The Shame and the Sorrow: Dutch-Amerindian Encounters in New Netherland

The Shame and the Sorrow: Dutch-Amerindian Encounters in New Netherland

The Shame and the Sorrow: Dutch-Amerindian Encounters in New Netherland

The Shame and the Sorrow: Dutch-Amerindian Encounters in New Netherland


The Shame and the Sorrow Dutch-Amerindian Encounters in New Netherland Donna Merwick "Merwick is unafraid of 'weighing up' the evidence carefully to recapture the 'moral murkiness' that dominated seventeenth-century Netherlanders' efforts.... A] beautifully constructed work."--"Australasian Journal of American Studies" "Merwick's book is certainly interesting, often beautifully written, but it is also a strong contribution to historical scholarship."--"American Historical Review" The Dutch, through the directors of the West India Company, purchased Manhattan Island in 1625. They had come to the New World as traders, not expecting to assume responsibility as the sovereign possessor of a conquered New Netherland. They did not intend to make war on the native peoples around Manhattan Island, but they did; they did not intend to help destroy native cultures, but they did; they intended to be overseas the tolerant, pluralistic, and antimilitaristic people they thought themselves to be--and in so many respects were--at home, but they were not. For the Dutch intruders, establishing a settled presence away from the homeland meant the destabilization of the adventurers' values and self-regard. They found that the initially peaceful encounters with the indigenous people soon took on the alarming overtones of an insurgency as the influx of the Dutch led to a complete upheaval and eventual disintegration of the social and political worlds of the natives. How are the Dutch to be judged? Donna Merwick, in "The Shame and the Sorrow," asks this question. She points to a betrayal both of their own values and of the native peoples. She also directs us to the self-delusion of hegemonic control. Her work belongs alongside the best of today's postcolonial studies in the description of cross-cultural violence and subtle questioning of the nature of writing its history. Donna Merwick is Senior Fellow in the Department of History at the University of Melbourne, Long Term Visiting Fellow at Australian National University, and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Swinburne Institute for Social Research at the Swinburne University of Technology. She is the author of "Stuyvesant Bound: An Essay on Loss Across Time," also available from University of Pennsylvania Press, and "Death of a Notary: Conquest and Change in Colonial New York." Early American Studies 2006 - 344 pages - 6 1/8 x 9 1/4 - 20 illus. ISBN 978-0-8122-2272-2 - Paper - $26.50s - 17.50 ISBN 978-0-8122-0280-9 - Ebook - $26.50s - 17.50 World Rights - American History, Native American Studies Short copy: During the forty years of the Dutch presence in colonial America, their intrusion led to the betrayal of their own values and the betrayal of the indigenous peoples. They reaped the shame of reproaching themselves for unjust wars and faced a native insurgency that they could neither negotiate nor satisfactorily quell."


The six men waited for a response to a petition laid before the States General of the United Provinces. They were men from North Holland. Dierck and Cornelis Volkertsz, Doctor Verus, and Doctor Carbasius were from the port of Hoorn. Pieter Nannincx lived in Medemblik, a coastal town nearby. He was an accountant. Pieter Dircxzen was a companion of the five men. It was late September 1621.

Their request was minimal enough. But they knew exactly what they wanted. Might they fit out and send a ship to “the Virginias.” They would store aboard only permitted merchandise. It would be used for trading in the Virginias and, they assured the committee, they’d make a profit. This done, they would instruct the ship to return with their cargo and clerks. Their request was approved. But a tough caveat was added: make good use of exactly nine months and one week to supply the ship, carry out your trading ventures, make some kind of profit—whatever and wherever that might be—and get back to Holland.

Volkertsz, Verus, Carbasius, and the others were marginal men. They were marginal to the larger purposes of the States and its interests in the Virginias. They were also marginal to other groups of men who were just as eagerly eyeing off the Virginias and promising significant profits by opening markets there. Such venturers were also promising to deliver knowledge about further lucrative discoveries that the States might follow up: coastlines, rivers, islands, places to trade.

But the six hopeful entrepreneurs were also marginal in a now obsolescent meaning of the word “marge.” They were from coastal towns in the marginal zone between “what seamen call ‘open ocean’ and what landsmen might call ‘ordinary inland landscape.’” in that sense, they had everything in common with other Dutch men hoping to get rich by sending one—or four or six—permitted voyages to the West and East Indies, even with most of the members of the States.

On the edge of the sea and the edge of land, the marge was a place of residence. It was also a state of mind. This book is about that state of mind. and it is about its consequences for people in another far-distant coastal zone—people . . .

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