Learn more about New Netherland
New Netherland (Dutch: Nieuw-Nederland, Latin: Novum Belgium or Nova Belgica; see below), 1614–1674, was the territory on the eastern coast of North America in the 17th century which stretched from latitude 38 to 45 degrees North as originally discovered by the Dutch East India Company with the yacht Half Moon under the command of Henry Hudson in 1609 and explored by Adriaen Block and Hendrick Christiaensz from 1611 through 1614. Their map of 1614, presented to the States General, claimed the territory as New Netherland for the Republic of the Seven United Provinces.
A private commercial venture since patents were issued by the States General in 1614, New Netherland became a province of the Dutch Republic in 1624. At that time the northern border was reduced to 42 degrees North in acknowledgment of the inevitable intrusion of the English above Cape Cod (see John Smith's 1616 map as self-anointed Admiral of New England).
That transformation to a province under the Dutch Republic’s laws and ordinances took place on Noten Eylant, modern Governors Island. New Netherland as a province, so founded in 1624, comprised the modern day New York Tri-State area with Manhattan as its locus and extended to just south of the Delaware Bay to Cape Henlopen and east of the Connecticut River to include Cape Cod. The 1624 Governors Island settlement completed the claim on the territory according to the Law of Nations: (1) Discovery in 1609 (2) Surveying and Charting from 1611–1614 and (3) taking Possession through Settlement.
The original 1614 provence claim came chiefly as the result of the explorations of the Dutch East India Company with the yacht Halve Maen, captained by Henry Hudson in 1609. It was the first year of the twelve-year armistice between The Dutch Republic and Spain (April 9, 1609-1621) when unaccompanied and unarmed Dutch ships would be free from attack by the Spanish enemy. The truce enabled the Halve Maen to traverse the Atlantic. Hudson’s report to his superiors relayed that he had engaged in small-scale bartering for furs with the natives he had encountered along the Mauritius River―so named by him after Holland’s Lord Lieutenant Maurits, a nobleman of the house of Orange Nassau who was leading the Republic’s land war against Spain.
At the conclusion of the armistice in 1621, the Dutch West India Company received its charter from the States General. It had very broad objectives covering the entire Atlantic region as originally formulated in a concept patent in 1606. In 1621, it still incorporated the narrow objectives of its spiritual founder Willem Usselincx who, between 1600 and 1606, had made the case for the Company as primarily a vehicle for the founding of colonies in the new world. In 1620, Usselincx made a last appeal to the States General who rejected his principal vision as its primary goal. The result was that colonization would take now a tertiary place after the Company’s chief aims of military and profit seeking activities in the Atlantic arena. New Netherland was thus destined to become the State General’s stepchild until 1654 when it had surrendered Dutch Brazil, obtained through conquest from the Portuguese in 1630. Having lost its possession, the richest sugar producing area in the world, enabled it to focus belatedly on the New Netherland nation-building effort in North America.
The prospect of exploiting Henry Hudson’s 1609 report of a new trade resource had been the catalyst for Dutch private merchant-traders to assume the risk of exploring the river region Hudson had discovered. It resulted in the only known commercial expedition in the year 1610 by Symen Lambertsz May of Monnikendam to the Mauritius River. The following year and in 1612, the Admiralty of Amsterdam sent (covert) expeditions to find a northwest passage to China with the yachts Craen and Vos, captained by Jan Cornelisz May and Symon Willemsz Cat respectively. In the same years of 1611 and 1612, as well as the year 1613 and 1614, Adriaen Block, Hendrick Christiaensz and Cornelis Jacobsz May undertook commercial explorations to Hudson’s river while surveying and charting the coastline and all river inlets between Cape Cod and the Delaware Bay.
Some of those explorers are still honored today such as Adriaen Block, for whom Block Island has been named, and Cornelis Jacobsz May, for whom Cape May, New Jersey is named, and his business partner Thymen Jacobsz Hinlopen for whom Cape Henlopen, Delaware, is named. However, Hendrick Christaensz Island, named after Hendrick Christiaensz, has now been renamed No-Man Island (just west of Martha’s Vineyard).
The results of these explorations, surveys and charts made from 1609-1614, were consolidated in a map made by Adriaen Block and presented to the States General in 1614 (the Block Map). The map named New Netherland for the first time and was delivered on behalf of various competing trading companies in the Hudson River region. They had amalgamated in a new company named The New Netherland Company.The map and a companion detailed report was presented in response to a States General promulgation of March 17, 1614, that it would grant an exclusive patent for trade between the 40th and 45th parallels, good for four voyages to the discoverer of new countries, harbors and passages. The journeys had to be undertaken within three years after granting the trading rights at the exclusion of all other Dutch. The New Netherland Company was the winner on October 11, 1614 with the date of patent expiration on January 1, 1618.
The New Netherland Company had the Delaware area surveyed by skipper Cornelis Hendricksz of Monnikendam in the years 1614, 1615 and 1616. However, it was unable to secure an exclusive patent from the States General for the area between the 38th and 40th parallel. Upon Block’s departure to patria in June 1614, Cornelis Hendricksz had stayed behind and had been appointed by Block as skipper of the North American-built ship Onrust or “Trouble”. The “Trouble” (often less correctly translated as “Unrest”), was a replacement ship built by Block in the vicinity of Manhattan upon the destruction of his yacht the Tijger which had been lost to fire in January 1614. Adriaen Block never returned to New Netherland. Cornelis Hendricksz’s Zuyd Rivier, (Delaware River) explorations, from its very top to the lower bay, has been preserved in a map of 1616.
In preparation for North American colonization, the West India Company recalled all private commercial parties operating in the New Netherland territory in 1621, 1622 and 1623 and invalidated all private commercial interests, thus voiding maritime law as only legal recourse in the region. The peopling and growth of New Netherland as an overseas province was to be financed partly by profits from fur trading operations. That trade was therefore made exclusive to the West India Company in order to minimize the company’s financial exposure to the colony.
In the summer of 1624, the New Netherland territory received its first immigrants, a colony of thirty families on Noten Eylant, now Governors Island. These colonists had disembarked on Governors Island from the ship named “New Netherland” under the command of Cornelis Jacobsz May, the first director of the Province of New Netherland.
In June, 1625, forty-five more colonists disembarked on Governors Island from three ships named Horse, Cow and Sheep which also delivered 103 horses, steers and cows, in addition to numerous pigs and sheep. It successfully completed the Republic’s first planting of a colony in 1624, and extrapolated the Republic’s culture, its 1579 Constitution and legal-political guaranty of tolerance onto the North American continent. Director May (1624-1625) was replaced with Director Willem Verhulst (1625-1626).
Prior to establishment of Fort Amsterdam on Manhattan Island in 1625, giving birth to New York City, there was a fort on Noten Eylant, now Governors Island in 1624, giving birth to New York State (as well as New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware). The earliest fort however was Fort Nassau (1614) on the top of Hudson's river, constructed on Castle Island, and, because of its inundation after 1618, was replaced by Fort Orange on the mainland in 1624, giving birth to Beverwijck which became Albany, New York State’s capital. On the Delaware River there existed a Fort Wilhelmus on Verhulsten Island, now Burlington Island, a Fort Nassau (1623), now Gloucester in New Jersey, and in the Connecticut River was Fort Goede Hoop, also known as Huys de Hoop in 1633 (En. "House of Hope"), giving birth to Hartford. The primary purpose of the forts was to defend river traffic against interlopers and to conduct fur trading operations with the natives. (The two forts Nassau and Fort Orange were named in honor of the House of Orange-Nassau whose members occupied positions of power as lord-lieutenants of various provinces of the Dutch Republic.)
 New Netherland as a province
Those settlers to Governors Island in 1624 planted the concept of toleration as a legal right on North America as per explicit orders in 1624. They had to attract, “through attitude and by example”, the natives and non-believers to God’s word “without, on the other hand, to persecute someone by reason of his religion and to leave everyone the freedom of his conscience” (via “levenshouding en voorbeeld” moesten zij “de Indianen ende andere blinde menschen tot de kennisz Godes ende synes woort sien te trecken, sonder nochtans ijemant ter oorsaecke van syne religie te vervolgen, maer een yder de vrijch[eyt] van sijn consciencie te laten”).Those instructions derived from the founding document of the Dutch Republic, the 1579 Union of Utrecht, stating “that everyone shall remain free in religion and that no one may be persecuted or investigated because of religion” (“dat een yder particulier in sijn religie vrij sal moegen blijven ende dat men nyemant ter cause van de religie sal moegen achterhaelen ofte ondersoucken”). That statement, unique in the world at the time, became the historic underpinning for the opening of the first synagogue in the Western Hemisphere at Recife in Dutch Brazil in 1642 as well as the "official" granting of full residency for both Ashkenazim and Sephardim at New Amsterdam in 1655. Furthermore, the laws and ordinances of the states of Holland were incorporated by reference in those first instructions to the Governors Island settlers in 1624. They contained the legal-cultural code that lies at the root of the New York Tri-State traditions and, ultimately, American pluralism (diversity) and liberty.
 English incursions
William Wood’s 1634 map is the first to show Cape Cod as part of New England, evidence of English settlement spilling over from New England into New Netherland. Unable to militarily defend their large territorial claims, the Dutch could do nothing but protest the growing flood of English. With the founding of New Haven in 1638, the flood picked up and English settlers began moving into the areas right around New York and Long Island.
With the 1650 Treaty of Hartford, Stuyvesant provisionally ceded the Connecticut River region to New England, drawing New Netherland's eastern border 50 Dutch miles west of the Connecticut's mouth on the mainland and just west of Oyster Bay on Long Island. The Dutch West India Company refused to recognize the treaty, but since they failed to reach any agreement with the English themselves, the Hartford Treaty set the de facto border.
In March of 1664, Charles II of England resolved to annex New Netherland and to “bring all his Kingdoms under one form of government, both in church and state, and to install the Anglican government as in old England”. In the face of this the Directors of the Dutch West India Company comforted themselves that the religious freedom of the colony rendered military defense against New England unnecessary. They wrote to Director-General Peter Stuyvesant, “we are in hopes that as the English at the north (in New Netherland) have removed mostly from old England for the causes aforesaid, they will not give us henceforth so much trouble, but prefer to live free under us at peace with their consciences than to risk getting rid of our authority and then falling again under a government from which they had formerly fled.”
On August 27, 1664, four English frigates sailed in New Amsterdam’s harbor and demanded New Netherland’s surrender. They met no resistance because previously, numerous citizens’ requests for protection by a suitable garrison against “the deplorable and tragic massacres” by the natives had gone unheeded. That ongoing lack of sufficient garrisons, ammunition and gun powder, as well as the indifferent responses from the West India Company upon frequent and urgent requests for reinforcement of men and ships against “the continual troubles, threats, encroachments and invasions of the English neighbors and government of Hartford Colony” made New Amsterdam defenseless. Stuyvesant made the best of a bad situation and negotiated successfully for good terms from his “too powerful enemies." The capture of the city was one out of a series of attacks on Dutch colonies that resulted in the Second Anglo-Dutch War between England and the Dutch Republic.
During the negotiations over the Articles of Transfer, Petrus Stuyvesant and his council secured the principle of tolerance in Article VIII, which assured New Netherlanders that they “shall keep and enjoy the liberty of their consciences in religion” under English rule. In the 1667 Treaty of Breda, the Dutch did not press their claims on New Netherland. The status quo, with the Dutch occupying Suriname and the nutmeg island of Run, was maintained; no definitive solution was decided on.
Within six years, the nations were again at war, and in August of 1673 the Dutch recaptured New Netherland with a fleet of 21 ships, then the largest one seen in North America. It comprised a squadron under the command of Vice-Admiral Cornelis Evertsen de Jongste sent out by Pieter Huybert, raadspensionaris of the Zeeland Chamber of the Dutch West India Company, and a squadron of the Amsterdam Chamber under the command of Jacob Binckes. They installed Anthony Colve as “governor” and renamed the city "New Orange", reflecting the installation of William of Orange as Lord-Lieutenant (stadtholder) of Holland in 1672 (He became King William III of England in 1689). However, after the conclusion of the third Anglo-Dutch war, 1672-74, - the historic “disaster years” in which The Dutch Republic was simultaneously attacked by the French (Louis XIV), the English and the Bishops of Munster and Cologne - the republic was financially and morally broke. The States of Zeeland had tried to convince the States of Holland to take on the responsibility for the New Netherland province to no avail. In November 1674, the Treaty of Westminster concluded the Third Anglo-Dutch War and ceded New Netherland definitively to the English. The province of New Netherland and the city of New Orange were renamed New York.
New Netherland has left a profoundly enduring legacy on both American cultural and political life. Perhaps most significant was the impact of cultural and religious tolerance which led to a wealth of diversity in New Amsterdam. This tolerance was the mainstay of its mother country, the Dutch Republic as nation state and a haven for refugees from surrounding autocratic or despotic regimes. In 1682, the visiting Virginian William Byrd commented about New Amsterdam that "they have as many sects of religion there as at Amsterdam". This religious freedom was preserved under the Articles of Transfer to English authority.
More visible traces of Dutch influence include the prevalence of Dutch placenames in the region from Rhode Island to Delaware to this day. Examples include:
- Cape Henlopen (named after Thijmen Jacobsz Hinlopen)
- Cape May (named after Cornelis Jacobsz May)
- Kinderhook ("Kinderhoek", meaning children's corner)
- Claverack (a corruption for the Dutch word for "Clover fields.")
- Block Island (named after Adriaen Block)
- Hoboken (possibly named after a district of Antwerpen, Belgium)
- Long Island (Lange Eylant)
- Brooklyn ("Breuckelen", named after a Dutch town)
- Harlem (Nieuw Haarlem, named after a Dutch town)
- New York was called New Amsterdam until 1665
- Amsterdam, named after the Dutch capital
- Rotterdam, named after a major Dutch city
- New Utrecht Avenue, after the colonial town of New Utrecht itself named after another major Dutch city
- The Bronx (named after Jonas Bronck)
- Coney Island ("Konynen Island", meaning Rabbit Island)
- Staten Island ("Staaten Eylant", meaning State Island, named for the Dutch assembly Staten-Generaal)
- Hell Gate ("Hellegat", meaning Bright Passage)
- Oyster Bay ("Oester Baai")
- Tappan Zee (Zee is the dutch word for sea)
- Flushing (named after the Dutch town of Vlissingen)
- Broadway ("Breede weg")
- Gramercy, a corruption of the little river named "Krom Messie" which is old Dutch for "(small) crooked knife"
- ...and others, including many streams (kills), roads and establishments.
In addition, many New York citizens are directly descended from the Dutch citizens of New Netherland. For instance, the Roosevelt family, which produced two Presidents, are descended from Claes van Roosevelt, who emigrated from Haarlem in about 1650. The Van Buren family of President Martin Van Buren also originated in New Netherland.
Further, the colors of the flag of the City of New York are the blue, white and orange of the Dutch flag. The colors are also seen in the Nassau County flag, material from New York's two World's Fairs and the uniforms of the New York Mets.
The folk tales of the Dutch peasants of the Hudson Valley gave literary inspiration to Washington Irving for his two most famous short stories, Rip van Winkle and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, proving the survival of the local Dutch culture well until the first part of the 19th century.
 A note on the Latin name of the province
The province's Latin names, Novum Belgium or Nova Belgica, derive from the Latin name of the contemporary Dutch Republic, Belgium Foederatum. The Low Lands or the Netherlands (called in Latin Belgium) comprised at that time seventeen provinces, with the ten southern provinces under Spanish authority referred to as Belgium Regium. In North America, the Dutch province was textually referred to by its Dutch name of New Netherland but cartographically mostly by its Latin appellations such as Novum Belgium as a contemporary provincial extension of the Dutch Republic or Belgium Foederatum.
 See also
- Director-General of New Netherland
- Dutch colonization of the Americas
- New Amsterdam
- Kiliaen Van Rensselaer
- Jaap Jacobs (2005). New Netherland: A Dutch Colony in Seventeenth-Century America. Brill. ISBN 90-04-12906-5.
- Russell Shorto (2004). The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America. Random House. ISBN 1-4000-7867-9.
- Paul Otto (2006). The Dutch-Munsee Encounter in America: The Struggle for Sovereignty in the Hudson Valley. Berghahn Books. ISBN 1-57181-672-0.
 External links
- The New Netherland Museum
- Virtual Tour of New Netherland
- New Netherland Project
- 17-page article on Jewish arrival in New Netherland
- Right of the People to Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances; exercised in 1649 and codified in 1791 First Amendment
- New York and its origins
- Dutch Portuguese Colonial History: history of the Portuguese and the Dutch in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), India, Malacca, Bengal, Formosa, Africa, Brazil. Language Heritage, lists of remains, maps.
|Dutch overseas empire|
|Africa: Arguin Island | Cape Colony | Lydsaamheid fort & factory in Delagoa Bay | Dutch Gold Coast | Gorée | Mauritius|
|See also: Dutch East India Company | Dutch West India Company|
|Present colonies (only Caribbean)|
|Kingdom of the Netherlands: Netherlands Antilles | Aruba|
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