Theodore Roosevelt > New York > Page 17
Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919).  New York.  1906.

Page 17
great feudal lords, who farmed out their vast estates to tenants who held the ground on various conditions. Their domains were often as large as old-world principalities; as an instance, Rensselaerswyck, the property of the Patroon Van Rensselaer, was a tract containing a thousand square miles. The introduction of this very aristocratic system was another evidence of the unwisdom of the governing powers. Moreover, the patroons, whose extensive privileges were curtailed in certain directions,—notably in that they were forbidden to enter into the lucrative fur-trade, the chief source of profit to the company,—soon began to rebel against these restrictions. They quarreled fiercely with the company's representatives, and traded on their own account with the Indians; and the various private traders not only cut into the company's profits, but also, being amenable to no law, soon greatly demoralized the savages.
  The settlers on Manhattan Island were not treated as freemen, but as the vassals of the company. For many years they were not even given any title to the land on which they built their houses, being considered simply as tenants at will. Minuit, it is true, chose from among them an advisory council, but it could literally only advise, and in the last resort the company had absolute power. The citizens had certain officers of their



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