivery. . Subscription Form for de Halve Maen -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------To: The Holland Society of New York 1343 Sixth Ave. 33rd Floor New York NY 10105 Date________________ Name of Subscriber ___________________________________________________________________ Address______________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________ Amount of enclosed check______________________________________________________________ Please begin my subscription with the most current issue _____________________________________