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

Village Laws

It was on this palisade that I read the first of Director Stuyvesant's messages, and during that stroll I saw so many of them that I can even now repeat the words. They ran like this, and, to my mind, it would have been well if Master Kieft had given his attention to the same matter:

"Whereas, we are informed of the great ravages the wolf commits on the small cattle; therefore to animate and encourage the proprietors who will go out and shoot the same, we have resolved to authorize the assistant Schout and Schepens to give public notice that whoever shall exhibit a wolf to them which hath been shot on this island, on this side Haarlem, shall be promptly paid therefor by them, for a wolf twenty florins, and for a she-wolf thirty florins in wampum, or the value thereof."

When the farmer's bell tolled from the belfrey of the church within the fort, all the gates in the palisade were closed, and no person might enter or leave the city from that time, which was nine of the clock in the evening, until sunrise of the next morning.

I have heard it said that there were many living beyond the palisade who claimed that this was all too early for them to leave the houses of their friends in the town, when there for a visit of pleasure; but I hold to it that he who would remain out of his bed longer than that is little better than a night-brawler, because of honest people being ready for sleep when the day's work is at an end.

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