Sunday, November 9, 2008

New York : The Empire State (1)

Topic: Albany Pre: 1940 #1

Albany's population is a composite of Dutch, English, Scots, Irish, and Germans, with more recent immigrant elements including italians and Germans, Poles, and Russians. On September 19, 1609, Henry Hudson anchored the Half Moon in the shallows off the site of the present city, the farthest point north the ship reached and spent several days making friends with the Indians. In 1613 two vessels commanded by Captain Adrian Block and Hendrick Christiansen spent the winter near the head of navigation. In 1614, on Castle Island (Van Rensselaer island), now part of the Port of Albany, Christiansen built Fort Nassau, which was used as a trading post for four years; and sporadic trade was thereafter continued by individual merchants. The friendly relations maintained with the Indians during this early period had a lasting influence on Albany's Colonial history.

The first permanent settlers, who came in 1624, were 18 families, mostly Walloons from Holland. They built a second fort on the site of the present river steamer landing and called it Fort Orange in honor of the ruling house of Holland.

In 1630 Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, with two partners, purchased from the Indians land on both sides of the Hudson River with Fort orange the approximate center, and established the patroonship of Rensselaerswyck. The patroon, who never came to the Colony, sent Dutch, Norwegians, Danes, Germans and Scots to settle on the land; he built sawmills, grist-mills, homes, and barns for them; supplied foodstuffs and cattle; set up laws regulating trade, hunting, and fishing; and collected rentals.

Father Isaac Jogues, the Jesuit martyr, described the settlement in 1643 as 'composed of about one hundred persons who reside in some twenty-five or thirty houses built along the river as each found most convenient...All their houses are of boards and thatched, with no mason work except the chimneys.'

Friction developed early between the patroonship and the Dutch West India Company, each claiming jurisdiction over the land on which Fort India Company, each claiming jurisdiction over the land on which Fort orange was built. In 1652, Peter Stuyvesant, sent out by the West India Company as direcgtor general of New Netherland, set up a court and laid out space around Fort orange for a new village called Beverwyck (Dutch, town of the beaver), and forbade the patroon to erect buildings near the fort. The Van Rensselaer agent tore down the proclamation and posted another maintaining the rights of the patroon. (10)

Sources Utilized to Document Information


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