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Report of the Special Committee


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  No. 57 Fulton Street. 
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that they had a right to use it solely for their own exclusive benefit or to exercise jurisdiction or control over it and make a monopoly of it forever; as well as it being of a public character, it was temporary, and being so they could be divested of it at any time.— New York has not now nor ever has had any exclusive or vested rights whatever on the Brooklyn shore; it is true she has held possession of our shore and our ferries for many years, and by far too long, and still continues to hold possession of them, but the certainly is no evidence that she ever had the right or any good reason why she should retain it; and moreover, she cannot produce any real substantial, legal or honest evidence or claim to any such right. No man nor body of men moves or acts without a motive, and there was a double motive which prompted the granting of this charter to New York. The first was gain, the love of money; the next is expressed in the charter in these words: "to prevent divers persons from transporting themselves and goods over the river without coming to the ferry, and for the better improvement and accommodation of said ferry, with full power to establish other ferries."

Now what right had a colonial governor or any body else to prevent any person from crossing the river, a great public highway, in his own boat, and further compel him to go to a ferry established by the same governor for his own benefit? None whatever. To say the least of it, it was an outrage, and a gross, high-handed exercise of undelegated power. The East River is, and always has been a public highway, and it never was in the power of any man or body of men whatever to prohibit the people from using it as a public highway, and that too, of persons who lived on the shore and owned their own boats; it is unprecedented in the history of the world. The only object apparently, in compelling persons to go to the ferry was that the revenue of the governor might be increased. Again, upon what principle or upon what precedent could this have been founded except to oppress with a heavier hand the people of Brooklyn, and add another injury to the many they were already suffering under from this unprincipled governor and his spurious charter. Can there be any reason or palliation in taking by fraud possession of FOUR MILES of the shore to protect or establish a ferry or a dozen of them? There can be no excuse, no justification for such palpable injustice and robbery. If any of our governors, legislatures, or any other authority should attempt such a high-handed assumption of power and arrogrance at this day, and advance such vague unreasonable and

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note by governor Dongan, was the granting a charter to the city of New York, on the 22d day of April 1686. In this charter one ferry is mentioned, which was from the foot of the Breede Graft, (Broad street) in New York, to a place about fifteen hundred yards west of its present location on the Broklyn side. The language of the charter in reference to the ferry is as follows: "of one ferry and jurisdiction all round Manhattan Island to low water mark." This was the first charter granted to New York, and her rights are clearly set forth and defined in it in these words: "the lands, hereditaments, liberties, privileges, franchises, rights, royalties, free customs, jurisdictions and immunities in the city of NEW YORK and UPON MANHATTANS ISLAND, aforesaid."

Here then, it will be perceived that this charter expressly declares that the rights, jurisdictions, franchises &c. &c. do not extend beyond low water mark, round Manhattan Island. This charter then goes on to particularize and specify all the property of the city of New York, such as the public buildings and commons on that island only, and in no part of it is there a word mentioned concerning Brooklyn or the strip of land lying between high and low water mark on our shore.

This charter of Dongan's to New York, like the succeeding ones were petitioned for by the Mayor and Common Council of New York, and like them also was obtained from the governor with a bribe of money, as the following proceedings will show.

"Citty of New Yorke, Att a Common Councill helt att the Citty Hall, for the sayd citty, on Monday, the 2nd day of February, 1684. Present — Mayor, Recorder, N. Bayard, Mr. Jno. Lawrence, Mr. Andrew Bowne, and Mr. Cerfleck, Mr. Wm. Merritt, Mr. Abm. Corbett, Mr. Debruque, Mr. Saml. Wilson, Mr. Kipp, Common Councill. Resolved unanimously, That the Governour be treated with to confirme to this citty all the vacant land in and about this citty and island, to low water mark. The Ferry, &c."

This petition, it will be noticed, is dated and the proceedings had, on the 2d day of February, 1684. Two years and two months elapsed before any thing was done in this matter, when the following proceedings were had which explains the reason of the long delay of the governor in not granting the prayer of the petitioners.

"Att a Common Council held for the citty of New Yorke, the 24th day of Aprile, Anno Domini, 1686."

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rights of the inhabitants of Brookland are clearly and explicitly set forth and enlarged with additional guards and protection for the safety and perpetuity of the rights and privileges of the people of Brooklyn. There is a reddendum or quit rent added in this instrument, to be paid by the town of Brooklyn, which neither of the previous patents or grants contained or required. This quit rent was merely nominal, and was regularly and promptly paid from the date of the charter, May 13th, 1686, to the 6th day of April, 1775, a period of eighty-nine years. Here there was an interregnum of eleven years, during which time no quit rent was paid, in consequence of the revolutionary war. Shortly after the termination of our struggle for liberty, a demand was made on Brooklyn for arrearages of quit rent, which had accrued during the eleven years. The whole of these arrearages were paid, as the following receipts will prove.

"Received of Charles Debevoice, collector for Brookland, twenty bushels of wheat, in full for one years quit rent of the said township, due the 25th of March last.

New York, 6th of April, 1775. JOHN MOORE, D'R GEN." The last one is as follows:

"Received, Nov. 9th, 1786, from Messrs. Fernandus Suydam and Charles C. Doughty, two of the Trustees of the township of Brookland, public securities which with the interest all owed thereon, amount to one hundred and five pounds ten shillings in full for the arrears of quit rent that would have arisen on the pattent granted to the town of Brookland, the 13th day of May, 1686.


Thus therefore, we have the evidence that the requirements of the charter were complied with on the part of Brooklyn, for a period of one hundred years. If Brooklyn was not entitled to the water front, why should she have been required to pay for what she did not own? There certainly can be no just or legal reason for withholding from her what upon every principle of justice and equity she is entitled to. In the year 1670 a purchase was made by the Trustees of Brooklyn from the Indians, by permission of governor Lovelace, of some lands which were in dispute between the Trustees and the Indians, located about Bedford. This purchase finally and satisfactorily settled all differences in the town of Brooklyn in regard to their town, and the rights and privileges belonging to it were amicably adjusted. This [begin surface 5] 20 was the last executive act on this subject, and any more would have been superfluous and unnecessary. These several patents, grants and purchases were however, confirmed by a legislative act on the 6th day of May, 1691. By this act all the patents, grants, charters and purchases were confirmed, thus giving supreme legislative sanction and authority to the acts of the several executives. Taking then, all these proofs into consideration, what stronger or more positive and conclusive evidence do we require to recover our ancient rights and privileges? certainly none, they are unanswerable and undeniable. Let, then, our claim be prosecuted with vigor and energy, and the result will be that Brooklyn will be vested with her ancient ownership again. It must be borne in mind that up to this time, (1691) Brooklyn had supreme control and full and complete possession of the town, and the appurtenances thereunto belonging, for the space of fifty-three years, long enough certainly, to establish permanently and beyond all cavil or dispute, her claim. The people of Brooklyn felt themselves secure in their town rights during this long period, and until the year 1694, when New York began to look on Brooklyn with a jealous and envious eye, eagerly watching and wishing for an opportunity to get a foothold in Brooklyn, and in this year they entered into negotiations with one William Morris, for a small piece of land near the old ferry, (now Fulton Ferry.) The deed of conveyance is dated the 12th day of October, 1694, and is from William Morris to the Corporation of New York.

1694 The ferry was in regular operation

The reason assigned by New York at that time for their anxiety to purchase this small plot of land, was that they required a place for the safe keeping of cattle which were driven to the ferry, and oftentimes compelled to wait a long time for the boat, there being then but one boat, and that propelled by men with oars, and were frequently a long time in crossing the river. How, at what time, and in what manner Mr. Morris came in possession of this land, does not appear, as there is no record of his purchase of it anywhere to be found. The right of Morris to convey this land is doubtful and questionable, as it does not appear how he came possessed of it.— There are some suspicious circumstances connected with this affair, one of which is, that there is no consideration mentioned in the deed to New York, which gives it very much of the complexion of a fraud or a conspiracy. The following is a true copy of the deed:

"This Indenture, made the 12th day of October, in the sixth year

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This deed, doubtful as the conveyance is, having no consideration named in it, did not extend to the river, there being another piece of land containing one acre of land lying between that conveyed to the corporation of New York by Morris, and the East River. This acre of land belonged to Samuel Gerritsen, who sold it to David Aerson, on the 15th day of January, 1717. On the next day (16th) David Aerson sold this identical acre of land he had purchased but the day before, to Gerrit Harsum, of New York, for £108 New York currency. It is somewhat singular that such haste was resorted to in disposing of this property in order to get it in possession of some person in New York.

From this purchase by the corporation of New York from Morris, and the two subsequent conveyances of the land adjoining, may be attributed the first cause which led New York to imagine that they had a right to the whole of the water front on the Brooklyn shore, which contains by actual measurement, 127 acres. New York saw and felt the great advantages which this little plot of ground afforded them on our shore, securing to them a foothold on which they might encroach to any extent with impunity. They therefore were resolved and fully determined that as soon as an opportunity offered, they would make an effort to get possession of the whole of the water front. An opportunity did present itself in the year 1708, and they were not slow in embracing and improving it, by the aid and co-operation of the governor, as will be seen hereafter. Having briefly reviewed the miscalled charters granted to New York, relating to the ferry and water front of Brooklyn, it is now proposed to begin with the first settler on Long Island, and with him the first grant of land also on Long Islaud, and trace up each successive one in their regular order, as could be obtained, with several confirmations. The first patent of land granted on Long Island, was in the town of Breucklen, at the Waale-Boght, a part of which is now occupied by the U.S. Naval Hospital, granted by Peter Minuet, first Director General and Governor of New Netherlands.

This patent was to Sarah Rapelje, daughter of George Jansen De Rapelje, the first white settler on Long Island. Sarah was born on the 9th day of June, 1625, and as governor Minuet avers, he granted to Sarah twenty morgen (forty acres) of land at the Waale-Boght, in consideration of her being the first white child born on Long Island. Sarah Rapelje married Hans Hanse Bergen, by whom she had six children, soon after the birth of the sixth child, Hans Hanse died.

—a Dutch "morgen" is two acres [begin surface 7] Nicolls's Charter to Brooklyn Nicholls 24

The next evidence in favor of Brooklyn is a charter ^^1667 to the freeholders and inhabitants as patentees, and their associates and successors forever, confirmatory of the former grants and patents, reciting them more at large, and explaining them more at length and more particularly specifying and fixing the boundaries of the town in express and plain terms, as follows:

"[L.S.] Richard Nicolls, Esq. Governor General under his Royal Highness James, Duke of Yorke and Albany, &., of all his terretorys in America. To all whom these presents shall come, Greeting: Whereas, there is a certain town within this government, situate, lying and being in the West Riding of Yorkshire, upon Long Island, commonly called and known by the name of Breuckelen, which said town is in the tenure or occupation of several freeholders and inhabitants, who having heretofore been seated there by authority, have been at considerable change in manuring and planting a considerable part of the lands belonging thereunto, and settled a competent number of families thereupon.

Now, for a confirmation unto the said freeholders and inhabitants in their possession and enjoyment of the premises, Know Ye, That by virtue of the commission and authority unto me given, by his Royal Highness, I have given, ratified, confirmed and granted, and by these presents do give, ratify, confirm and grant unto Jan Everts, Jan Damen, Albert Cornelisen, Paulus Veer Beeck, Michael Enyel, Thomas Lamberts, Teunis Guysbert Bogart and Joris Jacobsen, as patentees, for and on behalf of themselves and their associates, the freeholders and inhabitants of the said town, their heirs successors and assigns, all that tract together with the several parcels of land, which already have or hereafter shall be purchased or procured, for and on behalf of the said town, wether from the native Indian proprietors or others, within the bounds and limits hereafter set forth and exprest, viz: that is to say, the town is bounded westward on the farther side of the land of Paulus Veer Beeck, from whence stretching southeast they go over the hills, and so eastward along the said hills to a southeast point, which takes in all the lotts behind the swamp, from which said lotts then run northwest to the river, and extend to the farm on the t'other side of the hill heretofore belonging to Hans Hansen, over against the Kicke or Lookout, including within the said bounds and limits all the plantations lying and being at the Gowanis, Bedford, Wallabout and the Ferry. All which said parcels and tracts of land and premises within the bounds and limits aforesaid mentioned, described, and all or any plantation or plantations thereupon, from henceforth, are to bee, appertaine, and belong to the said town of Breuckelen. Together with all the havens, harbours, creeks, quarreys, wood land, meadow ground, reed land or valley of all sorts, pastures, marshes, runs, rivers, lakes, hunting, fishing, hawking, and fowling, and all other proffits, commoddities, emoluments, and hereditaments [begin surface 8] 25 to the said lands and premises, within the bounds and limitts, all forth belonging or in any wise appurtaining, and withall to have freedom of commonage, for range and feed of cattle and horse, into the woods, as well without as within these bounds limitts, with the rest of their neighbors, as also one third part of a certain neck of meadow ground or valley, called Sellers' neck, lying and being within the limits of the town of Jamaica, purchased by the said town of Jamaica from the Indians, and sold by them unto the inhabitants of Breuckelen aforesaid, as it has been lately laid out and divided by their mutual consent and my order, whereunto and from which they are likewise to have free egress and regress, as their occasions may require. To have and to hold all and singular the said tract and parcell of land, meadow ground or valley, commonage, hereditaments and premises, with their and every of their appurtenances, and of every part and parcell thereof, to the said patentees and their associates, their heirs, successors and assigns, to the proper use and behoof of the said patentees, and their associates, their heirs, successors and assigns forever. Moreover, I do hereby give, ratify, confirm and grant unto the said patentees, and their associates, their heirs, successors and assigns, all the rights and privileges belonging to a town within this government, and that the place of their present habitation shall continue and retain the name of Breuckelen, by which name and stile it shall be distinguished and known in all bargains and sales made by them, the said patentees, and their associates, their heirs, successors and assigns, rendering and paying such duties and acknowledgements, as now are or hereafter shall be constituted and established by the laws of this government, under the obedience of his Royal Highness, his heirs and successors.

Given under my hand and seal at Fort James, in New Yorke, on the Island of Manhattat, this 18th day of October, in the nineteenth year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord, Charles the Second, by the grace of God, of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c.

Annonque Domini, 1667. RICHARD NICOLLS. Recorded by the order of the Governor, the day and the year above written. MATTHIAS NICHOLLS, Secretary."

This charter, is in all respects confirmatory of the two grants made to Sarah Rapelje in 1625, the one to Abraham Rycken in 1638, and the one to Jan Manje in 1642, as also the patent of Governor Stuyvezant in 1648, together with the several patents to individuals, and purchases by them from the Indians. That this charter grants to Brooklyn the whole of the water front, and the land lying between high and low water mark, there can be no doubt. Notwithstanding 4 [begin surface 9] 26 these full, explicit and plain grants, patents, and this confirmation to Brooklyn of all these rights and franchises, there appeared to exist some doubts in the minds of some of the freeholders in the town that they had not yet fully secured to their own satisfaction, and particularly to the satisfaction of the Indians, full and complete possession of certain lands which the Indians claimed as still their own, having, as they averred, not been purchased from them or included in any of the previous grants, patents, purchases or confirmations.

The freeholders and inhabitants of the town, desirous of living at peace with their neighbors, the Indians, and quieting and satisfying them, they agreed among themselves, if permission could be obtained from the Governor, to purchase from them all the lands which they claimed within the limits of the town. Accordingly the freeholders and inhabitants of the town held a public meeting, and resolved to petition the Governor to grant them permission to purchase such land within the town as the Indians claimed. At this time Francis Lovelace was the governor of the colony.

In the month of April, 1670, the freeholders and inhabitants presented to the governor a petition in which they assign the following as a reason for the purchase:

"For their own better and more permanent security, and having been at considerable expense in clearing, fencing, and manuring their lands.'"

This reasonable and respectful request was presented to Governor Lovelace, which he took into consideration, and on the 1st day of May, 1670, the governor, under his own hand and seal granted to the applicants permission to purchase from the Indians all the lands and appurtenances thereto belonging, and on the 14th day of the same month, (May) and year (1670) a public meeting of the freeholders and inhabitants of Brooklyn was held, whereat four persons, freeholders of the town, where chosen as commissioners, to treat with the five Indian Chiefs for the lands claimed by them.

The following is a true copy of the license granted by Governor Lovelace, empowering these commissioners to make the purchase for and on behalf of the freeholders and the inhabitants of the town of Brooklyn:

[L.S.] "Whereas the inhabitants of Breucklyn, in the west Riding of Yorkshire, upon Long Island, who were seated there in a town- ? subject for a print? engraving? [begin surface 10] 27 ship, by the authority then in being, and having bin at considerable charges in clearing, ffencing and manuring their land, as well as building ffor their conveniency have requested my lycence for their further security to make purchase of the said land of some Indians who lay claim and interest therein: These are to certify, all whom it may concern, that I have and doe hereby give the said inhabitants lycense to purchase their land according to their request, the said Indians concerned, appearing before me as in the law required, and making their acknowledgements to be fully satisfied, and payed for the same.

Given under my hand and seal at ffort James, in New York, the ffirst day of May. in the 22nd year of his Majesties reign, Annoque Dom. 1670.


This license was placed in the hands of the four town commissioners immediately after their appointment, when they proceeded to the performance of the duty imposed upon them by the freeholders and inhabitants of the town, by making an appointment to meet the five Indian Chiefs, in order to consummate the purchase.

They accordingly met and agreed upon the terms, and drew up the following deed, each party signing it respectively.

"To all people to whom this present writing shall come: Peter, Elmohar, Job, Marquiquos, and Shamese, late of Staten Island, send Greeting:

Whereas, they, the said Peter, Elmohar, Job, Marquiquos, and Shamese, aforesaid mentioned, doe lay claime to the land now in the tenure and occupation of some of the Inhabitants of Breuckelen, as well as the true Indian owners and proprietors thereof: Know Yee, that for and in consideration of a certain sum of wampum and divers other goods, the which in the schedule annext are exprest unto the said sachems, in hand payed by Monsier Machiell Hainelle, Thomas Lambertse, John Lewis and Peter Darmentier, on the behalf of themselves, the inhabitants of Breuckelen, the receipt whereof they doe hereby acknowledge, and themselves to be fully satisfyed and payed therefor, have given, granted, bargained and sold, and by these presents doe fully, freely, and absolutely give, grant, bargain and sell unto the said Monsier Machiell Hainelle, Thomas Lambertse, John Lewis and Peter Darmentier, ffor and on behalf of themselves and the inhabitants aforesaid, their heyrs, and successors, all that parcell of land and tract of land, in and about Bedford, within the jurisdiction of Breuckelen, beginning ffrom Hendrick Van Aarnhem's land, by a swamp of water, and stretching to the hills, then going along the hills to the port or entrance thereof, and so to Rockaway ffoot path, as their purchase is more particularly set fforth: To have [begin surface 11] 28 and to hold all the said parcell and tract of land and premises within the limits before described, unto the said Monsier Machiell Hainelle, Thomas Lambertse, John Lewis and Peter Darmentier, ffor and on behalf of the inhabitants aforesaid, and their heyres and successors, to the proper use and behooff of the said inhabitants, their heyres and successors forever. In witness whereof, the partyes to these presents have hereunto sett their hands and seals, this 14th day of May, in the 22nd yeare of his majestyes reigne, Annoque Dom. 1670.

Sealed and delivered in the presence of Matthias Nicholls, R. Louch, Samuel § his mark Davis, John Garland

The mark of § PETER, L.S. The mark of O ELMOHAR, L.S. The mark of X JOB, L.S. The mark of ? MARQUIQUOS, L.S. The mark of 7 SHAMESE, L.S.

This deed was acknowledged by the within written Sachems, before the Governor, in the presence of us, the day and year within written.


Recorded by the Governor,


The following is the consideration agreed upon by the parties to this deed, and paid to the five Indian Chiefs by the four commissioners:

"The payment agreed upon ffor the purchase of the land in and about Bedford, within the jurisdiction of Breuckelen, conveyed this day by the Indian Chiefs, proprietors, is, vis:

100 Guilders Seawant. Half a tun of Strong Beer. 2 half tuns of Good Beer. 3 Guns, long barrels, with each a pound of powder and lead, proportionable, 2 bars to a gun, 4 match coats."

In the foregoing deed, it will be observed that the utmost friendship and amity existed between the inhabitants of this town and the Indians, and from this time the wild shriek of the war whoop and the clanking of the tomahawk of the red man was heard no more in this town. The calumet of peace was smoked, and all bitterness and hostility was buried with the tomahawk, never to be exhumed.

This purchase entirely, completely and satisfactorily settled and quieted all disputes and disaffections which had but slightly existed in this town, between the inhabitants and aborigines, a short time [begin surface 12] 29 prior to this purchase. The freeholders and inhabitants of the town of Brooklyn up to the time of the consummation of this purchase, were positive that the former purchases, patents, grants and charters were full, complete and comprehensive, to all intents and purposes, for their town, and embraced and comprehended all the lands, runs, rivers, creeks and water front, franchises, ferries, rights and privileges within the limits of the town. Of this fact there can be no doubt, and the strongest evidence in favor of this opinion is, that it was the last purchase made by the inhabitants, and that no future claim was ever set up by any person or persons, to any of the lands or rights within the town.

Certain as were the inhabitants of this of their right to the whole of the lands which comprised this town, they desired not only ownership but quiet and peaceable possession of it, and to live with their red brethren in the utmost harmony and friendship.

Peace, as well as possession was a great object with the inhabitants, and they were willing to accede to any reasonable terms or demands, and to make some sacrifice to accomplish this desideratum. This last act accomplished a final settlement; and extinguished every claim which the Indians had ever had in any part of the town of Brooklyn, and all and every franchise they had ever possessed, and established harmony throughout the town, among all parties.

The consummation of this purchase had the desired effect, as it allayed all acrimonious feeling, satisfied all parties, and also produced among the Indians cheerful and willing obedience, and a ready co-operating acquiescence in the town government, acknowledging its authority, obeying its laws, and in adhering firmly and contentedly to the pledges made, and writings executed between them and the freeholders and inhabitants of this town.

Nothing worthy of note occurred in the colony of New York from the abdication of Governor Lovelace until the arrival of Col. Thomas Dongan, in 1683. The first public act of any importance by governor Dongan was, the granting of the charter to New York, on the 22nd day of April, 1686.

This was the first charter in reality, which had been granted to them, whatever others they may have had were of a very limited character, and contained only the plan of the government of that city, and instructions how it should be administered, and who were qualified and who not.

[begin surface 13] —is this the first of the ferry? 30

This charter of Dongan's ^1686 " establishes one ferry to Long Island, which is the only matter in it which interests Brooklyn, and is in these words: "and have established and settled one ferry from the said city of New York to Long Island, for the accommodation and conveniency of passengers, the said citizens and travellers."

The travellers here referred to, doubtless were intended to apply and did so apply to the people of Brooklyn, and from the tenor and language used in the charter, it is conclusive that the granting of this ferry to New York, was not to that city exclusively, or permanently, neither was it a franchise to them solely, but for the benefit of all persons who had occasion to use the ferry.

This charter also contains a proviso which is of some importance to Brooklyn, being a saving clause of the rights, privileges, franchises and immunities conferred on the free holders and inhabitants of Brooklyn in the several purchases, grants, patents, and charters previously made and confirmed to them; this proviso is as follows:

"Provided always that the said privileges, franchises and powers be no inconsistent with or repugnant to the laws of his Majesty's Kingdom, of England, or other laws of the general Assembly of this Province as aforesaid."

These two extracts contain all which in any way concerns Brooklyn. It will be observed that this instrument grants to New York but one ferry, (and that for public purposes,) but is entirely silent in regard to the land lying between high and low water mark on the Brooklyn shore. We must therefore take it for proof positive, in the absence of any proof to the contrary, that New York had no rights whatever, either express or implied, to establish or take the control of more than this one ferry; and certain it is also, that they had not the slightest shadow of a shade to the strip of land lying between high and low water mark on the Brooklyn shore; but the contrary appears as regards this right, wherein it is clearly set forth and established beyond all doubt in the various documents relating thereto, executed to Brooklyn. It will be recollected that this charter was granted to New York on the 22nd day of April, 1686, and at the request of the Common Council, who petitioned the governor for it, and gave him £200 for it. On the 13th day of May, 1686, twenty-one days after the date of the charter to New York, governor Dongan granted a charter and confirmation to Brooklyn, of all the former ones, enlarging [begin surface 14] 31 if possible, and more firmly and fully guaranteeing to the town of Brooklyn all the rights, privileges, franchises, and other things, which they had enjoyed peaceably and uninterruptedly for a period of forty-four years: all former patents and charters having stood firm and unaltered up to this time, and the people contented and happy, and in quiet and undoubted possession of their town. It was the prevailing custom in those times with each successive governor to issue his proclamation as soon after his induction in the gubernatorial chair as convenient to himself, to the people, or the Common Council, as the case might be, throughout the Province, and require of them to present to him their former and present patents or charters, for his examination; if they were found to be satisfactory to him, and not prejudicial to or inconsistent with his Majesty's prerogatives, or contrary to the common law of England, which was the same in this Province, he usually confirmed all the former ones, and sometimes extended and enlarged them, and where he could levy a fee upon the grantees he invariably done it and pocketed it, which he considered his perquisite. In the instance of New York, however, with governor Dongan, this custom (as it was only a custom, there being no law, authority, or right for it, other than the tyrranny and avarice of the governor,) was not adhered to for the reason that the Common Council of New York did not give the governor time to issue his proclamation to them. The Common Council of New York anticipated the governor by passing a resolution, and appointing a committee with power to offer the governor £200 for a charter. The committee presented to his excellency a copy of the resolution, and he told the committee that he would take time to consider it.

This proposition was agreed to, and in a few days the committee again waited upon the governor and presented to him the £200 when the governor handed over the charter to the committee. The reason may easily be conceived why the Common Council of New York were in such haste for a charter, and why they were so willing to give the price required for it. It is obvious, also, as the subsequent acts of this same Common Council upon the subject of charters, uncontradictorily and plainly prove that they were fearful they would not be able to obtain a charter which would suit them, if they did not hold out some tangible inducement in the form of money. Such transactions can be considered in no other light than as bribes. Not so, however, with Brooklyn; they were contented and satisfied with the various patents, purchases, and charters which they had of their [begin surface 15] 32 town, and had no desire to enlarge their dominions, except by an honest, open, straightforward course, rendering a quid pro quo for all the newly acquired territory or privileges which might be desired by them, or conferred upon them. Their principle and their maxim was, LET US ALONE. The freeholders and inhabitants of Brooklyn waited patiently and unconcernedly until the governor required of them the surrender of their old charters, and gave them a new one, confirming all the previous ones. Neither did they offer or give to the governor anything whatever for their charter, nor did the governor demand anything. The just and equitable conclusion is therefore, that the governor granted nothing to Brooklyn but what clearly and indisputably belonged to them, and which could not except by fraud, deception, or chicane be taken away from them.

The charter and confirmation granted by governor Dongan to Brooklyn, is of a very important character, inasmuch as it is a full, explicit and ample grant, embracing the whole town of Brooklyn, and all the privileges, franchises, rivers, ferries, and all other things appertaining to the town, and confirming and ratifying all previous ones. This charter to Brooklyn is of such vital and great importance to us that it is deemed advisable to copy it at full length, as upon it hangs and depends our rights, and with it they can be obtained. It deserves a careful and attentive perusal, as much of interest and value to Brooklyn will be found in it.


[L.S.] "Thomas Dongan, Lieutenant Governor and Vice Admiral of New York and its dependencies, under his Majesty, James the Second, by the grace of God, of England, Scotland, France, Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c., supreme lord and proprietor of the colony and province of New York and its dependencies in America, &c. To all to whom this shall come, sendeth greeting: Whereas the Honorable Richard Nicolls, Esq., formerly governor of this province, did, by his certain writing or patent, under his hand and seall bearing date the eighteenth day of October, Annoque Domini one thousand six hundred and sixty-seven, ratifie, confirm and grant unto Jan Everts, Jan Damen, Albert Cornelisson, Paulus Veer Beeck, Michael Eneyl, Thomas Lamberts, Tunis Guisbert Bogart, and Joris Jacobson, as patentees for and on behalf of themselves and their associates, the free holders and inhabitants of the town of Breukelen, their heirs, successors and assigns forever, a certain tract of land together with the several parcels of land which then were or thereafter should be purchased or procured for and on behalf of the said town, whether from the native Indian proprietors, or others within the bounds and limits therein set forth and expressed. That is to say: the said town

[begin surface 16] 34

pertaining to any of the afore-recited tract or parcels of land, and divisions, allottments, settlements made and appropriated before the day and date hereof. To have and to hold all and singular, the said tract or parcells of land and premises, with their appurtenances, unto the said Teunis Gysberts, Thomas Lamberts, Peter Jansen, Jacobus Vander Water, Joris Jacobs, Jeronimus Rappellee, Daniel Rappellee, Jan Jansen, Adrian Bennet, and Michael Hanse, for and on behalf of themselves and the present freeholders and inhabitants of the town of Breuckelen, their and every of their heirs and assigns forever, as tenants in common, without let or hindrance, molestation, right of survivorship or otherwise, to be holden in free and common socage, according to the tenure of East Greenwich, in the county of Kent, in his Majesty's Kingdom of England. Yielding, rendering and, paying therefor yearly, and every year, on the five and twentieth day of March, forever, in lieu of all services and demands whatsoever, as a quit rent to his most sacred Majesty aforesaid, his heirs and successors at the city of New York, twenty bushels of good merchantable wheat. In testimony whereof I have caused these presents to be entered and recorded in the Secretary's office. and the seal of the Province to be hereunto affixed, this thirteenth day of May, Anno Domini, one thousand six hundred and eighty-six, in the second year of his Majesty's reign."


This was the last patent, grant or charter made or given to Brooklyn, and this together with all the former ones, was subsequently confirmed by the general Assembly of the Province, on the 6th day of May, 1692, having stood firm, unaltered and undisputed five years, certainly long enough to have discovered if anything wrong or prejudicial was contained in the charter. But not a word was said or a whisper heard, from any source in regard to it; contrarywise, all parties coincided with it, and no one doubted its validity, force and authority.

This was the fourth charter and confirmation made to Brooklyn, by the highest authority known in the Province, and in addition to several purchases from the aborigines, and lastly and finally, by a solemn legislative act, in general council, assembled in accordance with the known law of this Province, the established custom, usage, and common law of England, giving if possible, more force, legality and authority to this act, and all others of a like character and nature. A more ample, full and explicit grant or charter than this one given by governor Dongan, could not be desired or needed, as it recites in express and plain language, not to be mistaken or misunderstood, all and every right, franchise, and privileges in the town, and to and in [begin surface 17] 35 the river to low water mark, and the ferries, with all the profits and revenues arising therefrom forever. With this charter alone, had we no other evidence, we could, by taking the proper course, obtain possession of our water front and ferries for a more conclusive or stronger proof of our ownership and title cannot be produced, and to sustain this, if need be, we have several other equally strong testimonials which go to strengthen and confirm our right.

In these ancient documents are shown beyond a peradventure, that all the right, title, ownership and possessions which the native Indians had (and no person will doubt their right) in the town of Brooklyn, were obtained from them by purchases, by and with their consent and a consideration, and a full and satisfactory equivalent given therefor.

It is a matter of history as well as of fact, and it is to the honor and everlasting fame of the Long Islanders, that not the slightest evidence could ever be adduced, wherein force, illegal or dishonorable means were ever employed by them, to obtain the land with its rights, and secure the various claims of the Indians in this town. But on the contrary, a volume of facts are here produced and substantiated, all of which are corroborative of each other, and cannot be gainsayed, that these purchases were made in good faith by the freeholders and inhabitants of the town of Brooklyn, from the Indians; and that the subsequent confirmations of these purchases were strictly honest and legal. It is a natural and self-evidence fact, that the Indians owned the land to low water mark all round Long Island, and no person or persons, government or law could deny or invalidate their right, disenherit or dispossess them legally and honestly of it. To deny this principle, would be to deny the established and immutable principle of original ownership by the aborigines, beyond which we cannot go. The Indians, then owning the land to low water mark, and that land with all the privileges, rights, franchises and immunities connected therewith, and having been purchased from them, by and for the inhabitants at large of the town of Brooklyn, and their successors forever, we, therefore, the successors of the then inhabitants are the natural, legal and inherent owners of all the above mentioned and described lands and rights.

Governor Dongan arrived in the Province on the 27th day of August, 1683, and immediately after convened the council of the Province, who held a secret session, during which they passed the following order:

[begin surface 18] 36

"At a council, held at Fort James, March 31st, 1684,? ordered that the inhabitants of Brookland and Bedford, bring their Patents and Indian deeds on this day seven night."

This order was passed in council and promulgated by governor Dongan. Similar orders were issued and sent to the town officers of Harlaem, Borswyck, Flatlands, New Lotts, New Utrecht, Bushwick, Gravesend, Newtown, Messpoth, Hemsted, Jamaica, Flushing, and all the other Dutch towns in the Province, each having a day set when they were required to deliver up to the governor and council all evidence of ownership to their lands.

On the days set apart by the governor and council, for this wanton and high-handed outrage upon the rights and property of the people, each person or town holding a patent, charter or deed, of the kind named in this special edict, took them on the day ordered, to Fort James, in New York, where the council were in session, and handed them over. This part of the ceremony having been gone through with, the patentees and others were briefly told that they could go, and when they were wanted again they would be sent for. It so happened however, unfortunately for the patentees, that they were never wanted after that time, and consequently were never sent for, as the governor and council had accomplished by duplicity, deceit and fraud all they wished, by cajoling and purloining from these unsuspecting and innocent men, the titles by which they held their property, and robbing them of all evidence of ownership. This shameful and dishonest transaction has no parallel from the first settlement in the Province to the present day.

The demanding and retaining these patents and deeds, were in direct contradiction and a gross violation of a section contained in the charter granted by this same Dongan to New York, on the 22nd day of April, 1686, which is in these words:

"Provided always, that this said license, so as above granted, be not extended, or be construed to extend to the taking away of any person or persons' right or property, without his or her consent, or by some known law of the said Province."

This act, therefore, of the governor and council, in dispossessing the patentees of their title deeds, without some consideration, shows and proves the utter recklessness and disregard of all law, custom, honor or honesty, and a faithlessness and hollow-heartedness, unpar-

[begin surface 19] 38

Money was the god of their idolatry, and their chief study was, which would be the easiest, most expeditious and effectual mode of obtaining it. These cormorant governors came here poor, having by extravagant and riotous living at home become bankrupt and insolvent; they were sent here to repair their shattered fortunes by robbing the people of their property, and most thoroughly did they accomplish their designs. Each successive governor, with but one or two exceptions, from Nicolls in 1664, down to Montgomerie in 1731, accumulated large fortunes by defrauding the people of their property. The last act of this Dongan, as a sort of cap climax to all his other acts of oppression and wrong, occurred upon his receiving notice from the King that his successor had been appointed, and directing Dongan to vacate the office he had so unworthily held. It was this:

On the 28th day of July, 1688, Dongan set himself industriously at work and collected together all the public papers ond records he could lay his hands upon relating to and connected with Long Island, and particularly to Brooklyn, as those places were the most convenient to him, and suddenly and secretly retired to a farm in a sequestered part of New Jersey, where he remained secreted until a favorable opportunity offered, when he sneaked out of the country carrying the stolen records with him to England, where they now are. The legislative act previously referred to confirming, among others, the several patents, grants and charters in this Province, was passed the 7th day of May, 1691. This was during the administration of Henry Slaughter, who held the office of governor here a few months. The act speaks for itself, and is invaluable for its full and perfect confirmation by the General Assembly of the rights, privileges and franchises of this town, and will be of essential service in establishing our claim and recovering our rights. The following is the act:

"May 7th, 1691."

"An Act for settling, quieting and confirming unto the cities, towns, manors and freeholders within this Province, their several grants patents and rights, respectively:

General Assembly of the Province of New York.—Forasmuch as the many changes, alterations, and disturbances that have been lately given unto their Majesties subjects inhabiting within this, their Province, hath and doth very much discourage the settling, improving, and the growth and strength thereof: and that the rights and privileges held by and granted to the respective cities, towns, manors and freeholders within this Province, &c., should be now ratified and confirmed.

[begin surface 20] 1708—Under Cornbury's Charter, then, New York claims the control over the rivers, ferries, &c., and the ownership of the Brooklyn shore lands 41

tyranny and oppression. A faint estimate may be formed of his character from the fact that he was a deserter from the army of James the 2nd, and as a reward for his disloyalty and treachery to him, King William, (the successor of James 2d,) upon his accession to the throne, appointed Cornbury governor of the colony of New York.

After committing many outrages upon the people of Brooklyn and Long Island, he, a few months before his recall, granted a charter to the corporation of New York, on the 19th day of April, 1708. This charter is of an extremely important and serious character to Brooklyn, as it is in this instrument the ferries and all the land lying between high and low water mark on the Brooklyn shore, from the easterly side of the Wallabout to the westerly side of Gowanus bay, were granted tot New York. It is upon this charter that New York claims ownership and jurisdiction on the Brooklyn shore, and the right to control all the ferries from our city. This charter begins with a base and unmitigated falsehood, and is throughout a tissue of untruths. He first grants to them the ferry, with its profits, benefits, and advantages, and then proceeds as follows;

"And also all of that vacant and unappropriated land from high water mark to low water mark on the said Nassau Island, (alias Long Island,) lying contiguous and fronting the said city of New York, from a certain place call the Wall-About unto the Red Hook, over Governor's Island against Nuttens Island, for the better improvement and accommodation of the said ferry."

What right had Cornbury or any one else to grant lands in Brooklyn to New York, which had been purchased, patented, and granted to Brooklyn sixty years before by his superiors and predecessors, and confirmed from time to time by four preceeding governors, and sanctioned by a special act of the highest legislative authority known in the colony, which was the General Assembly? Certainly, none whatever. It was, to say the least of it, an unwarrantable assumption of undelegated power, which he nor any other governor had no right to exercise. It was a right reserved by the common law of England to the King, but was never exercised by him in these colonies. Cornbury denominates this strip of land vacant and unappropriated land. Such however was not the fact, for this strip of land was held, owned, and constantly used by the grantees, inhabitants and freeholders of Brooklyn at the time this fraudulent charter was 6 [begin surface 21] 42 given to New York, and had been so held, used and owned by them for more than half a century before, quietly and peaceably, and entirely free from any interference from any source whatever. This infamous charter contains another clause, which adds fuel to the flame, and insult to injury, and oppression to fraud. It is as follows;

"So always as the said person or persons do only transport themselves only and their own goods in their own boats only, and not any stranger of their goods, horses or cattle, or in any other boat."

By this clause it will be observed that all those who unfortunately had no boats of their own, were compelled, when they had occasion to cross the river, to pay whatever tribute the avarice of the governor might demand, or the caprice of the ferryman would exact, which in the most favorable times were exorbitant, burthensome and procrastinating.

Those also who owned their boats, did not escape the jaundiced and jealous eye or the grasping desires of the governor, for they also were compelled to pay extravagant wharfage and ferriage for the privilege of crossing the river in their own boats. They were prohibited from taking in a friend in their boat and carrying him across the river, or any article or thing under a heavy penalty by fine or imprisonment. The people of Brooklyn chafed and groaned under these burthens and wrongs for a long time, and repeatedly, in a respectful and loyal manner, asked and petitioned for relief, but a deaf ear was turned to their applications. They, therefore, finding that redress for the manifold wrongs which had been inflicted, and relief from the burthens which had been imposed upon them was denied them, they continued peaceably but reluctantly to bear these burthens and unjust exactions and frauds for thirty-seven years.

Having shown in the foregoing remarks, substantiated by extracts from the records, who was the first perpetrator and in what manner the first inroad and great palpable wrong was done to Brooklyn, it is necessary to follow through the whole of this transaction, and give the closing acts and manoeuvers, which were by John Montgomerie and the Common Council of New York. This man commenced his administration of governor of the colonies on the 14th day of April, 1728. He was a Scotchman by birth, and had entered the British army at an early age and was bred a soldier, but had never attained to any eminence or office in the army. He remained in comparative obscurity until the accession of George the 2nd to the throne, when [begin surface 22] 43 he was favored by that sovereign with the appointment of groom of the royal bedchamber, in which capacity he served a few years, and in 1728 was appointed by the King, governor general and commander- in-chief of these colonies.

His talents were rather below mediocrity than otherwise, his habits indolent, and his address repulsive and disagreeable. He was moreover weak-minded and flexible, and was easily made the pliant tool of the Common Council of New York, giving and granting extravagantly to them, any property and privileges they would ask for, provided they would pay him sufficient money to allay his thirst for gold. His maxim was, "Money answereth all things," and most thoroughly did he illustrate it during his short sojourn in these colonies, which lasted three years, and was characterized by an act of the same nature in reference to Brooklyn, as the one of his prototype Cornbury. The first grand move under Montgomerie's administration was made by the Common Council of New York, be petitioning the governor for a confirmation of the infamous and illegal charter granted to them by Cornbury. This petition is quite a voluminous one containing many sections.

The following one will show that the Common Council did not feel themselves secure in the Cornbury charter, and doubted its legality. Here it is;

"And whereas divers questions, doubts, opinions, ambiguities, controversies and debates have arisen, and been made as well upon and concerning the validity and force of the said writing, &c."

Here is a public and open acknowledgement by the Common Council, that they did not deem the charter of Cornbury legal or valid, or of any force, and that they considered it absolutely and indispensably necessary to obtain another charter at any cost, let the consequence be what it might, to legalize and make valid, if possible, their then charter.

This, however, could not be done, as governor Cornbury in the first place, had no right, power or authority, either express or implied, to grant any such rights, privileges and franchises to New York, for the very good reason that he had no control or jurisdiction over the ferry, or the land lying between high and low water mark, on the Brooklyn shore, and had no interest therein, and consequently could not legally grant it away, or confer it upon any person or corporation without the consent of the individual owners of the town of Brooklyn. [begin surface 23] 1729 — under Montgomerie 44 The wants of the Common Council were very numerous as expressed in this petition, but they most desired to be made secure in the possession of our ferry, and the whole of the water front.

Annexed to this petition was the following resolution:

"Att a common council, held att the City Hall, the 23rd day of March, 1729.

Resolved, Nemine Contradicente, that this corporation do make application to his excellency the Governor, for his Majesties' grant of confirmation of the charter of this corporation, in royal stile, and of all the ancient rights or privileges, as can be obtained for the advantage, good rule and government of the inhabitants of this city; and ordered that Mr. Mayor, (Robert Lurting) Mr. Recorder, (Francis Harrison) Alderman Cruger, Alderman Cortlandt, Alderman Philipse, Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Chambers, or any five of them, whereof the Mayor or Recorder to be one, be a committee to consider of what things will be needful to be petitioned for by this corporation; that they draw up the laws, and make their report with all expedition."

This committee proceeded forthwith to draft a petition, agreeable to the instructions contained in this resolution, and on the 28th day of March, five days only, after the passage of the above resolution, and their appointment, the committee presented their report in full, classifying and enumerating every specific thing they coveted, comprising 23 articles. The 15th reads os follows:

"That they have a confirmation of the patent of the ferry and grounds on Nassau Island."

This report, as a matter of course, was unanimously adopted and the committee was ordered to present the petition to the governor, and ask his acquiescence to its demands. Considerable delay was experienced in obtaining the governor's consent to grant them a new charter, or a confirmation of the old one, as upon this their first application to him, he would not give them a decisive answer, or hold out to them any encouragement. The reason of the governor treating the committee thus cavalierly is obvious.

The committee has not made any overtures, or pecuniary offers to the governor, not having been empowered so to do by the Common Council. They understood, however, from the manner and character of the governor what he wanted, and the committee, as the subsequent proceedings fo the Common Council prove, made known their [begin surface 24] 45 opinions to that body, which proved to be correct, and the recommendations made by them carried out. The committee having been rather cavalierly and coolly treated on their first interview with the governor, were not to be thwarted or disheartened into an abandonment of their design, or give up all hope of ultimately being successful in accomplishing so desirable and important an object, by the unsatisfactory and repulsive manner in which the governor met and received them at this time.

The committee continued to apply to his excellency from time to time, to grant them this darling object of their wishes. The governor considering himself unnecessarily annoyed by the committee, secretly resolved to take a short sojourn in New Jersey, during which interregnum the committee and the Common Council would have time and opportunity to interchange opinions with each other, and bring their minds and consciences to comply with any unreasonable demand which the governor might make upon them.

The price demanded by Montgomerie for a new charter and a confirmation of the old one was £1000. This, the committee deemed a most outrageous and extravagant price, but upon frequent consultations among themselves and other members of the council, they finally agreed to give the governor his price, as they had no faith in the validity of the charter which they had obtained from Cornbury. It was therefore, absolutely necessary in their opinion, that this one should be obtained, which would legalize and make valid the one they then had. In due time the governor returned to the fort in New York, and soon after his arrival the committee again waited upon him and informed him that the Common Council would give him any sum which he required, and that they would take the necessary measures to consummate the bargain. The committee thereupon convened the Common Council forthwith, when they communicated to them the substance and result of the numerous interviews which they had with the governor, whereupon the following order was passed;

"At a common council held at the City Hall, the 6th day of April, 1730.

Ordered Mr. Recorder (Francis Harrison,) do prepare the draft of a new charter, with a confirmation of the present charter, and all of the ancient rights and privileges of this corporation, &c., for the perusal of this court."

[begin surface 25] 46

The committee had a long, tedious and laborious task in securing the consent of the governor, having been occupied thirteen months in prosecuting their application, and obtaining the governor's consent. The Recorder, Mr. Harrison, applied himself with renewed energy and vigor to the task assigned him, of preparing the new charter, as no time was to be lost, and in the short space of fourteen days, the Recorder completed the draft, when another meeting of the Common Council was immediately held, the new charter presented and approved, and the following order passed:

"At a common council held at the City Hall, on the 20th day of April, 1730—and it being the unanimous opinion of this court that the sum of fourteen hundred pounds will be needful to be provided by this corporation, for obtaining the said charter, it is hereby ordered, that the said committee do continue their application for obtaining the said charter."

When this order was passed there was no money in the treasury of the city of New York, and the Common Council were compelled to resort to the borrowing system, in order to procure the required amount to consummate this nefarious scheme. It gave the Common Council considerable uneasiness and trouble to procure this large sum of money, as at this early day there were very few persons in the colony who could command so large an amount of money. The amount required for the charter alone, or in other words, for the simple sign manual of the governor was £1000, but £400 more was necessary to pay the expense of surveying this "unpatented, vacant, and unappropriated land," on the Brooklyn shore, for drafting the charter, and also for drafting, executing, and recording a mortgage to secure the payment of the whole amount, £1400.

Some difficulty was experienced and delay occasioned in procuring the money, it being nearly $7000. The committee cast about a long time, nearly nine months, before they found a person who was willing to hazard so enormous a sum as this was deemed to be at that time, and considering the security offered by the Common Council, it being unproductive, and some of it looked upon as worthless. They however, at length succeeded, and were fortunate enough to obtain the £1400 from one James De Lancy, who advanced the funds.— This gentleman had previously held several very lucrative sinecures in the colony, and was accredited the wealthiest man in the colony, and became Lieutenant Governor of the colony a few years after.

[begin surface 26] 47

All thing being now completed, and all the necessary preliminaries arranged for the grand finale of this fraudulent transaction, another meeting of the common council was held on the 3rd day of August, when the following was passed:

"Resolved—Nemine Contradicente—that one thousand pounds current money of this colony, be borrowed by this corporation, on interest for one year, towards defraying the expence of procuring a new charter and confirmation to this corporation, &c, and that Mr. Mayor, (Robert Lurting) Alderman Philipse, and Mr. Chambers, be a committee to procure the same, and they have power to mortgage any of the lands belonging to this corporation on this Island, Manhattans, for the do payment thereof, and this corporation will authorize Mr. Mayor (Robert Lurting) to execute such mortgage accordingly, under the publick seal of this corporation."

The Recorder, Francis Harrison, having been previously empowered to draft this mortgage, he immediately after the passage of the foregoing resolution, set about preparing the mortgage in due form, which was finished in a few days, and on the 14th of January ensuing, he presented it complete to the Common Council, when the following order was passed, to wit:

"At a common council held at the City Hall, on the 14th of January, Anno Dom. 1730—A draft of a mortgage from this corporation to James De Lancy, Esqr., for a thousand pounds with interest, read and approved, and ordered 'it be engrossed and that the Mayor execute the same under the seal of this corporation."

This was the last act by the Common Council of New York in relation to this matter, and this done it was only necessary to secure the signature of Montgomerie to the charter, and the whole of this illegal and fraudulent affair was complete. The committee lost no time in fulfilling and accomplishing this their last duty, and proceeded forthwith to the governor, with the spurious charter in one hand, and the thousand pounds in the other. The governor received the committee very cordially, and received also the newly fledged charter and the bribe of one thousand pounds.

The governor, however, very unexpectedly, and much to the disappointment and dismay of the committee, told them that he was not prepared to sign it at so short notice, and bade the committee call again, fixing a time, and telling them that he desired to peruse the charter, in order to ascertain whether it contained any thing prejudicial [begin surface 27] Montgomerie charter finally signed 11th Feb. 1730 — by the Gov. M. 48 to his interest. Accordingly, the committee left the governor and went their way.

A month rolled round and nothing was heard from his excellency about the charter, which alarmed the Mayor and his associates of the committee, when they resolved among themselves to depute the Mayor, Robert Lurting, to wait upon the governor and obtain the charter. The Mayor accordingly made it his special business to see the governor, and on the 11th day of February, 1730, the governor delivered the charter, signed by himself only, to the Mayor, for which the Mayor thanked his excellency for his great goodness, wishing him health, long life and prosperity, in the name of the Common Council. The Common Council were holding a session at this time, awaiting the return of the Mayor. When he returned to the city hall and presented the long wished-for charter, the Common Council directed Recorder Harrison to prepare an address to his excellency for his condescension and great goodness for granting them this charter; and a more cringing, flattering, sycophantic and fulsome address cannot be found in the archives of this country, from its discovery to the present day. This was the finishing stroke for Brooklyn. The fiat had gone forth, and Brooklyn, her rights, her privileges and her land were wrested from her, and sacrificed by unprincipled knaves and fortune haunting marauders. These were schemes of the blackest dye, conceived in iniquity, brought forth in fraud, nurtured by stratagem and chicane, and consummated by the most villainous system of bribery, corruption and deceit that the page of history in any country records.

In the foregoing narrative has been shown, as taken from the public records, this shameful and disgraceful affair. These are facts, stubborn, undeniable, and incontrovertible facts, which stand out in bold relief, though the ravages of time are making sad havoc with these relics of the olden time, and transcribed here that all trace of them might not be lost forever to the people of Brooklyn, who are deeply interested in them.

Matters remained in statu quo, from this time until the year 1745, when the spirit of resistance to oppression (which is obedience to God,) began to infuse itself among the Brooklyn people, and the Long Islanders having submitted to the oppressive yoke thirty-seven years. At this time the corporation of New York, not satisfied with the revenue which they were receiving from the ferry and other sources in Brooklyn, connected with the water front, attempted to [begin surface 28] 49 prevent the people of Brooklyn who owned their own boats from crossing the river in them without paying ferriage. In order to test the right of New York to impose such an outrageous law and prohibition upon the people of Brooklyn, one Hendrick Remsen established a ferry from Brooklyn to New York, and transported persons and goods over the river, and received ferriage from his passengers. Remsen kept a correct account of all ferriage money he received, so that in the event of a suit being commenced against him or vice versa, and he should be mulcted in any damages, he would be enabled to know the exact amount he had received. The Common Council of New York, however, did not deem it prudent to commence an action, doubtless well satisfied that their claim and rights on the Brooklyn shore was invalid and illegal.

In the month of July, 1745, Remsen entered suit against the corporation of New York. The following is the title of the suit:

Hendrick Remsen, vs. The Mayor, Aldermen, and Commonalty of the City of New York. Supreme Court, July Term, 1745.

This action was commenced by Hendrick Remsen, of the town of Brooklyn, against the Mayor, Aldermen and Commonalty of the City of New York, for the sum of five shillings, unlawfully demanded and received from him as ferriage for the goods and persons of his neighbors of the town of Brooklyn, who did not live on their own land at the water side, the goods were laden on board a market boat in the public slip, on the highway at Brooklyn Ferry, and the persons taken on board at the same place and landed at the market in the city of New York. The prosecution of this suit was made common cause by the town of Brooklyn, and after a lapse of 27 years, the following judgment was obtained, viz:

"October Term, in the year of our Lord 1773.—At which day came here the parties aforesaid, by their attornies, upon which all and singular the premises being seen and by the justices here fully understood, and mature deliberation being thereupon had for as it seems to the Justices here upon the whole matter aforesaid, that the aforesaid Mayor, Aldermen and Commonalty of the city of New York did assume upon themselves in manner, and form as aforesaid, Henrick Remsen doth complain. Therefore it is considered that the said Hendrick Remsen recover against the aforesaid Mayor, Aldermen 7 [begin surface 29] 50 and Commonalty of the city of New York, his damages aforesaid, by the jurors aforesaid, in form aforesaid assessed, and one hundred and eighteen pounds fourteen shillings and ten pence halfpenny for costs, and charges to the said Hendrick by the same Justices, now here of his assent, and increase adjudged, which damges in the whole do amount to one hundred and nineteen pounds and fourteen pence half-penny, and the aforesaid Mayor, Alderman and Commonalty of the city of New York, in money, &c.

The decision of this suit put a temporary stop to these unjust expectations. Albeit: the delay of justice in this case amounted almost to a denial of justice.

It requires but the same indomitable and persevering spirit at this time to overthrow the flimsy and iniquitous charter by which New York holds possession of our ferries and water front. During the pendency of this suit, the trustees of the town of Brooklyn, on behalf of themselves, the freeholders and inhabitants of the town held a meeting in the winter of 1745, and resolved to lay a petition before the General Assembly, stating their grievances and asking for redress and relief. Accordingly, at the next meeting of the General Assembly, in January, 1746, they presented their petition, in which they plainly and explicitly set forth the manifold grievances under which they had for a long time suffered, and were then suffering, and complained very truly and justly about the great wrongs which had been done them by Cornbury and Montgomerie, in depriving them of their property and their rights in the two charters granted by them to New York. On the presentation of this petition, the following proceedings were had;

"January 30th, 1745-6. In General Assembly a petition of the trustees of the town of Broockland, in Kings County, in behalf of themselves, and the freeholders and inhabitants of the said township, Ferry 1745 was presented to the House and read, setting forth that a great number of the inhabitants of the said township living near the ferry from Nassau Island to New York, and having their chief dependence of supporting their families by trading to the New York markets, are by one act of the General Assembly, entitled to an act to regulate the ferry between the city of New York and Island of Nassau, and to establish the ferriage thereof, passed in the sixth of his Majesty's reign, debarred from transporting their goods in their own vessels to the said markets, which exposes them to very great hardships, difficulties and expenses, and therefore humbly praying that they may have leave to bring in a bill to relieve them from the aforesaid hardships. Upon motion of Major Van Horn, (of New York,) ordered [begin surface 30] 52 law, may affect their ancient rights and freehold, and therefore humbly praying that they may be heard by their counsel, against the said bill at the bar of this House, on Friday next. Ordered, that the trustees of the township of Brooklyn be heard by their counsel, in support of the said bill, at the bar of this house, on Friday next, and that Mr. William Smith appear for them.

Ordered that the clerk of this House serve the parties with a copy of these orders forthwith."

Accordingly on the 27th of June, the trustees of Brooklyn were in attendance with their counsel, as also the corporation of New York with their counsel, which information being conveyed to the Speaker, the House organized, and the subject brought forward, and proceeded with it as follows:

"June 27, 1746, in general Assembly, the House being informed that the corporation of the city of New York were attending with their counsel, to be heard against the bill, and that the trustees of the township of Brooklyn were also attending with their counsel, to be heard in support of said bill, both parties were called in, and the counsel on both sides having been fully heard, for and against the said bill, they were directed to withdraw, and the bill being read the second time, the question was put, whether the said bill should be committed and carried in the affirmative, in the manner following:

Affirmative, Messrs. Johannis Lott, Chambers, Stilwell, Livingston, Harring, Cornell, Abraham Lott, Lecount, Bradt, Nicoll, Hardenburgh, and Gale, 12.

Negative, Messrs. Richards, Cruger, Clarkson, Van Horne, Philipse, Morris, Verplank, and Thomas, 8."

The next thing necessary to be done, was to engross the bill, and send it to the council for concurrence, and the 4th day of July was fixed for this branch of the colonial legislature, to act finally upon this bill now that it was gone through with, but not without the most violent and strenuous opposition from one of the New York members, Colonel Morris.

The final passage of the bill was follows:

"July 4, 1746, in general Assembly, the engrossed bill entitled an act to repeal an act therein mentioned so far as it relates to the freeholders and inhabitants of the township of Brooklyn, in Kings County, within this colony, was read a third time, and upon the Speaker's putting the questions whether the bill should pass, A motion was made by Colonel Morris, in the words following, viz:

As this bill has been already ordered to be engrossed by a majority of this House, and the question that is now put is, whether this [begin surface 31] 53 bill should pass, I must beg leave to give my reasons for opposing its passage. The first is, it is alleged by this bill that the people of Brooklyn had a right prior to the act passed in the year 1732, which was not proved or attempted, upon the hearing before this House, but if we pass this bill we allow that right to be proved, and then it becomes our allegation, which I conceive inconsistent with the honor and justice of this House, to alledge any thing in such a case, but what has been proved. The second is, it implies that the act in 1732 took away unjustly, a right from the people of Brooklyn, that they were entitled to. Thirdly, it implies that the House have fixed the two points before mentioned, and then it will necessarily follow, that we have considered the rights of the corporation as well as those of the people of Brooklyn; that we have not, I appeal to the House, who must allow that no such right ever appeared to us, at least as a House, and for us to declare certain facts by a bill which has never been proved, will be doing what I conceive we ought not to do, if we make justice and equity the rule of our conduct. For these reasons, I move that the bill may be rejected. The question being put thereon, it was carried in the negative, in the manner following, viz:

For the negative, Messrs. Abraham Lott, Chambers, Hardenburgh, Lecount, Cornell, Johannis Lott, Bradt, Gale and Harring. 9.

Affirmative, Messrs. Van Horne, Morris, Cruger, Philipse, Richards, Verplank, Clarkson and Thomas, 8.

Resolved—That the bill do pass. Ordered that Colonel Harring and Hardenburgh do carry the bill to the Council, and desire their concurrence."

This committee of two, were directed by the Speaker to inform the Council that the bill had passed the House and the Supreme Court and that the rights and claims of the people of Brooklyn had been clearly and satisfactorily proven.

The bill was smothered in the Council, and it is not known what ever became of it, consequently it never was matured into a law, though it did not alter the principle, or effect the right of Brooklyn. That, as has been shown heretofore, was clearly settled, and this last act of the general Assembly added yet another proof. The Council of the colony usually held their sessions with closed doors, and was emphatically a STAR CHAMBER.

Comment upon such conduct by a set of unprincipled and treacherous myrmidoms is unncessary, it carries with it its own condemnation.

The duty of these men and their sense of justice and honor (if they had any) should have prompted them to send the bill back to the House where it originated, stating if nothing more, their refusal to

[begin surface 32] 55

freeholders and inhabitants of the township of Brookland, by these presents do fully impower and authorize the aforesaid trustees, Jacobus Lefferts, Peter Vandervoort, Jacob Remsen, Rem Remsen and Nicholas Vetche, elected and chosen by the freeholders and inhabitants of the township of Brookland aforesaid, to defend our patent wherein any manner our liberties, privileges and rights in our patent specified is encroached, lessened or taken away by the commonalty of the city of New-York: And that we hereunder subscribers of the township of Brookland oblige ourselves, our heirs, executors and administrators, to pay to the aforesaid trustees all cost that they are at in protecting of the profits of our patent, and that money shall be collected in by the constable of our town, And that the abovesaid trustees do oblige themselves to render upon oath a true account of all such moneys they have expended in protecting or defending our patent, to anv person or persons as the hereunder subscribers shall appoint for that purpose, And in defending our patent so that verdict shall come in our favor where income of money or other profits should arise concerning the premises; all such profits or income should be kept towards defraying all the necessary cost and charges of our township of Brookland, till such time as it is altered by the majority, And that the trustees should have three shillings per day for their service and no more."

Thus it will be perceived that New York did not hold or retain uninterrupted, quiet and unmolested possession of the ill-gotten property on our shore, as efforts were continually being made by the people and trustees of Brooklyn to test the right, and try the validity of the false and fraudulent miscalled charters by which their rights and property had been taken away from them. New York has ever been extremely fearful that some energetic, determined and successful effort would be made on the part of Brooklyn to obtain possession of the ferries and water front, which they well knew they unjustly and illegally held, having no color of right to them, and whenever a movement has been made by Brooklyn in the premises, the Common Council of New York have invariably resorted to every species of stratagem, low device, bribery and deception, with the powerful aid of money, to retain and bolster up these "doubtful, suspicious and ambiguous" charters. By the above proceedings in relation to defending the patents and charters of Brooklyn, it is very evident that the matter was prosecuted by those persons who were chosen for that purpose; but unfortunately for Brooklyn, the result of the prosecution cannot be found among our records, but that the matter was prosecuted there can be no doubt, and that the evidence of the fact, with a record of the proceedings are still in existence, is equally reasonable [begin surface 33] 56 and probable. This is demonstrable from the following facts: The records of the town of Breukelen and Kings County were regularly and accurately kept by each successive town and county clerk, from the first settlement in 1625, up to 1777.

In 1688 Governor Dongan was superceded in the gubernatorial office, much to his surprise and contrary to his wish, and coming so unexpectedly upon him, as the first intimation he had of his removal was from his successor, who informed him of the fact in person.— This so enraged Dongan that he sought revenge by stealing all the public documents and records he could lay his hands upon, among which were very many belonging to Brooklyn and Kings County.— As soon as he had availed himself of these papers he decamped to England with the plunder.

Many of those taken by Dongan have since been recovered by the State of New York, through an agent who was appointed for that purpose, but those recovered principally relate to the cities of New York and Albany. The greatest outrage of this character however, remains to be recorded.

It is this. At the breaking out of the revolutionary war in 1775, a man named John Rapelye, was the clerk of Kings county, and also a member of the General Assembly of the Colony from this county. He continued to hold these offices as long as prudence dictated, and his own personal safety warranted, which was until the month of September, 1777. He was a hot-headed tory, and uncompromisingly hostile to the American cause, and rendered himself peculiarly obnoxious to his neighbors in and about Brooklyn. He resided near where the Fulton ferry now is, and was consequently within the American lines. It soon became known throughout Kings county, that Rapelye was inimical to the revolutionary movement, and was aiding the British in every possible manner. This news was not long in reaching the American Legislative Assembly who were then in session in Westchester. The Assembly soon after receiving this information well authenticated, concerning Rapelye, passed an act of attainder in October, 1777, by which a very large estate in Brooklyn owned by Rapelye, was confiscated to the State of New-York, (and afterwards sold to Comfort and Joshua Sands, for £12,430.) By this act, Rapelye was also compelled to leave this country forthwith, which he soon did, and went with spirits more congenial with his own. Before his departure, however, he stealthily collected together all the records and public documents of Kings county and Brooklyn; [begin surface 34] 57 the records of the county being in his own possession, and the town records in possession of Leffert Lefferts, who was at that time the town clerk of Brooklyn. The manner and mode by which Rapelye obtained the town records, was by going to the house of Leffert Lefferts, where the records were kept, at a time when Lefferts was absent from home, and obtaining permission from Lefferts' wife, by false representations, he selected such papers from among the mass, as answered his purpose, and with them and the county records, he decamped in disguise with them, secreting himself, and as soon as a favorable opportunity offered, left the country with the stolen records, leaving his wife and children in Brooklyn, to follow him as best they could. These records are still in existence and come-at-able, if the proper steps be taken to recover them. They are in possession of a relative by marriage of Rapelye, a grand son-in-law, who resides in England, and who brought them to this country in the year 1810, for the purpose of recovering the confiscated property of Rapelye. Upon arriving here, he employed Aaron Burr and David B. Ogden, Esqs. of New York, as his counsel, for this object. These two lawyers investigated the matter thoroughly, and after having finished their examinations, they informed the gentleman that they could not recover any of the property thus confiscated, as the act of attainder was strictly legal and constitutional, and could not be repealed, annulled or effected in any way. Upon receiving this information, this man packed up all the papers which he brought with him, consisting of the deeds for the Rapelye estate, and the public documents, and records of the town of Brooklyn and Kings county. These papers were so numerous, that they filled three ordinary sized travelling trunks. This man took passage immediately for England, with the trunks and their contents, he still retaining them in his possession.

The following certificate is corroborative of the statement above, in relation to the stolen records of this town. It is a true copy from the original, which is in the hand writing of Mr. Leffert Lefferts, who was the town clerk of Brooklyn, from 1761, to the commencement of the revolution, in 1776, a period of fifteen years:

"This is to certify, that I, the subscriber, was clerk to the town of Brooklyn, In the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six, at the commencement of the Revolutionary War with Great Britain, And being Obliged to Leave my House and Property 8 [begin surface 35] 58 for Some time, When I returned my Books and the Records for said town were taken away. Witness My Hand, LEFFERT LEFFERTS."

The following also appears on the records relative to the same matter:

"In consequence of the total Loss of the town of Brooklyn Records, in the late Revolutionary War with Great Britain, We, the Subscribers were Nominated By the Commissioners and Trustees for Town of Brooklyn, to make Search among the records for the County of Kings, for such Papers, Documents and records as have Relation to the said Town. We have therefore carefully Examined, Selected and entered the Same in a book Provided for that Purpose, and authenticated with the Clerk of the County's Certificate annexed. Brooklyn, the 19th December, 1797. Certified. J. N. FISHER, JOHN DOUGHTY, T. C'k.'

The records and documents mentioned in the last section of the above certificate, as having been entered in a book provided for that purpose, were very few in number, compared to what there were belonging to the town of Brooklyn and county of Kings: and those found, were completely chiefly of wills of deceased person, inventories of household furniture and agricultural implements, and a few deeds of conveyance of small plots of land—the most important, valuable and useful, having been stolen by John Rapelye, and up to this time, have not been recovered. These two certificates furnish undoubted evidence that the principal records were stolen, as a diligent and most thorough search was made for them, which proved to be unsuccessful.

Thus, two wicked and unprincipled officials have by stealth, deprived Brooklyn of some of the principal means of establishing her rights, and recovering a valuable property, dishonestly obtained and illegally and unrighteously held and retained by the corporation of New-York. Enough, however, has been fortunately discovered, to ultimately secure our long lost rights, if the Common Council of our city will but take the matter in hand, and prosecute it with a determined energy to accomplish it; of which, there can be no doubt that

[begin surface 36] 60

The advantages which must necessarily flow to Brooklyn from the wharves, piers and ferries, would be immense. The revenue would also be considerable, while the many other advantages will very far exceed that of any other in the city. The sources from which this revenue will be derived, and the advantages which must accrue to Brooklyn, will be from the ferries and the erection of wharves, piers and bulkheads, at the termination of each street at the river.

These piers may be built to the distance of three or four hundred feet in length into the river, and two hundred feet in width, without the least obstruction to the navigation of the river. The East River, at the foot of Fulton street, is 2193 feet wide, being nearly half a mile. At the foot of Main street, 2205 feet wide, and at the foot of Atlantic street, 3198 feet wide, affording ample space at or between any of these points, for piers of the above mentioned length and width. There are 21 streets between Hudson avenue on the east, and the intersection of Hamilton avenue, at the commencement of the Atlantic Dock, on the south; the terminus of each of which street is at the river where a pier may be erected by the Common Council of Brooklyn, which is, and would be no more or less than the continuation of the street so terminating, being a public highway.

That the Common Council would have, (and I contend they now have) the right to erect such piers, wharves, or bulkheads, in the event of graining possession of the water front and ferries, there can be no doubt, as these erections would be, in fact and in reality, the same as the streets of our city, being a continuation of the streets— PUBLIC HIGHWAYS.

By these improvements, the commerce of our city will be greatly increased. The Mechanic, the Merchant, the Artizan, and the laboring man, and every grade and character of business will be unmeasureably augmented, the population and trade of our city enhanced, and the people's treasury will materially feel the good effects which must inevitably result from regaining possession of our ferries and water rights. Instead of Merchants, Mechanics, Traders and citizens going to New York in order to supply themselves with many articles of merchandise, domestic and foreign, which cannot now be obtained here, there will be vessels of every grade and dimensions from abroad, unlading their rich and varied treasures on our docks, and on our shores, and receiving in return the manufactures and inventions of our people, and the rich products of our fertile and prolific Island, making the city of Brooklyn what it should be, and what [begin surface 37] 61 it was designed it should be, a great commercial mart, and thereby effecting advantageously and profitably every branch of business, and verifying the proverb that "commerce moves all."

Another great object and advantage to be attained by the consummation of this object is, that the city of Brooklyn must inevitably become a PORT of entry, also from this cause, giving employment in various ways to thousands, and multiplying the resources of the city to an incalculable extent.

These are a few of the many great and desirable advantages, which beyond a peradventure, or the possibility of a doubt, must naturally and unequivocally result to Brooklyn, in the final accomplishment of this great desideratum. All classes of this community will be benefitted, as the increase of every occupation and employment, will receive and feel its proportionate influence and benefit.

A part of the property which New York claims ownership to, is the wharves and buildings now occupied by the Fulton Ferry Company, at the foot of Fulton street, and is assessed by the assessors of the 2nd Ward at $55,000, against the Ferry Company, the taxes on this property as collected for the year 1848, was $510,51, and paid by the corporation of the city of New York.

This valuable property, of right belongs to the city of Brooklyn. From the manner in which it is entered on the assessor's and collector's books, we are led to believe that the property belongs to citizens of Brooklyn, being assessed to the Ferry Company, as each one of the gentleman composing this Company, are citizens of Brooklyn.— Such however, is not the case, as the taxes upon this property is paid by the corporation of New York, who claim it as their own. The only object in thus misrepresenting this matter, can be no other than that the corporation of New York would have the city of Brooklyn believe that this property is owned by citizens of Brooklyn, and to keep us entirely in the dark as to the true state of the affair. The buildings, bridges, wharves, and all the appurtenances belonging to and connected with this Ferry, have been erected by the Ferry Company, at the expense of said Company. They however, have only the use of them during the term of their lease, as there is a provision in the lease that at the expiration of the said lease, should the present Company elect not to renew the lease, that then and in that case all the improvements of whatever nature or kind soever made by the said Ferry Company, shall revert to the corporation of the city of New York, and become the property of the said corporation.—

—Ah, this then is the reason we have such shabby Ferry Buildings
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