Monday, October 22, 2007

The English Revolution of 1688 divided the people of New York into two ill-defined factions. Past Historians have stressed the generality of the small shopkeepers, small farmers, sailors, poor traders and artisans allied against the patroons, rich fur-traders, merchants, lawyers and crown officers however, recent scholarship has produced a more muddy picture of the true divisions. The former were led by Leisler, the latter by Peter Schuyler (1657-1724), Nicholas Bayard (c. 1644 1707), Stephen van Cortlandt (1643-1700), William Nicolls (1657-1723) and other representatives of the aristocratic Hudson Valley families.
The Leislerians claimed greater loyalty to the Protestant succession. When news of the imprisonment of Gov. Andros in Massachusetts was received, they took possession on May 31, 1689 of Fort James (at the southern end of Manhattan Island), renamed it Fort William and announced their determination to hold it until the arrival of a governor commissioned by the new sovereigns. Thus began Leisler's Rebellion. The aristocrats also favoured the Revolution, but were unsure as to how they should act because of the meddling of Increase Mather in London. This caused a declaration of William and Mary's ascendency to be delayed for quite some time. When news finally reached New York it was uncertain and from a weak source therefore the Lt. Gov. Nicholson decided to suppress the information until a formal declaration made its way across the Atlantic.

The rebellion
Lieutenant-Governor Francis Nicholson sailed for England on June 24, a committee of safety was organized by the popular party, and Leisler was appointed commander-in-chief. Under authority of a letter from the home government addressed to Nicholson, or in his absence, to such as for the time being takes care for preserving the peace and administering the laws in His Majesty's province of New York, he assumed the title of lieutenant-governor in December 1689, appointed a council and took charge of the government of the entire province.
He summoned the first Intercolonial Congress in America, which met in New York on May 1, 1690 to plan concerted action against the French and Native Americans. Colonel Henry Sloughter was commissioned governor of the province on September 3, 1689 but did not reach New York until March 19, 1691.

Jacob Leisler End of the rebellion

The Life of Jacob Leisler - from the Fales Library, New York University
Statue of Jacob Leisler - in New Rochelle, NY

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