Gateway to the Classics: Peter of Amsterdam by James Otis
Peter of Amsterdam by  James Otis

The Big Ship

Therefore it is, that instead of pleasing myself by telling of all my master did, I will come directly to that time when he left us. According to my belief, the West India Company could not have found in all the world any other man who would have served so faithfully, both the people and the Company, as did Master Minuit.

The last thing of moment which Director Minuit did, was to have built, so that the merchants of Holland might see what we of New Netherland could do, one of the finest ships, so I have heard it said, that was ever put together. She was called the New Netherland. She measured eight hundred tons, and carried thirty guns.

At the time she was launched, I said to myself that never in this world would be found men who could build a larger or more beautiful ship than this, and yet I made a mistake in saying so, as I have made many others during my life.


I would I might tell you of the merrymaking and the feasting when the New Netherland  was sent from the land into the water. I wish it might be possible to describe the astonishment of the savages as they saw this huge vessel being built up timber by timber, until she was fit to encounter the tempests, and the waves, and the manifold dangers of the sea.

But I have said that in order to tell of what other things were done in New Amsterdam I must make of what should be a long story, a short one.

Now, whether it was the building of this wonderful ship that displeased the directors of the West India Company, or other matters of Master Minuit's government that offended them, I cannot say. And indeed it is not to be expected that he who plays the part of clerk in a storehouse should know much concerning affairs of state.

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