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Chapter 1

Originally published in 1884
Compiled by Willian H. Shaw

Edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2004


By Rev. Henry Vehslage

THIS honor has been variously claimed and assigned, but it is not necessary to discuss the point here or to decide whether the claim of England, on account of Cabot's voyage, or Hudson's venture under Dutch authority is most firmly established. We readily see that very early in the sixteenth century, influences were at work which showed that the fame of the discoveries by Columbus, and the rich cargoes brought to Spain would stimulate other efforts. The desire for new territory was a strong motive for the rulers, and led them to encourage every such movement.

Besides this, the latter part of the fourteenth century had established the Turks in Europe and Africa, so that Western Europe found itself almost entirely shut out from direct trade with the Indies. The finding of a new way thither, so as to share in that rich trade, was the dream of the day, under which various expeditions were equipped and sent forth. In this search for a north-west passage, one after another touched this country, and set up a claim to discovery. But no advantage was taken of these discoveries for a long time. In 1606 King James, without regard to Sir Walter Raleigh's patent received twenty-two years before from Queen Elizabeth, made a grant of a large portion of land, in which New Jersey was included, which led to the fitting out of several ships, with artificers of every kind, and everything necessary for a new settlement, but it does not appear that any large part of the tract was settled.

In 1607 and 1608 Henry Hudson, an English sailor, went out, and being disappointed, returned and engaged himself to the Dutch East India Company, at Amsterdam, who became interested in his representations, and put him in command of a vessel, with twenty men. He entered Delaware Bay, but finding the navigation somewhat difficult, he turned, and, following the eastern shore of New Jersey, anchored at Sandy Hook, September 3, 1609. Here he first fell in with the Indians, and his journal says "the people of the country came aboard of us, seeming very glad at our coming, and brought green tobacco, and gave us of it for knives and beads. They go in deer-skins, loose, well dressed. They desire clothes, and are very civil." A subsequently sent out crew sounded what is now called "The Narrows," and discovered the Kill von Kull, through which he came to Newark Bay, which he called the Achter Cull, or after-bay, because it lay behind New York Bay. On his return, he was attacked by the Indians, and one of his men was killed, and two were wounded. He familiarized himself with all the bays and inlets, and finally sailed up the river which bears his name, as far as eight or ten miles above Albany, returning on the 2d of October to Weehawken Cove, and immediately sailed for Europe. The report of his discovery created intense excitement. Dutch merchants saw opened to them a new field of trade which they could not only occupy, but monopolize. In 1610 a ship was sent out by the Dutch West India Company, for the purpose of trading in furs, which continued for a number of years to be the principal object of commercial attraction. Five years later, purchasing Hudson's charts of the coast and river, the Company obtained a grant of the exclusive trade on Hudson's River, and built forts and established trading-posts at New Amsterdam, Albany, and the mouth of Rondout Kill. When the grant expired, the States-General refused to renew it, but continued the trade with Indians, who came from Quebec, overland, to deal with them. In other portions of the New Netherlands the expeditions were not as successful. In 1621 liberal advantages were offered to those who would settle in what is now called the lower part of the State, and charters were given to individuals, conveying the exclusive right to large portions of land, subject only to the claim of the Indians. Large tracts were secured, and an association of the settlers was formed, having in view a permanent residence. But when De Vries came in 1630, he found none of the Europeans who had preceded him. He built a new fort, in place of that which the Indians had destroyed, and returned to Holland. During his absence, a feud arose with one of the Indian tribes, which ended in the extermination of the colonists. He returned with a new company, and continued to trade with the natives, and being in need of provisions, would have gone to a place they named for a supply, but he was restrained by an Indian woman, who assured him that he would not escape the fate of the entire crew of a vessel who had been destroyed in that place. Disheartened by repeated disasters, he finally gave up the attempt to establish a colony.

In the meantime, during the reign of Gustavus Adolphus, the Swedes settled in the New Netherlands in considerable numbers, and for a long time the country was held by them and the Dutch, both agreeing to resist the pretensions of the English. But difficulties arose between them, which culminated in deeds of violence, until in 1655, the Swedes were compelled to give up all their possessions, and the country upon the Delaware passed into the control of the Dutch, who commissioned directors by appointment from the Governor at New Amsterdam.

The claim of the English, founded on Cabot's discovery, had never been abandoned, though the Dutch and Swedish settlers resisted every endeavor to locate an English colony, even as early as 1640. But the time was approaching for the overthrow of the Dutch supremacy in the New Netherlands. For about fifty years a colony had been maintained whose industry and thrift promised wealth to the individual, and at the same time secured glory to the Fatherland. But in 1660 Charles II. recovered the throne of his fathers. Circumstances occurred at a very early period to disturb the amicable relations which had subsisted between England and Holland. Charles was displeased because the States-General refused to elect the young prince, his nephew, as Stadt-holder; and the French, disliking the growing friendship between Spain and Holland, endeavored to prejudice the interests of the latter by fanning the displeasure of the English king. Besides this, the animosity of Charles was strengthened by State reasons. England and Holland were rivals in trade, and in the pursuit of their interests, were sometimes placed in direct opposition. Matters were rapidly assuming such a shape that he feared evil consequences should a Dutch colony be allowed in his possessions. He therefore gave a patent to his brother, the Duke of York, in 1664, giving him the entire territory and power to govern the same. In the same year the Duke conveyed a portion of this territory to Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret, in an instrument dated March 20, 1664, which appears to be the first document that gives anything like an accurate description of the bounds of New Jersey. The province was called Nova Cesarea, or New Jersey, in honor of Carteret, who had been Governor of the island of Jersey. To make this grant effective, Sir Robert Carr and others were sent with a small fleet and some land forces, and the Dutch, wholly unprovided for successful resistance to this unexpected attack, soon surrendered, and the whole of the New Netherlands became subject to the British Crown. The two proprietors found a constitution securing equal privileges and liberty of conscience to all, and appointed Philip Carteret governor. This was the first constitution of New Jersey, and continued entire until the province was divided in 1676.

Indian Occupation.

In Hudson's journal we find the record of friendly Indians, who came from the west side of the Hudson, and that those on the east side were more fierce. Another account tells how "the Indians from the west side came daily on board the vessel while we lay at anchor in the river, bringing for barter, furs, the largest and finest oysters, Indian corn and various vegetables." He soon discovered that the Iroquois, and especially the Mohawks, dominated the lower tribes, and, therefore, his effort was to gain the friendship and trade of the Iroquois, so averting the collisions and complications that would have arisen with the settlers, and enabling him to erect a trading-post at Manhattan. It is impossible to give a detailed account of all the different tribes of Indians that inhabited New Jersey, numbering as they did many divisions, probably a tribe for every ten or twenty miles, and taking their names from the streams near which they severally located. They were probably not very numerous in New Jersey. In 1648 they were governed by about twenty kings, which might seem to warrant the belief that their numbers were great : but the insignificance of this regal sway is seen from the fact that in one case twelve hundred were under two kings, and some kings had only forty subjects, so that these rulers might, with greater correctness, be called chiefs.

The Indians in this portion of the State were of the general stock of Delawares, or Leni Lenapes, who were fierce and warlike. They occupied domain along the sea coast from Chesapeake to the land bordering on Long Island Sound, and from the Susquehanna Valley to the foot of the Alleghany Mountains. The different nations frequently engaged in war, and in many parts of the State arrow heads and other articles of flint have been found even within the last few years. The Delawares were eminent for valor and wisdom, and held a prominent place in Indian history, but on the rise of the Iroquois power, they lost their independence, and fell under suspicion because many of them applied themselves to agriculture. It is well known that the Delawares were overcome by the Iroquois, who exacted an annual tribute and an acknowledgement of subordination, on which conditions they were permitted to occupy their former hunting grounds. The victors, however, kept some of their own bands intermingled with the Delawares, probably as a precautionary measure. The Delawares naturally regarded their conquerors with a bitter and hardly concealed hatred, and took great satisfaction in affirming their own superiority, by reason of their more ancient lineage and further removal from barbarism ; while on the other hand, the Iroquois maintained their haughty feeling of superiority to the Delawares, of whom they always spoke as women. While it is needless to recount here the controversies in which both sides endeavored to prove their excellence, it is but fair to say that the victory of the Iroquois was diminished of much of its glory by the fact that the conflict was so unequal. When Hudson first landed, he found them gaining the ascendancy, and while securing their friendship, he at the same time gave them the means of completing their hold, by selling them gunpowder and lead, and that settled the question of supremacy. So was prepared the way for the treaty council in Philadelphia, in which, with insult and stinging contempt, the Delawares were commanded to leave the council house, and prepare to leave their hunting grounds on the Delaware and its tributaries, and were forbidden to sell any lands, or to interfere in any matter between a white man and an Indian. They had no alternative, but removed to the banks of the Susquehanna, and gradually continued their emigration westward, resuming their habits of war and hunting, and finally settled on a fertile tract on the Kansas River, a small portion going to Texas, where they have an excellent reputation as guides, hunters and woodsmen.

It is unnecessary to say much of the general characteristics of the Indians, or their habits, as in these respects they differ but little from the well-known description of the various tribes. They always insisted very tenaciously on the common right which they had in the soil ; even their chiefs were denied the right to convey it without the consent of the tribes, and such consent was, in some cases, refused, when the chiefs were willing to make the transfer. Usually the treaties for such sales were made by selected representatives of the tribes, who met the white men in council, and transacted the sale as representatives. In the first conveyance to the Dutch of the land where Jersey City and Hoboken now stand, five of these Indians represent themselves in the deed as "inhabitants and joint-owners of the lands named."

The conciliatory policy of Hudson was continued, and in general, the aim was to avoid everything that would irritate them. In this State the Indians were always paid for their lands, and so was removed every excuse for inroad or assault upon the settlers. There were, of course, exceptions to this general course of procedure, and as a consequence, outbreaks occurred. In some instances, the traders, disregarding the exclusive rights of the company, sold arms and ammunition to the natives, and then, on a slight provocation, either in the heat of debate or stealthily, for revenge, the Indians would use them. Besides this, the injudicious and reckless administration of Director Kieft tended to provoke hostilities. In 1639 he exacted the tribute of maize, furs and wampum. In 1643 the storm broke out, and ended in the destruction of the whole settlement. In that year, the Indians in the vicinity of Albany having commenced a war with some of the tribes further South, the Director Kieft gave permission, and a detachment of troops was sent over to Pavonia, and eighty Indians were murdered in their sleep, or in attempting to escape. So little did they suspect their foes, that some of the Indians fled to Fort Amsterdam, imagining that the attack had been made by their enemies, the Maquas. As soon as they learned that the massacre was by the whites, they killed every man they could find; but more humane than the whites, they spared the women and children. Houses and barns, hay and grain were destroyed, and the war lasted a month or more. Then a peace was concluded, which lasted only seven months, when a new rupture was caused by an attack upon some soldiers stationed at Pavonia for the protection of a family, but after a time peace was restored, and we hear of no further disturbance.

Ancient Settlements.

The oldest European settlement in New Jersey was at Bergen, dating back to 1616. The village is supposed to have been founded by Dutch Colonists, and the name is variously ascribed to the preference of the Danes for Bergen in Norway, and to the remembrance of the Dutch of the Bergen in the province of North Brabant, in Holland. It means "the hills," and to the Hollander, accustomed to look upon the low, level land in his own country, reclaimed from the sea, such a ridge as that on which Bergen stands would seem of great magnitude, and naturally suggest the name. This would be more likely still because the Dutch Bergen, like its modern namesake, is located on elevated ground, and surrounded by low, marshy lands. For several years it was merely a trading post, to which the Indians resorted for the sale of their game and fur. In 1658-9 the Indians sold to the Director, "Peter Stuyvesant and the Council of the New Netherlands," a tract lying on the west side of the Hudson, "beginning from the great Cliff (or Palisades) above Wiehackan, and from thence right through the land above the Island Sikakes, and there from thence to the Kill van Coll, and so along to the Constables Hoeck, and from the Constables Hoeck again to the aforesaid Cliff above Wiehackan," which included all the lands lying between the Hudson and Hackensack Rivers and the Kills ; for eighty fathoms of wampum, twenty fathoms of cloth, twelve brass kettles, six guns, two blankets, one double brass kettle, and one half barrel of strong beer, and agreed to remove at the first opportunity.

The settlement at Communipaw, under Jan Evertse Bout, the agent of Nicholas Pauw, was in 1634. Bout continued in charge for his principal till Pauw sold out to the West Indian Company, and then in 1638 rented the Company's farm. It included all of the uplands lying between Communipaw Creek on the south, and the meadow on the north, and he was fortunate enough, after a time, to secure the land as a gift.

Ahassimus, and others were of an early date, but they were all destroyed in the Indian hostilities of 1644.

July 12, 1630, Michael Pauw purchased of the Indians all the land lying along the west side of the Hackensack and New York Bay, and in November of the same year, the lands on the west shore of the Hudson between Communipaw and Weehawken, and gave it the name of Pavonia. He promised to locate a colony of fifty persons, upwards of fifteen years old, within four years, but he did not, for some reason, keep his pledge, and this made trouble with the Dutch West India Company, and led to the transfer of all his interests in Pavonia to the Company. It has been supposed that there was a trading post at Pavonia as early as 1618, and there is a record of two frame houses thatched with flags, one at Communipaw and the other at Ahassimus. But this may be considered doubtful, for at this time there were only a few bark huts in New Amsterdam, and it is not likely that the few whites in the country would weaken their power by separate settlements. The difficulties which occasionally arose between the Indians and the settlers naturally led to their keeping close together, and prevented the dispersion into numerous villages.

In 1664, John Bailey and others purchased from the Indians a tract or tracts of land, on part of which the city of Elizabeth now stands, and when Philip Carteret was appointed Governor in 1669, he made his home here, and gave the name to the place in honor of Lady Elizabeth Carteret, the wife and executrix of Sir George Carteret. It was the third settlement made in the State of New Jersey, and the first by the English. At this time there were only four log huts in the town. For many years after the settlement of the province, Elizabethtown was the largest and most flourishing place in it. Here were all the public offices and the residence of most of the Government officers. The first General Assembly met here in 1668. The first inhabitants were emigrants from New England, Long Island, England and Scotland.

Manners and Customs of the Early Settlers.

The aim of the early settlers was to surround themselves with the same associations and comforts as they had in the places they left. The Dutch Colonists were people of deep religious feeling, honest and conscientious. Under the former Governors who preceded Stuyvesant, there was no trace of persecution or illiberality. Their houses were only one-story buildings with low ceilings, the upper space being reserved for storage and spinning. The kitchens were conspicuous for large open fireplaces extending across the entire width, with chimneys large enough to hang up meat and smoke it. As their means in- creased the fire-place was ornamented with Dutch tiles, delineating Scripture events, and facts of national history. In the interior of the dwellings cleanliness, order and economy prevailed. Carpets were not known, but the floor, scrubbed and sanded, was an object of housewifely pride. In the absence of stoves, the large fire-place, furnished with ample logs, made an inviting place for the family and guests amid the wail of the storm and the roar of the forest. In the other seasons, there would be groups of neighbors on the side seats of the porch, spending the evening in social conversation.

In family and social intercourse the Dutch language held its place for a long time. The settlers stubbornly resisted every effort to supplant their mother tongue, especially in their religious services. And in the same spirit they retained their frugal and industrious habits, avoiding costly dress and equipage, clothed in homespun garments, and making and laying by large stores of linen and woolen garments. When a daughter married, the proof of this home training was looked for in the full supply of personal garments, and a quantity of bedding of every description. The young men were taught some mechanical trade, or means of earning a livelihood, and in the busy farming season, the females helped both in planting and harvesting.

The settlers were slow to form acquaintanceship, but firm in their friendships, and whatever local or individual difference might arise when any community was wrongfully involved in trouble, all personal variances were forgotten for the time, and all acted as under one impulse. They also had a high regard for education, establishing a school as soon as they founded a church, and there is now in successful operation in New York a school which dates its origin to this spirit in 1663. The first ministers in the Dutch settlements came from Holland, and from their superior learning exercised a great influence in shaping society. It was a special distinction of Newark for a long time that it was the only New England settlement that had a minister solely devoted to the duties of his profession. In the Newark settlement, a large tract of land was set apart in 1676, for the support of the churches, which was afterwards divided, and has become a steady source of income to some of the ecclesiastical corporations of Newark and Orange. Among the Dutch settlers such provision was not made, but the voluntary contributions were always ready. The current money was the Indian wampum, made of different parts of the sea shell into beads and strung on leather strings. These pieces of wampum, the dark kind being twice the value of the light, were collected in black velvet bags on long poles. Each bag had a bell at the bottom, which may have been useful to waken those whom the summer sun had soothed into a comfortable slumber.

Expeditions against the French.

The limits of the respective colonial possessions of England and France being unsettled, gave occasion to many apprehensive and serious difficulties. The national jealousy of the colonists was sharpened by their active competition in trade, and particularly by the desire to gain command of the fisheries on the coast. This trade was of immense importance, and while for some time there had been hostile relations in Europe between England and France, the antipathy was easily transferred to the American colonies by the effort of the French to acquire exclusive possession of the vast revenue accruing from the coast trade. France asserted a right to all the country on the north, to all of Canada, in which had been created a province called New France ; on the south they claimed an immense region, in which a province was established, called Louisiana; and they also claimed to have traced the Ohio river, and represented that this stream was the natural communication between their northern and southern possessions; they therefore claimed that all the country watered by this stream, as well as the other streams falling into the Mississippi belonged to them. Great Britain, on the contrary, claimed as far north as the St. Lawrence and the great lakes, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific. To maintain their claim, the French erected a line of forts and posts on the lakes, in their advance bringing the native tribes into cooperation either by subjugation or by friendly alliance. The record is a long one which tells of the struggle for the mastery, and in spite of the different treaties made from time to time, the terms were sufficiently vague to give rise to dispute as to the extent of the territories respectively belonging to each country.

In the latter part of the year 1708, Colonels Vetch and Nicholson applied to the court of Great Britain for sea and land forces to overthrow the dominion of the French in Canada. They raised a small force, and in 1709 a fleet of ships of war was sent with full instructions to secure enlistments to the number of fifteen hundred, of which New Jersey was to furnish two hundred. All things were to be in readiness by the middle of May, the arms and ammunition to be furnished from the magazine in New York. As an inducement to furnish the quota of men required for the expedition, assurances were given that such as contributed to the result should have the preference both as to the soil and the trade of Canada, when conquered, to any other of the Queen's subjects. But along delay occurred, and Colonel Nicholson returned to England for further assistance, and to facilitate his purpose took with him four Indian Sachems. They were introduced to the Queen, and made a speech, in which they referred to their long and tedious conflict with the French, and urged the Queen to push forward the conflict for their protection. In September of the following year, an expedition was fully equipped of thirty-six sail, one regiment of English marines and four regiments from New England, armed and provisioned in part by the Queen, and in part by the colonies, New Jersey contributing three thousand pounds. After a six days sail they arrived at Port Royal, and after some small cannonading and bombarding, the garrison capitulated and the fort was surrendered October 5, 1710. In the following year a second expedition of formidable appearance was fitted out, in which New Jersey bore a prominent part. But the delay of the fleet at Boston, for want of provision, and a series of disasters after they had anchored in the bay on the south side of the entrance of the St. Lawrence river, caused the enterprise to be abandoned at a great cost of men and treasure. Later still, in 1744, after the formal declaration of war by the English, the assembly of New Jersey agreed to raise and equip five hundred men, and the enterprise met with such favor that, in less than two months, six hundred and sixty men offered for enlistment. These troops reached the appointed rendezvous at Albany, but neither general, nor troop, nor orders arrived from England, and in the following autumn the troops were disbanded, the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle following in 1748. The project was renewed by the English Minister, William Pitt, during the seven years war, which had begun disastrously for England. He called upon the colonies to aid in destroying the power of the French in America. The quota from this state was five hundred, which was not only cheerfully furnished, but the number was doubled, and in order that enlistments might be hastened, a bounty of twelve pounds per man was offered, the pay of the officers was increased, and fifty thousand pounds were voted for the support of the army. This complement of one thousand men was kept up by the State from 1758-60, and in the two succeeding years they furnished beside six hundred more, in addition to which, in 1762 they raised a company of sixty- four men and officers, designed for garrison duty, for which an average annual expense was incurred of forty thousand pounds. In the final result, by which, after a sixty-nine days siege Quebec capitulated, the provincial soldiers had a large share. While New Jersey persistently refused to accede to some suggestions made by the crown, she expressed a willingness to do her full share in resisting the encroachments of the French, and for a long time cheerfully answered every requisition for men and money for that purpose. Even where New Jersey was not personally concerned, every movement in this direction elicited the liveliest sympathy, as when Gov. Shirley, of Massachusetts, in 1745, devised a successful plan to take Louisburg, the fortification of which had been nearly thirty years in building, at a cost of over $5,000,000, and the ample harbor of which furnished a place of refuge for the privateers who destroyed the fisheries of the colonists. The progress of the contest through the succeeding years was watched with great interest, and its close was a matter of great joy. In 1762, France and Spain, who had made a compact to oppose the growing power of England, became dispirited, especially as Havana, the capital of Cuba, was surrendered to the English, and other places were reduced. At the same time England was less desirous for further conquest than for relief from embarrassment caused by debts incurred in war. So that in 1763 a treaty of peace was confirmed in Paris, by which England secured the entire command of the country east of the Mississippi and of Canada. For this valuable acquisition there had been a great expenditure of life and treasure, to which outlay New Jersey contributed, at different periods, nearly 300,000, and, for a great part of the time, maintained a force of one thousand men.

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