This work is a political and social history of New York from 1664 to 1691. Scholars have largely ignored this period just as they have neglected it in the history of the other American colonies. But while this period lacks the drama of the Revolution or of the era of discovery and settlement, nevertheless recent work has demonstrated that it was important as an era of transition between rough-hewn settlements and established provincial life. This is the period when political institutions and practices were formulated; when entrepreneurial activity set the pattern for future commercial growth; when elite groups established their position in society and politics; when the slave system was hammered out; when the basic structure of the English empire was created; and when the colonists re- shaped the social structures of the Old World to fit the imperatives of life in the new. These developments created strains that came to the fore in rebellion, riot, resistance to authority, personal anxiety, and religious doubt.
New York had all these problems and more, for its social, economic, and political history was complicated by both political and ethnic problems. Seized from the Netherlands in 1664, New York became the proprietary colony of James, duke of York, the future James II. After a brief return to Dutch rule from 1673 to 1674, New York remained a proprietary colony until York ascended the throne in 1685. Between 1685 and 1691, it became in rapid succession a royal colony, part of the Dominion of New England, the scene of a major rebellion, and once again a royal colony. Thus, on the basis of political change alone, New York compels attention. In addition, its unique bicultural population, the legacy of the original Dutch colonization, complicates the study of all of the problems afflicting the colonies. The only comprehensive study of New York's history in this period was published by John R. Brodhead in 1871. Subsequently, other historians have concentrated on places,