Comic History of the United States - Bill Nye

The Dutch at New Amsterdam

Soon after the discovery of the Hudson, Dutch ships began to visit that region, to traffic in furs with the Indians. Some huts were erected by these traders on Manhattan Island in 1613, and a trading-post was established in 1615. Relics of these times are frequently turned up yet on Broadway while putting in new pipes, or taking out old pipes, or repairing other pipes, or laying plans for yet other pipes, or looking in the earth to see that the original pipes have not been taken away.

Afterwards the West India Company obtained a grant of New Netherland, and New Amsterdam was fairly started. In 1626, Minuit, the first governor, arrived, and, as we have stated, purchased the entire city of New York of the Indians for twenty-four dollars.

Then trouble sprang up between the Dutch and the Swedes on the Delaware over the possession of Manhattan, and when the two tribes got to conversing with each other over their rights, using the mother-tongue on both sides, it reminded one of the Chicago wheat market when business is good. The English on the Connecticut also saw that Manhattan was going to boom as soon as the Indians could be got farther west, and that property would be high there.

[Illustration] from Comic History of the U.S.A. by Bill Nye


Peter Stuyvesant was the last Dutch governor of New York. He was a relative of mine. He disliked the English very much. They annoyed him with their democratic ideas and made his life a perfect hell to him. He would be sorry to see the way our folks have since begun to imitate the English. I can almost see him rising in his grave to note how the Stuyvesants in full cry pursue the affrighted anise-seed bag, or with their coaching outfits go tooling along 'cross country, stopping at the inns on the way and unlimbering their portable bath-tubs to check them with the "clark."

Pete, you did well to die early. You would not have been happy here now.

While Governor Stuyvesant was in hot water with the English, the Swedes, and the Indians, a fleet anchored in the harbor and demanded the surrender of the place in the name of the Duke of York, who wished to use it for a game preserve. After a hot fight with his council, some of whom were willing even then to submit to English rule and hoped that the fleet might have two or three suits of tweed which by mistake were a fit and therefore useless to the owners, and that they might succeed in swapping furs for these, the governor yielded, and in 1664 New York became a British possession, named as above.

The English governors, however, were not popular. They were mostly political hacks who were pests at home and banished to New York, where the noise of the streets soon drove them to drink. For nine years this sort of thing went on, until one day a Dutch fleet anchored near the Staten Island brewery and in the evening took the town.

However, in the year following, peace was restored between England and Holland, and New Amsterdam became New York again, also subject to the Tammany rule.

Andros was governor for a time, but was a sort of pompous tomtit, with a short breath and a large aquiline opinion of himself. He was one of the arrogant old pie-plants whose growth was fostered by the beetle-bellied administration at home. He went back on board the City of Rome one day, and did not return.

New York had a gleam of hope for civil freedom under the rule of the Duke of York and the county Democracy, but when the duke became James II. he was just like other people who get a raise of salary, and refused to be privately entertained by the self-made ancestry of the American.

He was proud and arrogant to a degree. He forbade legislation, and stopped his paper. New York was at this time annexed to the New England Colony, and began keeping the Sabbath so vigorously that the angels had great difficulty in getting at it.

[Illustration] from Comic History of the U.S.A. by Bill Nye


Nicholson, who was the lieutenant tool of iniquity for Andros, fled with him when democracy got too hot for them. Captain Leisler, supported by Steve Brodie and everything south of the Harlem, but bitterly opposed by the aristocracy, who were distinguished by their ability to use new goods in making their children's clothes, whereas the democracy had to make vests for the boys from the cast-off trousers of their fathers, governed the province until Governor Sloughter arrived.

Sloughter was another imported Smearkase in official life, and arrested Leisler at the request of an aristocrat who drove a pair of bang-tail horses up and down Nassau Street on pleasant afternoons and was afterwards collector of the port. Having arrested Leisler for treason, the governor was a little timid about executing him, for he had never really killed a man in his life, and he hated the sight of blood; so Leisler's enemies got the governor to take dinner with them, and mixed his rum, so that when he got ready to speak, his remarks were somewhat heterogeneous, and before he went home he had signed a warrant for Leisler's immediate execution.

[Illustration] from Comic History of the U.S.A. by Bill Nye


When he awoke in the morning at his beautiful home on Whitehall Street, the sun was gayly glinting the choppy waves of Buttermilk Channel, and by his watch, which had run down, he saw that it was one o'clock, but whether it was one o'clock A.M. or P.M. he did not know, nor whether it was next Saturday or Tuesday before last. Oh, how he must have felt!

His room was dark, the gas having gone out to get better air. He attempted to rise, but a chill, a throb, a groan, and back he lay hastily on the bed just as it was on the point of escaping him. Suddenly a thought came to him. It was not a great thought, but it was such a thought as comes to those who have been thoughtless. He called for a blackamoor slave from abroad who did chores for him, and ordered a bottle of cooking brandy, then some club soda he had brought from London with him. Next he drank a celery-glass of it, and after that he felt better. He then drank another.

"Keep out of the way of this bed, Julius," he said. "It is coming around that way again. Step to one side, Julius, please, and let the bed walk around and stretch its legs. I never saw a bed spread itself so," he continued, seeming to enjoy his own Lancashire humor. "All night I seemed to feel a great pain creeping over me, Julius," he said, hesitatingly, again filling his celery-glass, "but I see now that it was a counterpane."

Eighty years after that, Sloughter was a corpse.

We should learn from this not to be too hasty in selecting our birthplaces. Had he been born in America, he might have been alive yet.

From this on the struggles of the people up to the time of the Revolution were enough to mortify the reader almost to death. I will not go over them again. It was the history of all the other Colonies; poor, proud, with large masses of children clustering about, and Indians lurking in the out-buildings. The mother-country was negligent, and even cruel. Her political offscourings were sent to rule the people. The cranberry-crops soured on the vines, and times were very scarce.

It was during this period that Captain William Kidd, a New York ship-master and anti-snapper from Mulberry Street, was sent out to overtake and punish a few of the innumerable pirates who then infested the high seas.

Studying first the character, life, and public services of the immoral pirate, and being perfectly foot-loose, his wife having eloped with her family physician, he determined to take a little whirl at the business himself, hoping thereby to escape the noise and heat of New York and obtain a livelihood while life lasted which would maintain him the remainder of his days unless death overtook him.

[Illustration] from Comic History of the U.S.A. by Bill Nye


Dropping off at Boston one day to secure a supply of tobacco, he was captured while watching the vast number of street-cars on Washington Street. He was taken to England, where he was tried and ultimately hanged. His sudden and sickening death did much to discourage an American youth of great brilliancy who had up to 1868 intended to be a pirate, but who, stumbling across the "Life and Times of Captain Kidd, and his Awful Death," changed his whole course and became one of the ablest historians of the age in which he lived.

[Illustration] from Comic History of the U.S.A. by Bill Nye


This should teach us to read the papers instead of loaning them to people who do not subscribe.

* * * * *

Since the above was written, the account of the death of Governor Andros is flashed across the wires to us. Verbum sap. Also In hoc signo vinces.

The author wishes to express by this means his grateful acknowledgments to his friends and the public generally for the great turn-out and general sympathy bestowed upon his relative, the late Peter B. Stuyvesant, on the sad occasion of his funeral, which was said to be one of the best attended and most successful funerals before the war. Should any of his friends be caught in the same fix, the author will not only cheerfully turn out himself, but send all hands from his place that can be spared, also a six-seated wagon and a side-bar buggy.