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

Master Minuit's Successor

I am certain, however, that in six years after we arrived in the Sea Mew, when New Amsterdam was a town of which to be proud, Master Minuit set out for Holland, taking with him in the same ship no less than five thousand beaver skins.

When Master Minuit left us, it was our belief that he would soon come back; but there must have been in his mind some doubt regarding it, for he gave me much farewell advice on the night before the ship sailed, declaring, that so far as anything he might do, I should be advanced in the West India Company's employ as rapidly as was best.

It must be that my master seriously offended the Council of the Company, for I went in their employ no further on the road to fortune, or to fame, than where he left me.

During the year the affairs of New Amsterdam were looked after by the Council of the town, and then came a new Director by the name of Wouter Van Twiller. Of him I can tell you very little, for, unlike Master Minuit, he showed no interest in the welfare of those who were serving him.

A short, fat man, who was overly fond of good dinners, and if I, who am nothing but a clerk in the employ of the Company, may say it, with not of brains enough to look after the concerns of such a town as New Amsterdam was becoming, yet withal he accomplished somewhat toward making this place beautiful.


As I have said before, my duties kept me in the storehouse, and so rapidly had the trade with the Indians increased, that instead of having only Kryn Gildersleeve to help me, there were now five men under my charge, while I myself was doing much of the bargaining with the Indians. Therefore it is that I know but little concerning what this new Director did or did not do.

It was told in New Amsterdam that he had been no more than a clerk in the employ of the West India Company in Holland; but he knew somewhat regarding trading, for we set up posts here and there in such number that all the gentlemen traders who had come over with Master Minuit were needed to look after them, which accounts for my being allowed to conduct the business affairs in the fort.

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