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Van Der Donck

netherland, stuyvesant, history, peoples and land

VAN DER DONCK, Adrian, tribune of the people, the first lawyer in New Netherland and author of the initial illustrated book de scriptive of the country: b. at Breda, North Brabant. He was graduated at the University of Leyden. Appointed schout-fiscal or financial inspector of Rensselaerwijk, he served from 1641 to 1646; in which latter year he married the daughter of the Rev. Francis Doughty, an English clergyman who had fled from New England. He was active in peace negotiations between Governor Kieft and the Indians. De sirous of becoming a patroon, in order to have influence in behalf of the people, he tried to purchase an estate at Catskill. Prevented by Van Rensselaer, he went to Manhattan and bought land which was variously called Colen don.k, that is, Donck's Colony, the Yonkheer's land, or, as since shortened, Yonkers. His title was confirmed by the states-general. Able and public spirited, he was chosen in 1646 one of the Nine Men to represent the people and to act with the governor. Stuyvesant executed the orders of the Company with such drastic literalness, that in 1649 Van der Donck, acting for the commissioners, wrote out the Remon strance and Petition to the states-general. In the conflict between autocracy and corporation ism on the one hand, and the community on the other, Van der Donck's house was searched, his draft of the Remonstrance seized and he was imprisoned by Stuyvesant. When free, he led the people's delegates and arrived at The Hague before the emissaries of Stuyvesant, stating eloquently the people's plea for self government. Detained in Holland four years, his alma mazer made him a doctor of laws and he practised in the Supreme Court. His book,

descriptive of New Netherland, encouraged emi gration. It was rich in critically sifted informa tion as to fauna and resources, and he warned against destruction of the forests. In pure de scription, this work excels anything known in colonial literature. The map of the province and the picture of New Amsterdam in this book are those most often copied and familiar, to the average American. On his return, in 1653, to take further part in the struggle for self-government, intending also to write a full history of the colony from the beginning, he was never able to overcome Stuyvesant's im placable hostility or to examine the Company's records. He died in 1655. He was author of the Municipal Board, the true founder of mu nicipality and popular government on Manhat tan, and is deserving of the highest memorial honors. The key to his character as to Stuy vesant's is found in the chronic struggle be tween autocracy and corporationism on the one hand and the people's demand for self-govern ment on the other, which was incarnated in these two makers of New Netherland. His de scendants under the name of Onderdonck and Vandunck, or Verdunck, were numerous. His land in later days formed part of Fordham, Philipsburgh and the Van Cortland manor, and the museum in Van Cortland Park standing on or near the site of his old home. Consult Brodhead, 'History of the State of New York' (1859); Van Rensselaer, 'History of the City of New York) (1909) ; and Griffis, 'The Story of New Netherland' (1909).