The English governors of New York gave huge tracts of land to their friends, which resulted in only a small number of landowners. Many of these landlords were more interested in land speculation than in settlement, so the colony’s population grew slowly outside the major towns. Of special importance in New York’s history were the manors, large land holdings whose owners had almost unlimited power over them. Six such manors covered more than half of present-day Westchester County. The only successful Dutch patroonship, Rensselaerswyck, became a manor under the English. Located near Albany, it consisted of more than 280,000 hectares (700,000 acres). The Manor of Saint George, on Long Island, was more than 80 km (50 miles) long and covered the central part of the island from shore to shore. The landholding aristocracy and the wealthy merchants of New York City controlled colonial affairs. Among the most prominent and influential families were the Livingstons, Schuylers, De Lanceys, and Van Cortlandts. Most of New York’s small farmers were located on Long Island and along the Hudson River in what is now Ulster County.
In 1689 news arrived in New York that James II had been overthrown in England’s Glorious Revolution and that Andros, governor of the Dominion of New England, had been captured by Boston rebels. A group of armed New Yorkers called on Jacob Leisler, a German-born merchant, to take command of the colony. Leisler was stubborn and ill-tempered, but he championed the people’s rebellion against the local aristocracy of landlords and merchants. He won control over the whole colony and established an assembly.
In 1691 King William III, who had replaced James II, sent Colonel Henry Sloughter to take charge of New York. Sloughter listened to the charges of Leisler’s enemies and immediately set up a special court that convicted Leisler of treason. Leisler was executed, and for 20 years the colony remained split into two camps with hostile interests.
New York’s location made it important in a series of wars fought between the English and French after 1689 for domination of the North American colonies. The side that controlled lakes Champlain, Ontario, and Erie and the Mohawk and Hudson rivers had a commanding position in North America. The Iroquois, situated near many of these waterways, occupied a strategic position between the two antagonists, and both sides sought their aid. In the first wars, the Iroquois Confederacy usually remained neutral, although respected frontier trading agents, such as Sir William Johnson, sometimes secured their aid for the English.
In the last war, the French and Indian War (1754-1763), some Iroquois were persuaded to side with the British, while other tribes were allied with the French. With the Iroquois’s help, Britain won the war in 1763, expelling France from North America. However, with the threat of war gone, land speculators and settlers entered much of the Iroquois territory, provoking clashes with the Native Americans. Under the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1768, the Iroquois ceded to New York all lands east of a line drawn southward from present-day Rome, New York. "New York" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
Photos of European countries to visit
Photos of Asian countries to visit
Photos of America