New Netherland (Dutch Nieuw-Nederland, Latin: Nova Belgica) was the territory claimed by the Netherlands on the eastern coast of North America in the 17th century. New Netherland was part of the Dutch colonization of the Americas.
The coast was previously explored by Giovanni da Verrazano in 1524 whose expedition was financed by the citizens of Lyon, France, under the auspices of King Francois I. Despite this, the area was mostly ignored by Europeans for a long time afterwards.
In 1609, Henry Hudson set sail on an exploration trip commissioned by the Dutch East India Company, on the ship Halve Maen (Half Moon), to find a north-east passage to East Asia. However he found his intended route north of Norway blocked by ice and turned west instead, exploring the coast of North America and sailing up the Hudson River as far as the future Albany.
Hudson engaged in small-scale bartering with the Lenape and Mahican Indians he encountered, exchanging beads and metal goods in exchange for beaver pelts. At the time, fur trading, mainly from the Baltic Sea region and Russia, was a lucrative trade business in Europe. In 1610, the prospect of exploiting this new resource spurred a group of Dutch particuliere kooplieden (private merchant-traders) to send a follow up voyage to explore the river Hudson had discovered. A flurry of trade voyages to the region followed in the next several years under the command of such captains as Henrick Chistiaensen , Adriaen Block, and Cornelius May , after whom Cape May is named.
In 1613, Block sailed on his fourth voyage to what is now called the Hudson River aboard his ship the Tyger. While anchored in the Hudson on lower Manhattan, fire destroyed his ship, forcing him and men to spend the winter in Manhattan. Over the winter, he and men, with help from the Lenape, built a new ship, the Onrust (Restless), in which they explored the East River and Long Island Sound in the spring of 1614. Returning to Europe, they left behind Jan Rodrigues, a mulatto from San Domingo, to organize trade with the Indians until the next voyage returned.
Block's map of his 1613-1614 voyage was the first to use the name "New Netherland", which he applied to the land between French Canada and English Virginia. It was also the first to depict Long Island as an island.
The Republic of the Seven United Netherlands claimed the area between 40 and 45 degrees North, and several trading companies from Amsterdam established competing posts to trade with the native inhabitants. Fort Nassau was established in 1614 near the future Albany. Fort Nassau was abandoned in 1618. In 1621 the Dutch West India Company was formed with a monopoly of the trade, and in 1624 the Company built Fort Orange at the present location of Albany.
Colonization began in 1626, when 30 Dutch and Walloon families settled on Manhattan island and in the area of the Delaware River. The first purchase of land from the natives was of Manhattan, by Peter Minuit. The Dutch policy was to require formal purchase of all land that they settled, although the principle of land ownership was not one that the existing inhabitants recognised, likely resulting in misunderstandings. For example, the people from whom Minuit "bought" Manhattan did not live on the island, and probably thought that they were selling a share in the hunting rights.
In 1664 a British fleet sailed into the harbor and captured the colony. They met minimal resistance, perhaps because of the unpopularity of the colonial governor, Peter Stuyvesant. He was unpopular with the residents, in part because he tried to restrict religious freedom: the Flushing Remonstrance of 1657 objected to his ban on Quakers as an infringement on the residents as Christians and as Dutch citizens.
After the second and third Anglo-Dutch Wars, with the settlement changing hands a few times, it was finally ceded to England under the provisions of the Treaty of Breda and Treaty of Westminster on November 10, 1674.
Last updated: 02-05-2005 11:19:11