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Eight Men

Eight Men

The council of Eight Men was an early representational democracy in New Netherland. It replaced the previous Twelve Men and was followed by the Nine Men.


In 1643 Abraham Pietersen Van Deusen who had served on the council of twelve men was appointed to a new council of eight men. The council contacted the States-General and blamed governor Willem Kieft for the declining economic condition of the nascent colony, and the war with the Native Americans. They requested that a new Director-General of New Netherland be appointed and that the people themselves be given more influence in the new government. Director General Kieft was dismissed, and Peter Stuyvesant took his place and Stuyvesant remained in power until the colony was turned over to the British in 1664. Kieft returned to Holland, but the vessel, the Princess Amelia was lost at sea and his body was never recovered. John Franklin Jameson (1859–1937) writes:

The commonalty were called together; they were sore distressed. They chose eight, instead of the previous twelve, persons to aid in consulting for the best; but the occupation every one had to take care of his own, prevented anything beneficial being adopted at that time. nevertheless it was resolved that as many Englishmen as were to be got in the country should be enlisted, who were indeed now proposing to depart; the third part of these were to be paid by the commonalty; this promise was made by the commonalty but was not followed by the pay.

Council Members

The council members were:[1][2]

See also


  1. New York State; O'Callaghan, EB; Broadhead, John Romeyn: Documents relative to the colonial history of the state of New York, Vol. I, p. 191, 1856
  2. "New Amsterdam - Notable Citizens genealogy project".
  3. Heinsohn, Ph.D., Robert Jennings. "Heinsohn, Ph.D." Sail 1620. Retrieved 2014-12-23. Director-General William Kieft was an autocrat and ruled New Amsterdam in an arbitrary fashion, generating animosity throughout the colony. In 1643 a minor altercation with Indians evolved into a serious uprising followed by an ugly slaughter of Weckquaskeek Indians on Manhattan Island. Kieft feared a major Indian assault. Allerton was asked by Kieft to join a "group of 8 men" to help New Amsterdam. Because he was English and respected in New Haven, Kieft sent Allerton and another Englishman to New Haven in 1643 to ask for men and materials to help defend New Amsterdam. In addition, the "group of 8" was asked to propose measures to improve civility and law-and-order in New Amsterdam. New Haven refused to send men to support the Dutch but Kieft entered into an agreement with the Indians in 1645 that settled the dispute. Because of Kieft's dictatorial manner, several of the eight men petitioned the WIC directors to recall Kieft as Director-General. In time Kieft was replaced by Peter Stuyvesant, and the men initiating the recall petition were accused of insurrection and faced punishment. Allerton was the second signatory of the petition but was not the group's primary spokesman. In 1646, Allerton established a permanent residence in New Haven.
  4. Jacobs, Jaap (2005). New Netherland: A Dutch Colony In Seventeenth-Century America. ISBN 978-90-04-12906-1. ...replaced by Jan Evertz Bout....

Further reading

  • Benson John Lossing; The Empire State: A Compendious History of the Commonwealth of New York
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