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Dutch Colonization of the Americas


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During the 17th century, Dutch traders established trade posts and plantations throughout the Americas; actual colonization, with Dutch settling in the new lands was not as common as with settlements of other European nations. Many of the Dutch settlements had been abandoned or lost by the end of the century, with the exception of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, which remain Dutch territory until this day, and Suriname, which became independent in 1975.

North America

In 1602, the government of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands chartered the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or VOC) with the mission of exploring for a passage to the Indies and claiming any unchartered territories for the United Provinces.

In 1609, English explorer Henry Hudson attempted to find a northwest passage to the Indies, instead discovering areas of current United States and Canada, among others giving his name to the Hudson River and Hudson Bay and claiming the surrounding land for the VOC.

After some early trading expeditions, the first settlement was founded in 1615: Fort Nassau, on Castle Island, near present-day Albany. The settlement served mostly as a trade post for fur trade with the natives and was later replaced by Fort Oranje (or Fort Orange) at present-day Albany.

In 1621, a new company was established with a trading monopoly in the Americas and West Africa: the Dutch West India Company (Westindische Compagnie or WIC). The WIC sought recognition for the area in the New World – which had been called New Netherland – as a province, which was granted in 1623. Soon after, the first colonists, mostly from present-day Belgium and Germany, arrived in the new province.

In 1626, director general of the WIC Peter Minuit “purchased” the island of Manhattan from Indians and started the construction of fort New Amsterdam. In the same year, Fort Nassau was built in the New Jersey area. Other settlements were Fort Casimir (Newcastle) and Fort Beversrede (Philadelphia). In 1655, the main settlement of New Sweden, Fort Christina, was captured after the Swedes had briefly occupied Fort Casimir. Large numbers of the inhabitants of these settlements were not Dutch, but came from a variety of other European countries, including England.

A significant number of immigrants to New Netherland were protestants of English or French Huguenot background, including the Louis Dubois colony which settled New Paltz, New York, making a private treaty with the local Native Americans to purchase a large tract of land from the Hudson River to the mountains. Later, under English rule, this self-governing colony, ruled by Dubois and 11 others on their unique duzine, continued to prosper and today the village boasts the oldest street in North America with the original stone houses.

In 1664, English troops under the command of the Duke of York (later James II of England) attacked the New Netherland colony. Being greatly outnumbered, director general Peter Stuyvesant surrendered New Amsterdam, with Fort Orange following soon. New Amsterdam was renamed New York, Fort Orange was renamed Fort Albany.

The loss of the New Netherland province led to the Second Anglo-Dutch War during 1665-1667. This conflict ended with the Treaty of Breda in which the Dutch gave up their claim to New Netherland in exchange for Suriname.

From 1673 to 1674, the territories were once again briefly captured by the Dutch in the Third Anglo-Dutch War, only to be returned to England at the Treaty of Westminster.

Caribbean

Netherlands Antilles

Dutch colonization of Sint Maarten began in 1620 although the ownership of the island changed hands at least 16 times before 1816, when it was permanently split between France and the Netherlands.

Several other islands were captured and fortified to prevent Spanish attacks in the ongoing Dutch war for independence from Spain and to exploit timber and salt resources:

  • Curaçao in 1634
  • Saba in 1640
  • Sint Eustatius in 1635
  • Bonaire in 1633
  • Aruba in 1637

The Netherlands Antilles remains an overseas territory of the Netherlands, although it was granted self-rule in 1954. In 1986, Aruba was granted autonomy, separately from the other islands.

Virgin Islands

The Dutch established a base on St. Croix in 1625, the same year that the British did. French Protestants joined the Dutch but conflict with the British colony led to its abandonment before 1650. The Dutch established a settlement on Tortola in 1648 and later on Anegada and Virgin Gorda. The British took Tortola in 1672 and Anegada and Virgin Gorda in 1680.

Tobago

The Netherlands made numerous attempts to colonize the island in the 17th century. Each time, the settlements were destroyed by rival European powers. Dutch settlements on Tobago existed:

  • 1628–1637 destroyed by Spanish
  • 1654–1666 conquered by British and destroyed by French
  • 1672 destroyed by British
  • 1676–1677 destroyed by French

South America

Suriname

The European colony in Suriname was founded in the 1650s by Lord Willoughby, the governor of Barbados. This colony was captured by the Dutch under Abraham Crijnsen during the Second Anglo-Dutch War. On July 31, 1667, by the Treaty of Breda the English offered the New Netherland (modern New York City) in exchange for their sugar factories on the coast of Surinam. In 1683 Suriname was sold to the Dutch West India Company and came to be known as Dutch Guiana. They colony developed an agricultural economy based on African slavery. The way the Dutch colonists treated their black slaves was horrendous, even for the timeframe, with families being deliberately broken up. During the Napoleonic Wars, England controlled Suriname from 1799 until 1816, when it was returned to the Dutch. The Netherlands granted Suriname independence on November 25, 1975. Political instability resulted in large numbers of Surinamese moving to the Netherlands.

Guyana

The Dutch West Indian Company built a fort in 1616 on the Essequibo River. The Dutch traded with the Indian peoples and, as in Suriname, established sugar plantations worked by African slaves. While the coast remained under Dutch control, the English established plantations west of the Suriname River. Conflict between the two countries meant parts of the region changed hands a number of times, but by 1796 Britain had control of the region. The Netherlands ceded the colonies of Essequibo, Demerara, and Berbice to Britain in 1814.

Brazil

From 1630 onward the Netherlands came to control almost half of Brazil, with their capital in Recife. The Dutch West India Company set up their headquarters in Recife. The governor, Johan Maurits invited artists and scientists to the colony to help promote Brazil and increase immigration. The Portuguese won a significant victory at the Second Battle of Guararapes in 1649. By 1654, the Netherlands had surrendered and returned control of all Brazilian land to the Portuguese.

Chili

In 1600 was de city Valdivia conquered by a dutch pirate: Sebastian de Cordes. He left the city already after some months.

Then in 1642 the VOC en the WIC sent a fleet of some schips to chili to conquer the city of Valdivia, and the goldmines of the Spanish. The expedition was conducted by Hendrick Brouwer, a dutch general. Everything was going well; In 1643 Brouwer conquered the island Chiloe and the city Valdivia.

But on the 7and of August of 1643 Hendrick Brouwer died on a decice. The vice-general Elias Herckmans took the control. But their were 2 things he did wronge:

  • He let the indians know he was looking for gold, this was the and of their cooperation.
  • He was soft to his men, sow the started mutiny.

Because these things the Dutch left Chili and their conquered city, and they went to the Dutch Brazil.

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