Why Did The Dutch Give Up New York? The city of New York, the most populous city in the United States, is an international powerhouse of culture, commerce, and diplomacy.
New York has been an important American city since the States became united – as evident by the fact that the presidential oath of office took place on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City.
Before that, being situated on one of the world’s largest natural harbors, New York was the jewel of Britain’s thirteen colonies and before that, it was the main trading post of the Dutch colony of New Netherland.
But given its importance, why did the Dutch give it up? And how did they get it in the first place?
In September 1609 Henry Hudson, an English explorer whose expedition had been financed by the Dutch West India Company sailed passed modern-day New York up the river that now bears his name.
As he traveled he traded furs with natives but after 10 days the waters were too shallow for his vessel to go any further.
He had not found the Northeast Passage to Asia he had hoped and returned to Dartmouth, England on the 7th of November, where passed his logs onto the Dutch ambassador.
His voyage was used to establish Dutch claims to parts of present-day New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, and Delaware for the colony of New Netherland.
Fur-trading expeditions started in earnest, but it wasn’t until May 1624 that the first settlers arrived and began their colony on
a tiny island at the mouth of the Hudson River, now known as Governors Island.
The Dutch established a small settlement, trading post and fort on the island,but the colonists soon out grew it.
The settlers had been instructed by the authorities of the West India Company to be fair and honest with the Indians and they purchased the island of Manhattan from the Native Americans for trade goods worth 60 guilders, perhaps the best real estate deal in history.
but these goods were invaluable to the Native Americans who couldn’t produce them by themselves and I remind you that the Native Americans had a completely different concept of land ownership and likely understood the trade as a temporary agreement.
Despite their intentions, they weren’t any better at dealing with the Natives than the other European powers.
The colonists and natives soon came into regular conflict and while the West India Company offered little assistance to the colony, a series of brutal campaigns all but eliminated the Native American tribes from the lower Hudson Valley.
The lack of support however left the colonists disillusioned.
New Amsterdam on the southern tip of Manhattan Island became a melting pot with a diverse population in sharp contrast to the homogeneous English settlements going up in New England.
Along with the Dutch, there were Africans, Scots, English, Germans, Scandinavians, French, Muslims, Jews, and Native Americans all building life in New Amsterdam.
It wasn’t exactly a multicultural utopia.
Slave labor was essential for the economy, although life here was better than on a plantation, slaves were able to learn to read, for example, they were still slaves.
And there was plenty of prejudice to go around; for example in 1654 the pegged legged director-general of New Netherland, Peter Stuyvesant, attempted to turn away Jewish refugees, calling them “very repugnant” and “deceitful”.
He wasn’t keen on anyone who wasn’t a Calvinist but his bosses at the West India Company were having none of it and constantly overruled him.
Still, by the standards of the day, there was relative tolerance.
Throughout the 17th century the Dutch and English emerged as the worlds principal maritime powers.
The rivalry would lead to several wars but for our story we need start in peacetime.
In August, 1664, a handful of English war ships anchored off Brooklyn and aimed their cannons towards the fort of New Amsterdam.
The English King, Charles the Second had awarded the lands including New Netherland to his brother James, Duke of York, despite not actually having position of it, in return for four beaver pelts a year.
And these forces were here to fulfil that promise.
The English commander demanded surrender and promised to protect the lives, property and freedom of all who accepted English rule.
The director-general tore up the letter and attempted to rally the troops, but it soon became apparent that the city’s inhabitants had no intention of taking up arms.
The lack of support from the West India Company had eroded their goodwill and English residences were preparing to take up arms on the other side!
He accepted the situation and surrendered and the terms were favorable to the colonists, who could stay, with religious freedoms
and “all public houses” remained in use.
Without bloodshed, the English took over the colony and renamed New Amsterdam as New York in honour of the Duke.
This loss of New Amsterdam happened just prior to the Second Anglo-Dutch War, where the Dutch emerged victorious.
In the peace talks The English tried to return New Netherland in exchange for Suriname – that the Dutch had taken during the war – but sugar was exceptionally valuable and the Dutch rejected the offer the offer,
signing over New Netherland to the English.
The Dutch did briefly recaptured the city in 1673, during the Third Anglo-Dutch War, but relinquished it at the end of the war and after just one year again in order to retain the Sugar colony of Suriname.
Under English rule, New York prospered with many of the previous colonists staying on, and eventually grew into the city we know
But the legacy of their Dutch past is still apparent the colonists who remained introduced words to English such as a cookie, from the Dutch koekje Both a rose for the English and a tulip for the Dutch adorn the flag of the Borough of Queens and throughout the city place names with a Dutch origin remain such as Brooklyn, Harlem, and even Broadway.
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