dated September 22, 1654, from Peter Stuyvesant to the directors
of the Dutch West India Company.
The Jews who have arrived would nearly all like to remain
here, but learning that they (with their customary usury
and deceitful trading with the Christians) were very repugnant
to the inferior
magistrates, as also to the people having the most affection
for you; the Deaconry also fearing that owing to their present
indigence they might become a charge in the coming winter,
we have, for the benefit of this weak and newly developing
place and the land in general, deemed it useful to require
them in a friendly way to depart, praying also most seriously
in this connection, for ourselves as also for the general
community of your worships, that the deceitful race -- such
hateful enemies and blasphemers of the name of Christ --
be not allowed to further infect and trouble this new colony
to the detraction of your worships and the dissatisfaction
of your worships' most affectionate subjects.
The Jewish refugees turned to influential Jewish shareholders
of the West India Company in Holland for help. As a result
of their intercession, Company officials wrote this letter
ordering Stuyvesant to let the Jews remain in New Amsterdam:
April 26, 1655
. . .We would have liked to effectuate and fulfill your
wishes and request that the new territories should no more
be allowed to be infected by people of the Jewish nation,
for we foresee therefrom the same difficulties which you
fear, but after having further weighed and considered the
matter, we observe that this would be somewhat unreasonable
and unfair, especially because of the considerable loss
sustained by this nation, with others, in the taking of
Brazil, as also because of the large amount of capital which
they still have invested in the shares of this company.
Therefore after many deliberations we have finally decided
and resolved to apostille [annotate] upon a certain petition
presented by said Portuguese Jews that these people may
travel and trade to and in New Netherland and live and remain
there, provided the poor among them shall not become a burden
to the company or to the community, but be supported by
their own nation. You will now govern yourself accordingly.
Stuyvesant replied that Jewish settlers should not be granted
the same liberties enjoyed by Jews in Holland, lest members
of other persecuted minority groups, such as Roman Catholics,
be attracted to the colony. Dutch West India Company officials,
sharing his fears, responded with the following ruling.
The consent given to the Jews to go to New Netherland and
there to enjoy the same liberty that is granted them in
this country was extended with respect to civil and political
liberties, without the said Jews becoming thereby entitled
to a license to exercise and carry on their religion in
synagogues or gatherings.
A year later, Stuyvesant sent the following wry report to
the company on his compliance with the company's policies.
June 10, 1656
. . . Considering the Jewish nation with regard to trade,
they are not hindered, but trade with the same privilege
and freedom as other inhabitants. Also, they have many times
requested of us the free and public exercise of their abominable
religion, but this cannot yet be accorded to them. What
they may be able to obtain from your Honors time will tell.