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The Dutch, through the directors of the West India Company, purchased Manhattan Island in 1625. They had come to the New World as traders, not expecting to assume responsibility as the sovereign possessor of a conquered New Netherland. They did not intend to make war on the native peoples around Manhattan Island, but they did; they did not intend to help destroy native cultures, but they did; they intended to be overseas the tolerant, pluralistic, and antimilitaristic people they thought themselves to be--and in so many respects were--at home, but they were not.For the Dutch intruders, establishing a settled presence away from the homeland meant the destabilization of the adventurers' values and self-regard. They found that the initially peaceful encounters with the indigenous people soon took on the alarming overtones of an insurgency as the influx of the Dutch led to a complete upheaval and eventual disintegration of the social and political worlds of the natives.How are the Dutch to be judged? Donna Merwick, in The Shame and the Sorrow, asks this question. She points to a betrayal both of their own values and of the native peoples. She also directs us to the self-delusion of hegemonic control. Her work belongs alongside the best of today's postcolonial studies in the description of cross-cultural violence and subtle questioning of the nature of writing its history.
Stuyvesant Bound is an innovative and compelling evaluation of the last director general of New Netherland. Donna Merwick examines the layers of culture in which Peter Stuyvesant forged his career and performed his responsibilities, ultimately reappraising the view of Stuyvesant long held by the majority of U.S. historians and commentators.Borrowing its form from the genre of eighteenth- and nineteenth-?century learned essays, Stuyvesant Bound invites the reader to step into a premodern worldview as Merwick considers Stuyvesant's role in history from the perspectives of duty, belief, and loss. Stuyvesant is presented as a mid-seventeenth-century magistrate obliged by his official oath to manage New Netherland, including installing Calvinist politics and belief practices under the fragile conditions of early modern spirituality after the Protestant Reformation. Merwick meticulously reconstructs the process by which Stuyvesant became his own archivist and historian when, recalled to The Hague to answer for his surrender of New Netherland in 1664, he gathered together papers amounting to almost 50,000 words and offered them to the States General. Though Merwick weaves the theme of loss throughout this meditation on Stuyvesant's career, the association culminates in New Netherland's fall to the English in 1664 and Stuyvesant's immediate recall to Holland to defend his surrender. Rigorously researched and unabashedly interpretive, Stuyvesant Bound makes a major contribution to recovery of the cultural and religious diversity that marked colonial America.
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