Admiral William Penn
Petrus Stuyvesant's trip to the Caribbean to establish a commercial relationship with Barbados turned sour when an English naval force under the command of Admiral William Penn arrived. The Dutch were in deep trouble. Not only were they trading in an English colony contrary to the Navigation Acts but were also likely to report Penn's presence and strength to the Spaniards. Penn immediately had the eight Dutch ships impounded and placed four trusted men aboard each vessel. Matters could not have been worse for Stuyvesant.
This volume contains five years of the official correspondence of New Netherland’s Director-General Petrus Stuyvesant. Stuyvesant served in this position from 1646 until 1664, when the English took New Netherland by force from the Dutch.
In the spring of 1654, when this volume opens, New Netherland’s fortunes are looking brighter. Over the course of his first six years in office (see Correspondence, 1647-1653), Stuyvesant had resolved the border disputes left behind by the prior administration and imposed order on his querulous subjects. The conclusion of the first Anglo-Dutch War provided the Dutch in New Netherland with a reprieve from the constant fear of invasion. Furthermore, the success of the Portuguese revolt in Brazil meant that the Dutch West India Company would provide more support to its neglected North American colony.
During the period covered by this volume, Stuyvesant felt secure enough to risk leaving New Netherland to test enforcement of the Navigation Acts in the English colony of Barbados. Although caught in the act by the English Navy, Stuyvesant managed to evade punishment. Indeed, he left with the assurance that, in the future, Dutch traders would be welcomed by the island’s merchants.
After a couple of months in Curaçao attending to administration duties, Stuyvesant finally returned home to New Netherland the following summer. Awaiting him was another Swedish incursion into Dutch territory. As the Dutch moved against Swedish positions along the Delaware River, a more serious problem arose. In the fall of 1655, a large force of Indians attacked the Dutch on Manhattan. It was the beginning of the so-called Peach War. As this volume closes, another conflict, this time with the Esopus Indians in the mid-Hudson Valley, had broken out.
This is the twelfth volume of the Dutch Colonial Manuscripts at the New York State Archives and the second of five volumes in the series Correspondence. In the 19th century, E. B. O'Callaghan reorganized the original 49 record books of New Netherland into this series based on document type and time period. These documents were translated by Charles Gehring and published in 2003 as Volume XII of the New Netherland Documents Series.
For more on the contents of this volume, see its introduction. For more on the arrangement and publication of the Dutch Colonial Manuscripts, see the compilation of the introductions to the New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch / New Netherland Documents Series.