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The Dutch West India Company

The Staten Generaal, being the equivalent of the U.S. Congress, granted the Dutch West India Company the monopoly for trade on the American Continent. This monopoly was granted even though the proposed trading area was not Dutch property, but in fact, belonged to the Indians living there prior to the arrival of Dutch ships.

The trading posts established at New Netherland had to be protected, creating the need for soldiers, and in turn, those soldiers had to be fed. Items and services unavailable within the colonies had to be imported from The Netherlands, and in 1624 the first settlers arrived on the ship "Nieuw Nederland", and over the course of the next ten years, school teachers, doctors, merchants, and livestock were brought to the new colony.

Along with the trade rights, the Company was granted complete sovereignty over the new colony, which meant a form of government must be established, essentially creating a "state within a state".

Source of information: "The American Revolution - an HTML project", based on information submitted to the project by the University of Groningen, The Netherlands.

The hierarchy of the New Nedeland government was as follows: Council, Commander, Naval Officer, President, etc.

The Council of New Nederland served as both an Executive Coucil and as a Court of Justice. The members could not be sued before, and were not amenable to, a court of inferior jusrisdiction. On extraordianry occasions, it was usual to adjoin some of the inhabitants or public servants to the Board, and the Captains of the Company's ships, when on shore, had a voice therein. The Schout-fiscal had a seat, but no vote in the Council, and when he acted as prosecuting officer he retired from the Bench.

It is here, on this council, that we find Paulus Leendertsen Van Der Grist, during the following sessions:

*During 1647, Paul leendertsen van der Grist was the "Naval Officer", or superintendent of Naval Equipments. This was his position on May 27, 1647.

Extracted from "The Register of New Netherland", by E.B. O'Callaghan. Reprint 1995.

Burghers Great & Small

Burgher right allowed the citizen freedom of trade and exemption from toll. Additionally, he could not be sued by a fellow burgher, except in his own Burgh. A Burgher was also protected by what would appear to be forerunners of Amendments to our Constitutional Amendments, in that he could not be prisoned without bail, nor tried for any offense after one year had passed. Merchants, military, and those in the service of the Dutch West India Company were entitled to become Great Burghers and the Burgher right could be passed from one generation to the next, but only through the male line.

In New Netherland, only "Great Burghers" could fill public offices and receive exemption from confiscation and attainder, if convicted of a capital offense. All members of the Council, all Burghomasters & Shepens, all ministers and commissioned officers of the militia, past & present, with their descendants in the male line were declared by this Charter to be Great Burghers. For others to attain this position, they must pay Fifty Guilders to the city treasury.

Small Burghers had less privileges, being entitled only to freedom of trade and the privelege of being accepted by their respective guilds. Natives of the city of New Amsterdam, residents there for one year and six weeks before the date of the Charter, Burgher's son in laws, city store keepers, salaried servants of the Company, and all paying twentyfive Guilders were entitled to have their names added to the roll of "Small Burghers".

Source of information: "The Register of New Netherland 1626-1674" by E.B. O'Callaghan.