Sir Edmund Andros

THE swift conquest of New York by the Dutch was speedily supplemented by the submission of the settlers on the Delaware within the domain of New Netherland. The other English colonists were amazed by the unlooked-for event, and some of them prepared for war. Connecticut foolishly talked of an offensive war; others prepared to stand on the defensive. Anthony Colve, the governor of re-conquered New Amsterdam, was wide-awake. He kept his eye on the movements of the Indians and Frenchmen on the North; watched every hostile indication in the East, and sent proclamations and commissions to towns on Long Island and in Westchester to compel hesitating boroughs to take the oath of allegiance to Prince William of Orange. He had strengthened his fortifications; and upon the fort and around the city of New Orange he had planted one hundred and ninety cannon. But all anxiety was ended by a treaty of peace between the Dutch and English, made at London early in 1674, by which New Netherland was restored to the British crown. Some doubts arising about the validity of the duke's title after these changes, the king gave him a new grant of territory in June, 1674, within the boundary of which was included all the domain west of the Connecticut River, to the eastern shores of the Delaware; also Long Island and a territory in Maine. King Charles had commissioned Major Edmund Andros to receive the surrender of the province from the Dutch governor. He was now appointed governor of New York. The surrender took place, in a formal manner, at Fort James, in October.

Andros, who was destined to play an important part in American affairs, was then thirty-seven years of age. He had been brought up in the royal household, and accompanied the exiled family to Holland, where he began his military career. As major of Prince Rupert's regiment of dragoons, he performed gallant service, and being a favorite of the king and the duke, a good Dutch and French scholar, a thorough royalist and an obedient servant of his superiors, he was well fitted to perform the part which his masters appointed him to play. His private character was without blemish, and the evil things spoken of him relate to his public career. The duke's instructions favored the constitution of the province of New York, and Andros enforced them with ever-increasing vigor. In his zeal he even exceeded his instructions; and in a short time he acquired the just title of "tyrant." The duke, his master, was a strange compound of wickedness and goodness; slow to perceive right from wrong and seldom seeing the truth in its purity, Bancroft says of him-" A libertine without love, a devotee without spirituality, an advocate of toleration without a sense of the natural right to freedom of conscience, - in him the muscular force prevailed over the intellectual. He was not blood-thirsty; but to a narrow mind fear seems the most powerful instrument of government, and he propped his throne with the block and the gallows. He floated between the sensuality of indulgence and the sensuality of superstition, hazarding heaven for an ugly mistress, and, to the great delight of abbots and nuns, winning it back again by pricking his flesh with sharp points of iron, and eating no meat on Saturdays." Of the two brothers, the Duke of Buckingham said well, that "Charles would not, and James could not see." The fact that he was the destined successor of Charles on the throne of England-a king whose irregularities of life were rapidly hurrying him to the grave-made James an object of intense interest to the Protestants of the realm, and the subject of intrigues to prevent him ascending to the seat of his brother.

With all their political disabilities under Andros, the people of New York were prosperous and therefore comparatively happy. Luxury had not corrupted their tastes, and wants were few. A man worth three thousand dollars was rich; the possessor of five thousand dollars was opulent. There was an almost dead level of equality in society. Beggars were unknown. "Ministers were few, but religions many;" and out of matters of faith grew many controversies. There seemed little reason for the twenty thousand inhabitants of the domain to be unhappy; but the divine instinct of freedom, which demanded a free exercise of the rights of self-government, made many of them discontented and in some places mutinous.

It was then a stormy time in England. Theological disputes culminated in bloodshed and universal disorder, and thousands were sent to America, and other thousands fled to the colonies. Of the former, women were often burnt in the cheek, and men marked by cutting off their ears. These fugitives, many of them people of good families and education, inoculated all the provinces with healthful republican aspirations.

At about this time the duke's daughter Mary married her cousin Prince William of Orange. These nuptials were distasteful to the duke, who was becoming more and more a confirmed Roman Catholic; for William was recognized as the leader of the Protestants of Europe. "I predict," said the French ambassador in London to James, "that such a son-in-law will inevitably be your ruin." The prediction was soon fulfilled, as we shall observe presently. The nuptials of those cousins led to very important events in the history of England and America.

The career of Andros outside of New York was more striking-more dramatic-than within that domain. This career we shall have occasion to notice hereafter. It is sufficient to say here, that after an administration of about nine years, he was succeeded in 1683 by Thomas Dongan, a mild-mannered and enlightened Irishman of the Roman Catholic faith, who reached New York in August. Andros had ruled with vigor, keeping peace with the powerful Iroquois Confederacy; curbing religious enthusiasts; frowning upon every sign of republicanism, and asserting with great tenacity the powers of the duke within the chartered limits of his territory. Mean-while the duke had listened to the appeals of the inhabitants of New York and heeded the judicious advice of William Penn, to give the people liberty; and Dongan was clothed with authority to call an assembly of representatives of the people. Dongan's sympathies were with the popular desires, and performing the duty with alacrity, he saw a Legislative Assembly in session in Fort James at New York, on the 17th of October, 1683-about thirty years after the Dutch, in the same city, made a demand for a popular convention. It is a memorable day in the history of the State of New York. Then was established the first General Assembly of the Province of New York, composed of seventeen representatives, who sat three weeks, and passed fourteen acts, all of which were assented to by the governor and his council. The first of these was entitled "The Charter of Liberties and Privileges, granted by his Royal Highness, to the inhabitants of New York and its Dependencies." It declared that supreme legislative power should forever be and reside in the governor, council and people, met in general assembly; that every freeholder and freeman should be allowed to vote for representatives without restraint; that no freeman should suffer but by judgment of his peers; that all trials should be by a jury of twelve men; that no tax should be assessed, on any pretence whatever, but by the consent of the Assembly; that no seaman or soldier should be quartered on the inhabitants against their will; that no martial-law should exist; and that no person, professing faith in God, by Jesus Christ, should, at any time, be any wise disquieted or questioned for any difference of opinion. Not a feature of the intolerance and bigotry of New England charters appeared in this first "Charter of Liberties" for the province of New York.

The hopes raised by the ratification of this Charter of Liberties were doomed to early disappointment. When, at the beginning of 1685, James ascended the throne, on the death of Charles, he refused to confirm as king what he had solemnly promised as duke. He immediately began to demolish the fair fabric of civil and religious liberty which had been reared in New York. A direct tax was ordered; the printing-press-the right arm of knowledge and of freedom-was forbidden a place in the colony; and as he had determined to establish the Roman Catholic faith as the state religion throughout his realm, the provincial offices were filled by adherents of the Italian Church. The liberal-minded Dongan lamented these proceedings; and when the stupid king instructed the governor to introduce French priests among the Five Nations, Dongan resisted the measure as dangerous to the English power on the continent. Fortunately the Iroquois Confederacy remained firm in their friendship for the English, in after years, and stood as a powerful barrier against the French, when the latter twice attempted to reach the white settlements at Albany.

The clear-headed and right-minded Dongan stood by the people and the interests of England with a firmness that finally offended the monarch. He knew that James had a great love for the French, and when he saw the advantages which he gave them in America by unwise acts, he could not but regard the sovereign's conduct as treason to his country. For his faithfulness, he was rewarded with the gratitude of the people of New York, and with dismissal from the office of governor by the king. In the spring of 1688, he received a letter from James, ordering him to surrender the government into the hands of Andros, who had a vice-regal commission to rule New York and all New England.

The viceroy journeyed from Boston to New York early in August, where he was received by Colonel Bayard's regiment of foot and horse, and was entertained by the loyal aristocracy. In the midst of the rejoicings, the news came that the queen, the second wife of James, had been blessed with a son, who became heir to the throne. The event was celebrated the same evening by bonfires in the streets and a feast at the City Hall. At the latter, Mayor Van Cortlandt became so hilarious, that he made a burnt sacrifice to his loyalty of his hat and periwig, waving the burning victims over the banquet table on the point of his straight sword.

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