The New World Dutch Barn

Crimes and Punishments,
page 17 of 17

And they may have given more publicity and punishment to deviations from the path of rectitude and uprightness; but certainly from their own records no fair-minded person can fail to deem them more frail, more erring, more wicked, than the Dutch. The circumstances of immigration and the tendencies of temperament were diverse, and perhaps it was natural that a reaction tending to sin and vice should come to the intense and overwrought religionist rather than to the phlegmatic and prosperous trader. In Virginia and Maryland the presence of many convict-emigrants would form a reasonable basis for the existence of the crime and law-breaking which certainly was in those colonies far in excess of the crime in New Netherland and New York.

I know that Rev. Mr. Miller, the English clergyman, did not give the settlement a very good name at the last of the seventeenth century; but even his strictures cannot force me to believe the colonists so unbearably wicked.

It should also be emphasized that New Netherland was far more tolerant, more generous than New England to all of differing religious faiths. Under Stuyvesant, however, Quakers were interdicted from preaching, were banished, and one Friend was treated with great cruelty. The Dutch clergymen opposed the establishment of a Lutheran church, and were rebuked by the Directors in Holland, who said that in the future they would send out clergymen “not tainted with any needless preciseness;” and Stuyvesant was also rebuked for issuing an ordinance imposing a penalty for holding conventicles not in accordance with the Synod of Dort. Many Christians not in accordance in belief with that synod settled in New Netherland. Quakers, Lutherans, Church of England folk, Anabaptists, Huguenots, Waldenses, Walloons. The Jews were protected and admitted to the rights of citizenship. Director Kieft, with heavy ransoms, rescued the captive Jesuits, Father Jogues and Father Bressani, from the Indians and tenderly cared for them. No witches suffered death in New York, and no statute law existed against witchcraft. There is record of but one witchcraft trial under the English governor, Nicholls, who speedily joined with the Dutch in setting aside all that nonsense.


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