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New Amsterdam

NEW AMSTERDAM


NEW AMSTERDAM. In 1625, officials of the Dutch West India Company, a commercial confederation, founded New Amsterdam, which became New York City, in New Netherland, later New York Colony. In 1626, the director Peter Minuit bought the island of Manhattan for sixty guilders, or $24, from the Canarsee Indians, although the Weckquaesgeeks of the Wappinger Confederation actually had claim to the island. Dutch pioneers and black slaves owned by the Dutch West India Company settled and cleared the island into bouweries, or farms. The buildings, windmills for grinding grain, and livestock were all owned by the company and were leased to tenants. The company also gave out land grants, sixteen miles wide and extending inward indefinitely, along the waterways to any member of the West India Company who settled fifty persons over the age of fifteen. These owners, or patroons, held manorial rights on these estates and were free from taxes for eight years.

Dutch middle-class values and distinct cosmopolitan traits spread from the beginning. By 1639, eighteen different languages were spoken within the small community. While seventeen taverns served the city, it had only one Reformed Protestant Dutch Church, established in 1628. The Dutch West India Company finally allowed self-rule in 1653 with the "burgher government" led by Peter Stuyvesant. Two burgomasters (mayors), and five schepens (magistrates) met weekly at the Stadt Huys and exercised judicial, administrative, and, after 1654, taxing powers. This weekly court decided matters related to trade, worship, defense, and schooling. After 1657 the municipal corporation retained business and officeholding privileges. England and Holland vied for economic supremacy during forty years of Dutch rule. With the power of four frigates, the English gained control of the city in 1664, although the Dutch government was not completely ousted until 10 November 1674.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Condon, Thomas J. New York Beginnings: The Commercial Origins of New Netherland. New York: New York University Press, 1968.

Innes, J. H. New Amsterdam and Its People: Studies, Social and Topographical, of the Town under Dutch and Early English Rule. New York: Scribners, 1902.

Rink, Oliver A. Holland on the Hudson: An Economic and Social History of Dutch New York. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1986.

Singleton, Esther. Dutch New York. New York: B. Blom, 1968.

Michelle M.Mormul

See alsoManhattan ; New Netherland ; New York City ; New York Colony .

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New Amsterdam

New Amsterdam, Dutch settlement at the mouth of the Hudson River and on the southern end of Manhattan island; est. 1624. It was the capital of the colony of New Netherland from 1626 to 1664, when it was captured by the British and renamed New York.

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