Willem Verhulst


Provisional Director of New Netherland, 1625-1626

In 1625, the Amsterdam Chamber of the Dutch West India Company sent an expedition of several ships to New Netherland under the command of Willem Verhulst who was directed to set up a permanent agricultural community. He brought with him the Company’s Instructions to the Director, January and April 1625 which formed part of the colony’s early jurisprudence.

Aboard the ships were many new Dutch colonists and agricultural provisions for the new colony. When the expedition docked in New Amsterdam, Willem Verhulst took office as provisional Director of New Netherland. One of his first tasks was to choose a site upon which a fort and Company headquarters would be constructed, a vital part of defense and trade in 17th century colonies. Upon the advice of the Dutch Military Engineer and Surveyor, Cryn Fredericks, Verhulst chose a site just above the southern point of Manhattan island at the junction of the East and North rivers. Engineer Fredericks oversaw the layout of the fort’s foundations.

Vested with almost unlimited power, Director Verhulst’s rule was harsh and when fiscal irregularities were found in the Company accounts, his Council unanimously requested his resignation. When he refused, the Council banished Verhulst from the colony, and he and his wife were put aboard the Arms of Amsterdam and returned to Holland in disgrace.


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