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The Punishment of Crime in Colonial New York

The Dutch Experience in Albany During the Seventeenth Century


Dennis Sullivan

Based in a highly profitable fur trade, the seventeenth century Dutch criminal justice system of the upper Hudson River Valley regulated the community with an eye toward not only maintaining peaceful social relations, but also preserving the economic system that allowed the community to survive. This work examines the punishment practices of the Beverwijck/Albany court during the seventeenth century, delineating changes that occurred in those practices amid fluctuations in the fur trade and after the English conquest of New Netherland in 1664. This study shows that punishment practices were integrally linked to the economic status of the community and, after English conquest, to the introduction of English law.