Nieuw Nederland

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Nicolaes Visscher's 1656 map Novi Belgii Novæque Angliæ , here in a version from 1685, is the best-known contemporary illustration of the Nieuw Nederlands. It was reprinted frequently and for a long time was considered the best map of the Dutch colony. After the British captured Nieuw Nederlands, it was even used to draw the line between New York and New Jersey . Nova Belgica or Novum Belgium was the Latin name of the colony, corresponding to the Latin name for the Netherlands: Belgii.

Nieuw Nederland ( pronunciation ? / I ) ( German New Netherlands ) was a Dutch colony that existed from 1624 to 1667 on the east coast of North America , today's east coast of the United States . Audio file / audio sample  

The Dutch West India Company (WIC) , which founded and administered the branch, claimed an area that stretched from Newport Bay in the east to the Delaware River in the west and the St. Lawrence River in the north, and areas of what is now the United States Includes Delaware , Pennsylvania , New York , New Jersey , Massachusetts , Vermont , New Hampshire , Connecticut, and Rhode Island . The main settlement areas were on the islands of Manhattan and Long Island and along the Hudson , Delaware and Connecticut rivers . The administrative seat was Nieuw Amsterdam , later New York .

The most important export goods of the colony, which developed rapidly under its last director, Petrus Stuyvesant , were furs and the tobacco grown on the fertile soils . In 1664, shortly before the start of the second Anglo-Dutch naval war , Nieuw Amsterdam was conquered by the British. In the Peace of Breda in 1667 the Netherlands ceded the colony to England. After a brief reconquest of Nieuw Amsterdams, the area finally fell to the British Crown in the Peace of Westminster in 1674.


Fur traders and trading companies

Although the coastal strip in the estuary of the river, later known as the " Hudson River ", had been known since Verrazzano and Gomez 's expeditions in the 16th century, the Dutch only began interested in this area at the beginning of the 17th century. The Englishman Henry Hudson had sailed up the river that was later named after him in 1609 and traded tobacco and furs with some of the Indians living there. When the news of Hudson's trip to the Netherlands reached, parts of the Amsterdam merchants promised themselves high profits from the lucrative fur trade . Several competing groups of merchants, shipowners and boatmen sent ships to North America in the years after 1610 and outbid one another in the price of the fur the Indians traded in.

Dutch East Indiaman, around 1650

As it soon became clear that the profit margin to be achieved in the already cost-intensive and risky overseas business was drastically reduced by this practice, the former competitors came to an understanding and founded the Compagnie van Nieuwnederlant (New Netherlands Company). This trading company received a monopoly from the States General on March 27, 1614, which allowed them four voyages by ship to the area between 40 ° and 45 ° north for the next three years. In October 1618, ten months after the trade monopoly had expired, the company applied for a new Oktroi . At this point in time, the States General was already considering founding a new company, the Geoctroyeerde West-Indische Compagnie ( Dutch West India Company , WIC for short ) as a counterpart to the VOC .

Shortly after the Dutch struggle for independence against the Spaniards flared up again in 1621 after a twelve-year armistice , the States General imposed a trading patent on the newly founded West India Company. They had in mind not so much the settlement of overseas territories as their economic exploitation and at the same time military support from the ships of the privately financed trading company. For this reason, it took two years until sufficient funds were available, as the Dutch financial world was initially waiting for the project. It was not until autumn 1623 that a company ship, the Maackreel, reached the New World. The Maackreel traded along the Hudson during the following winter and returned home in the summer of 1624. In 1624, the Eendracht and the Nieu Nederlandt were the first settlers to arrive on the American east coast.

First colonists

Since the English ambassador in The Hague had registered British claims to the area around the Hudson River ( Netherland Noortrivier ) in 1622 , the Dutch felt it was necessary to create facts quickly in order to support their own interests. In order to manifest as broad territorial claims as possible , the colonists who had arrived with the Eendracht under Adrian Joriszoon Thienpont were distributed to several points on the Connecticut River ( n.d. Versche rivier ), on the Delaware River ( n . Fort Oranje was founded in 1624 at the point where today's city of Albany is located .

Native Americans after an engraving by Wenceslaus Hollar , 1645

The settlers who arrived with the Nieu Nederlandt in the colony later also named were Protestant Walloons who had been expelled from the Spanish Netherlands , 30 families, consisting of 110 people around Cornelis Jacobszoon May . In order to be able to better protect themselves against feared attacks, they first settled on the small island of Pagganack (ndl. Noten Eylandt ) off Manhattan , today's Governors Island .

The settlers found a land that was fertile, had good hunting and fishing grounds and, above all, had a more agreeable climate than the Dutch colonies on the west coast of Africa or in the Caribbean. In contemporary descriptions, geographical conditions were primarily assessed from the point of view of economic expediency. Most of the space in contemporary descriptions, however, was occupied by the Indians, who in Dutch sources are mostly referred to as the wild . Among them, the Mohawk who lived west of Fort Oranje were the main suppliers of fur to the Dutch. Although communication between settlers and Indians was particularly difficult due to mutual ignorance of the language, both groups lived next to each other largely free of conflict until the end of the 1630s.

Foundation of "Nieuw Amsterdam"

The Schaghen letter , 1626

Cornelis Jacobszoon May's contract as director of the colony expired after a year. His successor Willem Verhulst received instructions from the WIC in April 1625 to concentrate the settlers in a larger settlement - probably in order to save costs and at the same time to be able to defend himself better against possible attacks. When Verhulst revealed weak leadership when founding Nieuw Amsterdams on the southern tip of Manhattan Island, he was replaced by Pieter Minuit in the spring of 1626 . Minuit bought Manhattan Island from the Indians in 1626 for the legendary sum of 60  guilders , with the Indians probably receiving the equivalent in the form of various trade goods. The news reached Amsterdam in November 1626, and Pieter Janszoon Schaghen, entrusted with the management of West India affairs, passed the news on to the States General in the now famous Schaghen Letter .

While the settlements further inland largely retained their character as pure fur trading stations in the midst of Indian tribal areas until the end of the Dutch era, Nieuw Amsterdam was not only the center for trade and shipping of the colony, but gradually also became the location of various businesses.

Settlement problems and the reaction of the "WIC"

People who left Europe for the New World in the 17th century had different reasons for their decision. The main motives for emigration were economic or religious. Judging by this, the Dutch had little reason to undertake the rigors of the two to three-month voyage by ship. In the first half of the 17th century the economy of the Netherlands was booming; in this context one speaks of the Gouden eeuw , the golden age . The situation was similar with religiously motivated emigration: in contrast to the English colonies, very few religious refugees came to Nieuw Nederland because the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands was more tolerant of religious questions than other European states of the time. The consequence of this was that Nieuw Nederland suffered from a chronic shortage of settlers up to the middle of the century, which - compared to other territories on the east coast of North America - hampered the development of the colony.

House of the WIC in Amsterdam, 1655

The WIC countered this problem with different measures. On the one hand, it used advertising material abroad to attract more German, Flemish and Walloon emigrants, and on the other hand, it tried to win over potential settlers by relaxing trade regulations. There were two opposing interests in the WIC : The trading faction wanted to keep the settlement costs low and to make the greatest possible profit from the fur trade. The settlement faction took exactly the opposite approach and hoped that the greater agricultural use of the colony would in the long term lead to the replacement of the Baltic region as the supplier of the grain required in the Netherlands. Widespread grain cultivation directly overseas could also have replaced the extremely costly supplies to Brazil or Curaçao . In June 1629 a compromise was reached. The WIC's monopoly on the lucrative fur trade initially persisted, and in return the trading company enabled some of its financially strong directors to establish a hereditary manorial estate overseas. The WIC left the landlords, the so-called patroons , small units of private land to which they were given extensive rights - from tax collection to jurisdiction. In return, the patroon undertook to settle at least fifty people over the age of fifteen on his property within four years. But the patronage system failed. Again and again there were conflicts between the owners and the WIC or between settlers and Indians. Even more important was the fact that, despite generous offers from the patroone, not enough emigrants could be recruited as workers. In the conflicts with the Indians that broke out after 1639, all the settlements except for Rensselaerswijck , east of today's city of Albany , perished .

Abandonment of the fur trade monopoly and Indian war

The section from the map Nova Belgica et Anglia Nova by the Dutch artist Joan Blaeu from around 1635 shows the region around the Hudson River . Oversized images of otters and beavers are intended to emphasize the abundance of fur in the country.

Until the WIC abandoned the fur trade monopoly , the export of beaver furs played a central role in the Nieuw Nederlands economy. The furs were brought by the Indians living in the region to the trading bases of the Dutch and exchanged there for other merchandise at a price set by the WIC . As early as 1624, the WIC was exporting around 5,000 furs with a total value of around 27,000 guilders to the motherland. Although around 16,000 furs worth around 135,000 guilders arrived in the Netherlands in 1635, the expectations of the trading company, which was under financial pressure, were far from being met. From 1634 on, news of the advance of English settlers into the area claimed by the Dutch increased. Four years later, the WIC finally gave in and replaced the trade monopoly on fur with a tariff on all imports and exports. At the same time, it gave up its previous land allocation policy and offered all emigrants as much land free of charge as they could cultivate.

This change from a commercial to a settlement colony led to conflicts with the Indians. On the one hand, the rapid increase in land requirements on the part of the Dutch settlers caused irritation, on the other hand, the abandonment of the fur prices previously guaranteed by the WIC caused tensions. The disputes escalated between 1643 and 1645 in a bloody war that was fought with great severity on both sides, as a result of which the director Willem Kieft, who had been in office since 1637, was replaced by Petrus Stuyvesant .

Stuyvesant era

During Stuyvesant's term of office , there was a sharp increase in the population of Nieuw Nederlands. The lifting of the monopoly on the fur trade by the WIC in 1638 did not significantly increase the economic incentives to emigrate. The turning point was not brought about until the economic growth slowed in the Netherlands around the middle of the century. More and more settlers began the journey across the Atlantic in the 1650s and by 1664 the colony had grown to around seven to eight thousand inhabitants.

Dutch merchant with tobacco leaves in hand (right) in front of the silhouette of Nieuw Amsterdams

On an economic level, tobacco, which has been successfully grown in Nieuw Nederland since the mid-1630s, began to displace fur as the most important export good. The profits to be achieved in European trading centers such as London or Amsterdam, which were far above the profit margins for beaver pelts, played a decisive role here. At the same time, the tobacco grown in the colony itself was exceeded on the export level by the tobacco from Virginia . As recently as 1658, the bulk of the tobacco leaves shipped from Nieuw Amsterdam came from English cultivation.

Relations with its neighbors were extremely difficult for Nieuw Nederland in the Stuyvesant era. In the north France and England claimed parts of Dutch territory for themselves, in the south Sweden. While the Swedes sold their New Sweden territory, located at the mouth of the Delaware , a year after the capture of Fort Casimir (1655) to the city of Amsterdam for 700,000 guilders , the disputes with the English in the north finally resulted in a royal land patent for Connecticut, in of Charles II. claimed the entire territory of the Dutch colony for Britain and therefore anticipated the subsequent conquest of the year 1664th

But inside, too, Stuyvesant faced various problems. In addition to the fact that the unusually colorful mix of settlers of different origins, languages ​​and religions led to conflicts within the Nieuw Nederlands society, an opposition movement against the WIC as the owner of the colony had formed since Willem Kieft's tenure . By 1657 this opposition fought for further rights in questions of the constitution and civil privileges. In her memoranda, she sharply attacked the WIC and its representative Stuyvesant as "exploiters" and "tyrants". Despite all the disputes, Nieuw Nederland was lost at the end of the Stuyvesant era, not because of internal problems, but because of the conflict on a global political level.

Nieuw Nederland falls to the British

Petrus Stuyvesant's signature on one of the last documents he had issued before Nieuw Amsterdam fell into British hands in 1664 (highlighted here afterwards)

During the reign of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell , England began a more aggressive foreign policy towards its Dutch competitors, which continued after the restoration of the English monarchy under King Charles II . A first step by the new government, which was directed against Dutch trade, was the tightening of the navigation act from 1651 in 1660. With Nieuw Nederland as a transit station for Dutch goods to the English colonies of North America and vice versa for Virginia tobacco and other overseas goods to Europe but it is easy for Dutch merchants to get around these trade restrictions. At the same time it was important for the British to consolidate their overseas power, and not least for strategic reasons, to take possession of the entire east coast of North America from Nova Scotia to Carolina .

In 1662 King Charles II granted English colonists in Connecticut a land patent that included the Nieuw Nederlands. On March 12, 1664, he awarded his brother and successor James II, Duke of York , and Commander-in-Chief of the English fleet, the entire Atlantic coast of the Dutch colony. This began again tensions and armed conflicts between the English and the Dutch in the New World.

Without a declaration of war, a British expeditionary force with four ships under the command of Richard Nicolls sailed into the port of Nieuw Amsterdam on August 18, 1664 . Against Stuyvesant's will, possibly because of his unpopularity, the Dutch surrendered without a fight on August 27. The British took over the colony and named it New York in honor of the Duke of York, their future king. The Treaty of Breda in 1667 confirmed the takeover; the Netherlands received Suriname in return .

In the Third Anglo-Dutch War , the colony was occupied again for 15 months by the Dutch under Cornelis Evertsen , but then fell to England for good in the Second Peace of Westminster in 1674 and became a British colony .



Modern source editions

Contemporary sources


  • Jaap Jacobs: New Netherland. A Dutch Colony in Seventeenth-Century America . Leiden 2005, ISBN 90-04-12906-5 (reference work on the history of Nieuw Nederlands. The work is based on extensive source studies and also includes a number of previously unknown materials. In seven chapters, Jacobs is primarily devoted to questions of economic and social history.)
  • Joyce Diane Goodfriend (Ed.): Revisiting New Netherland, perspectives on early Dutch America . Leiden 2005, ISBN 90-04-14507-9 (volume of essays on the history of the Dutch settlement in North America)
  • Eric Nooter (Ed.): Colonial Dutch studies: an interdisciplinary approach . New York 1988, ISBN 0-8147-5763-4 (The four contributions contained in the volume to a congress held in New York in March 1985 give a good overview of the historiography of the Nieuw Nederlands.)
  • Oliver A. Rink: Holland on the Hudson, an economic and social history of Dutch New York . Ithaca 1986, ISBN 0-8014-1866-6 (Rink's results are based on the evaluation of Amsterdam notarial files. The focus of the work is on the investigation of the economic exploitation of Nieuw Nederlands by a relatively small group of Amsterdam merchants who trade in fur and Supplies to the settlers made profits while the colony's general development was sluggish.)
  • George M. Asher: A Bibliographical and Historical Essay on the Dutch Books and Pamphlets relating to New Netherland and to the Dutch West-India Company and to its possessions in Brazil. Frederik Muller, Amsterdam 1854–1867 ( digitized in the Internet Archive ).


See also

Web links

Commons : Nieuw Nederland  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Jaap Jacobs: New Netherland. A Dutch Colony in Seventeenth-Century America . Brill, Leiden 2005, p. 31.
  2. On the patroonships cf. Jaap Jacobs: Dutch Proprietary Manors in America: the Patroonships in New Netherland . In: Louis H. Roper, Bertrand van Ruymbeke (ed.): Constructing early modern empires: proprietary ventures in the Atlantic world, 1500–1750 . Suffering a.] 2007, ISBN 90-04-15676-3 , pp. 301-326.
  3. ^ Journal of New Netherland 1647. Written in the Years 1641, 1642, 1643, 1644, 1645, and 1646 . In: World Digital Library . 1641-1647. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on December 27, 2005 in this version .