Catalogue


The women of the house : how a colonial she-merchant built a mansion, a fortune, and a dynasty /
Jean Zimmerman.
edition
1st ed.
imprint
Orlando : Harcourt, Inc., c2006.
description
xv, 399 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.
ISBN
015101065X, 9780151010653
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Orlando : Harcourt, Inc., c2006.
isbn
015101065X
9780151010653
catalogue key
6098508
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 367-380) and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
1 Her New World At the bow of the yacht, her fingers gripping the rail, a young woman stood face into a wind that had buffeted the ship for days with a cocktail of fresh-mown hay, pine sap, and even the sweetness of wildflowers. Behind her, the pilot leaned all his weight on the tiller to thread the vessel through the Narrows, the Hoofden, where even the most seasoned skippers had been known to founder their ships on knife-sharp shoals. The little ship skimmed across the bright open lake called the Upper Bay, and then made its way through one final channel. Finally, a harbor town materialized all at once out of the haze, still a musket shot away but close enough to make out the fort, towering above everything, and the sparse forest of masts in the roadstead before it, colored pennants drooping in the still summer air. As the ship pushed closer, the dense heat of the land descended upon the deck like a wet sponge. The woman at the rail spotted a windmill's sails turning counterclockwise above a church spire. Over the cry of gulls she heard the bellow of sea lions that sprawled across the black rocks at the island's arrow-shaped foot. The rooflines of the port rose into view, then behind them a scattering of farms tucked into rolling hills, their fields interspersed with stretches of forest. A white signal flag flew above the fort to show that a ship had safely reached the harbor. As the guns began to crack out their welcoming salutes, children could be seen running barefoot toward the shore. The captain shouted to make the ship fast. A half-dozen small boats, a sturdy raft, and a canoe pushed away from the town's long Winebridge Pier, built just this year. Carrying port inspectors and merchants, the boats headed toward the ship to ferry passengers and goods ashore. A frill of seawater washed the pebble beach north of the dock. Farther north still lay raw pastures, sand hills, and salt marshes, acres of them, all along the island's coast. An immense flock of bluebills splashed down nearby. Some River Indians stood beside their canoes, waist-deep in the water, unloading nets of oysters they would hawk door-to-door to housewives, who would pickle the meat in jars for export to the planters of the West Indies. The year was 1659. The woman at the ship rail was Margaret Hardenbroeck, she was all of twenty-two years old, and this was her New World. The seaport before her was tiny compared with the European ports of Amsterdam or London, but it was a promising entrepot, an infant marketplace that just might grow to be a moneymaking giant. Holland had the audacity to christen this settlement, which thirty-five years ago was nothing but a bare-dirt trading post, after its urbane commercial capital, Amsterdam. Now, finally, the frontier community of New Amsterdam was beginning to look as if it might amount to something. New Amsterdam was not only a market center. It also was the consummate company town. The company was the Dutch West India Company, an entity controlled by a collection of prosperous burghers who persuaded the Dutch government to grant them a monopoly on trade with West Africa and the Americas and the right to colonize territories. One such territory included the pristine slice of land that ran south from present-day Albany through the island of Manhattan. New Netherland encompassed lands on either bank of the Hudson, as well as choice sections of what later would become New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut. Dutch colonists were scattered through Manhattan, Long Island, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, as well as up the Hudson River, where the town of Beverwyck (later known as Albany) was a nucleus for the growing communities of Schenectady, Catskill, and Wiltwyck. Whether colonists arrived
Excerpt from Book
1 Her New World At the bow of the yacht, her fingers gripping the rail, a young woman stood face into a wind that had buffeted the ship for days with a cocktail of fresh-mown hay, pine sap, and even the sweetness of wildflowers. Behind her, the pilot leaned all his weight on the tiller to thread the vessel through the Narrows, the Hoofden, where even the most seasoned skippers had been known to founder their ships on knife-sharp shoals. The little ship skimmed across the bright open lake called the Upper Bay, and then made its way through one final channel. Finally, a harbor town materialized all at once out of the haze, still a musket shot away but close enough to make out the fort, towering above everything, and the sparse forest of masts in the roadstead before it, colored pennants drooping in the still summer air. As the ship pushed closer, the dense heat of the land descended upon the deck like a wet sponge. The woman at the rail spotted a windmill's sails turning counterclockwise above a church spire. Over the cry of gulls she heard the bellow of sea lions that sprawled across the black rocks at the island's arrow-shaped foot. The rooflines of the port rose into view, then behind them a scattering of farms tucked into rolling hills, their fields interspersed with stretches of forest. A white signal flag flew above the fort to show that a ship had safely reached the harbor. As the guns began to crack out their welcoming salutes, children could be seen running barefoot toward the shore. The captain shouted to make the ship fast. A half-dozen small boats, a sturdy raft, and a canoe pushed away from the town's long Winebridge Pier, built just this year. Carrying port inspectors and merchants, the boats headed toward the ship to ferry passengers and goods ashore. A frill of seawater washed the pebble beach north of the dock. Farther north still lay raw pastures, sand hills, and salt marshes, acres of them, all along the island's coast. An immense flock of bluebills splashed down nearby. Some River Indians stood beside their canoes, waist-deep in the water, unloading nets of oysters they would hawk door-to-door to housewives, who would pickle the meat in jars for export to the planters of the West Indies. The year was 1659. The woman at the ship rail was Margaret Hardenbroeck, she was all of twenty-two years old, and this was her New World. The seaport before her was tiny compared with the European ports of Amsterdam or London, but it was a promising entrepot, an infant marketplace that just might grow to be a moneymaking giant. Holland had the audacity to christen this settlement, which thirty-five years ago was nothing but a bare-dirt trading post, after its urbane commercial capital, Amsterdam. Now, finally, the frontier community of New Amsterdam was beginning to look as if it might amount to something. New Amsterdam was not only a market center. It also was the consummate company town. The company was the Dutch West India Company, an entity controlled by a collection of prosperous burghers who persuaded the Dutch government to grant them a monopoly on trade with West Africa and the Americas and the right to colonize territories. One such territory included the pristine slice of land that ran south from present-day Albany through the island of Manhattan. New Netherland encompassed lands on either bank of the Hudson, as well as choice sections of what later would become New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut. Dutch colonists were scattered through Manhattan, Long Island, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, as well as up the Hudson River, where the town of Beverwyck (later known as Albany) was a nucleus for the growing communities of Schenectady, Catskill, and Wiltwyck. Whether co
First Chapter
1
Her New World
 
At the bow of the yacht, her fingers gripping the rail, a young woman stood face into a wind that had buffeted the ship for days with a cocktail of fresh-mown hay, pine sap, and even the sweetness of wildflowers. Behind her, the pilot leaned all his weight on the tiller to thread the vessel through the Narrows, the Hoofden, where even the most seasoned skippers had been known to founder their ships on knife-sharp shoals. The little ship skimmed across the bright open lake called the Upper Bay, and then made its way through one final channel. Finally, a harbor town materialized all at once out of the haze, still a musket shot away but close enough to make out the fort, towering above everything, and the sparse forest of masts in the roadstead before it, colored pennants drooping in the still summer air. As the ship pushed closer, the dense heat of the land descended upon the deck like a wet sponge.

 The woman at the rail spotted a windmill’s sails turning counterclockwise above a church spire. Over the cry of gulls she heard the bellow of sea lions that sprawled across the black rocks at the island’s arrow-shaped foot. The rooflines of the port rose into view, then behind them a scattering of farms tucked into rolling hills, their fields interspersed with stretches of forest. A white signal flag flew above the fort to show that a ship had safely reached the harbor. As the guns began to crack out their welcoming salutes, children could be seen running barefoot toward the shore.
 
 The captain shouted to make the ship fast. A half-dozen small boats, a sturdy raft, and a canoe pushed away from the town’s long Winebridge Pier, built just this year. Carrying port inspectors and merchants, the boats headed toward the ship to ferry passengers and goods ashore. A frill of seawater washed the pebble beach north of the dock. Farther north still lay raw pastures, sand hills, and salt marshes, acres of them, all along the island’s coast. An immense flock of bluebills splashed down nearby. Some River Indians stood beside their canoes, waist-deep in the water, unloading nets of oysters they would hawk door-to-door to housewives, who would pickle the meat in jars for export to the planters of the West Indies.
 The year was 1659. The woman at the ship rail was Margaret Hardenbroeck, she was all of twenty-two years old, and this was her New World. The seaport before her was tiny compared with the European ports of Amsterdam or London, but it was a promising entrepôt, an infant marketplace that just might grow to be a moneymaking giant. Holland had the audacity to christen this settlement, which thirty-five years ago was nothing but a bare-dirt trading post, after its urbane commercial capital, Amsterdam. Now, finally, the frontier community of New Amsterdam was beginning to look as if it might amount to something.
 
 New Amsterdam was not only a market center. It also was the consummate company town.
The company was the Dutch West India Company, an entity controlled by a collection of prosperous burghers who persuaded the Dutch government to grant them a monopoly on trade with West Africa and the Americas and the right to colonize territories. One such territory included the pristine slice of land that ran south from present-day Albany through the island of Manhattan. New Netherland encompassed lands on either bank of the Hudson, as well as choice sections of what later would become New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut. Dutch colonists were scattered through Manhattan, Long Island, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, as well as up the Hudson River, where the town of Beverwyck (later known as Albany) was a nucleus for the growing communities of Schenectady, Catskill, and Wiltwyck.
 
 Whether colonists arrived as employees of the Company, sold it the products of their land, or shopped for tools at its store, they all depend upon it for survival. In exchange, though, the Company had always taken care to provision its colonists— unlike, say, the English, whose ill-equipped settlers first landed in Virginia in 1607 and, faced with famine, choked down snakes, leather boots, and sometimes each other. To the Dutch, food mattered. In 1625, immediately after the first vessels reached Manhattan, three ships followed with more than one hundred head of hogs, sheep, cows, and horses destined for Company farms. En route, each animal had a private, sand-cushioned stall and an individual handler who “attends to it and knows what he is to get if he delivers it alive.” There would be no “starving times” for New Netherland.
 
 Close by the waterfront, on Winkelstraet, or Shop Street, the Company built a full block of brick warehouses, five under one roof, which it supplemented with a cavernous packinghouse that commanded a perfect view of all harbor traffic. Other nearby warehouses belonged to the town’s most successful private merchants. These buildings functioned in the same way as those that crowded the ancient seaports of Holland. With their stately red-roofed facades, they would easily have fit in on the Heerengracht, the grandest canal in Amsterdam. Their imposing heft appeared somewhat discordant in a town that had just finished cutting stones for its first paved street. But that did not matter. The colony’s commercial drive would not be thwarted by a lack of refined conditions.
 

Copyright © 2006 by Jean Zimmerman

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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2007-07-01:
The role of businesswomen in Colonial America has received little scholarly attention. Zimmerman addresses this issue with a well-written examination of Margaret Hardenbroeck, who came to New Amsterdam in 1659 as a "she merchant" representing a Dutch trading firm. Using her near-equal status with male merchants, Hardenbroeck quickly constructed a transatlantic business empire, trading furs, sugar, and slaves and often accompanying the cargo in transit. Her marriage to Frederick Philipse enhanced the commercial activities, as they purchased land along the Hudson River, invested in Manhattan properties, and obtained a sugar plantation on Barbados. The original Hardenbroeck storehouse along the Hudson River in modern Westchester County became a huge estate and the location of Philipse Manor Hall, which subsequent generations of Philipse women enlarged into a grand mansion. The author traces the lives of three generations of Philipse women after Margaret: Catherine Van Cortlandt Philipse, Joanna Brockholst Philipse, and Mary Philipse Morris. Zimmerman makes excellent use of the few records available on the Hardenbroeck/Philipse women. Her depictions of life in New Amsterdam, its transitions to an English Colony, and the 1741 slave revolt are particularly well done. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. R. M. Hyser James Madison University
Appeared in Library Journal on 2006-06-01:
A tale of the American dream with a feminine twist, this is the chronicle of the dynasty built by Margaret Hardenbroeck Philipse, a tireless Dutch "she-merchant" who immigrated to the colony of New Amsterdam in 1659. By the time she died in 1691, she was the wealthiest woman in what was then the English colony of New York, having built an epic fortune that included breathtakingly vast land holdings. In 1783, Margaret's great-granddaughter, Mary Philipse Morris, found herself and her family exiled to England. Though she was far from destitute, Mary's enormous share of her grandmother's lands had been confiscated by the new government, the price paid for her Tory loyalties and those of her husband, a Briton for whom she had rejected many suitors, including a young George Washington. Zimmerman (Made from Scratch: Reclaiming the Pleasures of the American Hearth) is careful to note that it was the enlightened Dutch attitude toward the rights of women that helped Margaret to build her dynasty. Ironically, that dynasty would become so English that the rights Margaret enjoyed were slowly stripped away from her female descendants, who eventually were legally barred from following in Margaret's footsteps. Seemingly written more for the casual reader than a serious academic audience (there is an occasional fanciful tone and little evidence of original primary-source research), this book should be purchased by public and undergraduate libraries where there is reader interest.-Tessa L.H. Minchew, Georgia Perimeter Coll., Clarkston, GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2006-05-01:
In 1659, 22-year-old Margaret Hardenbroeck arrived in New Amsterdam as a highly independent, unattached "she-merchant" who collected debts from a Dutch cousin's customers and sought out buyers for European merchandise. When she died three decades later, Margaret was an enormously rich, twice-married mother of five with a real estate empire stretching from Westchester and New Jersey to Barbados and a fleet of trading ships trafficking in slaves, furs, tobacco, textiles and molasses. Zimmerman's (Made from Scratch: Reclaiming the Pleasures of the American Hearth) prodigious research unearths a mother lode of data on colonial American women, from the differences in Dutch and English inheritance laws to the fact that wealthy female colonists eschewed underpants and menstruated into exquisite handcrafted gowns. This rich history loses some momentum when the spotlight shifts from the feisty Margaret and her bustling Manhattan milieu to minibiographies of those women who followed in her wake on her Westchester estate. Her husband's pious second wife, Catherine, built a church; granddaughter-in-law Joanna was a socialite political wife whose privileged realm was rocked by an alleged slave revolt; and Joanna's daughter Mary rejected George Washington for a Tory soldier. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
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Summaries
Main Description
The remarkable Margaret Hardenbroeck Philipse arrived in New Amsterdam from Holland in 1659, a brash and ambitious twenty-two-year-old bent on making her way in the New World. She promptly built an empire of trading ships, furs, and real estate that included all of Westchester County. The Dutch called such women "she-merchants," and Margaret became the wealthiest in the colony, while raising five children and keeping a spotless linen closet. Zimmerman deftly traces the astonishing rise of Margaret and the Philipse women who followed her, who would transform Margarets storehouse on the banks of the Hudson into a veritable mansion, Philipse Manor Hall. The last Philipse to live there, Mary Philipse Morris the It-girl of mid-1700s New York was even courted by George Washington. But privilege couldnt shelter the family from the Revolution, which raged on Marys doorstep. Mining extensive primary sources, Zimmerman brings us into the parlors, bedrooms, countinghouses, and parties of early colonial America and vividly restores a forgotten group of women to life.
Main Description
Brash and ambitious, twenty-two-year-old Margaret Hardenbroeck Philipse arrived in Manhattan and promptly built an empire of trading ships, furs, and real estate-including all of today's Westchester Country. She became the wealthiest woman on the Hudson River while raising five children and keeping a spotless linen closet. And she started all this in 1659. Here is the captivating story of a dynasty of powerful, courageous women and the house they built from storehouse to mansion. Book jacket.
Long Description
The remarkable Margaret Hardenbroeck Philipse arrived in New Amsterdam from Holland in 1659, a brash and ambitious twenty-two-year-old bent on making her way in the New World. She promptly built an empire of trading ships, furs, and real estate that included all of Westchester County. The Dutch called such women "she-merchants," and Margaret became the wealthiest in the colony, while raising five children and keeping a spotless linen closet. Zimmerman deftly traces the astonishing rise of Margaret and the Philipse women who followed her, who would transform Margaret's storehouse on the banks of the Hudson into a veritable mansion, Philipse Manor Hall. The last Philipse to live there, Mary Philipse Morris-the "It" girl of mid-1700s New York-was even courted by George Washington. But privilege couldn't shelter the family from the Revolution, which raged on Mary's doorstep. Mining extensive primary sources, Zimmerman brings us into the parlors, bedrooms, counting-houses, and parties of early colonial America and vividly restores a forgotten group of women to life.
Table of Contents
Prologue: 1685p. ix
1659-1691: Margaret
Her New Worldp. 3
A Map of Manhattanp. 14
Wild Diamondsp. 35
A Wedding, a Child, and a Funeral on the Ditchp. 50
Education of a She-Merchantp. 73
A Marriage of Love and Tradep. 85
The Superior Authority Over Both Ship and Cargop. 100
The House Margaret Builtp. 127
A Surfeit of Sugarp. 147
1692-1783: Catherine, Joanna, Mary
The Church of Catherinep. 169
Not Doubting of Her Carep. 201
Fashion Babiesp. 222
A Hard Winter and Hellp. 245
A Castle on the Heightsp. 277
Fire in the Skyp. 307
Afterwordp. 339
Acknowledgmentsp. 347
Notesp. 349
Sourcesp. 367
Indexp. 381
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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