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

New Amsterdam Becomes a City

It was in the year 1652 that the town we had built was made a city, with a charter straight from Holland, and our people rejoiced because of its being possible at last, after so much of misrule, for them to have some voice in affairs.

According to this charter, the freemen of our new city were to select a schout, four burgomasters, nine schepens, which last were what in England would be called magistrates—and a council of thirty-six men whose duty it would be to advise with the Director on all affairs concerning the public welfare.

There was great rejoicing in New Amsterdam when Stoffel Mighielsen, the town crier, made this announcement, and I dare venture to say that on the night the news was made public, but little attention was paid to the farmer's bell by those who lived outside the palisade.


On every hand you could hear men giving joy to each other because of the time's having come when the Director would no longer have absolute power over all in the town, but must be guided by those who were to be elected by the ballots of the people, and following such rejoicings was ever the question as to when the election would be held.

There was much talk as to who should be chosen to fill the offices, and all with whom I spoke declared that they were not to be influenced by anything Master Stuyvesant might say; but would pick out such men as could stand up honestly for the rights of all, instead of bending like slaves to the whims of the Director.

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