Slike strani

tween them. Beyond this edifice stood the prison, and further on the guard-house, barracks, etc. These buildings occupied the eastern side of the fort; on the western side was the gate, defended by four small brass cannon.

On the southwest bastion of the fort, at the junction of the present State and Stone streets, stood the windmill and also a large flagstaff, upon which floated the colors of the "Privileged West India Company" whenever a vessel might appear in sight. By the river outside the fort stood the gallows and whipping-post.

The governors varied in their way of living as well as in their manner of entertaining, these being influenced to a great extent by their former social position in the mother country. As each incumbent furnished the gubernatorial mansion himself, it varied considerably in appearance under each administration. At times the state carriage with gay livery would drive in and around the fort, and the evenings were enlivened by music from the band, and other entertainments.

The fashionable part of the community resided along the lower part of Broadway facing Bowling Green, or on the environs of the fort.

In 1664 the fort passed into the hands of the English, and was called by them Fort James, in honor of the Duke of York, and a battery was added by the river. The interior was likewise greatly improved, and the mansion rebuilt.

In 1673 the Dutch regained possession of it, and its name was changed to that of William Henrick, which name it bore for an entire year. Under Governor Andros the name was changed again to Fort James. This governor erected an armory between the mansion. and church; also a stockade around the exterior to protect it from wild animals.

In 1683 Thomas Dongan, an Irish Catholic, formerly Lieutenant Governor of Tangiers, and afterwards

[ocr errors][merged small]

Earl of Limerick, was appointed governor of the colony. Dongan was a highly accomplished gentleman, upright in all his dealings, and firm and judicious in his policy. His strict integrity won the affection of the people, and caused him to be one of the most popular of all the royal governors.

Governor Dongan's first act upon entering his administration was to summon the freeholders to the fort to elect representatives to meet him in council, which resulted in giving to the colony its first Legislative Assembly. This Assembly was to consist of the governor, ten councillors, and seventeen representatives chosen by the people, and its first act was to give to the province its first Charter of Liberties. By this charter it was decreed that the supreme legislative power should be permanently vested in the General Council and people, met in general assembly. Second: that each freeholder and freeman might vote for representatives without any restriction being laid upon his vote. Third: that no freeman should be punished save by the judgment of his peers, and that all trials should be held by jury. Fourth: that no tax should be imposed, under any pretence whatever, without the consent of the Assembly. Fifth: that no martial law should exist. And sixth: that no person professing belief in Jesus Christ should, at any time or in any way, be made to suffer on account of difference of opinion in matters of religion.

This charter still forms the basis of the municipal rights and privileges of New York.

These liberal measures caused great rejoicings, the more so because of the great unhappiness accruing from the tyranny of the late Governor Andros.

In 1689, James II. having been dethroned, the fort was seized by the train-bands or militiamen; and one of their captains was appointed to hold it until the will of the Crown should be known.

Leisler having been the one selected, he took possession not alone of the fort, but of all the prerogatives of the administration. He changed He changed the name of the fort to that of William, which it retained for the period of two years. During his administration, a half-moon fortification was made on the west side of the fort; upon which seven guns were placed to defend the landings of both rivers.

Leisler, having had a taste of power, desired to retain it, and refused to surrender possession of the fort when required to do so. He was in consequence immured in the very prison he once commanded, and was finally executed as a rebel.

The fort now had the name Henry added to it. The old Dutch church was demolished and an English. one was erected on its site.

In 1702 the name was again changed to that of Anne, which it bore until the Georges ascended the throne. It never had another.

In 1741 the mansion was burned down and the fire was attributed to the slave population, the famous "Negro Plot" having originated in this year. The mansion was rebuilt and an additional battery added to the fort; but in 1773, while Governor Tryon was the incumbent, the building again took fire and was entirely consumed in two hours' time.

At the close of the Revolutionary War, the entire fortification was removed, to make room for the presidential mansion, which was planned to face Bowling Green. At that time the exterior appearance of the fort was that of a green sloping bank, about fourteen feet high; and above it arose the walls to an additional height of twenty feet. A portion of the materials was used in building the mansion.

In the early days of the colony the houses were mostly built of bricks brought from Holland. These were of different colors and set in patterns and glazed,

the prevailing colors being red and black. The ends of the houses always faced the streets; the gables, rising by successive steps to a point, were always surmounted by a weathercock. Under the projecting eaves was a stoep," on either side of which were seats adapted to social intercourse. The lower windows of the houses were made quite small, as a precaution against the incursions of the Indians.


The interiors of the houses were kept scrupulously clean; the planed floors were well scrubbed and sanded, and traced with delicate designs; the oaken rafters were polished and carved in devices and mottoes; and the doors were perforated with bull's-eyes and well scrubbed with sand.

Furniture, in those days, was more for use than comfort or ornament. Chairs were high-backed and rush-bottomed, and made of red walnut or mahogany. Tables were round, and turned by means of a pivot to a fan shape and were usually placed against the wall when not in use. Couches were covered with worsted damask, and clocks extended from floor to ceiling. In the corner of the best room there usually stood a buffet with glass doors, containing, as well as displaying, the family plate and china; conspicuous amongst which was a huge punch-bowl, also tiny cups and saucers, and tea and coffee pots with silver handles and spouts. Sideboards were not introduced until after the Revolution, and were very small.

Stoves were unknown; but open fireplaces, with shining fire-dogs, gave a cheerful appearance to the rooms. Small bits of carpet, usually imported by the family, were sparingly laid in the best room." Coaches were rare, there being for some time only four or five in the entire settlement.

As time wore on and means of communication with Europe became less difficult, the wealthier settlers were enabled to import their furniture; and carpets began

to make their appearance in most of the better class of dwellings, which soon began to assume a degree of luxury hitherto unknown.

A certain John Miller, chaplain to the fort, seems to have kept the statistics of the colony. He computed the number of families in New York, in the year 1692, to have been three thousand. Of these, one half, he says, were Dutch and rich, but sparing; the other half was composed of English and French, of whom the former outranked the latter in numbers, and were neither rich nor economical, and the last mentioned were poor and necessarily penurious.1

This worthy dominie depicts things from a rather dismal standpoint. He calls the inhabitants an ungodly people, who have no care for heavenly things; but instead turn everything to drink or money to buy it with. "Even the crops," he says, "are usually such as will yield some kind of liquor, cider, perry, etc."

A more cheerful writer of the gentler sex, on a visit from Boston, describes the same city as "a delightful place; where the inhabitants are courteous and hospitable; where families interchange invitations to dinners and suppers, at which times the tables are crowded with provisions; where the families mostly dine at one o'clock, and never later than two in the day; and games of cards engross the post-prandial hours of the more leisurely part of the community."

There were no theatres, to be sure, as in Boston; but concerts were given by amateurs, and there were assemblies for dancing which met in a large hall, the entrance being by subscription. As unanimous consent from all the members was necessary to secure a membership, the affair was very select. At these assemblies the stately minuet and sprightly cotillion were

1 The West India Company incorporated Nieu Amsterdam as a city in 1653, and modelled its government after that of Amsterdam.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »