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

By Robert C. Ritchie | Go to book overview

2 The Structure
of Government

The conquest of New Netherland brought a pleasing symmetry to English maps of North America. The gap between the Chesapeake Bay and New England colonies was removed. Richard Nicolls, however, had to assess the meaning of the conquest in more practical terms, and he discovered that New Netherland was not the source of easy wealth depicted by those who had urged the expedition. There was one thing of great value--a large number of planters and an established economy. Nicolls and his successor Francis Lovelace confronted the task of imposing a government upon these people. Their principal dilemma was how to administer a vast area with varying traditions of government while respecting the wishes of York, who wanted a highly centralized government. The resulting patchwork of administrative units was unmatched elsewhere in the colonies.

The duke of York, unlike other proprietors, did not have the problem of obtaining new planters. York never had to embark upon a campaign to encourage immigration; therefore he was able to avoid the problems and expense that afflicted the Carolina proprietors or, later, William Penn. The presence of ten thousand people in New York would have brought joy to any proprietor. 1 York and his governors were to find that the colonists also presented numerous problems, and they in turn created problems for the people. The population of New York was spread from Albany to the capes of the Delaware River, and while there were towns and villages, many people had dispersed in order to hunt and trade for furs and to farm small plots. The reliance on the fur trade derived from the policies of the West India Company, which had encouraged many men to eschew farming for the more immediate, albeit often slight, gains of the fur trade. The company's policies had also brought

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Tables ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 3
  • Part I - The English Arrive 7
  • 1 - The Invasion of New Netherland 9
  • 2 - The Structure of Government 25
  • 3 - The Emergence of Political Issues, 1664-1673 47
  • Part II - The Divisions Appear 83
  • 4 - Once Again Dutch, Once Again English 85
  • 5 - Trade and Politics: the Recall of Edmund Andros 108
  • 6 - The Consequences of Social Change 127
  • Part III - Change and Crisis 153
  • 7 - The Experiment with Representative Government 155
  • 8 - The Reassertion of Central Authority: the Dongan Administration 180
  • 9 - Leisler's Rebellion 198
  • Part IV - Conclusion 233
  • 10 - A Time of Troubles 235
  • Abbreviations 243
  • Notes 245
  • Bibliography 285
  • Index 301
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