New York City, 1664-1710

New York City, 1664-1710: Conquest and Change

Thomas J. Archdeacon
Copyright Date: 1976
Published by: Cornell University Press,
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    New York City, 1664-1710
    Book Description:

    Integrating sophisticated demographic techniques with clearly written narrative, this pioneering book (first published in 1976) explores the complex social and economic life of a major colonial city. New York City was a vital part of the middle colonies and may hold the key to the origins of political democracy in America. Family histories, public records of births, marriages, and assessments, and records of business transactions and poll lists are among the rich sources Thomas J. Archdeacon uses to determine the impact of the English conquest on the city of New York. Among his concerns are the changing relationships between the Dutch and the English, the distribution of wealth and the role of commerce in the city, and the part played by ethnic and religious heritage in provincial politics.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6892-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-6)
  2. Preface
    (pp. 7-12)
    T. J. A.
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. 13-15)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. 16-18)
  5. 1 The Importance of the Middle Colonies
    (pp. 19-31)

    By applying analytic techniques adopted from the social sciences to new topics of investigation, students of the colonial period have made their field an exciting area of historical research. Inspired by English demographers,¹ a group of American scholars has developed a modem version of the “new social history.” Some have focused on the family and on rural communal life in early America. Others have begun to chart with long needed precision the distribution of wealth in the provinces and the prospects of upward mobility.

    Large dividends have already been derived from these efforts, but they are not immune from problems....

  6. 2 The People of New York City
    (pp. 32-57)

    New York City established its polyglot image early in the seventeenth century, but commentators saw little reason for glorifying the heterogeneity. In 1643, Father Isaac Jogues, a French Jesuit missionary who had been captured by the Mohawks, escaped and made his way to the island port of New Amsterdam. Besides Dutch Calvinists, he met a Polish Lutheran, an Irish Catholic, and a Portuguese Catholic who displayed an image of the Italian Jesuit Aloysius Gonzaga in her house. Jogues estimated that four or five hundred men of different sects and nations, speaking as many as eighteen distinct languages, inhabited the town....

  7. 3 The Merchants
    (pp. 58-77)

    Commerce has been the lifeblood of New York City from the time of its founding. Dreams of mercantile riches inspired the Antwerp merchant William Usselinx to establish a corporation in the New World to duplicate the success of the East India Company. Chartered by the States General in 1621, the Dutch West India Company founded New Amsterdam in 1625, and within a few years the settlers were sending back ships loaded with pelts and timber for use in shipbuilding.¹

    Ambitious young Dutchmen sought and sometimes found their fortunes as merchants in New Amsterdam throughout the period of the company’s rule....

  8. 4 Social Geography
    (pp. 78-96)

    New York’s population grew rapidly after the English conquest, and the city expanded to keep pace. In the 1670s citizens were already moving north of the palisaded breastworks of Wall Street, where the gates were closed between nine at night and daybreak. By the end of the century, Manhattan’s population filled the Smith’s Valley along the East River and reached Maiden Lane. The defenses at Wall Street had crumbled, and in 1699 materials salvaged from the rubble were put to another use in the construction of the new city hall.¹

    The growing city reflected in geography the social and economic...

  9. 5 Leisler’s Rebellion
    (pp. 97-122)

    New Amsterdam’s burghers reacted with remarkable equanimity when the English fleet which had been dispatched to subdue them sailed into their harbor in 1664. To the chagrin of Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch West India Company governor, the city’s leaders decided to surrender the town without firing a shot. They were aware of the unready state of the municipal defenses, but more important, they found strong attraction in the peace terms offered by Colonel Richard Nicolls, the commander of the expedition.¹

    England had no reason to destroy New Amsterdam’s prosperity, but only wished to transfer some of its profits to English...

  10. 6 Ethnic Politics
    (pp. 123-146)

    Jacob Leisler’s execution momentarily restored stability to New York City’s politics, but his death could not alter the divisions which separated its residents. Leisler’s enemies held firm control of the colony during most of the 1690s, but the arrival of the Earl of Bellomont as governor in 1698 revitalized the rebels. During Bellomont’s short tenure, the Anti-Leislerians and the Leislerians again struggled for power. The contest culminated, after the governor’s death, in the disputed New York City elections of 1701, which demonstrated the critically important relationship between national background and political allegiance in Manhattan.

    The early 1690s marked the completion...

  11. 7 Conclusion
    (pp. 147-157)

    New York City, and by extension New York Colony, of which it was the economic, political, and population center, exhibited attributes common to most colonial settlements. By the end of the seventeenth century, clear lines of economic stratification had appeared, and well-to-do citizens controlled a major share of the community’s wealth. Political life manifested the deferential character typical of the era. The wealthy held office, and the richest men held the highest posts. Secure in their status, they encouraged broad but passive citizen participation in civic matters, and residents had ready access to the vote.

    Like Virginia, Massachusetts, and Maryland,...

  12. Essay on Sources and Methods
    (pp. 158-169)

    The most important primary sources for this work were the two tax lists which identify the population of New York City in 1677 and 1703. They made possible the comparison on which this study is based. The published minutes of the Common Council for July 24, 1677 note the assessments of approximately two hundred ninety heads of families. Tax rolls for July, September, and December 1703, and February 1703/4 estimate the value of the houses and estates, or simply the estates of slightly more than a thousand heads of families. All levels of government worked vigorously to make taxation inescapable,...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 170-190)
  14. Index
    (pp. 191-198)