Dutch Days

"New Netherland is ... imminently exposed to invasion, surprisal and to the besieging of the cities and fortresses there."
-- Resolution of the States General of the Netherlands, 1652.


With that resolution, Wall Street came into being, not as a center of finance or wall of skyscrapers but as a palisade of wood between the East and Hudson Rivers. War between England and the Netherlands was beginning and English soldiers must be kept from attacking New Amsterdam by land.

By spring of 1953, the town fathers had solicited about five thousand guilders for strengthening defenses, the cornerstone of which would be the wall. Ever frugal, the Dutch issued what today would be called a Request for Proposal specifying that the palisade must consist of twelve-foot poles eighteen inches in diameter, each planted three feet in the ground. On the outer side, an earthworks must be constructed four feet high and three feet wide at its top and covered in sod. Beyond it, a ditch must be dug two feet deep. The wall would stretch over half a mile river to river. Itemizing everything from posts and nails to carpenters' wages, a committee estimated the cost at 3,166 guilders.

A town crier announced the bidding. In one of the ironies that so often appear in history, an Englishmen named Tom Baxter won the contract to supply lumber. Within a year, Baxter would rebel against his Dutch rulers, turning pirate under the authority of Rhode Island, for whom he would capture at least one Dutch ship.

"Damn you Dutchmen. Your beer's so bitter it'll shrivel a man's pecker." -- Tom Baxter in The Mevrouw Who Saved Manhattan.

Bill's Book

The Mevrouw Who
Saved Manhattan
A Novel of New Amsterdam

"A very authentic ring,
like etchings by
Van Ostade and Steen."

-- Charles Wendell, Ph.D.,
President of the
New Netherland Institute

book cover

Join Mevrouw Jackie Lambert
on a madcap ride through
New York history.

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