of New Netherland
In August 1664 Peter Stuyvesant stood on the ramparts of the fort protecting New Amsterdam and cursed his fate. Across the harbor rested four weatherbeaten English ships containing an invasion force, while on the shores of Long Island militiamen, from the English towns on the island, gathered to welcome them. For years the director-general of New Netherland had received intelligence about English invasion plans. As early as September 1661 Captain Thomas Willett of Plymouth Plantation displayed letters from Boston and London making clear the pressure on the king and Parliament to invade the Dutch colony. 1 Stuyvesant reported this intelligence to the Dutch West India Company, which did nothing to aid him, and three years went by without any overt threat from England. Then in January 1664, John Scott, an English adventurer, sought to persuade Stuyvesant to grant independence to the English towns on Long Island by reporting that Charles II had already granted his brother James, duke of York, a patent for Long Island and that James was preparing a fleet to seize his colony. Similar rumors continued to circulate during the spring. 2 The grim reality behind the rumors soon appeared in the form of the four ships commanded by Colonel Richard Nicolls, a member of York's household, who had come to claim his master's property.
The ships were also symbolic of the Restoration government's new policies. The government was determined to challenge the Dutch for supremacy in international commerce and empire building, and it wanted to assert its authority over the wayward New England colonies. These were the two main reasons that brought Nicolls and his men to New Amsterdam.
The overweening economic power of the Netherlands was one of the constant problems confronting English policymakers