US History To 1877: Dutch New Netherland
The Dutch were a strong and ambitious European nation that turned an overgrown island into what we know of today as the heart of the City of New York, New York. The ambitious Dutch prioritized the empowerment of business, location and trade, to produce wealth. The leaders and residents of the Dutch New Netherlands colony held new enlightened views on religion, culture, leadership, and government, which impacted the foundation of America. The Dutch empire, also known as the Global Maritime Empire, was known as the strongest nation of the age in wealth, military, and trade. The Dutch empire was a role model to many other European countries around them, like England. The Dutch started the Joint Stock Company, which was the birth of modern capitalism.
The Dutch were all about capitalism and trade. The birth of the City of New York on Manhattan Island started with a man named Henry Hudson, who had his own considerable ambitions. Although not truly Dutch, being born and raised in England, his demeanor and ambitions made him acceptable to the Dutch East India Company for his assigned role. Henry Hudson was sent with a ship and crew on a mission to find the Northeast Passage to India, but instead he decided to turn his Dutch ship more west instead of east, and discovered what we know today as Manhattan, New York in 1609, as a land filled with trees and natives, in a good location. Henry Hudson and his Dutch company had the ambition and drive to turn it into a beautiful Dutch trading settlement. An Englishman’s fulfillment of his own ambitions for a Dutch company, in a non-conforming way, led to discoveries and settlement of places that changed the world, and set the foundation for American commerce and diversity. Hudson declared Dutch ownership and control of this area of the new world as New Netherland, with Manhattan as its capital and new trade colony called New Amsterdam. The location and geography of Manhattan gave the Dutch a great advantage in the goals they wanted to pursue, which were the practice of foreign trade to produce wealth in a place that could be defended.
Manhattan was an island surrounded by water, which helped for defense and for the trading of goods via coastal ports with easy access for ocean going ships. Water was a part of Dutch culture, and they were the European continent’s main ship-builders, sailors, pilots, and traffickers of ocean traded goods, which was their key to building an empire to satisfy their own ambitions. Manhattan was the perfect location for foreign goods, people, and ideas to come and be shared, under Dutch influence and enlightened views. When respect to the natives of foreign lands, the Dutch were very enlightened in how they dealt with them, which was much different than other countries who had settled new world locations. They never enslaved the native people, because the Dutch were once enslaved by the Spaniards and understood and despised the torture and cruelness required to maintain slaves. The Dutch had ambitions to create a relationship with the natives based strictly on conducting business with them. In 1626, the Dutch made a deal with the natives and bought Manhattan Island for only $24 worth of goods. The Dutch were thrilled to establish a peaceful claim on the land in exchange for goods costing them such a small amount, but the natives never left the land [and the Dutch never actively sought to evict them.
Dutch culture was very diverse due to their tolerance of different religious beliefs and customs. The Dutch were the strongest Protestant reformation of their time, establishing the Dutch Reformed Church, which was a mix of Protestant and Calvinist. They expressed their enlightenment in religious tolerance. The Dutch reformed constitution written in 1579 promises “every individual person has the right to remain free, especially with their religion, and that no one will be persecuted or investigated because of what they believe in.” However, there was a limit to Dutch religious enlightenment; colonists were allowed to worship however they liked in the privacy of their own homes, but in public they had to worship under the Dutch Reformed Church. They also only welcomed openly anyone who acknowledged that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. But in spite of these aspects of religious intolerance, the petitioners of the Dutch American community fought for the Jews ability to settle in New Netherland notwithstanding their refusal to recognize Jesus as God’s son. They believed that the Jews would benefit their trading colony, because the Jewish nation had a reputation for their faithfulness and loyalty, even risking their own blood to guard places in Brazil where they resided.
The petitioners desired to have people like that on their land. New Netherland also was wide and extensive, and due to the Jewish nation’s faithfulness and extensive trading connections, they brought great relationships that would help the New Netherland increase in trade goods and places. The Dutch also had an enlightened egalitarian point of view of people within their community. The Dutch nation lived as one common group, dressing the same regardless of status or wealth. They had a cultural distaste for monarchy and ostentation. The Dutch dressed very simply, making it difficult for foreigners to figure out the difference between someone from the upper class, like a city magistrate, and a common shopkeeper. The Dutch had other goals and integrities they focused on, which did not include the public display of ornate or official looking clothes. They worked hard on personal modesty and kept business and trade as their top priority. When Peter Stuyvesant was taking on his new role as Director-General for the Dutch colony on Manhattan Island, he vowed to take care of his people, like the way a father looks over his children. Eventually, the English invaded New Netherland in 1664, during the Second Anglo-Dutch War. Stuyvesant surrendered, giving the colony to King Charles’ brother, James, Duke of York. England took over New Amsterdam and renamed it New York. The first governor of New York, Englishman Richard Nicolls, and his successors encouraged the traffic of trade and settlement with their enemies, the Dutch.
The English also let the Dutch traders stay because they understood and respected the ability of the Dutch when it came to trade relations and resources. Ambitious people came as new colonists from all over Europe to build a foundation of European civilization, centered on business and families, on Manhattan Island and throughout the Delaware River into New Jersey. The Dutch’s reputation still stood that “the Dutch here shall enjoy the liberty of their Consciences.” People would be free to come and go as they liked. Trade would be unrestricted, by all means, “Dutch vessels may freely come hither.” Ships from the Dutch Republic, with their mixed loads of European settlers, kept arriving in New York Harbor.
As the Dutch’s explorers and settlers came to the new world, their main ambitions were to explore, expand, and receive economic benefits. The Dutch settlers launched business and trade operations in the new world, creating a strong inclusive business foundation in American culture, with more tolerance of religious and cultural diversity than other empire building nations of the age. They did not come to establish a colony or to spread a religion, as much as to establish a trading post, with a focus on new business opportunities and relationships. Their considerable ambitions focused on peaceful foreign trade helped foster their enlightened views in regard to their own people, foreign people and other religious beliefs.