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

Forging Ahead

Now, as the days went on, our town of New Amsterdam grew amazingly fast. It was soon learned that there was good farming land along the eastern side above the swamps, and within two years no less than six farms, boweries,—the Dutchmen call them,—were laid out with good promise of bountiful crops.

The fort had been rebuilt of good stone, in the same shape as when first made, and the storehouse for the trading goods had been finished as Master Minuit promised. In addition to what we bartered with the Indians, stores of all kinds that could be brought from Holland were put on sale for the benefit of the laborers, and, because of my not being able to do all the work, Kryn Gildersleeve was sent to me as an apprentice.


If that was not a rise in the world, then I do not know what it may be called, and for it all I have to thank Master Minuit, who ever dealt by the orphan lad as if he had been the son of a director in the West India Company.

It was no longer necessary for us to heap up stones to serve as chimneys, for the laborers were making good bricks. To get lime we burned the shells of ousters, of which there are in this land so many that all the world may feed upon them till the youngest man has grown gray-headed, without lessening the supply.

Ships were coming to us from Holland nearly every month to take away the furs that had been bought, and the timber cut from the forests. Of building stone we had all that could be used, no matter how many other people might make their homes in New Amsterdam.

Truly it was wonderful how soon we made of that wilderness a country that kings might covet, which indeed they did, as I came to know before I was at an end of my service with the West India Company.

If I give so much time to telling you of what we did in New Amsterdam when Master Minuit was at the head of the government, you will not be inclined to listen when I speak of what the other governors, sent by the West India Company, accomplished for the good or ill of the country.

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