History of state of New York : English Colony

In 1664 King Charles II of England decided to take over the entire region, basing his claim on the explorations made for England by explorer John Cabot in 1497 and 1498. Charles granted to his brother James, Duke of York and Albany, all the land between the Connecticut and Delaware rivers. To enforce the English claim, Colonel Richard Nicolls sailed into New York Harbor with four ships and 400 soldiers. Stuyvesant wanted to fight, but the citizens of New Amsterdam were unwilling to resist. New Netherland and New Amsterdam were renamed New York. Beverwyck, the settlement that grew up around Fort Orange, became known as Albany.

In 1665 Nicolls, the first English governor of the colony, called a meeting of the representatives of settlers living on Long Island and in what is now Westchester County. He refused their request for an assembly, but he gave them some degree of local self-government. A document, called the Duke’s Laws, provided for the election of town boards and constables and guaranteed freedom of worship. Later these rights were granted to the rest of the province.

In 1682 Thomas Dongan was made governor. He called a representative assembly, which in 1683 adopted the Charter of Liberties and Privileges. This charter called for an elected legislature to levy taxes and make laws, and it guaranteed trial by jury and freedom of worship. Dongan gave New York and Albany charters providing for limited home rule and trading rights.

He also cultivated the goodwill of the Iroquois, who were a buffer between New York and the French colony in Canada. The guarantees of the charter never went into effect. In 1685 the Duke of York and Albany became king as James II, and he included New York within the Dominion of New England, a colony that incorporated most of New England under the close control of a royal governor. New Yorkers were infuriated when James dismissed Dongan and placed them under Sir Edmund Andros, the dominion’s governor, who ruled from Boston.
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