The Duke's Province: A Study of New York Politics and Society, 1664-1691

By Robert C. Ritchie | Go to book overview

5 Trade and Politics: The Recall of Edmund Andros

Between 1674 and 1680 the central figure in New York was Governor Edmund Andros. During these years he ruled with an autocratic manner. His recall to England in 1680, surrounded by charges of malfeasance, corruption, and favoritism, was the central drama of this period. His downfall illuminates many aspects of his administration. In particular it reveals the intrusion of powerful external agents of change. The entry of London merchants into the closed market created by the New York merchants was an economic and political event. Until the new merchants arrived the only external figure of major political importance was the duke. With the entry of this new group the colonists were made aware of powerful forces at work within the empire. In addition the Stuart government was now intent on exerting more control over the colonies. Colonial charters were challenged and investigators sent to the colonies to examine economic and political trends. An era of intense reexamination was underway that would reach a climax with the creation of the Dominion of New England in 1685.


A Changing Economy

After 1675 New York's economy underwent dramatic changes. The familiar patterns of New York trade were explained by Andros in a report he submitted to the Lords of Trade and Plantations in 1678. 1 He described New York City as the center of all trade with ten to fifteen ships of about one hundred tons entering the harbor annually; Albany and Southampton were the only other places of consequence. The chief exports were wheat, peas, beef, pork, fish, whale oil, tobacco, beaver pelts, wood products, and horses. Most of these items

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