New Netherland to New York

The Dutch were the first European power to settle the land known now as New York. The English explorer Henry Hudson brought the region to the attention of the Netherlands in 1609 by sailing into New York Bay and up the river that would eventually bear his name.

New Netherlands became a reality fourteen years later. The Dutch West India Company hoped to reap the profits of the area’s fur trade.

Shortly after setting up camp, Peter Minuit made one of the greatest real estate purchases in history. He traded trinkets and jewelry with local Native Americans for Manhattan Island. The town that was established there was named New Amsterdam.

The Dutch wanted to enrich its stockholders. Peter Stuyvesant, the most famous governor of the colony, ruled New Amsterdam with an iron fist. Slavery was common during the Dutch era, as the Dutch West India Company was one of the most prominent in the world’s trade of slaves.

New Amsterdam had several languages; Dutch, French, Flemish, Swedish, Finnish, Danish and several other European and African tongues.

Northwest of New Amsterdam, New Netherlands approached feudal conditions with the awarding of large tracts of land to wealthy investors. This would create eventual instability as the gap between the landed and the landless grew more obvious.

After Charles II came to the throne, the English became very interested in the Dutch holdings. In 1664, he granted the land to his brother, the Duke of York, before officially owning it. When a powerful English military unit appeared in New Amsterdam, Governor Stuyvesant was forced to surrender and the New Netherland became New York.

Source: New Netherland to New York
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