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HIST 3480: The History of NYC NEW AMSTERDAM. Close-up from “View of New Amsterdam on the Island of Manhattan” published in 1685 (well after the . New AMSTERDAM. EUROPEAN EXPANSION & THE “ATLANTIC WORLD”

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Hist 3480 the history of nyc new amsterdam

HIST 3480: The History of NYCNEW AMSTERDAM

Close-up from “View of New Amsterdam on the Island of Manhattan” published in 1685 (well after the

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GLOBAL COMPETITION 1500s – 1700s: Various European powers competing for global maritime supremacy

  • 1500s: Spain & Portugal in the New World; Portugal in the Indian Ocean and Spain in the Philippines

  • 1600s: Rise of Dutch, English, French (Dutch begin to revolt against Spanish in 1568, but don’t gain formal independence until 1648).

  • Late 1600s: Intense commercial rivalry between England & Netherlands lead to three Anglo-Dutch Wars (1652-54, 1665-67, 1672-74)

  • 1700s: Emergence of English and French competition: North America, Caribbean, Indian Ocean

  • Seven Years’ War (1756-1763): First global war. British emerge victorious as the world’s dominant maritime power.

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  • What kind of government did the Dutch have?

  • What religion did they practice?

  • Why were they so successful in global commerce?

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  • Fighting the “Eighty Years War” (1568-1648) for independence against Spanish Catholic Hapsburgs (the Dutch were Protestants).

  • Dutch Republic declared in 1588 (had declared independence from Spain in 1581 but Spain kept fighting to hold on to its former possession).

  • Dutch Republic recognized internationally with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 (other parts of the Lowlands, like Belgium and Luxembourg, remained under Hapsburg control).

  • Dutch East India Company (VOC) founded in 1602 – created global trade network and was one of the first modern corporations.

  • Dutch West India Company was founded in 1621.

  • Dutch colonized part of Brazil from 1630 to 1654; ceded back to Portugal in 1661.

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Dutch “Golden Age”

  • Period of Enormous Wealth: Across the 1600s, the Dutch were prosperous largely due to foreign trade (i.e. monopoly with Japan by 1640) but also because of manufacturing and the birth of corporate finance (VOC) and the first modern stock exchange.

  • Religious and Social Tolerance: The Netherlands welcomed religious dissidents: French-speaking Protestant Walloons, Jews from Spain and Portugal, Huguenots from France, even “Pilgrims” from England.

  • Merchant-Dominated Society: Landed nobility in the interior were less important than in other European countries.

  • Culture and Art: Dutch universities—especially the University of Leiden—were the best in the world at the time, especially in law, physics, mathematics, astronomy, and optics. Painters of this era are still highly admired: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Frans Hals, etc.

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Dutch “Golden Age”

Bartholomeus van derHelst, Banquet of the Amsterdam Civic Guard in Celebration of the

Peace of Münster, 1648

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Dutch “Golden Age”

Jan Vermeer,

View of Delft


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  • Early Exploration

  • 1524 – Giovanni diVerrazzano, exploring for France, sails into New

  • York’s Upper Bay but does not land.

  • 1526 – Portuguese explorer of African descent, Esteban Gomez,

  • sailed for Spain and also may have sailed into the Upper Bay. He

  • had served on the first leg of Magellan’s circumnavigation voyage,

  • but deserted and returned to Spain in 1521. Convinced Hapsburg

  • Charles V to fund another voyage to find a Northwest Passage. He

  • captured fifty natives and brought them back to Spain as slaves.

  • 1609 – Englishman Henry Hudson sails the Halve Maen(“Half

  • Moon”)for the Dutch. Entered the Upper Bay trades with Indians;

  • sails up the “North River” as far as Albany but turns around when he

  • realizes it was not a “Northwest Passage” to China.

  • Very Small Ships: Gomez’s caravel was 50 tons and the Half Moon

  • was only 60 tons. A modern cruise ship can be well over 100,000

  • tons.

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Contemporary replica of the

Halve Maen

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  • Early Exploration

  • 1611-1614: Dutch explorer Adriaen Block conducted four voyages to

  • the area following Hudson, charting from Jersey Shore up to

  • Massachusetts in four voyages.

  • 1614: New Netherland Company founded, but fails to get a colony

  • off the ground. Builds fort Castle Island in the Hudson near Albany as

  • fur trading post, but abandoned after a few years due to flooding

  • (“Fort Nassau”). Its charter expires in 1617.

  • 1621: Dutch West India Company given 24-year charter. Received

  • commerce a monopoly on all commerce from West Africa to North

  • America and was capitalized at 7.5 million guilders. It had two

  • purposes: to make money though trade and to make money by

  • attacking Spanish shipping.

  • 1624: West India Company captures Portuguese sugar plantations

  • in Brazil and sends out 70 warships to prey on Spanish ships in the

  • Caribbean and elsewhere.

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Early New Amsterdam

  • 1624: Settlers arrive in New York Bay. Forty Walloon families led by

  • Cornelius May settle near Albany and along the Delaware and

  • Connecticut Rivers. Walloons were French-speaking people from

  • what is now Belgium; most were Catholic, but this group was

  • Protestant, fleeing religious persecution. Eighteen families sent north

  • near what is now Albany to create a trading station called Fort

  • Orange, and did well trading for furs with the Mahican Indians.

  • Settlers were also on Governor’s Island, and set up perhaps one

  • farm on Manhattan.

  • 1625: New Amsterdam created on southern tip of Manhattan by new

  • shipment of Dutch led by Willem Verhulst, who replaced May as

  • governor. Women and children at Fort Orange were called to New

  • Amsterdam due to outbreak of Mohawk-Mahican War, which made

  • the upstate area dangerous. Verhulst built a fort at Manhattan’s

  • southern tip and enriched himself by falsifying the books on the fur

  • trade; also first eleven slaves were imported that year.

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Directors-General of New Amsterdam

  • CornelisJacobszoon May (1624 – 1625)

  • Willem Verhulst (1625 – 1626)

  • Peter Minuit (1626 – 1632)

  • Sebastiaen Jansen Krol (1632 – 1633)

  • Wouter van Twiller (1633 – 1638)

  • Willem Kieft (1638 – 1647)

  • Petrus Stuyvesant (1647 – 1664)

Willem Kieft (1597-1647)

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Early New Amsterdam

  • 1626: Peter Minuit (1580-1638) replaces Verhulst, and

  • supposedly purchased Manhattan from the Canarsee (who

  • had a weak claim on the land if at all) for sixty guilder in

  • trinkets; also “bought” Staten Island. Minuit was a Protestant

  • Walloon.

  • Tensions at the WIC break out over whether the New

  • Netherlands should be a lightly manned trading post or a

  • settlement focusing on agriculture (scarcity of labor

  • remained a problem for the latter).

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“Company Town”

  • 1628: WIC fleet under Admiral Piet Heyn captures a huge amount of Spanish

  • silver and gold, giving the company a massive injection of capital.

  • 1629: “Charter of Freedom and Exemptions” approved by the Dutch

  • Estates-General for the New Netherland colony; creates patroon system, but

  • only Rensselaerwyck of Killian van Rensselaer, an Amsterdam diamond

  • merchant, manages to create successful agricultural enterprise. His is the

  • only patroonship that succeeds.

  • Michael Pauw’sPavoniapatroonship fails quick.

  • New Netherlands feels the English threat with the creation of Boston by the

  • Puritans in 1630.

  • 1633: Minuit replaced by Wouter Van Twiller, van Rensselaer’s nephew. He

  • takes over land to grow tobacco and enrich himself; buys harbor islands

  • (Governor’s Island, etc.). He makes money, but the colony does not.

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“Company Town”

  • 1637: The “Tulip Bubble” crashes back in the Netherlands, causing financial

  • hardship. Dutch government thought about sending the poor to New

  • Netherlands.

  • 1638: Willem Kieft takes over and finds the buildings in a state of disrepair;

  • but increases tensions with Indians by trying to tax them and drive them out

  • of the area. The English victory in the 1637-38 Pequot War in Connecticut

  • gave them control of the region’s wampum production, pushing the Dutch

  • West India company to charge more taxes on local Indians to get more.

  • First slaves imported in 1625 or 1626; they were not owned by individuals,

  • but rather the WIC. Dutch did not invest heavily in slaves as the morality of

  • slavery was debated. People of African descent were granted much greater

  • rights under the Dutch than they would be later under the English: could

  • marry, own property, and bear arms in time of emergency.

  • Many gained “half-freedom” in 1644 in exchange for protecting the town

  • during an Indian war (also released the company from caring for the old and

  • sick).

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“Company Town”

  • 1630s: Under Van Twiller, New Amsterdam was a pretty roughand-tumble

  • place. Soldiers behaved particularly badly. Van Twiller eve drunkenly

  • chased the one minister around with a knife.

  • Kieft attempts reform, and tries to create more areas for settlement

  • on Long Island, and grow more tobacco. English fleeing Puritans in

  • Massachusetts also start to come into the area.

  • Kieft ultimately discovered to be more corrupt than Van Twiller, and led

  • the New Netherlands into disastrous Indian wars.

  • 1641: “Pig War” erupts in Staten Island over Raritan Indians killing Dutch

  • pigs; Kieft sends soldiers to punish them. Creates a “Council of Twelve”

  • to advise him, but disbands it in early 1642.

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“Company Town”

  • 1643-45: Kieft’s War: Kieft orders a massacre of 120 Lenape in Feb.

  • 1643 including women and children, unifying local Indians against the

  • Dutch. Heavy casualties happened on both sides and many farms were

  • burned; the Company was displeased since the conflict slowed growth of

  • the colony. Many colonist fled their outlying farms to live in relative safety

  • behind the walls of New Amsterdam in Lower Manhattan.

  • In August 1643, English religious exile Anne Hutchinson and her

  • fourteen followers were killed by Indians near what is now Pelham Bay

  • Park.

  • 1644: English settlement at Hempstead, Long Island, founded with Dutch

  • charter.

  • 1645: English settlement at Flushing founded with a charter from the

  • Dutch West India Company as a part of the New Netherland colony.

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  • 1647 – Peter Stuyvesant takes control, relieving Kieft, who to the Company

  • seemed to do irreparable harm. Stuyvesant was sent to crack down and

  • impose order: well ordered urban life would attract more Dutch colonists.

  • Used the Latin name “Petrus” rather than “Pieter” because it showed he

  • had university training. Had a peg leg since it had been crushed by a

  • cannonball during a siege of the Caribbean island of St. Martin.

  • Stuyvesant was a veteran WIC officer, and was well-paid: 3,000 guilders a

  • year: he would earn his money, as the place was a mess. He found Kieft

  • drinking himself into oblivion. Stuyvesant himself was very moralistic.

  • Stuyvesant lays out new streets and puts regulations in effect for garbage

  • and hogs on the street (they could be shot on sight).

  • 1652-1654: First Anglo-Dutch War ignited by frictions over colonial trade.

  • 1653: Stuyvesant refuses to allow Lutherans to organize their own church;

  • affirms Dutch Reformed Church is the only publicly acceptable one.

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  • Class structure emerging by the 1650s with “persons of quality” and

  • “common folk”: merchants on top, white artisans and laborers, then slaves.

  • 1653: Stuyvesant calls a “General Assembly,” the beginning of

  • representative government. “Small” and “great” burgher rights developed.

  • 1654: Asser Levy and 23 Jews arrive in New Amsterdam as refugees

  • from a failed Dutch colony in Brazil; Stuyvesant is reluctant to accept

  • them, but the company forces him to grant them full privileges in 1657.

  • 1654: “Midwout”/Flatbush settlement given a formal charter.

  • 1655: “Peach War”: “River Indians” come into the area to fight the

  • Canarsie and one Indian woman is shot for taking a Dutch farmer’s

  • peaches in Pavonia; triggers a conflict of at least 50 whites killed and

  • 100 taken hostage.

  • 1657 – “Flushing Remonstrance”: A boatload of English Quakers

  • arrived and settled in Flushing; one preacher, Robert Hodgson, refused

  • to stop preaching publically, so Stuyvesant had him arrested and

  • whipped nearly to death. In December, 37 Flushing residents signed a

  • defense of religious toleration and sent it to Stuyvesant. Why were

  • Quakers so detested?

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Excerpt from the Flushing Remonstrance (1647)

The law of love, peace and liberty in the states extending to Jews, Turks and Egyptians, as they are considered sons of Adam, which is the glory of the outward state of Holland, soe love, peace and liberty, extending to all in Christ Jesus, condemns hatred, war and bondage. And because our Savioursayeth it is impossible but that offences will come, but woe unto him by whom they cometh, our desire is not to offend one of his little ones, in whatsoever form, name or title hee appears in, whether Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist or Quaker, but shall be glad to see anything of God in any of them, desiring to doe unto all men as we desire all men should doe unto us, which is the true law both of Church and State; for our Savioursayeth this is the law and the prophets.

Therefore if any of these said persons come in love unto us, we cannot in conscience lay violent hands upon them, but give them free egresse and regresse unto our Town, and houses, as God shall persuade our consciences, for we are bounde by the law of God and man to doe good unto all men and evil to noe man. And this is according to the patent and charter of our Towne, given unto us in the name of the States General, which we are not willing to infringe, and violate, but shall houlde to our patent and shall remaine, your humble subjects, the inhabitants of Vlishing.

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New Amsterdam become New York

  • 1660: The Catholic Stuarts in England are restored to the throne after

  • a decade of Puritan Rule after the English Civil War, with Charles II

  • taking the throne.

  • English governor of Connecticut, John Winthrop Jr., tries to bring

  • Dutch towns on Long Island under his sway.

  • March 1664: James, Duke of York—Charles II’s younger brother—

  • convinces the king to make him proprietor of all land between the

  • Connecticut and Delaware Rivers.

  • Sept. 8, 1664 – Stuyvesant faces English ships with only 150 soldiers

  • short on guns and ammunition; he resists the idea of surrendering until

  • 93 of the most prominent men beg him to do so. He surrenders without

  • any shots fired; the terms offered by Captain Richard Nicolls are quite

  • favorable.

  • June 1667: Dutch attack London and Charles II sues for peace;

  • English keep New Netherland in exchange for Surinam.

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Pieter or Petrus Stuyvesant

(c. 1612 – 1672)

Last director-general of the New Netherlands colony

(1647 – 1664)

Stuyvesant reported back to the Netherlands after his surrender, but then returned to New York and lived out his final years on a large farm known as a “Bouwerij,” which bordered the road that now has this name. His descendents owned considerable Manhattan real estate deep into the nineteenth century.

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1660 map




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