VIOLENCE AT THE ESOPUS

In the final days of May 1658, Petrus Stuyvesant arrived at the Esopus, a region in present-day Ulster County, New York. New Netherland's director-general was accompanied by 60 soldiers and intended to confront the Indians about purported violence against the area's Dutch inhabitants. In a meeting with the Indians Stuyvesant made it clear that the Dutch were not afraid of a fight. "I told them," wrote Stuyvesant, "that if any of the young men present had a great desire to fight, they might come forward now, I would match man with man... that it was now the proper time for it..." Stuyvesant claimed that they were "ashamed" because "I had challenged their young men and they had not dared to fight and that therefore they requested that nothing be said about this to others."

Apparently someone spoke of it. A month later a letter from a Dutch local said the Indians were "very angry that your honor had challenged twenty of their men to fight against us and those, who have now returned from the beaver hunt, say that, if they had been here, they would have accepted the challenge; they talk about it a great deal everyday and today about 500 Indians are assembled; their number is constantly increasing, God only knows what their intentions are." 

These events would result in two conflicts between the natives and the Dutch in the mid-Hudson Valley known as the First and Second Esopus Wars. They are the subject of the final letters of Volume XII, Correspondence, 1654–1658. The two accounts above are from documents 12:85 and 12:86 respectively. 

About the New Netherland Institute

For a quarter century NNI has helped cast light on America's Dutch roots. In 2010, it partnered with the New York State Office of Cultural Education to establish the New Netherland Research Center, with matching funds from the State of the Netherlands. NNI is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. More

The New Netherland Research Center

Housed in the New York State Library, the NNRC offers students, educators, scholars and researchers a vast collection of early documents and reference works on America's Dutch era. Directed by Dr. Charles Gehring. More

 

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