Not Always as Happy as a Clam: The Cultural Clashes Underpinning Long Island’s Shellfishing Industry
The year is 1686. King James II looks on anxiously from his plushy throne in England as his New York colonial subjects become increasingly unruly. To tighten his grip on the settlers and quell whispers of rebellion, he appoints Thomas Dongan, a Royalist military officer, to govern the New York territory and issue decrees known as Dongan Patents for the creation of trustee-run towns across the royal province. One of these towns was Long Island’s Town of Brookhaven. A key proclamation in the Dongan Patent states that the town and its residents would have collective jurisdiction over the natural resources of the area, including “the tracts and necks of lands, gardens, pastures, woods, trees and marshes,” as well as swamps, beaches, harbors and importantly, the seafloor.