The Life of Petrus Stuyvesant

Information about the life of Petrus Stuyvesant, as found in the records of the NYC Municipal Archives and the City of Amsterdam Archives, may be found here.

As you read about Stuyvesant's life, consider the following questions:

  1. Petrus Stuyvesant has been the victim of historical stereotypes that brand him as a peg-legged, inflexible, intolerant, autocratic ruler of New Netherland.  To what extent do the episodes illustrated by these documents shed new light on Stuyvesant as both a man and a leader? 
  2. As the Director-General of all of New Netherland (and the Dutch islands of Curacao, Aruba, and Bonaire) when he arrived in New Amsterdam in 1647, Stuyvesant was essentially the “governor” of a Dutch colony stretching from the South (Delaware) River, north to the North (Hudson) River, then northeast to the Fresh (Connecticut) River.  New Amsterdam, the central city for New Netherland, had its own separate municipal government after 1653.  Based on the documents, how would you describe the relationship between Stuyvesant as a colonial governor and the city government of New Amsterdam? Do you see any connections with today’s state governor / city mayor and council structure of government?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.