On April 23, 1664, King Charles sent Governor Nicolls to New York. On the same day he sent commissioners to the other Colonies with the instructions that the “principall end of your journey is to remove all jealousies and misunderstandings which might arise” between England and her colonies. Massachusetts and Connecticut were asked “as soone as conveniently...[to deliver] a draught or mapp of their limitts & jurisdiction they lay claime to”. (NY 94, 98)
Nicolls was given the private instructions to “by insinuateing yourselves by all kind and dextrous carriage into the good opinion of the principall persons there, that soe you may (after a full observation of the humour and interest both of those in government and those of the best quality out of government and, generally, of the people themselves) lead and dispose them to desire to renew their Charters and to make such alterations as will appeare necessary for their owne benefit: - Yet you may informe all men that a great end of your design is the possessing of Long Island, and reduceing that people to an entyre submission and obedience to us & our governement, now vested by our grant and Commission in our Brother the Duke of Yorke” (NY 100). Nicolls was to expand New York's territory.
The ultimate resolution of Nicolls' efforts was the 1664 Agreement mentioned in the wikipedia article. However, this resolution was strongly resisted by New York and never accepted back in England. The Jarring Interests points to New York's relative weakness at the time (fewer colonizers, less wealth for expansion) to explain the bargaining imbalance reflected in the 1664 boundaries. However, Nicolls was able to achieve the “great end” – all of Long Island for New York.
The agreement was almost immediately resisted by New York. When the Duke of York sent Gov. Dongan to New York he instructed him to secure his territorial claim – both by buying up adjoining lands from Native Americans and by agreeing on “the Boundaryes of my territoryes towards Connecticut with the Governors and inhabitants of Connectecut, and you are to send over to me true and exact Mapps of all my said Territoryes.” (NY 376)
Gov. Dongan repudiated the 1664 agreement in a letter to Gov. Treat of Connecticut: “The King's Commissioners being strangers and relying upon your people, were assured by them that the River Mamranet was twenty miles every where from Hudon's River; as we have very creditable witnesses can testify...If you do not submitt to let us have all the land within twenty miles of Hudson's River, I must claime as far as the Duke's Pattent goes; which is to the River Connecticut. There is land enough for us all, and I love not to do my neighbors ill offices.” (CT 350) But despite the boisterous claim, New York was not prepared to follow through on such belligerence.
New York was small and economically insecure. Unlike the other colonies, it was created by a grant to the Duke of York and not a charter to an independent corporation. Because of that, the Duke tells Dongan to be mindful of “immunities and priviledges beyond” (NY 376) those of the other Colonies that New York might require. As Dongan opines to the Duke, New York (at its then borders) is not profitable. “Besides Connecticut, as it now is, takes away from us almost all the land of Value that lyes adjoyning to Hudsons River and the best part of the River itself. Besides as wee find by experience if that place bee not annexed to that Government it will bee impossible to make any thing considerable of his Majesties Customs and Revenue in Long Island they carry away without entring all our Oyles which is the greatest part of what wee have to make returns from this place: And from Albany and that way up the river our Beaver and Peltry. This Government too has an undoubted right to it by Charter which is late Majesty of Blessed Memory granted to our present King.” (NY 434)
The profitability is razor thin (or at least as Dongan reports) “Its a very hard thing upon mee that coming over hither in troublesome times, finding noe Revenue established” and having to establish and maintain military strength while striving with Massachussets, Connecticut, East & West Jersey, and Pennsylvania over the respective boundaries.(NY 449)
“New Yorke is the Metropolis, is scituate upon a barren island bounded by Hudson's River and the East River that runs into the Sound, and hath nothing to support it but trade”. (NY 839) New York needed to control territory and tax the trade through that territory in order to grow. The Duke advised Dongan to funnel all trade in the area, particularly with Native Americans, into the Hudson and once there to tax it. If New Jersey citizens had found alternative routes to trade beaver and other pelts, Dongan was to “use [his] endeavours to prevent it” (NY 391). [This would remain a problem, as it remained an instruction to the later Gov. Fletcher (NY 861).]
But at all times, Dongan was instructed to view the colony as solely an investment vehicle and should “take care that the Dukes chardge be not increased thereby, but rather his revenue” (NY 392). The problem for Dongan was that merely controlling the Hudson was not enough – wherever a market could exist without having to pay Royal excises, willing Natives would flock to trade. “And as for Beaver and Peltry its impossible to hinder its being carried thither, the Indians value not the length of their journey soe as they can come to a good market which those people can better afford them than wee, they paying noe Custom nor Excise inwards or outwards.” (NY 434).
The relative importance of down river settlements as opposed to upriver control is evident in the confusion of the 1644 agreement. At the time, the lines through the Connecticut Panhandle and Long Island were more immediately troubling than where the line intersected the Hudson. The prize jewel for Nicolls in New York was Long Island, and that's reflected in the eventual resolutions. Though ultimately New York lost profitable towns in Greenwich and Stamford, it retained Long Island.
That's not to say Dongan was unconcerned with his North and Western frontiers, but his concern there was more in controlling relationships with the Natives. The Five Nations are a “bulwark” between the English and their French and Native enemies, and Dongan claims he does not allow “Christians to converse with them any where but at Albany and that not without my licence.” (NY 434). For Dongan, the long-standing relationship is one of the great strengths of the colony. “Those Indians & the people of this Government have been in continued peace & amity one with another these fifty years. And those Indians about forty years agoe did annex their Lands to this Government & have ever since constantly renewed the same with every Governor that has been here both in the time of the Dutch & the English and in particular to myself who have given them largely in consideration of their lands. And I am certainly informed, that they have declared they will goe and live on the the other side of the lake than bee under any Government on this than ours.” (NY 434)
But the profitability of the colony is too much of an issue for Dongan to control, particularly after an embezzlement black eye caused by Lucas Santen. When he was finally removed from power, Dongan defended himself by again claiming the lack of Connecticut was fatal to New York; “your Majestie will find I am much in debt with the people here, and your Majestie to me, and no ways left for paying itt if Connetticutt be not joyned to this Government, which your Majestie will otherwise be continually out of purse to meintein and who ever comes after me will certainly runn your Majestie more in debt, I having managed your Majesties Revenue to the greatest advantage and with all the good husbandry imaginable.” (NY 555) Dongan was not able to get Connecticut, but the boundary he was able to create in 1683 is the modern boundary.
The 'need' for New York to absorb Connecticut was used much during the run-up to the Dominion of New England. When the debate over what would happen in the creation of the Dominion were settled, Gov. Andros was to take over all colonies, including New York. Originally just to be the head of New England, Andros was told by James “And whereas since that time Wee have thought it necessary for our service and for the better protection and security of our subjects in those parts to join and annex to our said Government the neighboring Colonies of Road Island and Connecticutt, our Province of New York and Easy and West Jersey, with the territories thereunto belongs, as wee do hereby join annex and unite the same to our said government and dominion of New England.” (NY 580)
The Dominion would not last; the attempt to unite all colonies under a single, and more royally-controlled charter was foiled when the citizens of Boston kidnapped Andros and shipped him out of the city. One by one the other colonies declared their chary or celebratory independence from the Dominion. Andros: “By the encouragement and perswasion of those of the Massachusetts the severall other provinces and collonys in New England as far as New Yorke have disunited themselves, and set up their former seperate Charter, or popular governments without Charter, and by that meanes the whole revenue of the Crowne continued and setled in the severall parts for the support of the Government is lost and destroyed.” (NY 768)
Looking at the letters between the governments/governors, I'm struck by how they seem almost farcical (not having read many late 17th century letters I bet much of this is culture shock). In one letter, Connecticut welcomes Dongan, having just arrived “into these western parts of the world”. For the extremely testy response, Gov. Dongan addresses just a single member rather than the whole Council. He chides “I am much obliged to your Governor and Councill for the complements they made me, and do really desire that a firm friendship may be established, assureing you that if there be not, it shall be none of my fault. Itt is the usuall way, when one Government writes to another, for the Chief and Principall to signe it, but since the Gentlemen have not, tis to you, Sir, that I adresse this Answer.” (NY 348) Gov. Dongan, new to the western world, chastises Connecticut for deviating from proper form.
In a letter from a CT Governor to a RI Governor, some RI settlers are warned off with the mock polite request to leave “before they had expended too much in their setlement, which would be but labor lost.” (CT 286) The RI Governor responds with a petulant: “Wee must owne you are of strength sufficient to compell submission. But if you think his Majestie will not relieve, maintaine and defend his subjects in their Just and lawfull Rights from userpation, forceable and violent intrusions, you may attempt any thing under the pretence of a setlment.” (CT 287)
The inevitable border disputes always make the Governors “much surprized at [the] intrenching” (CT 304) upon conflicting patents. At another time, when asked by the Board of Trade to assess the military strength of its neighbors, CT responded “we suppose they are to answer the same Questions, and know better what their strength”. Yet when asked how intergovernmental relations were mentioned the indifference of their relationship with Massachusetts and the hostility of the one with New York. Finally, when asked to describe the borders, CT quips “Our Boundaries are expressed in our Charter.” (CT 321)
The Governors constantly claim they “really desire that a firm friendship may be established,” but then threaten imposingly that “if there be not, it shall be none of my fault.” (CT 348) A wounded Dongan, on finding that Connecticut desires to join MA in the Dominion of New England, and not New York, wails “You cannot but think me greately surprized at this intelligence, if you consider the correspondence that has bin between your Governor and myself. I am a man that did you all the good offices I could at the Court...As for your Governor, he is an easy good natured gentleman, and I believe has bin imposed uppon”. The incredulity cannot be ingenuous, though perhaps the tone is less emphatic than I read it. (CT 407)
Connecticut is a hub during the Dominion crisis. The Governors of MA and NY both try to woo them, and the letters take on almost the tone of a prosecutorial bargain. New York and Massachusetts each offering good treatment and privileges if only Connecticut will submit, Connecticut holding out hope for each colony and waiting for instructions from the King. When Gov. Dongan intercepted a letter from one Mr. Randolph urging Connecticut to join MA, he expressed dismay. Gov. Treat responded “I think I may say that by any of Mr. Randolph says to moue us to encline eastward hath not at all prejudiced us against your honor or your Government with whom we have had so” (CT 379)
The Jarring Interests describes the bargaining of New York as being primarily that of the agent (the various Governors) struggling to achieve temporary success while not harming the long term goals of the principal (the Duke). Reading the letters myself the more immediate sense I get is that of siblings arguing over their respective positions before they must confront their parents. The letters trade barbs and bribes, but ultimately they never seem too willing to press the issue. As the RI governor alluded in the response above, each side was waiting for the official answer from England. Eventually, a 1700 Order-in-Council ratified the 1683 agreement.