New Amsterdam Becomes New York

The British seize Manhattan from the Dutch—and alter the trajectory of North American history

On September 5, 1664, two men faced one another across a small stretch of water. Onshore, just outside the fort at the southern tip of Manhattan Island, stood Peter Stuyvesant, director-general of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, his 52-year-old frame balanced on the wooden stump where he had lost a leg in battle a quarter century earlier. Approaching him aboard a small rowboat flying a flag of truce was John Winthrop, governor of the Connecticut colony, until very recently a man Stuyvesant had called his friend. Read more »

The Rebels Of Merry Mount

Thomas Morton liked the lush country, the Indians liked Thomas—and the stern Puritans cared little for either

No early English settler was more delighted with New England than was Thomas Morton, lawyer of Clifford’s Inn, London. He had none of the dour misgivings of William Bradford and the other Mayflower Pilgrims who had landed at Plymouth less than two years before. From the moment he stepped ashore at Massachusetts Bay, in June, 1622, he fell in love with this American earth: its Indians, its wild life and plants, and its beauty. Only Captain John Smith left a more complete record of its resources.

 
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Anne Hutchinson Versus Massachusetts

She was, said Governor Winthrop, an American Jezebel

It would have been no pleasant thing for any defendant to hear John Winthrop, governor of the Massachusetts colony, declaim the serious charges brought against Anne Hutchinson at her trial in 1637. In the Puritan society of early Massachusetts they were among the gravest that could be imagined. As recorded by the court reporter, they seem to evoke the gravity with which John Winthrop must have delivered them: “Mrs. Hutchinson, you are called here as one of those that have troubled the peace of the commonwealth and the churches here.Read more »

Zion In The Forest

Roger Williams liked Indians and almost everyone else, and he founded a colony that gave our freedom a broader horizon

There is a legend about Roger Williams that is exceedingly popular among Americans. There is also a truth which is slowly emerging from the welter of fancies. The truth is less simple than the legend, for most legends are oversimplifications. But it has some even more dramatic aspects than the beloved myth and it accords better, too, with the mental development of the normal human being. If it dims the halo of this pioneer of American liberty, it gives him a warmth, a nearness to ourselves that we could hardly feel while he stood on the pedestal.

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