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A HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE CONTROVERSIES AND ATTEMPTED SETTLEMENTS RESPECTING THE NEWYORK AND CONNECTICUT BOUNDARY PREVIOUS TO THE YEAR 1855.
The contention between the Province of New-York and colony of Connecticut respecting their dividing line, for its long continuance was one of the most remarkable boundary disputes on record, and gave rise to many interesting matters in the colonial history of this country. That part of the coast lying between the Connecticut river and Delaware bay, like many other portions of the continent, was very early the subject of conflicting claims arising in a great degree from ignorance and false notions concerning the form and geographical character of the country over which they extended. The sources and directions of the Nile or Niger have not in the present century been more shrouded in mystery or given rise to more absurd conjectures than in the early part of the seventeenth attached to the St. Lawrence, the Connecticut, Hudson and Delaware rivers.*
Grounding the most positive claims upon the most vague notions, the representatives of the various maritime nations of Europe had asserted and endeavored to maintain their rights to large territories, in some cases by peaceful settlements, and in others by fortifications.
A full share of the troubles from these causes fell to the Dutch, who occupied that part of the coast having its centre at the mouth of the Hudson river, and they were in almost continual contention, growing out of the encroachments upon their pos
• On soveral of the early maps, Lake Champlain and Lake George are shown as lying east of the Connecticut river.
sessions on either side. With the Swedes at the South, they encountered open and serious hostilities. But they found the English on the East far more troublesome neighbors, either in peace or in war, and these for many years sorely vexed their quiet spirits. Too wily and cunning to yield any of their own possible advantages, they could not be brought to an amicable disposal of the disputes between the two colonies; while their enterprise was such that an attack upon one of their settlements and an attempt to expel'them by arms from the territory only seemed to scatter the seeds and stimulate the growth of new plantations, in unlooked for localities.
Proclamations, hostile demonstrations, written messages and plenipotentiary embassadors all having proved unavailing, Governor Peter Stuyvesant determined personally to make the endeavor to bring these vexatious settlers to some agreement, and to remove the causes of the irritations and troubles which had so long and so constantly disturbed the peace of his own orderly government. After many overtures to the English authorities and as many repulses from them, a meeting was at length arranged to be held at Hartford, and Governor Stuyvesant set out for that place on the 17th of September 1650,"in great state.”
STUYVESANT'S AGREEMENT AT HARTFORD, IN 1650.
The conference lasted until the 29th of the month, having several times narrowly escaped a dissolution without the accomplishment of its objects, from the punetilious dignity of the English people, and an apparent reluctance on their part to terminate the troubles.
The preliminaries having at length been disposed of, an agreement was entered into on the day last mentioned, upon various matters in dispute:
Concerning the bounds and limits between the English United Colonies and the Dutch province of New Netherlands," the agreement was as follows:
"Firstly, that upon Long Island, a line run from the westernmost part of Oster Bay, so, and in a straight and direct line to the sea, shall be the bounds betwixt the English and Dutch, there; the easterly part to belong to the English and the westernmost part to the Dutch.
" Secondly, the bounds upon the main, to begin at the west side of Greenwich bay, being about four miles from Stamford, and so to run a northerly line twenty miles up into the country, and after, as it shall be agreed by the two governments of the Dutch and of New Haven, provided the said line come not within ten miles of Hudson river; and it is agreed that the Dutch shall not, at any time hereafter, build any house or habitation within six miles of the said line. The inhabitants of Greenwich to remain, till further consideration thereof be had, under the government of the Dutch.
“Thirdly, that the Dutch shall hold and enjoy all the lands in Hartford, that they are actually possessed of, known or set' out by certain marks and bounds, and all the remainder of the said land on both sides of the Connecticut river, to be and remain to the English there.
“ And it is agreed that the aforesaid bounds and limits, both upon the island and main, shall be observed and kept inviolate, both by the English of the united Colonies and all the nation, without any encroachment or molestation, until a full and final determinatijn be agreed upon in Europe, by mutual consent of the two states of England and Holland.”
It will be seen that the Dutch claim to the rightful possession of the Connecticut river, and all the lands lying west of it, which had been stoutly asserted previously, was virtually abandoned on this occasion. Except a dispute about the location of the line across Long Island, there seems to have been no violation of the Hartford agreement calling for public action, so long as the Dutch rule in this province continued.
The confirmation in Europe, of the agreement of 1650, which had been expected, was never given on either side. On the contrary the English government showed its determination not to recognize the claims of the Dutch as valid, to any portion of the continent.
CONFLICTING ENGLISH PATENTS.
On the 23d of April 1662, King Charles II, by that famous charter, afterward so remarkably preserved, granted to the colony of Connecticut, a territory, described as follows:
“ All that part of our dominion in America, bounded on the east by Narraganset River, commonly called Naragonsit Bay, where the said river falleth into the sea, and on the north by the line of the Massachusetts plantation, and on the south by the sea, and in longitude as the line of the Massachusetts colony, running from east to west, that is to say, from the said Narraganset Bay on the East to the South sea on the West part with the Islands thereto adjoining,” &c.
This grant not only covered all the territory formerly in dis'pute, but included the greater part of that claimed and occupied by the Dutch upon the Hudson river, leaving them only a few miles at the mouth.
King Charles conveyed the remainder of the Dutch territory to his brother, the Duke of York and Albany, on the 24th of March 1663, by a charter granting that part of the continent east of Massachusetts, now comprised in the province of New Brunswick and the State of Maine (with some variations of the boundaries,) and also the whole of Long Island,“ together with all the said river called Hudson's river, and all the land from the west side of the Connecticut river to the east side of Delaware bay, and also all those several islands called or known by the name of Martin's Vineyard or Nantucks, or otherwise Nantuckit," &c.
. A comparison of the two charters with a map of the country
will show that the King bestowed upon his brother not only all the lands held and occupied by the Dutch, to which he had no respectable pretence of a right, but also the greater part of those which by a solemn charter he had a few months before granted and guaranteed to the colony of Connecticut.
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE ENGLISH AUTHORITY IN NEW-YORK.
The Duke of York at once prepared to take possession of the magnificent gift of his royal brother, and for that purpose sent out an
armed force under the command of Col. Richard Nicolls, to whom the city of New Amsterdam was surrendered on the 7th of Sep. tember, 1664.
The whole of the province of New Netherland became subject. to his government on the 12th of the next month.
The government of the province thus subdued devolved upon Col. Nicolls, who also held in conjunction with Sir Robert Carr, George Cartwright and S. Maverick, officers under his command, power to settle the questions respecting the contested boundaries of the patent.
Although the charter of Connecticut was earlier in its execution and consequently of paramount authority to the patent to the Duke of York, the inhabitants of that colony naturally felt alarm at His Majesty's disregard of their rights and the advent of so powerful a claimant for their lands.
The General Assembly of that Colony on the 13th of October 1664, appointed delegates to accompany the Governor to NewYork, for the purpose of congratulating the Duke's Commissioners, and of settling the boundary with them.
SETTLEMENT MADE IN 1664.
The delegation accordingly visited New-York and met with such success that an agreement was drawn up for execution, October 28th, by which the limits of "the province of New-York and colony of Connecticut, were fixed at twenty miles east of Hudson's river, running northward from Long Island sound, parallel to the course of that stream.
This document was not signed. It bears on its face interline
and the course, by the compass, which it would follow, the intention being to simplify the boundary without changing, to any great extent, its location.
The substance of the agreement is again written in the form of an adjudication, on the back of the paper, with various memoranda, apparently in the hand writing of Governor Nicolls, in