Narratives of Early Pennsylvania, West New Jersey and Delaware, 1630-1707

By Albert Cook Myers | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

THE scene of action of the collection of narratives assembled in this volume is Delaware Bay and River, that broad waterway which lies central to what is not only the domain of three great commonwealths but in a deeply significant historical sense the keystone region of the American Nation. Of the twenty pieces selected, covering a period of threequarters of a century, this first narrative, as well as the succeeding one by Captain Yong, brings clearly to view the low-lying forest shores of the great estuary in its primitive simplicity of the red man's day, untouched as yet, save for two abandoned sites, by the oncoming, all-transforming complexities of the white man's civilization. Explorers, traders, and adventurers, in the main under the auspices of the enterprising Dutch, had made more or less brief visits to the territory, and the Dutch laid claim to it as a part of New Netherland. An economic incentive, the lure of the enriching beaver trade with the Minquas Indians of the Susquehanna and Allegheny River valleys, a traffic which was readily tapped from the Delaware, was the prime cause, in general, for this earlier interest, and, later, for settlement prior to the Dutch conquest. Very soon the expanding Swedish and English nations were to seek locations on the river and at intervals to come into effective competition with the Dutch for this profitable trade.

The following extracts are translated from a quaint little Dutch book, a small black-letter quarto of [8+] 192 pages, published at Alkmaar, Holland, in 1655. It bears this somewhat lengthy title, so characteristic of books of that age:

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