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  • Even Old New York Was Once New Amsterdam – September 5, 1664 AD

    Zach Beasley

    Even Old New York Was Once New Amsterdam – September 5, 1664 AD

    The Italian explorer, Giovanni da Verrazzano, discovered a part of the new world in 1524 AD, and called it New Angoulême, in honor of his patron, King Francis I of France. The Dutch arrived to the area in 1609, on the Halve Maen, captained by Henry Hudson. Hudson was in service of the Dutch Republic, through Maurice of NassauPrince of Orange. Although the emissary of Maurice, Hudson was covertly trying to find the Northwest Passage for the Dutch East India Trading Company (also known as VOC). He traversed what he named the Mauritius River, modern day Hudson River. When he returned, he brought news of the abundance of beaver in the area, whose pelts were prized in Europe because they could be felted and made waterproof. Beaver also was used to make castoreum, used in medicine and perfume. This is a category of  new netherlands coins.


    The Dutch sent commercial and private missions to the area and settled and thoroughly charted it from 1611-1614. On the 1614 map, which gave the Dutch a four-year monopoly on trade in the area under a patent from the States General, the newly settled area was named New Netherland for the first time. The map also showed Fort Nassau, which would later be replaced by Fort Orange in 1624.

    The trading post of New Amsterdam, on Manhattan Island, became a settlement outside of Fort Amsterdam, for New Netherland in 1614. The fort was to defend the Dutch West India Trading Company’s operations in the North River (modern day Hudson River). New Amsterdam was the seat of the local colonial government for the New Netherland territory, became an extension of the Dutch Republic in 1624, and designated the capital of the province in 1625. Willem Verhulst was the director-general of New Amsterdam and was responsible, with his council, for the selecting Manhattan Island as the permanent location for Fort Amsterdam. Peter Minuit replaced Verhulst in 1626.

    To secure and safeguard the interests of the settlers and investors, Minuit negotiated the purchase of Manhattan from a Manhatta band of Lenape, also known as the Delaware Indians, for 60 guilders worth of trade goods. The Lenape were happy with the trade, since most of the island area was actually controlled by the Wappinger Confederacy of around 18 loosely associated bands of Native Americans. Unfortunately, the deed itself is not known to have survived, so the specifics of what was traded to the Lenape is lost, but the deed and trade are the basis for the legend that Minuit bought Manhattan for ‘24 dollars’ worth of trinkets and beads’ – the guilder rate at the time being about 2.5 to the Spanish dollar, which also traded in the area.

    The area was prosperous and grew over the next decades, with New Amsterdam receiving municipal rights on February 2, 1653, thus becoming a city. The year before, Fort Orange received its municipal rights and also became a city, changing its name to Beverwyck, modern day AlbanyNew Harlem, modern day Harlem, became a city in 1658. All was going well until the British arrived in the harbor with four frigates on August 27, 1664, and demanded New Netherlands surrender, despite being a time of peace between the British and Dutch. After several days of negotiation, the director-general, Peter Stuyvesant, went with some delegates and lawyer Johannes De Decker, to meet with the British to surrender New Amsterdam through Articles of Capitulation on September 5, leading quickly to the Second Anglo-Dutch War.

    In June of 1665, New Amsterdam was reincorporated under English Law and renamed New York, in honor of the Duke of York, who had been granted the lands by his brother, King Charles II. The Duke of York would later become King James II of England.


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