The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America (2004)

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New Netherland (Dutch: Nieuw Nederland; Latin: Nova Belgica or Novum Belgium) was a 17th-century colony of the Dutch Republic that was located on the East Coast of North America. The claimed territories extended from the Delmarva Peninsula to extreme southwestern Cape Cod, while the more limited settled areas are now part of the Mid-Atlantic States of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut, with small outposts in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

The colony was conceived by the Dutch West India Company (WIC) in 1621 to capitalise on the North American fur trade. During its first decades, New Netherland was settled rather slowly, stemming both from policy mismanagement by the WIC as well as conflicts with American Indians. The settlement of New Sweden, founded by the Swedish South Company, encroached on its southern flank, while its northern border was re-drawn to accommodate an expanding New England Confederation. During the 1650s, the colony experienced dramatic growth and became a major port for trade in the North Atlantic. The surrender of Fort Amsterdam to England in 1664 was formalized in 1667, contributing to the Second Anglo-Dutch War. In 1673, the Dutch re-took the area but relinquished it under the Second Treaty of Westminster, ending the Third Anglo-Dutch War the next year.

The inhabitants of New Netherland were American Indians, European Colonists, and Africans, the last chiefly imported as enslaved laborers. The colony had an estimated population between 7,000 and 8,000 people by 1664, at the time of transfer to England, half of whom were not of Dutch descent.[3] Descendants of the original settlers played a prominent role in colonial America. For two centuries, New Netherland Dutch culture characterized the region of today’s Capital District around Albany, the Hudson Valley, western Long Island, northeastern New Jersey, and New York City.

The concept of tolerance was the mainstay of the province’s Dutch mother country. The Dutch Republic was a haven for many religious and intellectual refugees fleeing oppression, as well as home to the world’s major ports in the newly developing global economy. Concepts of religious freedom and free-trade (including a stock market) were Netherlands imports. In 1682, visiting Virginian William Byrd commented about New Amsterdam that “they have as many sects of religion there as at Amsterdam”.

The Dutch Republic was one of the first nation-states of Europe where citizenship and civil liberties were extended to large segments of the population. The framers of the U.S. Constitution were influenced by the Constitution of the Republic of the United Provinces, though that influence was more as an example of things to avoid than of things to imitate.[59] In addition, the Act of Abjuration, essentially the declaration of independence of the United Provinces from the Spanish throne, is strikingly similar to the later American Declaration of Independence,[60] though there is no concrete evidence that one influenced the other. John Adams went so far as to say that “the origins of the two Republics are so much alike that the history of one seems but a transcript from that of the other.”[61] The Articles of Capitulation (outlining the terms of transfer to the English) in 1664[53] provided for the right to worship as one wished, and were incorporated into subsequent city, state, and national constitutions in the United States, and are the legal and cultural code that lies at the root of the New York Tri-State traditions.[62]

Many prominent U.S. citizens are Dutch American directly descended from the Dutch families of New Netherland.[63] The Roosevelt family produced two Presidents and are descended from Claes van Roosevelt, who emigrated around 1650.[64] The Van Buren family of President Martin Van Buren also originated in New Netherland.[4]

The Bush family descendants from Flora Sheldon are descendants from the Schuyler family.…

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