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New Netherlands


New Netherlands was the only Dutch colony on the North American mainland. The area consisted of lands surrounding the Hudson River (in the present-day state of New York) and later the lower Delaware River (in New Jersey and Delaware). Explorers from the Netherlands (Holland) first settled the area in about 1610. In 1624 the colony of New Netherlands was officially founded by the Dutch West India Company. In 1626 on behalf of the company Dutch colonial official Peter Minuit (15801638) purchased the island of Manhattan from the Native Americans for an estimated $24 in trinkets. The colonial capital of New Amsterdam (present-day New York City) was established there.

The Dutch settlement was never very big, consisting mostly of single males who were either fur trappers or traders. The seal of the colony was a beaver surrounded by wampum. The Dutch pioneered the use of wampum as a form of money that could be exchanged with Native Americans for beaver pelts. The Dutch tried several devices to attract new settlers, including the patroon system. Investors would be given a large tract of land, if they could populate it with farmers. Eventually land was distributed more liberally. By 1640, 200 acres would be given free to any family of five, including servants. Larger numbers did come before the Dutch lost the colony in 1664, when it was conquered by the English under the direction of the Duke of York, brother of king James II (16331701). The English had sought the territory since New Netherlands had separated its American holdings. Under British control the area was divided into two coloniesNew Jersey and New York.

During the colonial period the Netherlands also claimed the West Indies islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao (called the Netherlands Antilles). The islands were administered separately from New Netherlands on the North American mainland.

See also: Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Wampum

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