Peter Stuyvesant

Infobox Officeholder
name = Peter Stuyvesant


imagesize =
caption = Painting of Peter Stuyvesant, c. 1660
order = 7th
office = Director-General of New Netherland
term_start = 1647
term_end = 1664
predecessor = Willem Kieft
successor = "Office abolished"
birth_date = 1592, 1602, or 1612
birth_place = Peperga, Dutch Republic
death_date = August 1672
death_place = New York, Province of New York

Peter Stuyvesant (originally "Pieter" or "Petrus", "Peter" is never mentioned in historical records) (c. 1612 – August 1672) served as the last Dutch Director-General of the colony of New Netherland from 1647 until it was ceded provisionally to the English in 1664. He was a major figure in the early history of New York City.

Stuyvesant's accomplishments as director-general included a great expansion for the settlement of New Netherlands (later renamed New York) beyond the southern tip of Manhattan. Among the projects built by Stuyvesant's administration were the protective wall on Wall Street, the canal that became Broad Street, and Broadway.

Biography

He was born in Peperga, in southern Friesland in the Netherlands, to Balthazar Johannes Stuyvesant, a minister, and Margaretha Hardenstein. The year of Peter's birth is not known and is given as 1592, [Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition] 1602, [Appleton's Cyclopedia] and 1612. [http://www.friesgenootschap.nl/artikelen/stuyvesant.htm] (in Dutch). The birth year is often given as 1592, but recent research of primary sources suggest 1612 to be more probable.] He studied in Franeker, and joined the West India Company about 1635, and was director of the Dutch West India Company's colony of Curaçao from 1642 to 1644.

In April 1644, he attacked the Spanish-held island of Saint Martin and was wounded. He returned to the Netherlands, where his right leg was amputated and replaced with a wooden peg. Supposedly, Stuyvesant was given the nickname "Old Peg Leg" because he used a stick of wood driven full of silver bands as a prosthetic limb. [cite web|url=http://www.njcu.edu/programs/jchistory/Pages/S_Pages/Stuyvesant_Peter.htm|work=Jersey City: Past and Present Project|accessdate=2006-11-01|title=Peter Stuyvesant, 1646-1664]

In May of 1645 he was selected by the Dutch West India Company to replace Willem Kieft as Director-General of New Netherland. He arrived in New Amsterdam on May 11, 1647. In September 1647, he appointed a council of representatives.

He married Judith Bayard (c. 1610-1687) in 1645. She was born in the Netherlands, the sister of Samuel Bayard of Amsterdam, who was married to Anna Stuyvesant. Peter and Judith had a son, Nicholas William Stuyvesant (1648-1698), who married Maria Beckman, the daughter of William Beckman.

Stuyvesant became involved in a dispute with Theophilus Eaton, the Governor of Connecticut, over the border of the two colonies. In 1648, a conflict started between him and Brant Arent Van Slechtenhorst, the commissary of the fort of Rensselaerwyck. Stuyvesant claimed he had power over Rensselaerwyck despite special privileges granted to Van Slechtenhorst in the charter of 1629.

In 1649, Stuyvesant marched to Fort Orange with a military escort and ordered houses to be razed to permit a better defense of the fort in case of an attack of the Native Americans. When Van Slechtenhorst refused, Pieter sent a group of soldiers to enforce his orders. The controversy that followed resulted in the commissary maintaining his rights and the director losing popularity. Because of the controversy with Van Slechtenhorst, the States-General of the Netherlands commanded Stuyvesant to return to the Netherlands; but Stuyvesant refused to obey, saying, "I shall do as I please."

In September 1650, a meeting of the commissioners on boundaries took place in Hartford, Connecticut. The border was arranged to the dissatisfaction of the council, who declared that "the governor had ceded away enough territory to found fifty colonies each fifty miles square." Stuyvesant then threatened to dissolve the council. A new plan of municipal government was arranged in the Netherlands, and the name "New Amsterdam" was officially declared on 2 February, 1653. Stuyvesant made a speech for the occasion, saying that his authority would remain undiminished.

Peter was now ordered to the Netherlands a second time, but the order was soon revoked on the declaration of war with England. Stuyvesant prepared against an attack by ordering the citizens to dig a ditch from the North River to the East River and to erect a fortification.

In 1653, a convention of two deputies from each village in New Netherland demanded reforms, and Stuyvesant commanded this assembly to disperse, saying: "We derive our authority from God and the company, not from a few ignorant subjects."

In 1655, he sailed into the Delaware River with a fleet of seven vessels and about 700 men and took possession of the colony of New Sweden, which he renamed "New Amstel". In his absence, New Amsterdam was attacked by Native Americans.

In 1657 Stuyvesant, who did not tolerate full religious freedom in the colony, and especially the presence of Quakers, ordered the public torture of Robert Hodgson, a 23-year-old Quaker convert who had become an influential preacher. Stuyvesant then made an ordinance, punishable by fine and imprisonment, against anyone found guilty of harboring Quakers. This action led to a protest from the citizens of Flushing, Queens, which came to be known as the Flushing Remonstrance, considered by some a precursor to the United States Constitution's provision on freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights.

In 1664, Charles II of England ceded to his brother, James II of England, a large tract of land that included New Netherland. Four English ships bearing 450 men, commanded by Richard Nicolls, seized the Dutch colony. On 30 August 1664, George Cartwright sent the governor a letter demanding surrender. He promised "life, estate, and liberty to all who would submit to the king's authority." Stuyvesant signed a treaty at his Bouwerij house on 9 September 1664. Nicolls was declared governor, and the city was renamed New York City.

In 1665, Stuyvesant went to the Netherlands to report on his term as governor. On his return, he spent the remainder of his life on his farm of sixty-two acres outside the city, called the Great Bouwerie, beyond which stretched the woods and swamps of the village of Haarlem. A pear-tree that he reputedly brought from the Netherlands in 1647 remained at the corner of Thirteenth Street and Third Avenue until 1867, bearing fruit almost to the last. The house was destroyed by fire in 1777. He also built an executive mansion of stone called Whitehall. He died in August of 1672 and he was interred at St Mark's Church in-the-Bowery in Manhattan New York.

Legacy

*Stuyvesant was a great believer in education. In 1660 he was quoted as saying that “Nothing is of greater importance than the early instruction of youth”. In 1661, New Amsterdam had one grammar school, two free elementary schools, and had licensed 28 masters of school. To honor Stuyvesant's dedication to education and New Amsterdam's legal-cultural tradition of toleration under Stuyvesant, Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan was named after him, in spite of his initial objections to the arrival, in 1654, of a large group of Sephardim from Dutch Brazil without West India Company passports. Stuyvesant High School was a predominantly Jewish school for boys at the time of its founding in 1904.

*Stuyvesant and his family were large land owners in the northeastern portion of New Amsterdam, and the Stuyvesant name is currently associated with the Stuyvesant Town housing complex and Stuyvesant High School (where he is known as "Pegleg Pete" and the football team is called the Peglegs in his honor), among other locations. This farm, called the "Bouwerij" (the seventeenth-century Dutch word for "farm", which was also used for other farms in New Netherland) was the source for the name of the Manhattan street Bowery, and the chapel facing Bouwerie's long approach road (now Stuyvesant Street) developed into St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery. Stuyvesant's grand official residence at the very tip of Manhattan was renamed "Whitehall" by the English and survives in another New York street name, Whitehall Street.

*More modestly, Peter Island in the British Virgin Islands is also named after Stuyvesant during the Dutch West India Company's administration of that Territory. Also named after him are the hamlets of Stuyvesant and Stuyvesant Falls in Columbia County, New York, where descendents of the early Dutch settlers still live and where the Dutch Reformed Church is still an important part of the community.

*Stuyvesant is credited with introducing tea to the American colonies.

*The last direct descendant of Pieter Stuyvesant to bear his surname was Augustus van Horne Stuyvesant, Jr., who died a bachelor in 1953 at the age of 83 in his Cass Gilbert-designed mansion at 2 East 79th Street. Rutherford Stuyvesant, the 19th century New York developer, and his descendants are also descended from Pieter Stuyvesant. However, Rutherford Stuyvesant changed his name from Stuyvesant Rutherford in 1863 to satisfy the terms of a will. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990CE2D7143DF930A2575BC0A963958260] Other descendants of Stuyvesant include Hamilton Fish governor of New York and Tom Kean governor of New Jersey and musician Loudon Wainwright III, and his children Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright. Descendants of Pieter Stuyvesant's sister included Congressman James A. Bayard, actor Michael Douglas, and poet Harry Crosby.

*In Albany, New York there is a shopping center named Stuyvesant Plaza.

*The [http://www.stuyvesantyc.org/ Stuyvesant Yacht Club] is located on City Island, Bronx, New York.

Popular uses of Stuyvesant's name

*A cigarette brand by American Tobacco is named "Peter Stuyvesant". These cigarettes are popular in Australia, Greece and South Africa, where they are known as 'Stuyves'.

*In Sid Meier's Colonization computer game, Stuyvesant can be elected to the Continental Congress, allowing the player to build Custom Houses which automate trade with the mother country.

*In Sid Meier's , Peter Stuyvesant is one of the leaders of the Dutch colonies. Adriaen van der Donck is the other possible Dutch leader.

In musical theatre

Peter Stuyvesant is a major character in the 1938 Kurt Weill-Maxwell Anderson musical "Knickerbocker Holiday". He is the villain of the piece. He sings the famous "September Song" in the show. In the stage production he was portrayed by Walter Huston; in the much-altered 1944 film version he was portrayed by Charles Coburn in his only singing role.

Footnotes

References

*cite book|first=Eleventh Edition|last=Encyclopaedia Britannica|title=Peter Stuyvesant|url=http://21.1911encyclopedia.org/S/ST/STUYVESANT_PETER.htm|year=1911
*cite journal|first=Michael D.|last=Peabody|title=The Flushing Remonstrance|journal=Liberty Magazine|url=http://www.libertymagazine.org/article/articleview/532/1/86/|month=Nov/Dec|year=2005
*cite book|first=John S. C.|last=Abbott|title=Peter Stuyvesant, the Last Dutch Governor of New Amsterdam|url= http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/13811|year=2004|origyear=1898

External links

* [http://peterstuyvesant.org Appleton's Biography edited by Stanley L. Klos]

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