Saratoga has been defined by the people who by choice or by chance make up this community. There is no individual who defined this community more than Royal Governor Thomas Dongan. He is the man that issued the original Saratoga Patent in 1684 or 1685. Governor Dongan defined the original patentees included Colonel Peiter Schuyler, Robert Livingston, Dirck Wessels, Esq., Jan Jan Bleecker, Esq., Johannes Schuyler, Esq., and Cornelius Van Dyck. He defined the original location of the patent being six square miles on both sides of the Hudson River. He defined the original tax of twenty bushels of wheat paid annually to the Crown.
In addition, Governor Dongan at an historic “General Assembly of Freeholders” convened in 1683 passed a charter outlining the principles by which the colony ought to be governed. Known as the Charter of Liberties and Privileges, its principles were drawn from the Magna Carta and closely resembled our modern constitutions. The charter defined the colony’s form of government, affirmed basic political rights, and guaranteed religious liberty for Christians. It divided the colony into twelve counties, or “shires,” that were to serve as the basic units of local government. Freeholders from each shire would elect representatives to serve in the assembly. The office of town supervisor also originated at this time in a directive to each town to elect a freeholder, to be called the “town treasurer,” “to supervise and examine the publique and necessary charge of each respective county.”
It is the determination of our forefathers, including Governor Dongan in surmounting overwhelming odds that help define the American spirit – the will and ability to shape a better future. It is the people it is that define this community by choice or by chance have changed this country and even the world political development. That is why studying the people of Saratoga is integral to a good understanding of the condition of being human.