An excerpt from A Description of The New Netherlands by Adriaen van der Donck, ca. 1653.
In this book, Adriaen van der Donck provides a detailed record of the people, government, economy, and lifestyle of New Netherland. This excerpt is from a section of the book framed as a conversation between a Dutch person (“Patriot”) and a New Netherlander about life in the colony, specifically related to its relationships with its neighbors, expectations for new settlers, and trade opportunities. The excerpt begins several pages into this section, or in the middle of their “conversation.”
A lawyer by training, Van der Donck was hired by patroon Kiliaen van Rensselaer as an administrator for Rensselaerwyck and arrived in New Netherland in 1642. Several years later, Van der Donck was granted a large tract of land north of Manhattan. He became an influential political leader in New Amsterdam and a rival to Peter Stuyvesant. Van der Donck advocated for New Netherland’s residents to be recognized as full Dutch citizens with a say in municipal government, while Stuyvesant favored a more undemocratic system of governance in which his word was law. With his expanded landholdings and political influence, Van der Donck was referred to as Jonkheer, or “young squire,” which evolved into the name of the present-day city of Yonkers, where his estate was located.