|Half Moon in Third Quarter |
|Manhattan on the North River (now Hudson River), c. 1639,|
Hudson’s reports on fur trade with the natives had an almost invariable effect on continental Dutch merchants: Visions of guilder signs in the shape of beaver and otter pelts danced in their heads. (“On the production end, hat makers used mercury to separate fur from felt, leading to routine mental illness and, perhaps, to the phrase ‘mad as a hatter.’”) Not only that there was the added incentive of confronting their maritime arch rivals, the British, in the area of global trading. However: “…the Dutch merchants did not rush across the Atlantic to reap the rewards. A trip to the New World was a major investment, which entailed considerable risk. It took time to plan a trip, gather a crew, and outfit the ship. As a result the first fur-trading voyage to follow in Hudson’s wake didn’t leave Amsterdam until 1611.”
|The 1626 Purchase of Manhattan Island by Peter|
Minuit, Courtesy of the New York Public
|Delaware Lenape Jennie Bobb and |
daughter Nellie Longhat, Oklahoma,
|William T. Sherman and Commissioners in Council with Indian |
Chiefs at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, Photo by Alexander Gardener 1868,
The polyglot, static (under 400 souls including slaves) multilingual (eighteen at any given time) population “had a good claim to being the motliest assortment of souls in Christendom.” The place was a mess: chaotic, lawless, dilapidated, squalid and immoral. “Because the company had shown so little interest in promoting a permanent settlement, there were many more men than women, and too many of these men were footloose bachelors, down-and-out adventurers, fugitive husbands, runaway servants, and waterfront riffraff who had decided to spend a few years toiling for the company while on their way from wherever to God-only-knows.”
|Collier's Greater New-York, Petrus|
Stuyvesant, Courtesy of the New York
Public Library, www.nypl.org
And, govern he did, although with unwanted assistance from Adriaen van der Donck, a visionary lawyer, who virtually forced Stuyvesant to create the first municipal government in North America on February 2, 1653. “The city dates its political foundations...to this moment,” according to writer/historian Russell Shorto.
|The Bed by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1893,|
Courtesy of the Yorck Project,
|Animals of New Netherland, facsimile from van der Donck's "Vertoogh,"|
Courtesy of the New York Public Library, www.nypl.org
|Shearith Israel Synagogue, Courtesy|
of the New York Public Library,
Overall, a feeling of security prevailed. Like most feelings of security, it was short-lived.
See, life in mid-17th century North America was much like it is today––there were enemies wherever you looked—and Stuyvesant was looking at at least 3,000 hostile Indians. Not only that certain British colonies were too close for comfort. (Looking South, he had Maryland and Virginia, looking North, Massachusetts and Connecticut.) By 1652 the British and the Dutch were at war on other fronts, and the Dutch presence in the New World, as far as the British were concerned, was “unwanted competition” on a good day. An attack was not only possible; it was probable.
|Totius Neobelgii Nova et Accuratissima Tabula, |
by Hugo Allard, New Amsterdam c. 1647,
The lyrics of the original anonymous folk song, “Yankee Doodle,” mocked the colonists’ uniforms. Fops on either side of the Atlantic referred to powdered wigs and flamboyant style in general as “macaroni,” so calling a mere feather in a hat “macaroni” was “a deft little dig” at American style. It undoubtedly annoyed the hell out of the sartorially hypersensitive General Washington. Two could play at that game. In retaliation, the patriots rewrote the lyrics, adopted the song as more of an anthem and whipped their arrogant British asses.
|Surrender at Yorktown, Courtesy of the New York Public|
During Gen. Cornwallis’ humiliating surrender at Yorktown “...the British evinced a petty, spiteful attitude toward the Americans, gazing only at the French soldiers until Lafayette prodded the band to strike up ‘Yankee Doodle,’ forcing the conquered army to acknowledge the hated Americans.... The entire wonder of the American Revolution was visible for all to see. It wasn’t the well-dressed French Army who were the true victors of the day, but the weather-beaten, half-clad American troops.”
|George M. Cohan, Courtesy of|
the New York Public Library,
Flash forward to the First World War, when George M. Cohan, who wrote “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” promises that “the Yanks are coming” in his 1917 hit song “Over There.” From then on all Americans, not just northern ones, are “Yanks,” and by the time of our post-Pearl Harbor’s entry into the Second World War, the word takes on a positive connotation....
It didn’t last long. Just two years after the war ended, protesters in South Korea were carrying “Yankee Go Home” signs, and that was only the beginning. Richard Nixon’s 1958 “goodwill tour” encountered rock-throwing students, who handed out leaflets that suggested he was a “Yankee warmonger” and further recommended “Death to Yankee Imperialists.”
|Lou Gehrig, George Herman [Babe] Ruth and Tony|
Lazarri, Courtesy of the New York Public Library,
Anyway, New Netherland, the surrounding British colonies.... Where were we?
The Dutch Republic was so worried about a possible British sneak attack—apparently, all mothers worry—that their authorities ordered defenses be strengthened forthwith. Stuyvesant and his only recently enshrined town magistrates decided “to surround the greater part of the City with a high stockade and a small breastwork.” Mother knows best. This protective wall, constructed of 12-foot high and 18-inch thick oak logs embedded into 3-foot deep post holes and sharpened to a nice point on the top, ran 2,340 feet from the Hudson to the East River. Funded by New Netherland rich folk and completed by July 1653, it was mostly built by—who else?—slaves.
|Wall Street Sign, 2011, http://en.wikipedia.org|
“We were brought here against our will to work, and work we did. In fact, we built the wall for which Wall Street is named. Not only literally but figuratively…it was the trade in African flesh that provided the fundamental capital on which Wall Street, the financial Wall Street, is built,” observes Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III.
The one, gaping hole in the plan? In 1664, the Brits attacked by sea (with four frigates and over 2,000 men) rather than over land. Big shock. It was obvious, and even verified, that the Dutch were heavily out-gunned and out-manned. Still Stuyvesant (“I’d rather be carried to my grave than surrender”) refused to give an inch.
|Section of the Wall Street Palisade, Courtesy of the|
New York Public Library, www.nypl.org
“Stuyvesant’s tragedy is that no sooner does he get this place all spiffed up and ready for action than the English sail in and take the place,” historian Mike Wallace points out. Reluctantly and at the eleventh hour, he surrendered his seventeen-year rule. (He would retire to a fruit farm in what’s now Greenwich Village.) The Dutch left the New World for gouda, and two days later, the British renamed New Amsterdam “New York” in honor of the King’s brother, the Duke of York.
|Portrait of Washington Irving, 1809,|
by John Wesley Jarvis,
|The Schenck-Crooke House (formerly located in the |
Mill Basin Section of Brooklyn), 1934, Archetypal
of Dutch Colonial Architecture, http://en.wikipedia.org
After the Revolutionary War, New York emerged as the nation’s financial center and temporary capital (not permanent, since Secretary of State Jefferson regarded it as “a sewer filled with all the depravities of human nature” and preferred the capital to be located in a malaria-infected, but at least, southern swamp). The Continental Congress set up headquarters on Wall Street, adjacent to 57 Wall Street, where Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury and Creator of the Bank of New York, was living with his wife and child.
|Tontine Coffee House (Left) & Merchants' Coffee House (Right)|
by Francis Guy, 1797, http://en.wikipedia.org
Brokers, at that time, held informal auctions twice a day in the Merchants’ Coffee House. (Summer auctions, held just outside, came to be known as the “curb market.”) Convinced that the process could be more refined, more modern, some of them met under a buttonwood tree on May 17, 1792 and hammered out a set of rules and regulations governing the sales of securities.
|Drawing of Wall Street, Courtesy of Prints and |
Photographs Division, Library of Congress,
|Floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Courtesy of |
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of
Taken down in 1699 by real estate developers, who erected houses in its place, Stuyvesant’s wall was long gone, the lane alongside it paved over, hence Wall Street.
Almost precisely four centuries after the explorers and travelers told of a paradise inhabited by densely populated schools of fish, an inestimable number of game and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of beaver, otter, wild swans and doves, we should perhaps remind ourselves, “...You call someplace paradise, kiss it goodbye.”
|"...the way old Phoebe kept going around and around...|
in her blue coat and all. God, I wish you could've been there."
Central Park Carousel, by Michael Lewison
Allen, Oliver E.; New York, New York: A History of the World’s Most Exhilarating and Challenging City.
Bender, Thomas; New York Intellect: A History of Intellectual Life in New York City from 1750 to the Beginnings of Our Own Time.
Brooks, Van Wyck; The World of Washington Irving.
Burns, Ric; New York, PBS Home Video.
Burrows, Edwin G. and Mike Wallace; Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898.
Chernow, Ron; Washington: A Life.
Cramer, Richard Ben; Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life.
Dolin, Eric Jay; Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America.
The Eagles; “The Last Resort,” Hotel California.
Ellis, Edward Robb; The Epic of New York City: A Narrative History.
Gill, Jonathan; Harlem: The Four Hundred Year History from Dutch Village to the Capital of Black America.
Holt, Alfred H.; Phrase and Word Origins.
O’Connell, Shaun; Remarkable, Unspeakable New York.
Shorto, Russell; Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America.
Still, Bayrd; Mirror for Gotham: New York as Seen by Contemporaries from Dutch Days to the Present.
“...mostly good…”; Gill, 9
“Boats crossing....”; Burrows, 4
“On the production....”; Shorto, 76
“You can….”; Burns, PBS Home Video, DVD
“...pitching on….”; Shorto, 37
“...probably a….”; Ibid, 54
“It’s pretty….”; Ibid, 50
“New York....”; Burns, PBS Home Video, DVD
“…had a good…”; Burrows, 31
“Because the....”; Ibid, 34
“…whip the…”; Burns, PBS Home Video, DVD
“…before losing…”; Shorto, 147
“I shall….”; Allen, 23
“The city dates…”; Shorto, 258
“Roads were…”; Ibid, 266
“America’s first…”; Ibid, 272
“Cultural diversity…”; Ibid, 274
“...the most…”; Ibid, 6
“…a deft little dig…”; Burrows, 227
“…the British….”; Chernow, 418
“…the Yanks are…”; Cooper, 401
“…to surround the…”; Shorto, 260
“We were….”; Burns, PBS Home Video, DVD
“I’d rather….”; Ibid
“For all these people….”; Shorto, 300
“Stuyvesant’s tragedy….”; Burns, PBS Home Video, DVD
“We are all….”; Bender, 123
“…served to underscore...”; Burrows, xii
“…by the last...”; Shorto, 6
“…a sewer….”; Burns, PBS Home Video, DVD
“curb market”; Burrows, 311
“The old merchant….”; Allen, l86
“…Wall Street [would come…”; Ibid, 1
“You call…”; The Eagles, “Last Resort”