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Twelve Men

The Council of Twelve Men was a group of 12 men, chosen on 29 August 1641 by the residents of New Netherland to advise the Director of New Netherland, Willem Kieft, on relations with the Native Americans due to the murder of Claes Swits.[1] Although the council was not permanent, it was the first representational form of democracy in the Dutch colony. The next two councils created were known as the Eight Men and the Nine Men[2]

Three Questions

  1. Whatever it is not just to punish the barbarous murder of Claes Swits committed by an Indian and, in case the Indians refuse to surrender the murderer at our request, whether it is not justifiable to ruin the entire village to which he belongs?
  2. In what manner the same ought be put into effect and at what time?
  3. By whom it may be undertaken?


They did not counsel war, as desired by Willem Kieft. They proposed a friendly request to be sent to the Indians to surrender the murderer. Displeased with the reply of the council of twelve, he disassembled the council on February 8, 1643.Kieft then ordered the Dutch West India Company soldiers to attack nearby Indian encampments at Pavonia and Corlears Hook. Escalating attacks and retaliations by the Indians and the Dutch West India Company soldiers during the next two years became known as Kieft's War and led to a near devastation of the New Netherland settlements on Staten Island, Long Island, and at Pavonia. Rensselaerswyck, a patroonship, outside the territory of the Lenape was unscathed, and profited from the conflict.


The twelve council members were:[3][4]

See also


  1. ^ Jacobs, Jaap (2005). New Netherland: A Dutch Colony In Seventeenth-Century America. ISBN 90-04-12906-5. Both in the way it was set up and in the extent of its rights, the council of Twelve Men, as did the two later advisory bodies ...
  2. ^ "New Amsterdam Notable Citizens". Retrieved 2012-12-31.
  3. ^ Edmund Bailey O'Callaghan and John Romeyn Broadhead (1856). Documents relative to the colonial history of the state of New York. New York State. p. 415.
  4. ^ []
  5. ^ []