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

Coaxing the Savages

And now I have to tell you that which bears witness to Master Petrus Stuyvesant's ability as a ruler. Although I never felt friendly disposed towards him, because of thinking myself neglected, there is enough of honesty in my heart to give praise where it is due.

When Master Kieft was governor of New Amsterdam, and through his folly had caused the Indians to seek revenge, he did no more than meet them with powder and ball, widening the breach between the brown and the white men day by day; but our Director, stern and unyielding as he had ever shown himself to be, had so much of wisdom that he knew when it was useless to beat his head against a wall of stone.

With so many of the savages risen against us, all the white men whom we could muster would not have been

sufficient to hold them in check; to wage war with them would have meant the utter wiping out of the Dutch in America.

Therefore it was that Master Stuyvesant, instead of seeking to punish those who had attacked our people, set about coaxing them into a friendly mood, and during the three or four weeks which followed our return from Trinity and Christina, there was a continual coming and going of messengers from the Director to the savage chiefs, who were to be brought, through Master Stuyvesant's plans, to a peaceable life by the means of gaudy toys.

And all this Master Stuyvesant succeeded in doing. Before the winter's snows were come, the savages were seemingly friendly with us once more, it being understood that past crimes, whether committed by white men or brown, were to be forgotten, and, so to speak, all of us who were dwelling in and around the land claimed by the West India Company, were to live on terms of friendship.


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