Tag Archives: Manhattan

Celebrating Women Series: Nassem Al-Mehairi Talks about Margaret Hardenbroeck Philipse-“The She-Merchant Of New York”

Welcome to the sixth article in the “Celebrating Women” for Women’s History Month! It’s my first series (author guest article series) to celebrate women in history or women making history! Thank you to Nassem Al-Mehairi for offering the sixth article in this series. If you’d like to continue on with the tour, which runs March 19-31, 2014, follow along each day on the main blog or head to this blog page, Women in History, which will be updated daily with the scheduled link.

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Margaret Hardenbroeck Philipse, otherwise called The She-Merchant of New York:
How She Became the Richest Woman in New York Circa Mid-1650s New Amsterdam (Present Day New York)

by Nassem Al-Mehairi, writer and currently authoring an historical novel on Baron Resolved Waldron

Margaret Hardenbroeck Philipse. That’s a name you may not have heard of before, but she was one of the most successful businesswomen to ever live in the Americas!

Margaret Hardenbroeck Philipse was born in 1630. Little is known of her early life, but Margaret is thought to have received some education, as the Dutch were the only ones who provided primary education for females in Europe during the 1600’s.Margaret, brought up in a time when the Reformed Church advocated for equality for women and more liberal views were held by Dutch society toward women’s rights, brought these to the New World.

At the age of 22, in 1659, a determined Margaret came to New Amsterdam, the Dutch colony on Manhattan Island. Her job as a factor for her wealthy cousin allowed her to handle his New World affairs. She did not find working for others to her liking, so she began her own trading company.

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The Philipse Manor in New York

Margaret, needing to build her alliances with others to expand her business, married a successful merchant named Peter de Vries. In Dutch law, there were 2 kinds of marriages: a manus, in where the woman became a legal minor under the “guardianship” of her husband, and a usus, where the wife retained all the rights a Dutch man would have. Margaret chose usus, which allowed her to continue to build her wealth.

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Castello Plan Of New Amsterdam

 When Peter died in 1661, Margaret inherited his estate. This added his ships to hers and his power. By this time she was sending furs and other goods to the Netherlands and was acting as a middleman for valuable trade in New Amsterdam. The guilders were rolling in, and it was possible because of the Dutch culture which treated women much more fairly.

 In 1663, Margaret married a man by the name of Frederick Philipse. A self-made man, Frederick owned 52000 acres of land along the Hudson River and a huge mansion, Philipse Manor. This marriage grew Margaret’s power even further, to a point where it seemed she could not be stopped.

In August of 1664, the British seized New Amsterdam, and renamed it New York. The British were not nearly as liberal as the Dutch, especially on women’s rights. The British successfully kept down more and more ambitious women in the colony, but, as Margaret had built a vast trade empire already, they could not displace her.

As she kept her transatlantic trade empire flourishing, she had to “officially” start doing business in her husband’s name. The British stripped her of many of her rights, and she could no longer act as a legal agent or purchase goods herself. She worked the system to be able to continue her merchant business despite this, with the help of Frederick.

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Map Of New Netherland.

Margaret retired from business in 1680, and her sons took over the trade empire. Her business continued to thrive, and kept her descendents at the top of New York society for 300 more years. Not until the American Revolution would women have the rights that Margaret had during the Dutch rule of Manhattan. She lived for 11 more years after this, until her death in 1691. At her death, she was the richest woman in New York.

Nassem Al-Mehairi, Biography~

20140104-183355Nassem Al-Mehairi was born in 1999. Possessing unique viewpoints due to his heritage and the times, he is well-suited to understand the solutions to modern issues, such as domestic poverty, international relations, and women’s rights.

He aspires to higher education, law, and politics, as well as to continue writing.

Mr. Al-Mehairi is an author and currently runs the personal online column Seize The Moment. He is in progress of writing a novel about his maternal line ancestor Baron Resolved Waldron, who resided in New Amsterdam (now New York) in 1610-1690.

He resides in Ashland, Ohio.

See more of the articles and following along by clicking here:

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Astor Place Vintage by Stephanie Lehmann Melds NYC Past and Present with Independent Female Characters and Vintage Fashion

Astor Place VintageI was completely excited when I heard about this book and very happy to have been asked to review it. I couldn’t wait to read it, and….you guessed it…Astor Place Vintage by Stephanie Lehmann didn’t disappoint me!! In fact, I couldn’t put it down and read it in about one day, sometimes only with one eye and one hand!

This novel, juxtaposing between Olive in 1907 NYC and Amanda in 2007, the story had a ton of things to love. My excitement grew as I checked off my list the following: NYC-Manhattan circa the 1900s (a fave time period and place in history for me), fashion, vintage, art, women’s rights, female protagonists, and mystery! Wow, how much more could I possibly want, right?!?

I happen to still have been hoping for a wonderful story to go along with the beautiful cover and my overwhelming interest in its topics. Happily, a wonderful story that will go on the list of favorites this year was the outcome. I certainly recommend that this book make it to the top of your reading pile if you like Manhattan history, as well as modern-day NYC living, and have a great desire to read about women, even from different eras, who are struggling to make a career for themselves.

Both characters have similar voices even though they live 100 years apart, which tells me that the conflicts and dilemmas that women deal with aren’t different no matter what decade they are living in. Things change with the times, but a monumental struggle for most women is a desire to leave a legacy through some type of career work, or even a need to work, while still juggling the issue of having or raising children. Marriage. Death. Rights. Finances. They all come in to play in this conflict driven drama featuring well-developed characters.

Lehmann is a superb writer, prone to lovely details describing people and places, all that give you a true sense of being in the story and learning about life in a new place. I loved her details of historic NYC and really immersed myself in her descriptions.  On the modern end of the tale, I think we also get a good picture of the modern woman’s city life, such as issues with owning a small business, turns that relationships take, and stress.

As Olive and Amanda hauntingly intertwine, the journal that Amanda has found in her modern life, written by Olive, becomes a driving force both to Amanda’s character as well as to the reader. It really did propel me to read faster. Just as we wonder about the many people in history who have come before us, we are left wondering at the end and left to our own imaginations.

I highly recommend this book for its absorbing story, historical aspects, and alluring characters, as well as for its engaging entertainment value. And it’s even more recommended if you’re like me and love vintage fashion!

Astor Place Vintage, Synopsis!

Astor Place VintagePublication Date: June 11, 2013
Simon & Schuster
Paperback; 416p
ISBN-10: 1451682050

Amanda Rosenbloom, proprietor of Astor Place Vintage, thinks she’s on just another call to appraise and possibly purchase clothing from a wealthy, elderly woman. But after discovering a journal sewn into a fur muff, Amanda gets much more than she anticipated. The pages of the journal reveal the life of Olive Westcott, a young woman who had moved to Manhattan in 1907. Olive was set on pursuing a career as a department store buyer in an era when Victorian ideas, limiting a woman’s sphere to marriage and motherhood, were only beginning to give way to modern ways of thinking. As Amanda reads the journal, her life begins to unravel until she can no longer ignore this voice from the past. Despite being separated by one hundred years, Amanda finds she’s connected to Olive in ways neither could have imagined.

Praise for Astor Place Vintage

“The past meets the present in Lehmann’s work of feminist literary fiction. . . . The author combines an impressive knowledge of history, sociology and psychology to create an intellectually and emotionally rewarding story.”
-KIRKUS REVIEWS

« “Enchanting. . . . Lehmann does a seamless job of moving between the past and present and gives a definite sense of place to the story’s two periods, with rich descriptions of city life and architecture. First-class storytelling with an enticing dose of New York City history.”
-PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (STARRED REVIEW)

“A thoroughly engaging story about fate, struggle, and will, as told through the intertwined lives of two women in New York living a century apart. Past and present blur in unexpected ways in this insightful, charming, and wholly entertaining novel.”
—KHALED HOSSEINI, author of The Kite Runner

“Lehmann’s blend of past and present perfectly woven together create an addictively readable novel. New York City will never look the same to me after reading ‘Astor Place Vintage.’”
—KATHLEEN GRISSOM, author of The Kitchen House

“A fascinating tour of turn-of-the-century New York. Guaranteed to appeal to anyone who likes to search for the bones of the past beneath the bustle of the present.”
—LAUREN WILLIG, author of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

“I love Amanda and Olive and how we come to understand what links them despite the passage of time. I love what Lehmann has done with the 1907 city—how real it is.”
—BEVERLY SWERLING, author of City of Promise

“This utterly engrossing novel gives us a portrait of one of the most fascinating cities in the world where long after the book has ended you will walk the streets in your mind.”
—STEPHANIE COWELL, author of Claude and Camille and American Book Award recipient

“A splendid banquet of fashion, style, and both old and contemporary New York City, couched in a riveting story. A feast not to be missed!”
—LYNN CULLEN, author of The Creation of Eve

Author Stephanie Lehmann, Biography~

Stephanie LehmannStephanie Lehmann received her B.A. at U.C. Berkeley and an M.A. In English from New York University. She has taught novel writing at Mediabistro and online at Salon.com, where her essays have been published. Like Olive and Amanda, she lives in New York City.

For more information, please visit www.AstorPlaceVintage.com and www.StephanieLehmann.com. You can follow Stephanie on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and tumblr.

 Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/astorplacevintagetour/
Twitter Hashtag: #AstorPlaceVintageTour

Astor Place Vintage Tour Banner FINAL

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