Kieft, Willem vĭl´əm kēft [key], 1597–1647, Dutch director-general of New Netherland. Arriving in New Amsterdam in 1638 to succeed Wouter Van Twiller, Kieft immediately assumed absolute control. His arbitrary rule and tactless handling of the Native Americans resulted in almost continuous Native American warfare during his administration. He was replaced by Peter Stuyvesant (1647) and was lost at sea on his way to Holland.
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