by Irving, Washington, 1783-1859
Originally intended as a burlesque of historiography and heroic styles of epic poetry, the work became more serious as the author proceeded. Diedrich Knickerbocker, the putative narrator, begins with a mock-pedantic cosmogony and proceeds to a history of New Netherlands, often ignoring or altering facts. Descriptions of early New Amsterdam landmarks and old Dutch-American legends are included in the history, as are the discovery of America, the voyage of Henry Hudson, the founding of New Amsterdam, the “golden reign” of Governor Wouter van Twiller, and the hostility of the British, who were based in nearby Connecticut. The book’s portrait of the overeducated, belligerent governor William the Testy (Willem Kieft) is actually a Federalist satire of Thomas Jefferson. The history concludes with the rule of Peter the Headstrong (Peter Stuyvesant) and the fall of New Amsterdam to the British in 1664.
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