Page images
PDF
EPUB

the king made Stoll the bearer of his thanks to the people for their fidelity, he so little regarded Leisler's complaints against Nicholson, that the latter was soon after made the governor of Virginia, while Dougan returned to Ireland and became Earl of Limerick.

Leisler's sudden rise to supreme power over the province, with fair prospects of King William's approbation of his conduct, could but excite the envy and jealousy of the late council and magis. trates, who had refused to join in aiding the revolution; and hence the cause of all their aversion both to the man and his measures. Colonel Bayard and Courtland, the mayor of the city, headed the opposition to Leisler, and, finding it impossible to raise a party against him in the city, they very early retired to Albany, and there endeavored to foment the opposition. Leisler, fearful of their influence, and to extinguish the jealousy of the people, thought it prudent to admit several trusty persons to a participation in that power which the militia, on the first of July, had committed solely to himself. In conjunction with these, who, after the Boston example, were called the committee of safety, he exercised the government, assuming to himself only the honor of being president of their councils.

This mode of government continued till the

month of December, when a packet arrived with a letter from the Lords Carmarthen, Halifax and others, directed to “Francis Nicholson, esq., or, in his absence, to such as, for the time being, take care for preserving the peace and administering the laws, in their majesty's province of New York, in America.” This letter was dated the 29th of July and was accompanied by another from Lord Nottingham, dated next day, which empowered Nicholson to take upon him the chief command, and to appoint for his assistance as many of the principal freeholders and inhabitants, as he should deem necessary, also requiring him “to do every thing appertaining to the office of lieutenant-gov. ernor, according to the laws and customs of New York, until further orders.”

As Nicholson had absconded before the letter reached New York, Leisler considered the letter as directed to himself, and from this time issued all kinds of commissions in his own name, assuming the title and authority of lieutenant-governor. It was while he was thus acting as governor that his daughter made a visit to Salem as was stated in the preceding chapter. On the 11th of December, he summoned the committee of safety and, agreeably to their advice, swore in the following persons for his council.

“Peter De Lanoy, Samuel Stoats, Hendrick Jansen and Johannes Vermilie,

for New York; Gerardus Beekman, for King's County; Thomas Williams for West Chester, and William Lawrence, for Orange County.

Except the eastern inhabitants of Long Island, all the southern part of the colony cheerfully acquiesced to Leisler's command. The principal freeholders, however, by respectful letters, gave him hopes of their submission, and thereby prevented his taking up arms against them, while they were privately soliciting the colony of Connecticut to take them under its jurisdiction. It was not so much an aversion to Leisler's authority, as a desire to unite with a people from whom they had originally sprung, which prompted the Long Islanders to desire a union with Connecticut, and when Connecticut declined their offer of annexation, they appeared to openly advocate Leisler's

cause.

At Albany, the people were determined to hold the garrison and city for King William, independent of Leisler, and on the 26th of October, before the arrival of the packet from Lord Nottingham, they formed themselves into a convention to resist what they called the usurpation of Leisler. As Leisler's attempt to reduce this country to his command was the original cause of divisions in the province, and in the end brought about the ruin of himself and his son-in-law, it may not be out of

place here to give the resolution of the convention at large, a copy of which was sent down to the usurping governor.

“Peter Schuyler, mayor, Dirk Wessels, recorder, Jan Wendal, Jan Jansen Bleeker, Claes Ripse, David Schuyler, Albert Ryckman, aldermen, Killian Van Rensselaer, justice, Captain Marte Gerritse, justice, Captain Gerrit Teunisse, Dirk Teunisse, justices, Lieutenant Robert Saunders, John Cuyler, Gerrit Ryerse, Evert Banker, Rynier Barentse.

“Resolved: since we are informed by persons coming from New York, that Captain Jacob Leisler is designed to send up a company of armed men, upon pretence to assist us in this country, who intend to make themselves master of their majesties' fort and this city, and carry divers persons and chief officers of this city prisoners to New York, and so disquiet and disturb their majesties' liege people; that a letter be written to Alderman Levinus Van Schaic, now at New York, and Lieutenant Jochim Staets, to make narrow inquiry of the business, and to signify to the said Leisler, that we have received such information; and withal acquaint him, that, notwithstanding we have the assistance of ninety-five men from our neighbors of New England, who are now gone for, and one hundred men upon occasion, to command, from the

county of Ulster, which we think will be sufficient this winter, yet we will willingly accept any such assistance as they shall be pleased to send for the defence of their majesties' county of Albany; provided they be obedient to, and obey such orders and commands as they shall, from time to time, receive from the convention; and that by no means they will be admitted to have the command of their majesties' fort or this city; which we intend, by God's assistance, to keep and preserve for the behoof of their majesties, William and Mary, King and Queen of England, as we hitherto have done since their proclamation; and if you hear that they persevere with such intentions, so to disturb the inhabitants of this county, that you then, in the name and behalf of the convention and inhabitants of the city and county of Albany, protest against the said Leisler, and all such persons that shall make attempt for all losses, damages, bloodshed, or whatsoever mischiefs may insue thereon; which you are to communicate with all speed, as you perceive their design.”

Taking it for granted that Leisler at New York and the convention at Albany were equally affected by the revolution, nothing could be more egregiously foolish than the conduct of both parties, who, by their intestine divisions, threw the province into convulsions, sowing the seeds of mutual

« PreviousContinue »