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

By Robert C. Ritchie | Go to book overview
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7 The Experiment with
Representative Government

While Andros defended himself in England a power vacuum was created in New York. Anthony Brockholls, a young, inexperienced officer of the garrison, became acting governor. Challenges to his authority started soon after Andros's departure and he quickly crumbled under the pressure. The central government faltered and then lapsed into impotency. Shortly thereafter, the system of taxes and monopolies, so carefully nurtured by the governors, was ignored. Regionalism flourished and protesters clamored for reform, above all an assemby. Fortunately for New York, the duke was in exile under considerable duress. In doubt as to his future, and increasingly doubtful of his legal position, York acquiesced to an assembly. Thus began a brief experiment with representative government.


The Challenge to Authority

Andros did not return to New York after his acquittal although he held his office until 1683, when he was replaced by Thomas Dongan. Until that time he remained under a cloud fighting numerous court battles and defending himself against Lewin. 1 His surrogate fared no better in New York. Captain Anthony Brockholls commanded the Albany garrison. His prior service left him ill equipped for the position of acting governor. He lacked experience and, as one contemporary stated, he also lacked friends. 2 Suddenly he bore the responsibilities of a governor without the necessary authority, in a system that focused on the governorship. Rapid changes in personnel on the council eroded his position evn more. At he beginning of 1681 five men ( Mathias Nicolls, William Dyre, William Darvall, Frederick

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