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Title: Hudson Tercentenary - An historical retrospect regarding the object and quest - of an all water route from Europe to India; the obstacles - in the way; and also Hudson's voyage to America in 1609 - and some of its results
Author: Chamberlain, Frank
Language: English
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                          Hudson Tercentenary
                        AN HISTORICAL RETROSPECT

                      1609 AND SOME OF ITS RESULTS

                           FRANK CHAMBERLAIN

                      J. B. LYON COMPANY, PRINTERS

                             COPYRIGHT 1909
                          By Frank Chamberlain

                          HUDSON TERCENTENARY

Let us turn back the pages of history and take a cursory view of what
gave the wonderful stimulus to maritime adventure; and what so long
delayed the discovery of the western world by the Europeans.

Civilized mankind scarcely secures the _necessaries_ of life before the
desire for the _luxuries_ springs up and is cherished.

For untold centuries all of eastern Asia forbade the entrance of
foreigners into its territories. To Europeans it was an unknown land.

In the year 326 B. C. Alexander the Great marched his conquering
Macedonian legions against the myriads of Asiatic troops, subdued them
and marched on to the Hindus, where he “improvised a fleet” for his
army, sailed down that river, called Sacred, to the Indian ocean.
Astonished at the wealth of the country and having amassed precious gems
and hundreds of millions of dollars he returned loaded with his
treasures up the Euphrates, to that most wonderful city of ancient
times, Babylon, where he died. He opened the western doors of India,
which exposed its great wealth, excited the avarice of the small number
of Greeks who knew of his exploits; and for centuries it was the
Europeans’ Eldorado, which ultimately, by its luxury and effeminacy,
undermined western manhood and led to the decay of Greece and Rome.

Asia, beyond the Euphrates, except by a few, was an unknown country to
Europeans until Marco Polo in 1271 A. D., in the company of his father
and uncle, met Kublai Khan, the Mongol Emperor, won his confidence and
esteem and by him was entrusted with the most important missions. During
the seventeen years he remained he visited the most important places in
China, India and the East Indies, and returned to Italy loaded with the
rarest, most precious gems and immense wealth, published a book telling
his experience and picturing the East in the most roseate colors,
generally emanating from fancy, but in this case resting upon facts of
which he was able to furnish satisfactory proof.

The fact established that India—the East Indies had the gold, silver,
precious gems and stones, ebony, ivory, cloves, cinnamon, cassia, spices
and the most beautiful and costly fabrics, articles not obtainable
elsewhere and the great desiderata of the Europeans, the question arose
as to how they could the most easily, quickly and cheaply be obtained.
They could, without much difficulty, find their way to the Indian ocean,
but the transportation thence to Europe must be by “the ship of the
desert,” the camel, across the Arabian desert and the Isthmus of Suez,
“the bridge of nations” to the Mediterranean or by a more northerly
route through the Caspian and Black seas. Caravans must be formed by the
merchants and armed troops to protect them against the robbers. The land
route by the caravans was slow and very expensive, and the hope was
cherished that an all-water route might be found which would not only
shorten the time, but greatly lessen the expense of transportation. For
a considerable time the Phœnicians, occupying a little skirt of land on
the eastern end of the Mediterranean, and the first distinctly
commercial nation in the world’s history, virtually monopolized this
land transportation; and then distributed the articles along the shore
of the Mediterranean, where they had planted colonies clear up to the
Pillars of Hercules. But Venice and Genoa, rival and wealthy cities of
Italy, with fine harbors on this inland sea, sought the India trade,
supplanted Phœnicia and became greatly enriched by it. The great
desideratum—an all-water route from western Europe to the Indies—had not
yet been found, but after the Italian cities had enjoyed, monopolized
the trade with India for a period of 150 years, another little skirt of
land on the west end of the Mediterranean and on the Atlantic ocean,
Portugal, brought about a complete change in the transportation which
deprived Venice and Genoa of that business.

Henry, Prince of Portugal, surnamed the Navigator, far in advance of his
time in geographical knowledge and in the science of navigation,
introduced the compass and the astrolabe, which he furnished with
nautical maps and other guides for his mariners, whom he inspired to
sail along the western coast of Africa and double the Cape of Good Hope.
This, Bartholomew Diaz, a Portuguese navigator, did in 1486, and then it
seemed certain that an all-water route from western Europe to India had
been found, but it was not an accomplished fact until Vasco da Gama, a
Portuguese navigator, availing himself of Diaz’s discovery of 1486, made
a voyage in 1497 from Lisbon to Calicut (not Calcutta) in southwestern

Henry “the Navigator” was the father of what may be called ocean, in
contradistinction to coast, navigation, scientific, instead of chance
navigation, although he died before the Cape of Good Hope had been
doubled. After Diaz had doubled the Cape of Good Hope in 1486, the furor
of every mariner was to point the prow of his vessel toward India to
share in its precious gems, its beautiful and costly fabrics, articles
of luxury, and its great wealth. The India fever seized all the maritime
nations of Europe, Portugal, Spain, France, the Netherlands, England,
Sweden and Denmark. Christopher Columbus in 1492 sought, and thought he
had found India by sailing westward. Then Rodrigo Lenzoli Borgia, a
Spaniard, and the Pope, under the title of Alexander VI, assuming to be
vice-gerent of the world, made a division of all the newly-discovered,
or subsequently to be discovered, heathen lands between the two great
Catholic powers, Spain and Portugal, by drawing a line from pole to pole
one hundred leagues west of the Azores and the Cape de Verde islands
(this line was subsequently changed) and declared that all lands
discovered west of that line and not belonging to some Christian prince
should belong to Spain, and all similar lands east of that line should
belong to Portugal. The two great maritime and exploring nations of the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were Portugal and Spain—the former in
the east and the latter in the west. Alas! their great fame is in the
past. Spain hoped to reach the Indies by a shorter all-water route,
sailing _westward_, and that was Columbus’s mission, purpose and hope.

The edict of the Pope did not, in the least, restrain France, England or
the Netherlands from attempting to make discoveries, and France,
England, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark granted charters to
companies of their own subjects, granting them great and exclusive
rights, and calling them East India companies. At the close of the year
A. D. 1600, Queen Elizabeth chartered the English East India Company
with most extraordinary rights and privileges, and thus laid the
foundations for Great Britain’s Asiatic empire.

The Dutch East India Company charter was granted in 1602, to trade to
the East Indies by the Cape of Good Hope and the Strait of Magellan for
twenty-one years, and no other of the East India companies has been so
successfully managed. The Dutch have derived large revenue from the
islands they still hold there, viz.: Java, the Moluccas or Spice
islands, a large part of Borneo, Sumatra, Celebes and several small
islands in the Malay Archipelago.

Cornelius Hartman, a Dutch navigator, who had spent some time in Lisbon,
Portugal, returned in 1594 to Amsterdam, where he gave such a glowing
account of the rich and wonderful products of the East, which covered
the quays of the Tagus, in Lisbon, that nine prominent merchants of
Amsterdam formed a company, equipped a fleet of four ships, fitted for
war (a war then prevailing between Holland and Spain) and for trade, and
put Hartman in command. He followed the Portuguese route, and two years
later returned with cargoes far surpassing the expectations or even the
hopes of the company.

Seeing this Indian wealth upon their own docks, other associations and
companies were formed in the Netherlands to engage in this lucrative
trade. Rivalry between them became so great as to diminish the profits
that a consolidation of the companies was effected by Barneveldt. This
company consisted of six branches called chambers, each of which was to
be managed by its own directors (originally fifty-three in all) in
different parts of the country.

A general council of seventeen directors (Amsterdam eight, Zealand four,
Rotterdam, Hoorn and Enkhuizen each one, and the seventeenth to be
chosen by the chamber of Zealand, the Maas and North Holland) were by a
majority of votes to _determine all voyages_. This arrangement was made
to protect the small chambers against the power and policy of Amsterdam
if against their interests. Each locality was secured in its due
proportion of the business of the company. Each chamber had the
exclusive management of its ships sent out by it and was held
responsible for the property coming into its possession. The general
council of seventeen did not meet often, but the subordinate chambers
could legislate upon subjects appropriate, and which did not trench upon
the general policy and course of the company.

The Dutch East India Company was clothed with extraordinary powers and
privileges and became very wealthy; not alone in the pursuit of the East
India trade, but by capturing in the West Indies galleons containing
great quantities of gold and silver, which the Spaniards, by the most
cruel methods, had taken in Mexico and Peru.

The ancients held different opinions about the form, dimensions, the
proportion of land to water, of the earth, and as to whether it was
motionless, around which all the universe revolved, as the great center,
and of supreme importance, or whether it was merely a satellite
revolving around the sun. It seems flat and the heavenly bodies seem to
revolve around it. Others thought the earth was a sphere because “the
sphere is the most perfect form; it was the center of the universe
because that is the place of honor; and it is motionless, because motion
is less dignified than rest.” Some believed that the earth is round and
rests upon the ocean. Homer (900 B. C.) taught that the earth is flat,
and so, too, did some of the learned men of Greece and Rome, in the
Augustan age. The great Church of Rome, of unequaled influence and
power, taught that the earth is flat and the center of the universe and
interdicted, and for centuries punished as heretics, those denying the
infallibility of the Popes and teaching otherwise. It is probable that
about 600 B. C., Thales of Miletus, one of the “Seven Wise Men of
Greece,” a famous astronomer and geometer, was the first to teach that
the earth is round. About 550 B. C. Pythagoras, the renowned Greek
philosopher and mathematician, taught that “the earth is a globe which
admits of antipodes; that it is in motion; is not the center of the
universe, but revolves around the sun.” Plato, Aristotle, Hipparchus,
Pliny, Cicero, Virgil, Ovid, Eratosthenes and many others, the most
eminent scholars of their times, believed that the earth is a sphere;
and Eratosthenes, an Alexandrian philosopher, astronomer, geometer and
geographer about 210 B. C. thought that he had not only proved that by
scientific astronomical observations but also the speed of the earth in
its revolutions; its magnitude and also the relative proportion of its
constituent elements of land and water.

Claudius Ptolemy, about 150 A. D., a celebrated Alexandrian astronomer,
geographer and mathematician, held the opinion and promulgated it, that
the earth is a sphere and that the sun, planets and stars revolve around
it as the grand center. He was the founder of the Ptolemaic System which
was almost universally received for 1,350 years, when the system of
Copernicus (a revival of the system of Pythagoras) permanently displaced
it, notwithstanding the violent opposition, extending to persecution, of
the Church of Rome against it.

Claudius Ptolemy had calculated the equatorial girth of the earth to be
20,400 miles. Making allowance for latitude, the circumference at the
Canaries would be about 18,000 miles and the diameter about one-third of
that, or 6,000 miles. Columbus was a student of everything accessible
concerning geography and navigation and a devout Roman Catholic. He
credited the statement in the Apochrypha of the Bible, Second Esdras,
chapter 6, verse 42, which says: “Upon the third day Thou didst command
that the _waters_ should be gathered in the _seventh part of the earth_,
six parts has Thou dried up and kept them,” etc., etc.

If Ptolemy’s calculation had been correct and Esdras’s statement
reliable, 18,000 miles divided by 7, giving a quotient of 2,571 miles,
would have been the distance Columbus would have had to sail from the
Azores to Japan. He estimated he might have to sail 4,000 miles (to
reach the west coast of India facing Europe) by being deflected from a
straight course. The real distance from the Canaries to Japan is 12,000
miles, and the relative proportion of salt water on the surface of the
earth to the land is _three-quarters_. Columbus, believing that he was
inspired and commissioned by God to convert the heathen, sailed and
thought he had reached India, called the natives Indians (so they have
been called ever since) and he died so thinking.

If the magnitude of the earth—its diameter had been ascertained and the
relative proportion of land to water with the known longitude and
latitude of India, then the problem was easily solved that an all-water
route to India from Europe, whether by sailing westward or northward,
would greatly diminish the distance (about 8,000 miles) covered by
sailing around Cape Good Hope. That was a great desideratum—the aim of
individuals and nations, which would seem to warrant the belief of
speedy accomplishment. Let us not forget that we must consider the
conditions of the past and not of the twentieth or nineteenth centuries.

Notwithstanding “Henry, the Navigator” applied the inventions and
equipments so indispensable to scientific navigation, and did all he
could to inspire his sailors to sail around South Africa, it was forty
years before that was an accomplished fact. So inferior, so inadequate,
for ocean navigation, were the vessels then, and so little was known
about ocean currents and the trade winds, that we can easily imagine
that long sea voyages were discouraging.

There is no other class of men so superstitious as were the sailors, nor
as are the sailors now. Everything that they see or hear of, that is
unusual or they don’t understand, frightens them as foreboding evil. It
is an experience reported by so many of the famous navigators. You will
recall Columbus’s experience in his first voyage across the Atlantic,
and not only the evasive answers he gave when the sailors noticed a
variation of the needle and his threats to enforce his orders, that he
might continue his voyage.

About 480 B. C., Pindar, the greatest of the lyric poets of Greece,
declared that “Beyond Cades (Cadiz in Spain) no man, however bold and
brave, could pass; only a god might voyage those waters.” The Atlantic
was deemed a dangerous ocean. Thus we are reminded of some of the
obstacles which delayed European discovery of the western world.

All that is known of the life, education, pursuits and achievements of
Hudson, the Navigator, whose name is perpetuated in monuments (“more
enduring than brass”) upon the face of nature (its waters and land) in
North America, is contained in the brief period of five years, or from
1606 to 1611, and is almost entirely contained in his log-books of his
four voyages.

That so little about Hudson is known is not because efforts have not
been made by competent and zealous investigators. It is greatly to be
regretted that Richard Hakluyt and Samuel Purchas, Englishmen and
contemporaries of Hudson, so greatly condensed in their writings the
material they had and which is the chief source of information.

Hessel Gerritsz and Emanuel Van Meteren, Hollanders, also contemporaries
of Hudson, historians, geographers, map-makers and publishers, threw
much side-light upon the discoveries which had been made in search of an
all-water route to India (describing and illustrating by maps) before
Hudson made any of his four famous voyages.

Coming down to the nineteenth century we find prominent among Hudson’s
biographers, Henry R. Cleveland’s Life of Hudson, in Sparks’ Library of
American Biography, vol. 10, 1838; Henry Hudson in Holland, by the Hon.
Henry C. Murphy, United States Minister at The Hague in 1859; Gen. John
Meredith Read, Jr.’s elaborate historical research about Hudson
published in 1866; Dr. G. M. Asher’s article on Henry Hudson, printed
for the Hakluyt Society in London, 1860; and John Knox Laughton,
Professor of Modern History in Kings College since 1885, whose article
appears in the Dictionary of International Biography, vol. 28, pp.
147-149, stating that Dr. Asher’s article of 400 pages covers almost
everything known about Henry Hudson, and Justin Winsor’s America, eight
volumes, in 1889; John Brodhead’s History of New York, 1871, etc., etc.

_We do know that Hudson, the Navigator’s name was Henry and not
Hendrick_, as so often called and even now blazoned on the newest and
finest steamboat on the Hudson river, as evidenced in his contract with
the Amsterdam directors of the Dutch East India Company, a copy of which
follows. _We know that he was and remained an Englishman when on his
return from his third voyage_ (for the Dutch) the English government
forbade him and all the Englishmen with him to enter any service other
than for her own country.

As Hudson did not understand the Dutch language he employed, as his
interpreter in his conference with the two Amsterdam directors of the
Dutch East India Company, a learned Hollander named Jodocus Hondius, who
signed the contract as a witness.


“On this eighth day of January in the year of our Lord 1609, the
directors of the East India Company of the Chamber of Amsterdam, of the
ten year’s reckoning of the one part, and Mr Henry Hudson, Englishman
assisted by Jodocus Hondius of the other part have agreed in manner
following, to wit: That the said directors shall in the first place
equip a small vessel or yacht of about thirty lasts (about 60 tons)
burden with which well provided with men, provisions, and other
necessaries the aforesaid Hudson shall about the first of April sail in
order to search for a passage by the North, around by the North side of
Novaya Zemlya and shall continue thus along that parallel until he shall
be able to sail southward to the latitude of 60 degrees. He shall obtain
as much knowledge of the lands as can be done without any considerable
loss of time, and if it be possible return immediately, in order to make
a faithful report and relation of his voyage to the directors, and to
deliver over his journals, log books and charts together with an account
of everything whatsoever which shall happen to him during the voyage,
without keeping anything back; for which said voyage the directors shall
pay to the said Hudson as well as for his outfit for the said voyage as
for the support of his wife and children the sum of 800 guilders; (about
320 dollars) and, in case (which God prevent) he do not come back or
arrive hereabouts within a year the directors shall further pay to his
wife 200 guilders in cash; and thereupon they shall not be further
liable to him or his heirs, unless he shall either afterward or within
the year arrive and have found the passage good and suitable for the
company to use; in which case the directors will reward the aforenamed
Hudson for his dangers, trouble and knowledge in their discretion, with
which the before mentioned Hudson is content. And in case the directors
think proper to prosecute and continue the same voyage it is stipulated
and agreed with the aforenamed Hudson that he shall make his residence
in this country with his wife and children, and shall enter into the
employment of no other than the Company and this at the discretion of
the directors, who also promise to make him satisfied and content for
such further service in all justice and equity. All without fraud or
evil intent. In witness of the truth, two contracts are made hereof, of
the same tenor and are subscribed by both parties and also by Jodocus
Hondius as interpreter and witness.

    “Dated as above
            “DIRK VAN OS
            “J. POPPE
            “HENRY HUDSON
            “JODOCUS HONDIUS

The period of the tercentenary of Henry Hudson’s exploration, in 1609,
of the “Grande river,” which for centuries has been called the “Hudson
river,” approaches, and already plans and preparations, on a grand
scale, have been begun to commemorate that highly important event.

Albanians are especially interested and participating in the
preparations for this celebration, for the site of Albany was deemed the
most important in the New Netherlands, that of the city of New York
alone excepted, and in many respects, early, even more important than
that. For at Albany, near the confluence of the two great rivers of the
territory of New York, the Hudson from the north and the Mohawk from the
west, the Indians from the north and west came in their canoes with
their peltry and furs, as a market place, designed by nature, for the
exchange of articles between the red men and the white men for what they
did not want, to get what, respectively, they did want. Then, too, it
was where the Indians assembled to make their important treaties; where
the governors of the American provinces met to consider and decide
important measures; and where the first provincial congress, in 1754,
met and prepared a plan for the union of the colonies. It was, moreover,
the great strategic point contended for by the French and English on
American soil, and later by the English against the United States in the
War of the American Revolution. Albany’s charter, as a city, under the
date of 1686, is the oldest unrevoked charter of a city in the United
States and during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries no place in
the western world surpassed it in historic interest; and for the last
hundred years and more, as the capital of the Empire State, it has been
considered, next to Washington, the most influential and important
legislative center in the United States.

The Scandinavians were the earliest and boldest Arctic navigators and
Iceland was their rendezvous. A great part of the Arctic shores that
have been visited in modern times was known to the Scandinavians.

Columbus visited Iceland fifteen years before he sailed in 1492. S.
Cabot went to North America in 1498 by way of Iceland. Scandinavians
were seeking fisheries, as were the exploring nations of that period,
and many of their acts were those of freebooters. The Portuguese, the
Spanish, and the French, the three nations which had followed in the
track of Cabot and his English companions and had then arrived at the
northern shores of America in search of a passage to Asia, did not
abandon the newly explored region.

The Portuguese continued their surveys of the northern coasts most
likely to discover advantageous fisheries. They advanced slowly along
the shores of Newfoundland and then up to the mouth of Hudson strait,
then through that strait, and at last into _Hudson bay_. With a certain
number of ancient maps, ranging from 1529 to 1570, before us we can
trace the progress step by step. In 1554 the Portuguese seemed not yet
to have reached the mouth of the Hudson strait. In 1558 their
geographical knowledge extended beyond the mouth of the strait and in
1570 they had reached the bay. The authorities for all this are our
ancient geographical delineations. Much geographical intelligence in
those days was kept secret. _We can therefore state with the greatest
certainty that Hudson bay had been discovered before the publication of
Ortelius’s Atlas, published 1570. So said Dr. Asher._

General J. M. Read, Jr., with competent assistants, much time and ample
means, pursued a thorough, exhaustive examination to ascertain all
possible about the Hudsons, of which Henry was one; and while the book
is very interesting and many ingenious theories presented, yet
rock-foundation of evidence seems to be lacking.

While neither the parents of Henry Hudson nor the date of his birth have
been ascertained, that he was born in England, and almost beyond
question in Hoddersdon (where so many of the Hudsons lived) in
Hertfordshire, about seventeen miles north by east of London, seems
settled. It, moreover, seems highly probable that our Henry Hudson was
the grandson of Henry Hudson, a Londoner of great wealth and influence,
one of the founders and the first president of the Muscovy or Russian
Company which Sebastian Cabot suggested and of which he became its first
governor, and that in the service of that company our navigator there
had his first service and won the rank and distinction of captain. The
Muscovy or Russian Company was formed of London merchant adventurers for
the purpose of seeking an all-water route to the Indies by sailing north
of Russia and then down the Pacific, greatly shortening the route via
the Cape of Good Hope. This company was held in such high esteem that
both England and Russia granted it a charter in 1555. Several
unsuccessful voyages for this purpose were made, the ice and storms
proving insurmountable obstacles. It was in the employ of this company
where, and in his own journal, our Henry Hudson first makes himself
known as the captain of the “Hopeful,” which sailed April 19, 1607, with
ten sailors and his son John, a boy, aboard, with directions to explore
the coast of Greenland, pass around it to the northeast, or directly
under the Pole or, in his own words, “for to discover a passage by the
North Pole to Japan and China.” The “Hopeful” left Gravesend May 1,
1607, and in twenty-six days reached the Shetland Islands, where
supplies were taken on. Four days after leaving these islands it was
observed that the magnetic needle was deflected, which created
consternation among the sailors. They believed the voyage was under an
evil spell and would meet with disaster. Then the resources of the
captain were evoked to carry out instructions or plans and prevent
mutiny. Hudson managed his crew, sailed along the east coast of
Greenland and thence along the ice barrier to Spitzbergen (discovered by
the Dutch in 1596), going as far north as 80° 23′. Prevented by ice, he
sailed back to England, which he reached September 15, 1607.

The Muscovy Company still believed that an all-water and a very much
shorter route than that via Cape of Good Hope from Western Europe to
India could be found by the northeast, fitted out a vessel with a larger
crew and gave our Captain Henry Hudson the command of it and under the
same instructions as before. His son, as well as several others of his
crew on the “Hopeful,” went with him on this second voyage. He sailed
from London April 25, 1608, and, obstructed by the ice, he could go no
further than Nova Zembla, which had been discovered in 1553. He promptly
returned to England and reported to the company. Hudson asked for more
men and less rigid orders that he might make another voyage, but the
company did not comply with his request. “It is not known whether it was
because it had abandoned the hope of finding a northeastern route or had
lost confidence in Hudson’s ability.” Navigators, like prophets, “are
not without honor save in their own country;” as examples, Columbus,
John Cabot, Verazzano, Magellan and Americus Vespucius, whose
discoveries were for nations not their own.

Hudson, firm in the belief that he could find a much shorter all-water
route than then was known, sought employment from the Dutch East India
Company, which had heard of him as an able, brave and skilled navigator
who had been in the employ of their rival—the English—an incentive to
secure his services. Hudson was invited to Amsterdam to confer with the
directors of the Dutch East India Company. He went and there met the
Amsterdam directors of the Dutch East India Company. The Amsterdam
directors thought favorably of securing Hudson’s services for the Dutch
East India Company—at all events to prevent him from entering any other
service and it is said they asked him to come to them a year later for
employment as a matter of that importance could be acted on only by the
Council of Seventeen. This was to postpone the matter, much to Hudson’s
disappointment and detriment—ending, possibly, in mere talk. The Dutch
East India Company was then the most prosperous of the East India
companies and was really more anxious to prevent any other company from
discovering a new all-water route (_the company had resolved to do that
at any cost_) than to find one themselves. However, the Amsterdam
directors did not hoodwink Hudson by their excuse for delay, which would
bind him for a year and leave them free. A former director of the Dutch
East India Company, who thought he had been ill treated by the company,
resigned, became a bitter opponent of the company and resided in Paris.
He told Hudson of the duplicity and purpose of the Amsterdam directors
in holding him in suspense. The then French King, Henry IV, felt
chagrined that France, through oversight or neglect, had not in any due
proportion, considering her dignity and importance, shared in the India
trade and that her expeditions to Canada had not proved a success,
determined to seek and obtain an experienced navigator to take command
of a well-equipped expedition in quest of the best all-water route to
India. The French King was advised to communicate with James Lemaire, a
Dutch navigator of great wealth and residing in Paris. He did so and
Lemaire knew Hudson and named him as the best man for the position.

Governments employ a secret service to keep a close watch upon other
governments and to report promptly what they are doing and
contemplating. King Henry learned about Henry Hudson’s conference with
the Amsterdam directors of the Dutch East India Company who wanted to
bind him to wait a year before engaging again in a voyage of discovery
for India and then come to them for employment.

The French King gave orders that Hudson be engaged at once on most
liberal terms in the service of France, but the Amsterdam directors
learned of his decision and without any further delay entered on the 8th
of January, 1609, in a contract with Hudson which resulted in the Dutch
claim of New Netherlands instead, perhaps, of extended French claims in
the New World. This contract has been very sharply commented upon as
being very illiberal in the compensation stated for the services and
great risk that Hudson was to undergo; that while clear in terms it was
not in perfect good faith for as it claimed to be an act of the Dutch
East India Company and was signed by _only two of the directors of the
Amsterdam chamber who had no authority to bind the company in such a
matter and that therefore it was voidable if for any reason the company
so desired_. It might have been merely an inexpensive scheme to prevent
Hudson from entering any other employ. Then, too, it appeared singular
that either the Amsterdam directors or Hudson should want to attempt the
_northeastern_ route which so often had resulted in failure before our
Hudson’s time and that Hudson himself as a master had signally failed in
two expeditions and probably before that while as a mariner in the
employ of the Muscovy Company. It seemed as though Hudson who, after
commanding two searches for the Muscovy Company wanted greater freedom
in the pursuit and so asked of that company. The belief on the part of
some was that there was a secret agreement or understanding between the
contracting parties that Hudson might, or was really, to ignore the
contract which was given to the public as a blind. While subsequent
events gave color, plausibility to these thoughts, they were merely
conjectures, for it is most remarkable that there has so little
documentary evidence been found about a man whose name appears so often
and so prominently in North America. Hudson’s last voyage was for three
wealthy Englishmen, viz.: Sir Thomas Smythe, Sir Dudley Digges and John
Wolstenholme. Doubtless very much of Hudson’s writings were not made
public—probably publication at that time was forbidden, fearing that
rival navigators would thereby gain some information to their advantage
and to the detriment of Hudson’s employers. Then, too, it has been
thought and said that if Hudson’s writings had been published in full
some things would have been revealed that at least some of the
contracting parties were anxious to conceal. Although nearly 300 years
have passed and the public has not been fully enlightened on this
subject there still remains the belief that Hudson’s writings about his
contracts for searching for an all-water and shorter route to India will
yet be discovered and published. To engage in any great and hazardous
undertaking there must be some adequate motive. Considering the high
demands and promises made to bold and skillful navigators (perhaps in
compensation, rank, and authority none comparable with the case of
Christopher Columbus) it is scarcely presumable that Henry Hudson
entered the service of the Dutch East India Company merely for the
paltry sum named in that contract and in a route which he himself on two
occasions or more had found impracticable—presumably impossible. Henry
Hudson, a bold and experienced navigator, well posted in the discoveries
made by maritime discoverers especially in the New World; in the
discoveries in geography, geometry, and in possession of the latest and
best maps of the world, surely had some strong motive, presumably a
worthy ambition to become a discoverer of a new all-water route to
India, and in his journal he told of his desire to seek that route by
sailing _westward_ when his instructions were distinct and positive to
sail _north_ and _east_.

If, then, such were the views and purposes of Hudson when he made the
contract (which is quoted herein) with the Amsterdam directors of the
Dutch East India Company, let us see, if we may, the real and principal
motives actuating that company, so powerful, so dominant in the
Netherlands, to engage Hudson by contract and whether either party was
not going to live up to it in good faith or whether the strong
presumption is that it was merely a blind to deceive rivals and that
there was another and very different secret agreement.

Charles V, German Emperor, was born at Ghent, Flanders, 1500. He was the
eldest son of Philip, Archduke of Austria, and of Joanna, the daughter
of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. Philip’s parents were the Emperor
Maximilian and Marie, daughter and heiress of Charles the Bold, Duke of
Burgundy. On the death of his grandfather, Ferdinand, in 1516, Charles
took possession of the throne of Spain by the title of Charles I.

On the death of Maximilian in 1519 Charles was elected German Emperor
and crowned October 22, 1519, at Aix-la-Chapelle and received from the
Pope the title of Roman Emperor, making him the most powerful monarch in
Europe. A zealous Catholic, he aimed to nullify the doctrine taught by
the reformer Martin Luther and to compel the Hollanders, the
Netherlanders, to express their faith and belief in Ignatius Loyola, the
reputed founder of the Society of Jesus—the Jesuits. It was not Loyola
but Torquemada, whose name, as the Chief Inquisitor, became a by-word
and reproach. Justin Winsor, a high authority, said that Carlyle said,
“Those Dutch are a strong people. They raised their land out of a marsh
and went on for a long time breeding cows and making cheese and might
have gone with their cows and cheese till doomsday. But Spain comes over
and says, ‘We want you to believe in Ignatius.’ The Dutch replied, ‘We
are very sorry, but we cannot.’ ‘God, but you must,’ said Spain, and
went about it with guns and swords to make the Dutch believe in
Ignatius.” Thus began a religious war (usually the fiercest and most
unrelenting) which, with some cessation of hostilities, lasted for
nearly seventy years, down to 1648, when the independence of the Dutch
Republic was acknowledged and it had become one of the foremost, if not
really the foremost, power in Europe.

War (which Erasmus called “the malady of princes” and General Sherman
called “hell”), begun by Charles I of Spain against the Netherlands, was
continued by his son and grandson and resulted in driving out of Europe
many of North America’s early and most desirable settlers.

Many of the Dutch East India Company’s vessels were equipped for war as
well as for commerce and her East India possessions were active in
building and fitting out ships which captured many and rich prizes from
the Spaniards. The richest locality for capturing such prizes was in the
West Indies, and what the Netherlands greatly needed was territory near
there, where her ships could be sheltered, repaired, and obtain the
needed supplies. Spain was in possession of nearly all of what is now
the south of the United States, and France of Canada. The English held
Virginia and claimed what is now called New England, but between the two
was a territory that seemed free for settlement and there is reason to
believe that the Dutch East India Company was aware of that fact and
aimed to take it.

In 1497 and 1498 the Cabots, in the employ of Henry VII of England,
sailed westward in search of a shorter all-water route to India,
coasting along the Atlantic from a parallel of latitude about the same
as that of the Straits of Gibraltar clear up to Hudson straits, where
the icebergs prevented further advance. Having landed and planted the
English flag, they claimed the country for the British crown and under
their discovery the English claim in North America rested. On a German
map made in 1515 America is represented as a large island in the western
Atlantic. Magellan, in whose honor the straits near Cape Horn, South
America, were named, sailed around the globe in 1519-21, proved that
America was a continent and the world a sphere. Sir Francis Drake, in
1577-79, also circumnavigated the globe. In 1728 Vitus Behring sailed
through the straits which bear his name and proved that America is no
part of Asia. From 1499 to 1504 Americus Vespucius, a Florentine
navigator and explorer, made, in the employ of Spain, four voyages to
the east coast of South America and built a fort on the coast of Brazil,
and from him, or rather in his honor, the western continent was named
“America”—the name first appearing in a little pamphlet published in
France in 1507 by Waldseemuler, a German geographer, who gave as his
reason for the name the following, viz.: “The fourth part of the world
having been discovered by Americus, it may be called the land of
Americus or America.”

Between the years 1512 and 1542 Ponce de Leon, Balboa, Cortez, Narvaez,
Cabeza de Vaca, De Soto, Pizarro, and Coronado, all for Spain, had made
extensive and very important discoveries in what are now the southern of
the United States, the Mississippi river, Mexico, and Peru. Some of
these men became infamous by their horrible crimes. They were arrogant
and frank. Balboa, in 1513, was the first European to discover the
“South sea” (the Pacific ocean), and “wading into its waters drew his
sword and declared that the Kings of Spain should hold possession of the
‘South sea’ and of its coasts and islands ‘while the earth revolves, and
until the universal judgment of mankind.’” Cortez bluffly declared in a
few words when speaking to the Mexicans the motives of the Spanish as
follows: “We Spaniards are troubled with a disease of the heart for
which we find gold and gold only a specific remedy.” These discoverers,
explorers, freebooters from Spain in her vast territory New Spain,
merited the just contempt not only of the ancient civilizations of
Mexico and Peru but also of the whole enlightened world. It seems to
have been the firm belief of the Spaniard for centuries that he is made
of a finer material than any other nation and destined to rule and
others to obey.

The French disputed the Spanish claims to North America and established
a colony of Huguenots in South Carolina, but France’s discoveries and
possessions in North America were principally in the north. Cartier
discovered and explored the St. Lawrence river in 1535, and that was
thought to be a part, if not all, of the water-way through the continent
of America to the South sea or Pacific ocean en route to India. No
nation was more zealous and successful than France in making discoveries
and settlements in Canada, and what ultimately became the northwestern
of the United States along the upper lakes and the upper Mississippi
river, by those wonderful religious orders, the Franciscans and Jesuits.

Eighty-five years had elapsed after the discovery in North America by
the Cabots, under which the English based their claim to the territory,
before they made any attempt at colonization or even to establish a
permanent settlement. In 1584 that unique, able, versatile, vain Queen
Elizabeth of England granted a most remarkable charter to, at one time
her especial favorite, the highly gifted but eccentric Sir Walter
Raleigh, to lay claim to any land in the west “not actually possessed by
any Christian prince.” Raleigh sent out several expeditions to make a
settlement on Roanoke island, off the coast of North Carolina. It was
represented to the Queen as a remarkably fine land, so that she named it
in her own honor as the Virgin Queen Virginia and thereupon knighted
Raleigh. Raleigh, though he made determined and prolonged efforts and at
great personal expense to establish permanent English settlements in
America, failed. To Sir Walter Raleigh is given the credit or curse of
having discovered in Virginia a weed which King James called “the vilest
of weeds” and Edmund Spencer, the famous poet, “divine tobacco.” To Sir
Walter also is generally given the credit of having introduced the most
valuable of all the vegetables known to man—the potato.

Justin Winsor, a distinguished American historian, said that the scheme
to form a West India Company was first broached in 1592 by William
Usselinx, an exiled Antwerp merchant. It was many years before it could
be accomplished. The longing for a share in the riches of the New World
conduced in the meantime to the establishment of the “Greenland Company”
about 1596 and the pretended search by its ships for a northwestern
passage led to a supposed first discovery of the Hudson river, if we may
rely upon an unsupported statement by the officers of the West India
Company in an appeal for assistance to the Assembly of the Nineteenth in
1644. According to this statement ships of the “Greenland Company” had
entered the North and Delaware rivers in 1598; their crews had landed in
both places and had built small forts to protect them against the
inclemency of the weather and to resist the attacks of the Indians.

A company of English merchants had organized to trade to America in the
first year of the seventeenth century. Their first adventure to Guiana
and Virginia were not successful yet gave a new impetus to the scheme
originally conceived by Usselinx. A plan for the organization of a West
India Company was drawn up in 1606, according to the excited Belgian
ideas. This company was to have an existence of thirty-six years; to
receive during the first six years assistance from all the United
Provinces, and to be managed in the same manner as the East India
Company. It was not consummated. Olden-Barneveldt, the Advocate of
Holland and one of the most prominent and influential members of the
peace party, foresaw that the organization of a West India Company with
the avowed purpose of obtaining most of its profits by preying on
Spanish commerce in American waters would only prolong the war.
Usselinx’s plan was to compel Spain by these means to evacuate Belgium
and thus give her exiled sons a chance to return to their old home. A
wholesale departure of the shrewd, industrious, and skilful Belgians
would have deprived Holland of her political pre-eminence and have left
her an obscure and isolated province. The conflicting views and claims
of the provinces caused the scheme to fail until after Olden-Barneveldt,
accused of high treason, was tried, condemned, and beheaded in 1619.
Subsequently Maurice of Nassau took up the scheme of forming the Dutch
West India Company. Private ships sailing from Dutch ports had not been
idle in the meantime; in 1607 we hear of them in Canada trading for
furs. Belgium and the Netherlands, compelled to become maritime nations,
while other circumstances directed to commercial pursuits, had become
the common carriers of the sea and the Netherlands especially had
availed themselves of the discoveries made by the Cabots, Verrazano, and
other adventurous explorers in the country succeeding Columbus’
discovery of America. They thought Spain most assailable in the West
Indies where they could prey upon their commerce and capture their
treasures from Mexico and Peru. The first proposition to make such an
expedition was submitted to the States General in 1581 by an English sea
captain named Beets. It was refused. Later it gained favor and caused
the formation of a West India Company really to fight Spain and not
ignoring the search for a shorter route to India.

Before Henry Hudson’s attempts to find a _northwest_ passage to India
six trials had been made and subsequently more than twenty-five more,
and while it is claimed that Sir Robert McClure in his expedition in
1650-54 succeeded, it was only by abandoning his vessel and completing
his way on ice. The discovery is of no practical utility.

In 1606 James I, King of England, Scotland and Ireland, granted two
charters—one to the London Company giving it power to establish
settlements anywhere between the thirty-fourth and thirty-eighth degrees
of north latitude (that is between Cape Fear and the Potomac); and the
other to the Plymouth Company granting it the territory in Northern
Virginia between the forty-first and the forty-fifth degrees of north
latitude (that is between the eastern end of Long Island and the
northern limit of Nova Scotia), with the right to establish settlements
therein. Each of these grants extended 100 miles inland. The territory
between these two companies (from thirty-ninth to forty-first degrees),
embracing what is Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and a little of New
York, was open to settlement by either of these companies, provided that
neither should make a settlement within 100 miles of the other.

It is not presumable that the alert, watchful, shrewd Amsterdam
directors of the Dutch East India Company were ignorant of the
discoveries, explorations, and important events in the western world nor
of the charters of 1606 granted by King James which seemed to leave an
unoccupied and an unknown territory extending from the thirty-eight to
the forty-eight degrees of North latitude which would furnish the
Netherlands a desirable base for their operations in America against
Spain. Perhaps that territory might be secured under the right of prior
discovery if a small craft was sent out nominally to sail northeast as a
blind but really westward for the double purpose either of finding a
shorter route to India or obtaining a desirable foothold in the New

Let us see whether we may ascertain more about Hudson’s views,
preparation, and knowledge before the contract was entered into with the
Amsterdam directors of the Dutch East India Company. In his second
voyage in the employ of the Muscovy Company, under date of August 7,
1608, he made the following entry into his journal: “I used all
diligence to arrive in London, for being at Nova Zembla on the 8th day
of July and void of hope of a northeast route except by Vaygats, for
which I was not fitted to try or prove, I therefore resolved to use all
means I could to sail to the _northwest_ (which would have been in
direct violation of his instructions) and to make trial at Lumley’s
Inlet and Captain Davis Straits, hoping to run into it a hundred leagues
and return.” He did not carry out his resolve but indicated his desire
to seek a _northwestern_ passage then.

Henry Hudson was not wild, erratic, nor a rover. Perhaps no one whom
Hudson met in London so much determined his course as did Captain John
Smith, a very remarkable English adventurer—a daring rover in early
life, entering military service in several of the European governments,
captured, imprisoned, and escaped to play such a prominent part in
establishing the first permanent English settlement in Virginia in the
United States. Captain John Smith’s name is almost always associated
with that of Pocahontas (the daughter of the famous Chief Powhatan) who
while yet a girl but twelve years is said to have interposed her body
and thereby saved the life of Captain Smith from the uplifted war clubs
of the Indians about to descend upon him. Captain Smith also
corresponded with Hudson, gave him maps of North America and advised him
as to the course to be pursued in seeking a westward watercourse to
India. Perhaps the maps most serviceable to Hudson in his voyage
westward in 1609 were those of New France, which plainly represented the
Grande river (subsequently called the Hudson river), and were published
in the sixteenth century. Hudson was also a theorist. He believed in an
“Open Polar Sea” and so far as is known was the first to promulgate that
theory, entertained and followed by searchers after the North Pole.
Hudson made the acquaintance and won the friendship of learned
geographers in Amsterdam, prominent among them was the Reverend Peter
Plancius, who said it was reasonable that the sea should be open near
the Pole where the sun shines incessantly for months though with less
heat than where it shines only a few hours by day and the hours of the
night intervening, cooling. Hudson said his experience convinced him,
for after passing beyond a certain line (about 66° north latitude) the
sea became more open as he went further north. This Doctor Peter
Plancius was a member of the Reformed Church and as such driven from his
Belgian home by the Spaniards, he heartily co-operated with Usselinx in
his plan to form a West India Company. He was often in consultation with
Hudson in Amsterdam and to his chapter on “Norumbega (said to be
somewhere in New England) et Virginia” he added a map which, imperfect
in some respect—incorrect in its latitudes—was serviceable to Hudson in
his westward voyage. The French map of about 1517 and the map of Thomas
Hood, an Englishman, published in 1594, which shows under latitude 40°
north (New York city is 40° 43′ north) the mouth of a river called Rio
de San Antonio, the name given by the earliest Spanish discoverers to
what later on became known as the Hudson river. In this connection it
may not be amiss to call attention to the historical fact that Giovanni
da Verrazano, a Florentine navigator in the employ of Francis I, King of
France, entered the New York bay and saw at least the mouth of the river
which the French called the “Grande river” in 1524, eighty-five years
before Henry Hudson saw it. It is further claimed that soon after the
French built a fort on Castle Island near Albany and there carried on a
trade in furs with the Indians. Some historians discredit this French
claim, which, however, seems sustained though it never resulted in
advantage to the French. A map made by Vaz Dornado at Lisbon in 1571
gives the Hudson river in almost its entire course from the mountains to
the bay. A copy of this map made in 1580, which went to Munich, was
probably seen by Dr. Plancius, Hudson’s friend and adviser. _Johannes de
Laet_, a director of the West India company and a copatroon of
Rensselaerwick with Kilian Van Rensselaer, admits in his book that the
object of the West India Company was _war on Spain, and he congratulates
the country upon its success_.

Jean Wagenaar, a Dutch historian, a historiographer, the secretary of
the city of Amsterdam, held in the highest esteem, who had free access
to the archives and whose statements are not to be discredited, says the
company “_sent out a skipper to discover a passage to China by the
Northwest not by the Northeast_.” _A resolution of the States of
Holland, quoted by this same authority, proves that previous to Hudson’s
voyage, the Dutch knew that they would find terra firma north of the
Spanish possessions and contiguous to them._

_Resolved, “That by carrying the war over to America, the Spaniards be
attacked there where their weakest point is, but whence they draw the
most of their resources.”_

As much has appeared in this article concerning the sincerity of the
motives actuating the parties to the contract of January 8, 1609, and as
doubts and adverse criticisms had been expressed and no authority given
therefor—they seemed conjectures—perhaps not unreasonable, plausible but
requiring confirmation—_proof_ to be entitled to credit.

Not, however, until the latter half of the nineteenth century was any
documentary evidence on that subject obtainable and published, though
efforts had been made before.

The Hon. Henry Cruse Murphy, born in Brooklyn in 1810, prepared in the
High School for Columbia College, where he graduated with honor in 1830,
studied law, was admitted to practice in 1833, married in 1834, mayor of
Brooklyn, member of two State constitutional conventions, five times
elected to the Senate of the State of New York, a gentleman of culture
and refinement, author and founder of the Brooklyn Eagle, whom, in 1857,
President Buchanan appointed Minister to The Hague, exceptionally well
qualified to represent the United States. His pleasing manners enabled
him to obtain most valuable information about the war between Spain and
the Netherlands, and also about the early settlement of North America.
He first gives to the public an exact copy of that contract of January,
1609, where there could be no doubt that the navigator’s name was
_Henry_, not Hendrick.

The Minister says: “The following memoir is the result of an
investigation made for the purpose of ascertaining more precisely than
has hitherto been explained, the circumstances which originated the
voyage made on behalf of the Dutch East India Company by Henry Hudson;
the motives, purposes and character of its projectors and the designs of
the navigator himself at the time he sailed upon that expedition. We
have examined the records of the East India Company, comprising the
registers or book of resolutions of the general of the company, styled
the Council of Seventeen, and the Chambers of Amsterdam, Zealand, etc.,
with some other documents among the archives of the Kingdom at The
Hague, where all the books and papers of the company have been brought
from the several chambers, have been arranged and kept. A copy of the
contract between Hudson and two members of the Chamber of Amsterdam (as
given on previous pages), was found appended to a history of the company
never published, but prepared at its request by Mr. P. Van Dam, who held
the position of counsel of the company for the extraordinary period of
fifty-four years, that is, from 1652 until his death in 1706.”

The Amsterdam Chamber of the Dutch East India Company had, among its
members, enterprising merchants who had a particular motive in seeking
to secure Hudson’s services. They wished to forestall others, and
especially their own country, in the discovery, and thus prevent any
interference with their chartered monopoly of the East India trade. The
evidence of this policy distinctly appears in the resolutions and
proceedings of the general council of all the chambers of the company,
called the “Council of Seventeen.”

The company itself, shortly after its organization, took into
consideration the expediency of making an attempt to explore the
northern passage and of soliciting the necessary privileges from the
government. It is quite apparent, therefore, that the fears and the
hopes of opening that route still existed in the minds of some of the

The Council of Seventeen determined finally that it was inexpedient to
make the trial. Their determination was, however, accompanied by a
remarkable resolution. The final action of the Council of Seventeen took
place on the 7th of August, 1603, and is thus entered in the minutes:
“It is likewise for deliberation and resolution whether the voyage by
the North shall also be undertaken and negotiations be had with the
Noble Lord States in regards to terms and privileges for that purpose
seeing that some private persons have already been in communication with
said Lords; the more so as this matter at the meeting of the 17 on the
27th of Feby last past was postponed as appears by the 17th section of
the proceedings of that meeting.”

In the margin is the following disposition of that subject: “The
contents hereof are rejected as it is deemed not serviceable to the Co,
and therefore if this navigation should be undertaken by any private
person it ought by all means to be prevented.” The company was realizing
by the southern route enormous profits, dividing among its stockholders
37 per cent. for its first two years.

The States General, by a decree on the 1st of July, 1606, expressly
prohibited from navigating by the Cape of Good Hope and the Straits of
Magellan, and in the following September, by another decree, the
subjects of the Netherlands were prohibited from carrying on the trade.

The entire period is so short, concerning which we know anything about
Henry Hudson, do we really know enough of him to form a true and fair
estimate of his character?

We do know that Hudson had made two (and we don’t know how many more)
voyages north of Siberia, in the employ of the Muscovy Company,
intending to go east and then south, down to Cathay, but did not
succeed. He had, however, been exposed, inured to the arctic colds,
privations and dangers, and had won the rank of captain. What did he
know about the recently explored seas and lands or what more did he need
to know about them, if he was in the employ of the Dutch East India
Company through its Amsterdam Chambers, two directors to pursue the same
course he had on the two voyages he had for the Muscovy Company?

Before Henry Hudson had signed the famous contract on the 8th of
January, 1609, he had been a careful geographical student, as far as he
had opportunity.

About the beginning of the seventeenth century, after the Belgians, on
account of their religious views, had been expelled from Belgium, and
many of them gone to Holland—mostly to Amsterdam, then that city and
London, England, became the great rendezvous for navigators,
discoverers, would-be discoverers, or explorers, to discuss matters,
compare notes, and get all information possible on such subjects.

The Muscovy Company had headquarters in London, where Hudson would go,
and there he met, it is known, Captain John Smith, and it is probable
that there he met and formed a favorable opinion of Jodocus Hondius, who
was his interpreter, adviser, and witness to the contract of January
8th. He was an educated gentleman, a minister of the Reformed Church, a
Belgian, driven out of his country, went to London, a geographer,
map-maker and portrait painter. He painted Queen Elizabeth’s portrait.
The center around which the Belgians then gathered as their brightest
man in discovery was Peter Plancius, another Belgian, a Calvinistic
minister driven from Belgium, and who had settled in Amsterdam, and was
a devoted friend and adviser of Hudson. Hudson before he had engaged
with the Amsterdam directors had seen and examined the most important
maps of the French, English, Spanish and Portuguese, and especially of
the Arctic regions, New York and Canada, and had borrowed some of them
from Plancius and Smith, and those that he wanted most were about the
northwest and above 35° north latitude.

Hudson’s friends were warm, zealous to help him, that they might lessen
the power and vindictiveness of the Spaniards.

Captain John Smith sent Captain Henry Hudson important maps and
instructions from Virginia, before Hudson set sail in the “Half Moon.”
Smith’s advice to Hudson seems to have been to seek a passage to the
Pacific ocean at about 40° north latitude or about 50° north latitude,
or still farther north, and seek a passage through Lumly inlet or some
other entrance into the Hudson bay. Hudson made extraordinary
preparations if he did not expect to pursue that course for the
Amsterdam Chamber of the Dutch East India Company.

That Henry Hudson first discovered, at least first reported, the “Open
Sea” north of 66° north is conceded, and that has been confirmed by
several Arctic explorers since—prominent among them Dr. Kane. That
Sebastian Cabot discovered Hudson straits in about 1517 is admitted.

Jodocus Hondius, a warm friend of Hudson, tried to dissuade him from
entering Hudson bay in hopes to find a passage to the Pacific, for he
told him that a relative of his had explored the bay, and that there was
no communication with the Pacific ocean.

Read, Jr., says our sense of the loss of Hudson’s own journal in
conclusion with his discovery of Delaware bay is indeed irreparable. Our
sense of the loss is increased by the remembrance that the Hudson river,
Hudson strait and Hudson bay had been visited long before Hudson
explored them. George Weymouth had visited the mouth of Hudson straits.

Gerard Mercator’s celebrated map of the world, made at Duisburg,
Germany, in 1569, shows the French fort on the east side of the Grande
(or Hudson) river. He outlined the Hudson to the height of its
navigation with the Mohawk as far as the French had explored it.

_Winsor_, 1520, vol. 4, p. 434. The Pompey Stone and Spaniards in New
York State, found in Oneida county with its Spanish inscriptions and
date of 1520, and the names of places given in their corruption by the
Dutch in a grant conveying part of Albany county. We can no longer
hesitate to believe that the heathen reported by Danskon and other
writers mentioned before had some foundation, and that the Spaniards
knew and had explored the country on the Hudson long before the Dutch
came, but had thought, as Peter Martys expresses it, after the failure
of Estibon Comez and the Leconcrado d’Aillen “To the South, to the South
for the great and exceeding riches of the Equator. They that seek gold
must not go to the cold North.” The Spaniards never considered New
Netherlands of any value itself.

The Pompey Stone was located near where the Cardiff Giant was found and
I do not build on it.

That Giovanni de Verazzano, in the French ship “La Dauphin,” with a crew
of fifty men, commissioned by Francis I, King of France, to make
discoveries of new lands entered the lower and upper bays of what now is
New York, and the mouth of the North, or now called the Hudson river, is
conceded. He tried to ascend the river, thinking it the water route to
the South sea or the Pacific ocean on the way to Cathay and the East
Indies. A violent gale sprang up and compelled him to go to sea, and his
discoveries along the coast of North America, from Florida to the Gulf
of St. Lawrence, resulted in the French claiming that territory as La
Nouvelle France (New France), an extent of more than 1,100 miles.

The valuable furs and peltries of New France induced French merchants,
ship owners and capitalists to send many vessels with merchandise to
trade with the Indians. Some of these vessels sailed up the river (North
or Hudson) to the height of its navigation, where the Mohawk enters into
it. For protection and for a trading-house, the French built a fortified
trading-house or castle in 1540, lying in the little bay on the west
side of the river, called by the French the “Grande river,” near the
site of Albany. Before the castle was completed the island was inundated
by a great freshet. The earliest Europeans, coming to what is now New
York, did not come intending to settle, but to gain in dealing in furs
and peltry, and in that pursuit they became well acquainted with the
topography of the country. On many of the maps of New France the Grande
river is plainly represented from Sandy Hook to its navigable limits,
about 175 miles.

Sincerely believing that the honors awarded Henry Hudson, the famous
navigator, are not on the true basis, and that at the tercentenary they
are likely to be perpetuated against historical facts, I have cited
evidence and will add but two more from his own countrymen, viz.: John
Knox Laughton, Professor of History in Kings College, London, since
1885, and C. M. Asher, LL. D., “Henry Hudson, the Navigator. The
original documents in which his career is recorded printed in London,
1860, for the highly distinguished historical body, the Hakluyt

Professor Laughton, in the Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 28,
pp. 148 and 149, says: “Hudson’s personality is shady in the extreme,
and his achievements have been the subject of much exaggeration and
misrepresentation. The River, the Strait, the Bay and the vast tract of
land which bears his name have kept his memory alive; _but in point of
fact not one of these was discovered by Hudson_. All that can be
seriously claimed for him is that he pushed his _explorations_ further
than his predecessors and left them a more distinct but still imperfect
record. It has been conclusively shown by Dr. Asher that the River,
Strait and the Bay were all marked in maps many years before the time of

“In April, 1614, Hudson’s widow applied to the East India Company for
some employment for another son, she being left very poor. The company
considered that the boy had a just claim on them, as his father had
perished in the service of the commonwealth; they accordingly placed him
for nautical instruction in the Samaritan and gave five pounds toward
his outfit.” Henry Hudson, born about 1560.

Dr. Asher, in his publication, says: “_Hudson river, Hudson strait and
Hudson bay remind every educated man of the illustrious navigator by
whom they were explored._” But though the name of Henry Hudson possesses
the preservative against oblivion, little more has been done in its
behalf, and few persons have any accurate notion of the real extent of
its merits. By considering Hudson as the discoverer of the three mighty
waters that bear his name, we indeed both overrate and underrate his
deserts. For it is certain that these localities _had_ repeatedly been
visited, and even drawn on maps and charts long before he set out on his

Special attention is called to Justin Winsor’s “America,” and to Henry
Cruse Murphy’s “Hudson in Holland.” The naming of the territorial empire
of Prince Rupert’s land upon which Hudson, perhaps, never set his foot,
seems more than strange.

The retrospect has been long, and though only by glances, far from
complete, doubtless it has been tedious, but to differ from public
opinion it seemed necessary to give strong reasons.

Does it not, then, seem that the contract made by the Amsterdam
directors and Henry Hudson was rather a blind, and for political
reasons, than genuine?

Some historians say that Henry Hudson, when in the employ of the Dutch
East India Company, set sail from Amsterdam March 25, 1609, and others
April 4, 1609—there is no discrepancy, for the former is what is called
Old Style, and the latter New Style, of reckoning time. Some authorities
state Hudson had two vessels, namely, the “Good Hope” and the “Half
Moon.” The contract between the Amsterdam directors of the Dutch East
India Company and Henry Hudson names the “Half Moon” and no other.
Moreover, the Hon. Henry C. Murphy, when United States Minister to
Holland, ascertained from the archives that the Amsterdam directors of
the Dutch East India Company did have, in 1608, a vessel named “Good
Hope,” which sailed April 15, 1608, for the East Indies, and was
captured by the Spaniards.

The crew of the “Half Moon,” under Henry Hudson as master, consisted of
about twenty, part Dutch and part English, many of them had served under
him while he was in the employ of the Muscovy Company—his son being one
of that number. The “Half Moon” was a yacht of about eighty tons burden.
Hudson followed the route he had taken when in the employ of the Muscovy
Company until he met with the same obstacles as in his previous
expedition, namely, impenetrable ice, fogs and adverse winds which drove
him backward. Then he submitted the choice to his crew to decide whether
they should sail to the coast of America, latitude 40° north (New Jersey
coast) or in search of Davis strait latitude, about 62° north. Many of
his crew had been sailors in southern warmer waters and chose the lower
latitude, while then, it is said, Hudson preferred the other, but must
submit to the wishes of the crew. On the 14th of May Hudson sailed the
“Half Moon” westward, and a fortnight later reached the Faroe islands,
replenished his water casks, and set sail again, making slow progress
for a month against fierce gales, but on the 2d of July was at the grand
banks of Newfoundland, with foremast gone and the sails badly torn.
There they found a large fleet of Frenchmen fishing, but had no
intercourse with them. Becalmed, the “Half Moon” men caught cod. Having
made the needed repairs they set sail again, and on the 12th of July
Hudson was gladdened by the sight of America’s shores. The “Half Moon”
entered and anchored in a safe and large harbor (probably Penobscot bay)
on the coast of Maine. Here an unfortunate and wanton attack was made by
the crew upon the natives, and Hudson at once set sail, and did not
approach land again until August 3d, when he sent five men ashore who
returned loaded with rose trees and grapes. He supposed that the place
was “Cape Cod,” which Gonold had so named in 1602. Then for two weeks
the “Half Moon” sailed south and came to the mouth of King James river
in Virginia. Then Hudson coasted northerly and Friday, August 28th,
entered the great Delaware bay. After exploring, he became satisfied
that there was no passage-way there to China, and emerging from the bay
went north, and September 3, 1609, entered and anchored under the
shelter of what is called Sandy Hook. On the 12th of September Henry
Hudson entered the Hudson river.

Drifting with the tide, he anchored over night (the 13th) just above
Yonkers; on the 14th passed Tappan and Haverstraw bays, entered the
Highlands and anchored for the night near West Point. On the morning of
the 15th he entered Newburgh bay and reached Catskill on the 16th,
Athens on the 17th and Castleton and Albany on the 18th, and then sent
out an exploring boat as far as Waterford.

Some historians say that Hudson anchored at Hudson and sent a boat
containing his mate and four men further up the river to explore and
report whether it seemed to be a water-way to the South sea (Pacific
ocean) on the way to India. Becoming convinced that it did not, on the
23d of September he leisurely sailed down the river to its mouth. Hudson
and his crew were greatly pleased with the grandeur and beauty of the
river, the like of which they had never seen, passing through a
fruitful, attractive country, which in their descriptions, they painted
in glowing colors, justly deserved. It was the season of the year when
nature, in that latitude, dons her variegated and most beautiful colors.
Hudson had, along the river in many places where he stopped, many
interesting and pleasant interviews with the Indians, gaining much
information, and exchanging his trinkets for their valuable furs. The
Indians, as a rule, were hospitable, entertaining the strangers with
game and fruits, etc. There were a few regrettable incidents on Hudson’s
voyage up the river between the Indians and the crew, and it seems
probable the latter were most blameworthy.

October 4, 1609, Henry Hudson and his crew in the “Half Moon” set sail
from Sandy Hook for Europe. On the homeward voyage some of the crew
wanted to winter in Newfoundland and then in the spring search for a
northwestern passage through Davis strait. Many were sick, but none of
them were willing to go back to Holland as Hudson wished and was under
obligations to do. Bear in mind that the master of a vessel then was not
the autocrat that he now is. The crew had to be consulted and their
decision controlled. A compromise was finally made that they should sail
to Ireland. However, they reached Dartmouth, England, November 7, 1609,
from which place Hudson made his report to the Dutch East India Company
directors, and proposed to them to go out again for a search in the
northwest, and that besides the pay, 1,500 florins should be laid out
for an additional supply of provisions. Hudson also wanted six or seven
of his men exchanged and his crew to number twenty.

It was a long time before the Dutch East India Company directors learned
of the arrival of the “Half Moon” and heard from Hudson. Then they
ordered the ship and crew to return as soon as possible. But when they
were going to do so, Hudson and other Englishmen were commanded by the
government not to leave England, but to serve their own country. These
things took place in January, 1610. After a detention of eight months in
England the “Half Moon” reached Amsterdam in the summer of 1610.

April 17, 1610, Henry Hudson, in the vessel “Discovery,” with many of
his crew of former voyages, sailed from England in the service of three
Englishmen, Sir Thomas Smythe, Sir Dudley Digges, and John Wolstenholme,
in quest of an all-water route to India through the Davis strait. After
entering the bay named Hudson, in his honor, he spent much time in
trying to find an outlet from it to the Pacific ocean on the way to
China, but unsuccessfully.

His crew became quarrelsome, and some of them mutinous. Among the worst
were two he had favored most—one his mate, Juet, and another, a Mr.
Green, a worthless, degenerate fellow. Juet was tried for
insubordination—for attempting to incite to mutiny—found guilty and
deposed. The winter of 1610-1611 was a hard one—their provisions were
short, owing to a treatment of a native by some of the crew—they could
obtain no game from the Indians, nor could they catch fish. It was said,
perhaps falsely, that Hudson became very tyrannical, and said something
that his enemies thought he meant to prolong his scanty supplies by
getting rid of several of the crew. June, 1611, a few days after leaving
one of the most southern harbors of James bay (a southern portion of
Hudson bay) where they had wintered, a mutiny broke out among the crew.
Hudson was seized and bound, and he, his son and seven others,
principally sick and infirm, were put in a small boat and set adrift
upon the waves, destined soon to perish.

Thus ended, in tragedy, the career of a remarkable man, whose appearance
upon the theater had not extended a half dozen years.

To commemorate the tercentenary of _Hendrick_ Hudson’s _discovery_ of
the Hudson river would be on a false basis—at war with historical facts.
Hudson’s name was _Henry_ (as has been clearly established) and not
_Hendrick_, as doubtless the Dutch wanted him to become a Hollander on
his entering the service of the Dutch East India Company.

There is no evidence that Henry Hudson was ever in Holland except late
in the year 1608 and early in the year 1609. It is certain that he did
not see Holland after his expedition on behalf of the Dutch East India
Company, and that born in England, he remained an Englishman, for that
government forbid him, as an Englishman, to leave and enter any other

It seems most remarkable that in Hudson’s honor, as a discoverer, should
have been named a _strait_ (Hudson strait discovered by Sebastian Cabot
in 1517), _Hudson bay_, the _Hudson Bay Company territory_, which
originally included all the land which was drained into Hudson
bay—territory ample for an empire—which Hudson did not discover and
probably never put his foot on its soil, and the _Hudson river_, which
has been clearly shown he did not discover. Unless the word _discoverer_
has a different meaning from what the public understand by it and
lexicographers primarily ascribe to it, Hudson, in none of these cases,
was a _discoverer_. He was an _explorer_, and as such was a benefactor,
and deserved credit. We would “render unto Cæsar the things which are

Henry Hudson was a bold, skillful navigator, a careful explorer, and had
the ability and spirit to have made important discoveries had the time
and circumstances favored. It often happens that the discoverer, the
inventor, merits less honor than the party coming after, who makes that
discovery or invention serviceable—useful, as it had not been before.
Robert Fulton was not the discoverer of the application of steam as a
motive power in navigation, but he built the “Clermont”—propelled it by
steam from New York to Albany, took the wind out of sails,
revolutionized navigation, and received the honors. Samuel Finley Breese
Morse was not the discoverer, the inventor of the electrical telegraph,
but he made it serviceable—of practical utility—almost ignoring distance
in the transmission of news, and he won the honors.

Henry Hudson did not discover a new and shorter water route to India,
nor did he discover the Hudson river. He, however, did _explore_ the
Hudson river, and his glowing accounts of it, and the country through
which it flows, attracted immigration, settlements, and was an important
element in the founding of the new nation in the western world. The
name, it is to be hoped, the _true_ name of Hudson, _Henry_, and not
_Hendrick_, will be cherished, for whom living, so little was done. His
widow, in extreme poverty, applied to the British government for another
of her sons, and he was received and sent to the Government Naval
School, and an allowance was made for his outfit. Henry Hudson appears
to have had a large family.

The river which Hudson sailed up and down in 1609 has borne many names,
given by different peoples at different times. The red men bestow names
descriptive or characteristic—while there are no known laws or rules
which the white men observe in naming. At the advent of the Europeans to
North America many tribes of Indians inhabited the territory from
Florida to the St. Lawrence, and back to the Mississippi river, and
prominent among them were the Lenapes, to which the Mohicans belonged.
These Indians called the river Mah-i-can-i-tuk, meaning “the flowing
waters.” The Iroquois called it Co-hat-a-tea, or “river that flows from
the mountains.” It was called the Mauritius, in honor of Prince Maurice
of Nassau. Rio de Montagne was a name given to it. The French usually
called it “Le Grande.” The Spanish called it “The River of the
Mountains.” It was often called the “North river” in contradistinction
to the “South river”—the Delaware.

That Henry Hudson was greatly pleased in exploring this river is not
surprising. “There is no river in the western world comparable with it
in picturesqueness and beauty, nor has it a superior, if an equal, in
these respects, in Europe. In some stretches of the Clyde and the Rhine
are features resembling the Hudson, and the Elbe has in sections, such
delicately penciled effects, but no European river is so lordly in its
bearing, none flows in such state to the sea.” It has been said that no
other river in the world presents so great a variety of views as the

“Throughout its whole length, from the wilderness to the sea, from the
Adirondacks to Staten Island, a distance of 325 miles, there is a
combination of the finest pictures, illustrating some of the best
scenery of the old world,” which some quaint writer (to me unknown)
describes as follows: “The tourist with only a slight stretch of the
fancy may find Loch Katrine nestled among the mountains of our own
Highlands; in the Catskills may be seen from Sunset Mountain of Arran;
and in the Palisades, the Giant’s Causeway of Ireland.” He divides the
Hudson river into five stretches, reaches or divisions, representing
five distinct characteristics, namely: Grandeur, Repose, Sublimity, The
Picturesque, and Beauty.

  1. The Palisades, an unbroken wall of rock for fifteen
  2. The Tappanzee, surrounded by the sloping hills of Nyack, Tarrytown
          and Sleepy Hollow—_Repose._
  3. The Highlands, where the Hudson for twenty miles plays “hide and
          seek” with hills “rock-ribbed and ancient as the
  4. The Hillsides, for miles above and below Poughkeepsie—_The
  5. The Catskills, on the west, throned in queenly dignity—_Beauty._

George William Curtis, the great traveler, the close observer, the
perfect gentleman, pronounced the Hudson grander than the Rhine, and
Thackeray, in his “Virginians,” has given the Hudson the verdict of

To New Yorkers it is a river dear, for there is scarcely a single
settlement along its banks, from its origin to the sea, which has not
some interesting tradition, some notable historic event, to relate.

The beauty and glory of such a river were not, unaided, sufficient to
induce the pioneer to leave his home in civilization and go into a
wilderness thousands of miles away. Such a river as the Hudson could not
have its origin in a low, marshy country, and its flow seaward, in any
but a healthy region, but the inducement to seek that country must be
more than the mere sentiment of beauty. There must seem to be a prospect
of bettering one’s condition, so far as physical comforts, or civil and
religious rights are concerned. Hudson, after his exploration of the
Hudson river, on his return to Europe, took back there many very
valuable furs which he obtained from the Indians in exchange for
trinkets of little cost and of still less real value. This fur and
peltry trade was eagerly sought by the Europeans, especially the French,
English and Dutch, and the latter were greatly favored for a time, for
the Indians from the far north and northwest came to or near Albany to
market their goods and buy their supplies. In the years 1610, 1611,
1612, 1613 and 1614 enterprising Amsterdam merchants sent out vessels to
and up the Hudson river to obtain furs and peltry and made large
profits. In 1614 the territory extending from Cape Cod to the Delaware
river, places which Hudson in his third voyage had touched, was claimed
by the Netherlands and called New Netherlands, and in that year the
Holland government granted a special charter to a company of Amsterdam
merchants and others of the United New Netherlands Company giving them
the monopoly until January 1, 1618, of all travel and trade in the New
Netherlands, during which time they were at liberty to make four
voyages. For a period of five years, from 1618 to 1623, there seems to
have been a free trade in the New Netherlands—presumably the fur trade
proving less profitable.

June 3, 1621, the government of Holland, called the “Lords States
General,” incorporated the Dutch West India Company, clothing it with
almost kingly powers, to carry on trade and planting settlements from
Cape Horn to Newfoundland for a term of twenty-four years.

Its special object was the jurisdiction and exclusive control in New
Netherlands. Its government was to be composed of nineteen directors
from the five different cities of Holland. The Amsterdam Chamber was to
have control of New Netherlands. The company was not fully organized
until the spring of 1623. The English never recognized the Dutch claim
for the territory called New Netherlands, and as early as 1613 demanded
the surrender of the “Dutch trading house” on Manhattan Island, and ten
years later the English Ambassador at The Hague protested against the
encroachment of the Dutch fur traders—the English claiming the territory
under the discoveries of the Cabots in 1497 and 1498. In April, 1623,
thirty families, mostly Walloons, or French Protestants, came over and
landed at New Amsterdam (New York) and eight of the families came up to
Albany and there built Fort Orange near Steamboat Square, about two
miles above Fort Nassau, built several years before.

Prior to the coming of the company of the Walloons to the New
Netherlands the famous Pilgrim colony had received a patent granted by
the Virginia Company giving them the right to settle “about the Hudson
river,” and when the “Mayflower” left Southampton, England, that was her
destination, but mistaking the route and contrary winds drove her to the
Massachusetts coast and there that colony was settled in 1620 at
Plymouth Rock. Had the Pilgrims settled in the New Netherlands in 1620
the result doubtless would have been different, but it is doubtful if it
would have been better or even so good. It is well to bear in mind that
the early settlements in New England were made by persons seeking to
avoid persecution on account of their religious creeds, at variance with
Roman Catholicism and the established Episcopal Church, and that they
might found and establish a home where they could enjoy religious and
civil rights. “The Pilgrims” settled at Plymouth in 1620 and “the
Puritans” in Salem in 1629. Miles Standish was a prominent figure and
character among the Pilgrims, though himself not a Pilgrim. Bradford,
Brewster, Winslow, and Carver were the trusted leaders among the
Pilgrims. Among the Puritans John Endicott and John Winthrop were easily
the chiefs. The “_Puritans_” were members of the established (Episcopal)
church. They sought to have that church purified. They wanted the clergy
to give up wearing the surplice, making the sign of the cross in baptism
and using the ring in the marriage service—Roman Catholic observances.
The Separatists (afterward known in America as the Pilgrims) were a
branch of the Puritans—ultra Puritans who utterly repudiated Roman
Catholic ceremonials and everything in imitation of or like and
therefore separated from the established (Episcopal) church.

The Dutch did not come to the New Netherlands on religious
considerations, for Holland tolerated religious freedom, but they came
for gain—immediate gain from the fur and peltry trade. They did not
early come to settle and for nearly twenty years after Hudson’s
exploration and glowing account of it very, very few indeed who came
over to engage in, or employed in the fur trade, became settlers. It is
said that Sarah Rapelje, a daughter of one of the Walloon settlers, born
June 7, 1625, was the first white child born in the New Netherlands. The
first reference to the population at Fort Orange (Albany) published
seems to have been in a work published in Amsterdam in 1628, which says:
“There are no families at Fort Orange. They keep twenty-five or
twenty-six traders there.”

The report made by the Nineteen in 1629 to the Lords States General
said: “All who are inclined to do any sort of work here procure enough
to eat without any trouble and therefore are not willing to go far from
home on an uncertainty.” It was apparent that if the Dutch West India
Company was to prove a success in the New Netherlands a different course
must be pursued, for Virginia and New England were being settled and
their territory, in many respects better, was not.

The Dutch West India Company, modeled after the Dutch East India
Company, having powerful fleets, sailing along the coasts of South
America and the West Indies, preying on the Spanish commerce, capturing
their vessels and cargoes and amassing wealth thereby, sought to induce
men of wealth, daring, and ambition to relieve them of the undertaking
of settling and developing the New Netherlands, which, instead of a
source of revenue, had become a burden. They hit upon what was called
the Patroon scheme—based upon the Feudal System—a system of land tenure
and service prevalent in Europe during the Middle Ages—a system
inevitably tending to exalt the Patroon into a lordly baron and to
degrade his subject into a serf.

One who sought the distinction of the title of a Patroon (or Patron) of
New Netherlands was entitled to hold as a perpetual inheritance, handing
it down in the line of the oldest son, an estate having sixteen miles
frontage on one side of a navigable river or eight miles on each side,
extending as far into the country as the occupiers would permit. The
Patroon must obtain Indian title, which usually cost but a trifle. He
was empowered to hold civil and criminal courts on his estate and his
decisions were practically final. He appointed the officers and
magistrates in all the cities and towns in his territory. In order to be
invested with this honor, these privileges and powers, he bound himself
to take or send over at least fifty emigrants over fifteen years of age
to settle on his patent within the next four years.

The emigrants taken or sent by the Patroons to New Netherlands were
bound for a specified number of years as apprentices to serve their
masters, agreeing not to hunt or fish without the master’s permission,
agreeing to grind their grain in his mill and pay his price for
grinding. They were pledged not to weave any cloth for themselves or
others, but to buy it from the company under the penalty of banishment.
They were bound to pay rent in everything they produced. The Patroon and
his emigrants were to support a schoolmaster, a minister and a comforter
for the sick.

Such in brief was the Patroon system.

The most desirable locations for selections in the New Netherlands were
along the Hudson and Delaware rivers, known, of course, by the directors
of the Dutch West India Company; prominent among them was Kiliaen Van
Rensselaer, a wealthy dealer in diamonds and pearls in Amsterdam.

Van Rensselaer, doubtless, informed of the great advantages of Albany,
as the great rendezvous of the Indians to market their furs and near the
confluence of the two most important rivers of New York, instructed his
agents to obtain title from the Indians and he succeeded in procuring a
princely estate along the Hudson river above and below Albany, a
distance of twenty-four miles and extending east and west forty-eight
miles—a territory ample for a kingdom—greater than the area of North
Holland and very little less than that of South Holland.

Other directors of the Dutch West India Company promptly made what they
thought the most desirable locations along the Hudson river. Manhattan
Island (New York) being reserved by the company, and along the
Delaware—immense tracts, though none so extensive as Van Rensselaer’s,
and became Patroons. Such grants and under such circumstances soon
excited jealousy and sharp criticism in Holland and the Patroons felt
compelled to make concessions and yield some of their privileges.

Kiliaen Van Rensselaer was a man of energy and executive ability, and
strove to increase the growth, importance, and prosperity of
Rensselaerwyck in accordance with the Patroon system. It has been said
that he visited his estate in the New Netherlands in 1637, but no proof
has been found and the report is discredited. A distant landlord
frequently is in ignorance, and sometimes designedly kept so, of the
actual state of affairs in his estate, which would be remedied if he
were present. The Patroon was represented in New Netherlands, when
absent, by agents, partners, or directors. Kiliaen admitted into a
limited partnership in his estate three prominent members of the
Amsterdam Chamber of the Dutch West India Company, namely, Samuel Godyn,
Johannes de Laet, and Samuel Blommaert, in order the sooner and more
effectively to present to the public the attractions of Rensselaerwyck,
and, presumably, also to abate the ill feeling against him in the
Netherlands for his having taken advantage of his position to secure
such an immense estate. Van Rensselaer dominated that partnership and
again became sole proprietor. Kiliaen died in 1646 and his son,
Johannes, then a minor, under the right of primogeniture, became Patroon
and continued to be until 1658, when he died. His interests in
Rensselaerwyck were cared for at first by Van Slechtenhorst, or until
1652, and then by the Patroon’s half brother, Jan Baptiste.

In 1658 Jeremias, the second son of Kiliaen, became director and
subsequently proprietor of Rensselaerwyck and was the first of the
Patroons to reside in, or even visit, the estate in New Netherlands.

There were eight of the Van Rensselaers called Patroons, namely and in
the order of primogeniture except in the case of Jeremias:

  First.—Kiliaen, from 1629 to 1646.
  Second.—Johannes, from 1646 to 1658.
  Third.—Jeremias, from 1658 to 1674.
  Fourth.—Kiliaen 2d, from 1674 to 1720.
  Fifth.—Stephen, from 1720 to 1747.
  Sixth.—Stephen 2d, from 1747 to 1769.
  Seventh.—Stephen 3d, from 1769 to 1839.
  Eighth.—Stephen 4th, from 1839 to 1868.

Under the Constitution and laws of the United States in 1787 the
Rensselaerwyck could no longer be entailed and it was divided by Stephen
3d (the seventh Patroon) between his sons Stephen 4th (called Patroon
merely by courtesy) and William Patterson—the former getting the
mansion, title, and the estate in Albany, and the latter the estate east
of the Hudson.

During the Patroonship of the Van Rensselaers—a period of about 150
years—many important events occurred, changing the relations of nations,
the forms of government, and affecting Patroon interests. The Patroons
were reputable men of affairs and some of them of superior abilities and
generally discharged their duties creditably. To trace their acts
through their rule would now be not only tedious but useless. There
arose a controversy between the Dutch West India Company and the Patroon
concerning the territory surrounding Fort Orange (in Albany) built by
the company, which was finally decided in favor of the Patroon, as the
territory surrounding the fort and the fort itself was within his
patent. The fur trade early was very important and as the English,
claiming the territory under the right of prior discovery, sought this
trade, their vessels sailed up the Hudson and set up trading posts. The
Patroon attempted to prevent traders from coming to his colony to deal
with the colonists and Indians and with that object in view ordered one
Nicolaas Coorn to fortify Beeren Island (about eleven miles below
Albany), a commanding position, and there demand of each skipper of a
vessel passing, except those of the Dutch West India Company, a toll of
five guilders ($2) as a tax and also to lower his colors in honor of the
Patroon. Govert Loockermans, sailing the vessel “Good Hope” up the river
in 1644, was ordered, as he was passing the fort, to lower her colors,
which he refused to do and Coorn gave him three cannon shots. In
pursuing this course the Patroon virtually said, I own not only the
territory on both sides of the river but the river itself for that
distance. The Patroon was compelled to back down and pay damages.

The Netherlands, an ancient kingdom, formerly included Belgium (now a
separate kingdom, Brussels, its capital) and ten provinces besides North
and South Holland, its largest and most important ones, with Amsterdam
and The Hague as the capitals. Frequently the name of Holland is used
when Netherlands should have been.

The Lords States General (in many respects like our Congress, composed
of the Senate and House of Representatives) was the legislative body of
the Netherlands, and in June, 1621, granted a charter to the Dutch West
India Company, giving it the exclusive privileges, for a period of
twenty-four years, as follows: To traffic on the coast and in the
interior of Africa from the Tropic of Cancer to the Cape of Good Hope;
in America and the West Indies with the power to make engagements,
contracts, and alliances with the rulers and people designated in the
charter; to build forts, to appoint and discharge officers, to advance
the settlement of unoccupied territory, to enlarge the channels of
commerce, and to multiply the sources of revenue.

The company was required to report, from time to time, its doings, and
in the appointment of civil and military officers and instructions given
to them the Lords States General were to be consulted and the
commissions must bear their seal. If troops were needed the Lords States
General would furnish them but the company must pay all the expenses.
The charter intrusted the government of the company to five chambers of
managers consisting of nineteen members, eight from the Amsterdam
Chamber, four from the Zealand, two from the Maas, two from North
Holland, two from the Frieland, and the government one.

This company, under its charter, introduced the Patroon system granting
certain rights and privileges (very liberal ones and in some respects
extraordinary) and reserving the traffic in furs and peltry and in
manufactured goods and in the carrying trade, except along the Atlantic
coast, in which the Patroons might engage, paying a fixed tribute.

The colonists might, with the permission of the Patroon and of the
director of the Dutch West India Company, take up what unoccupied land
they could work, paying an annual rent to the Patroon. That rent was
based upon the value of land primarily and was to be paid in so many
bushels of wheat, rye, etc., so many pounds of butter, so many eggs and
so many chickens, etc. Everything the colonists had to sell must first
be offered to the Patroon. The Dutch West India Company was to furnish
the Patroons troops if needed as against the colonies, the expense to be
met by the landlords. The colonists couldn’t leave the Patroon’s service
during the term fixed. The value of the land before cultivation and
buildings ranged usually from ten cents to two dollars per acre. The
tenant improved the land, built house and barn to live comfortably, and
what was called “the Quarter Sale” seemed the most unreasonable,
intolerable. To illustrate: Suppose the tenant occupied a farm
originally valued at $2 an acre for 200 acres, say $400. He had improved
it by cultivation, buildings, etc., until it became worth and he sold it
for $4,000. Then the Patroon demanded $1,000. Four sales would give the
Patroon the whole. The rent, of course, was paid annually, or should
have been, and if there were arrears the Patroon claimed that that must
come out of the remaining $3,000.

The Netherlands primarily based their claim for the territory called New
Netherlands on Henry Hudson’s discovery (so called) of five degrees of
north latitude, viz.: from 40° to 45° or from Delaware bay and river to
Cape Cod, where he touched or explored in 1609. Great Britain claimed
under the Cabots’ discoveries, in 1497 and 1498, the whole stretch of
the North Atlantic coast from Florida to Newfoundland. The French
claimed a portion of northern Florida, which subsequently became a part
(the sea coast) of Georgia, and the Spanish the rest of Florida.
Virginia, under the English, late in the sixteenth and early in the
seventeenth centuries, extended from Cape Fear up to what later became
the southern boundary of Pennsylvania, and New England extended from
Virginia to Nova Scotia. From 1609 until 1664 the Dutch held the New
Netherlands and then were compelled to surrender the territory to the
English under the grant of Charles II to James, his brother, the Duke of
York and Albany, who, in 1685, became King of England under the title of
James III. Great Britain never recognized the Dutch claim—always
protested against it—but being engaged in wars almost constantly did not
use force to obtain possession before. “It had become important to
dislodge the Dutch to prevent the smuggling of Virginia tobacco into
England at a loss to that government of some $50,000 in customs, and
also to have an unbroken line of English colonies from Florida to Nova
Scotia.” The Dutch did not rely solely on Hudson’s voyage on the Hudson,
but none of their claims had validity and the colony of New Netherlands
passed under British rule and the Patroon took the oath of allegiance to
the English King, and English laws instead of Dutch henceforth prevailed
in the colony.

As soon as the Patroons began to plant colonies in New Netherlands the
directors of the Amsterdam Chamber of the Dutch West India Company
became jealous and opposed the Patroon system. In 1634 they bought off
the two Patroons, Samuel Godyn and Samuel Blommaert (partners of Kiliaen
Van Rensselaer), who had secured a tract on the shore of the Delaware
bay making a territory of sixty-four miles in circumference, and also
Michael Pauw, who had obtained Staten Island, Jersey City, and Harsimus,
with the lands adjacent. An effort was made to buy off Patroon Van
Rensselaer, but he refused to sell.

While the New England colonies were rapidly increasing in population and
prosperity, the New Netherlands was not. In 1647 the population of the
New Netherlands was only about 1,000 or 2,000 less than in 1643. A new
policy was ordered by the Lords States General so liberal that settlers
could buy as few acres as they wished to and enjoy civil and religious
freedom as did the English colonies north and south of them. Under the
Patroon régime the Dutch colonists had less freedom, the enjoyment of
fewer rights, and greater hardships to endure than in Holland. They
were, as they saw things, imposed upon and serving masters who regarded
them as slaves.

The gulf between the classes and the masses seemed to widen and
deepen—on one side, lords and masters, and on the other side, subjects
and serfs. The Patroon family of the Van Rensselaers by marriage and
intermarriage were related to the Van Cortlands, Schuylers, Livingstons,
and other wealthy families, not only in New Netherlands but also in
Virginia, and although they had not castles, as the barons along the
Rhine, they had spacious mansions on their country estates where they
spent their summers and in the winters went to Manhattan Island and in
their places there gave royal entertainments to the élite. They had a
retinue of black servants (slaves) in livery to attend them. The
transplanting of the feudal system, even though somewhat modified, to
the western world, where the very spirit of freedom, liberty, and
equality prevailed, was doomed to failure and disaster. The principal
cause was in the system itself, though the Van Rensselaer Patroons’
course hastened its abrogation, terminating in blood. The most of the
Van Rensselaer Patroons were liberal, lenient, and indulgent, permitting
the rents to remain unpaid until they amounted to a sum equal to, or in
some cases exceeding, the value of the leased land. It needed not the
wisdom of a prophet to predict trouble from this course. When
primogeniture was abolished the eldest son was no longer the inheritor
of the estate, but all the children shared in it. Stephen (3d) Van
Rensselaer, the seventh Patroon, born in 1764 and died in 1839, was in
fact the last of the Van Rensselaer Patroons. He was graduated in
Harvard in 1782, a doctor of laws, the recipient of many and
distinguished civil and military honors, and a devoted patriot, called
“the good old Patroon,” as soon as the law of primogeniture was
abolished sought to dispose of the most of the Rensselaerwyck estate
(which had been somewhat lessened by grants and sales) under a peculiar
form of deed or conveyance to actual tillers of the soil. This title
deed was called by some “a lease in fee” and by others “a sale in fee,”
reserving to himself in the conveyances and to his heirs and assigns all
mines and minerals and all streams of water for mill purposes; and then
certain old-time feudal returns, denominated rents payable annually at
the manor house in Watervliet, such as a specified number of bushels of
good clean wheat, four fat fowls, one day’s service with carriages and
horses, and finally the one-quarter part of the purchase price on every
sale of land. The aim and intent was to perpetuate, if possible, and as
far as possible, the interest of the Van Rensselaers in the estate. The
estate remaining was divided by the two eldest sons, Stephen 4th getting
that on the west side and William Patterson Van Rensselaer that on the
east side of the Hudson river, and each all the reservations of rents in
their respective territories. “In 1839, when the said Stephen and
William Patterson began to push their claim against the landholders and
demand immediate payment of back rents, etc., the landholders, called
‘anti-renters,’ held a convention and appointed a committee to wait on
Stephen Van Rensselaer and ascertain if an amicable settlement of the
manor claims for rents in arrears could not be made and to learn on what
terms a clear and absolute title to the land could be had. The
committee, men of character, went to the manor office in 1839 to see and
converse with Mr. Van Rensselaer, but the latter refused to recognize or
even see the committee. He did, some time subsequently, send a letter to
the chairman of that committee declining to sell on any terms. Great
excitement was created in Albany county. The rent collectors were
roughly treated and they were told that no rents would be paid. Sheriffs
were called upon to discharge their duties and they were resisted and
driven back by men masked and dressed in Indian costumes. The sheriff
called to aid him the ‘posse comitatus,’ or power of the county, and
marched 600 strong into the anti-rent district, where they were turned
back by 1,500 anti-renters. The sheriff reported the state of affairs to
Governor William H. Seward, who immediately ordered out eight companies
of militia under the command of Major Bloodgood. They met no resistance.

“The Patroon interest hoped the military ordered out by the Governor of
the State would bring the anti-renters to their senses and induce them
to pay up. The landholders or anti-renters hoped that their display of
strength and resistance would induce the Van Rensselaers to offer terms
of compromise which they could accept. Neither hope was realized. Then
some lawyer who had dug into old English law books said the Patroon
patent was invalid and the matter must go to the court for settlement.
It became a political question at once. The anti-renters elected
representatives in the Legislature from eleven counties and the new
Governor favored them. The decisions of the courts seemed to alternate
in favor of the Van Rensselaers and then in favor of the anti-renters.
In 1852 the counsel of the Van Rensselaers advised them to sell their
claims, for they believed they could not be sustained and that advice
was accepted. Some of the landholders or anti-renters accepted the terms

“Then appeared Walter S. Church, who bought the rest of the claims on
speculation. He spared no labor, no expense in any direction which he
thought might aid him. He magnificently entertained legislators,
lawyers, and judges. He was indefatigable, exacting, demanding the
utmost farthing. Ejectment suits were brought and several lives were
sacrificed. The final decision was against the Van Rensselaers, and thus
ended a long and bitter controversy growing out of the Patroon system.”

Who can estimate and properly accredit to the different nations of
Europe their just due in the immigrants they sent to this country in its
founding and subsequently in building up the United States as the
greatest free republic on earth and the hope of the liberty-loving
world? The Dutch must be among the early named with excellent traits of
character, and the Patroons deserve credit for first colonizing them

We do not want to try to conjecture what the results would have been if
Hudson’s exploration of the North river had been in the interest of
France or if the Pilgrims had settled in 1620 in the New Netherlands
instead of New England.

Nearly 300 years have passed away since Henry Hudson, in the yacht “Half
Moon,” sailed over the waters of the river bearing his name and whose
beauties he so greatly admired. That majestic, noble river continues to
flow on from the mountains to the sea with a great unabated pure stream
in its primeval beauty and loveliness. This statement must, however, be
qualified, for man’s greed, cupidity, has caused him in some localities
to contaminate its waters and to mar and to an extent destroy its
matchless palisades. Now that the governments have taken matters in hand
it is to be hoped that these abuses will be summarily ended.

Art and architecture have embellished its banks by lovely gardens,
parterres and magnificent residences and stately buildings. Attractive
villages, great and prosperous cities crown the Hudson from the north
and terminating in that unique, wonderful, greatest, truly cosmopolitan
city of the world, New York. Nothing else did so much to produce these
results as Fulton’s application of steam to navigation and the opening
up of a through water transportation route from the Atlantic to the
Great lakes. Then the application of steam as the motive power for
railroads. When the Hudson river is ice-bound the Hudson River Railroad
along its east bank and the West Shore Railroad along its west bank
transport passengers and freight as they do the year around. The Dutch
possession of the New Netherlands was short and when the English
supplanted them the Dutch names of places, very generally, were changed
to English ones. Manhattan island, called by the Dutch “New Amsterdam”
during their rule, except from July, 1673, to October, 1674, when the
Dutch recaptured and held the “New Netherlands” and called it “New
Orange,” was changed to New York in honor of the Duke of York and
Albany, and has borne that name ever since—a city of many millions of
inhabitants and billions of wealth, the site of which was bought by and
for the Dutch of the Indians in 1626 for the sum of about twenty-four
dollars paid for in trinkets. Among many other good things placed to the
credit of the Dutch in New Netherlands is the fact that the Dutch West
India Company established a good school in New Amsterdam in 1633 which
still flourishes under the name of the “School of the Collegiate
Reformed Church,” which is the oldest institution of learning in the
United States, “The Boston Latin School,” established in 1635, being the
second, and Harvard College, established in 1636, the third.

The names of the site of Albany which, during Dutch rule, were
Rensselaerwyck and Beverwyck (the latter including Fort Orange, built
and maintained by the Dutch West India Company, and the land surrounding
it, and the former the territory outside of the fort and belonging to
the Patroon) were substituted by the name of Albany in honor of the Duke
of York and Albany, a name it has borne ever since.

In 1783 the English colonies in North America were recognized as free
and independent and formed the United States of America—the colonies
organizing State governments—but 100 years before this the colony of New
York demanded heaven-born rights and participation in making the laws
governing them as the colonists of Virginia and Massachusetts had, and
in the General Assembly of the colony of New York, held in Fort James in
the city of New York October, 1683, put on record what they called the
“Charter of Liberties and Privileges.”

The ten original counties of the colony of New York were Albany, Ulster,
Dutchess, Orange, Westchester, Richmond, Kings, Queens, Suffolk, and New
York, formed under Lieutenant-Governor Thomas Dongan’s administration,
and sent representatives to the General Assembly. The boundaries of
several of these counties have not been materially changed, Albany
county embraced the whole territory lying north of Ulster and west of
the Hudson river, taking in nearly the whole State. From its territory
fifty of the counties of the State have been erected and it has
appropriately been called “the mother of the counties of New York.”

Albanians love their old Dutch city and will cordially join in
commemorating Henry Hudson’s advent to it nearly 300 years ago. Much has
been said in this article about the Patroon system and the anti-renters,
hoping to have these matters better understood by a statement of facts.
Concerning affairs relating to Albany and vicinity, I have frequently
referred to, quoted and used “Mr. Wiese’s History of the City of
Albany,” 1884, and the “Bi-centennial History of Albany and Schenectady
Counties from 1609 to 1886, published by W. W. Munsell & Co., 1886.”

The article on “Anti-Rentism” was written by the Hon. Andrew J. Colvin.

                                                      FRANK CHAMBERLAIN.

All rights reserved.

Albany, _September, 1907_.

                          Transcriber’s Notes

--Retained publication information from the printed edition: this eBook
  is public-domain in the country of publication.

--Silently corrected a few palpable typos.

--In the text versions only, text in italics is delimited by

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