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A SHORT HISTORY OF
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
PART I COLONIAL ERA
I. THE DUTCH PERIOD.
CHAPTER I.-EARLY DISCOVERIES AND EXPLORATIONS
First Explorers.-That Sebastian Cabot, an Englishborn Venetian, ever saw the coast of New York is very doubtful.1 There is some proof that the Portuguese skirted along these shores before 1513.2 A like claim is made for the Spaniards as early as 1520. But Verrazano, a Florentine corsair, employed by Francis I. of France to seek a more direct route to China, did undoubtedly explore the "most beautiful" Bay of New York in 1524. In a letter to his royal master he described his experiences, and his brother made a map of
1He has been called the "Sphinx of North American history for over three hundred years." Winsor, Narrative and Critical History of America, III., 32. See Dr. Charles Dean, John and Sebastian Cabot, Cambridge, 1886.
2 Evidence of this fact is found in the "Cantino" Map, and the Ptolemy of 1513.
the region. He was probably the first white man to inspect the harbor of New York.1 During the next seventy-five years several navigators sailed along the North American coast and very likely touched it at New York.
Importance of Hudson's Discovery.-It seems that the Dutch were accustomed to visit the Hudson River as early as 15982 on trading trips. No doubt the French did the same. It remained for the sturdy Englishman, Henry Hudson, however, to do the initial work of colonizing that country known for about a century in only a vague way. He was the first man to make the river which bears his name known to the civilized world. His exploration was the first which opened that region to profitable trading voyages and led to temporary settlements and permanent occupation by the Dutch. Hence the arrival of the Half Moon, carrying Hudson's Dutch
1 Verrazano was a poor nobleman's son and born at a little village near Florence, Italy, in 1485. He was well educated, especially in geography, and was celebrated as a scientific pilot. His piratical acts were directed against the Spanish and Portuguese ships which were laden with treasures from the New World. In 1527 he was captured by the Spanish, taken to Cadiz, and hanged as a pirate. The story of his being devoured by the Indians in 1528 in Venezuela is a mistake. Our information about his voyage to New York rests upon a letter to Francis I. in 1524. That letter, the original of which is lost, was first published in Venice in 1556 and is rather vague about the territory visited. No copy has been found in the French Archives. Hence it has been called a forgery and Verrazano's part in New York history questioned. The letter may be found in the N. Y. Hist. Soc. Colls., 2d Ser., I., 45, 46, and also in the Old South Leaflets, No. 17. See De Costa, Verrazano the Explorer, New York, 1881.
Docs. rel. to N. Y. Col. Hist., I., 149, 248.
and English crew, in September, 1609, will always remain the most interesting event in this period of beginnings.1
The Dutch East India Company engaged the bold navigator Hudson to find a short route to Asia.2 On April 4, 1609, he left the Netherlands in his little ship with about eighteen sailors to find a passage north of Sweden.
1 See report of Hudson's mate, Robert Juet, in Hart, American History told by Contemporaries, I., 121.
2 Holland gained her independence of Spain in 1609 and was the leading naval and commercial power in the world. Like the other nations she was eager for a short cut to the rich trading fields of the East. See the Dutch Declaration of Independence in 1581. Old South Leaflets, Vol. III., No. 72.
Hudson had already made two efforts to find a northwest passage under an English company, hence was looked upon as well qualified for the work.
Forced by the ice to turn about, he sailed west, touched land at Maine, went south to Chesapeake Bay, then turned north and entered New York harbor September 3. The mate's journal says: "The people of the country came aboard of us, seeming very glad of our coming, and brought greene tobacco and gave us of it for knives and beads."
Hudson's Disappointment and Return.-Hoping to find an opening to the eastern seas, Hudson sailed up the broad" Silent River of the Mountains" as far as Albany.1 Checked by shallows and trees, he sent out a party in a small boat to continue the search. They soon reported that they had found the "end for shipping to go to." The disappointed navigator turned back and soon sailed for home. His British sailors forced him to land at Dartmouth, England, November 7, where King James detained both him and his vessel because he was an Englishman and his discoveries belonged to England. He contrived, however, to send a report of his voyage to his employers, and the Half Moon was allowed to go to Amsterdam in a few months, but the brave captain never again saw Holland.2
1To-day the river steamers carry passengers from New York to Albany in about eight hours. It took Hudson more than that many days.
2 Hudson made a fourth effort to find the coveted water-way to the East in 1610 in the employ of English merchants. He reached Hudson Bay. There his crew mutinied, put him, his son, and seven sick sailors into a small boat and left them to perish. His fate is unknown. Thus ended the career of one of the bravest navigators of his age. The ringleaders of the mutiny were killed by Indians on the way home, and the rest of the crew were punished upon reaching England. In vain did the king have search made for Henry Hudson.
The French in New York.-Meanwhile Frenchmen were preparing to explore New York from the north. In 1603 King Henry IV. of France gave to De Monts "the sovereignty of the country from the fortieth to the forty-sixth degree of north latitude; that is, from the degree south of the city of New York to the one north of Montreal." This shows that France had an early claim to New York. The king soon gave to De Monts the monopoly of the fur-trade on, the St. Lawrence River in exchange for his land grant. Samuel Champlain was sent out on a trading expedition. He founded Quebec (1608), discovered Lake Champlain, and stood on the soil of New York two months before Hudson saw it.1 In 1615, accompanied by Indian allies, he penetrated the forests of western New York to attack the Seneca Indians, but was repulsed.
CHAPTER II.-THE INDIANS OF NEW YORK
Meeting of the White Man and the Red Man.-The white man had met the red man in New York many years before the coming of Champlain and Hudson. Verrazano received a friendly greeting from the Indians in 1524. From that time on, no doubt, more or less trade was carried on with them by the various explorers. This may account for the hostility shown to Hudson at times.
1 Se Champlain's Adventures on Lake Champlain (1609) given American History told by Contemporaries, I., 125.