Mapping United States: Heritage

An introduction to the shared past of the United States of America and the Netherlands.

A Shared History of the United States and the Netherlands
New Netherland (Dutch: Nieuw-Nederland) was a 17th-century colonial province of the Seven United Netherlands on the Eastern Seaboard of North America. The claimed territories were the lands from the Delmarva Peninsula to extreme southwestern Cape Cod while the settled areas are now part of the Mid-Atlantic States of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut, with small outposts in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. The provincial capital of New Amsterdam was located at the southern tip of the island of Manhattan on New York Harbor.

The colony was conceived as a private business venture to exploit the North American fur trade. During its first decades, New Netherland was settled rather slowly, partially as a result of policy mismanagement by the Dutch West India Company (VOC) and partially as a result of conflicts with Native Americans. The settlement of New Sweden encroached on its southern flank, while its northern border was re-drawn to accommodate an expanding New England. During the 1650s, the colony experienced dramatic growth and became a major port for trade in the North Atlantic. The surrender of Fort Amsterdam to England in 1664 was formalized in 1667, contributing to the Second Anglo–Dutch War. In 1673, the Dutch re-took the area but relinquished it under the Second Treaty of Westminster ending the Third Anglo-Dutch War the next year.

The inhabitants of New Netherland were Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans, the latter chiefly imported as enslaved laborers. Descendants of the original settlers played a prominent role in colonial America. For two centuries, New Netherland Dutch culture characterized the region (today's Capital District around Albany, the Hudson Valley, western Long Island, northeastern New Jersey, and New York City). The concepts of civil liberties and pluralism introduced in the province became mainstays of American political and social life.