A Tour of New Netherland



It was a genuine showdown in 1652, something akin to two gunslingers squaring off with sixshooters. Brant Van Slichtenhorst, a tough-as-nails 63-year-old former administrator in the Netherlands, took very seriously his role as director of the colonie of Rensselaerswijck. Petrus Stuyvesant, 41 years old, who came up through the ranks of the West India Company, was equally sure that, as director-general of the overall colony of New Netherland, he was the ultimate authority. The semi-independent private farm that Van Slichtenhorst oversaw was obliged, under Dutch law, to cede to his demands. For four years now, Van Slichtenhorst had ridiculed or ignored Stuyvesant's directives. Constructing a village on company property surrounding Fort Orange, which would be subject to laws that emanated not from New Amsterdam but from Van Slichtenhorst, was the last straw. After having received the blessing of his superiors in Holland, Stuyvesant sailed upriver in the spring, accompanied by soldiers, and declared that the village would henceforth be considered within the jurisdiction of the director and council of New Netherland. Stuyvesant had deftly resolved the issue by taking Van Slichtenhorst's village into the West India Company's domain. The new village would be called Beverwijck.

Van Slichtenhorst, as expected, made a rather massive fuss, which included personally ripping down the poster Stuyvesant had mounted that proclaimed the town's new name and jurisdiction. Stuyvesant dealt it that by arresting the man and bringing him to New Amsterdam, where he would be unable to cause further trouble. Three years later, he returned to the Netherlands, where he lived out his life and busied himself suing the patroon of Rensselaerswijck over back pay.

Beverwijck, meanwhile, continued as a lively trading town - a hundred or so houses (gabled in the Dutch style) scattered along its few dirt streets, surrounded by thick pine forests and with the Adirondack Mountains looming to the north - until 1664. At that point, history dealt this continually changing region yet another twist. To read about it, continue on to Albany.

  • The year 2002 marks the 350th anniversary of the founding of Beverwijck. To commemorate the event, the Albany Times Union published a special edition.

  • The New Netherland Project's 2002 Rensselaerswijck Seminar had as its topic "Beverwijck: A Dutch Village on the Edge of the Atlantic World."

  • A paper from an earlier Rensselaerswijck Seminar devoted to the rituals of the trading season at Beverwijck.

About the New Netherland Institute

For over three decades, 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. More


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