History : Dec 2015-Jan 2016
14 DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 MILESTONES would not wish to return to Holland, for whatever we desire in the paradise of Holland, is here to be found.” His letter, written in the late 1620s, captures the beauty and bounty of the place that they named New Amsterdam. In the early decades of the 17th cen- tury European colonies sprang up all along the eastern seaboard of North America. The English founded James- town in 1607; by 1638 even the Swedes “W e were very pleased upon arriving in this country,” wrote one of the first Dutch settlers to colonize Manhattan. “We found beautiful rivers, bubbling springs flowing through the valleys; de- licious fruits, like strawberries . . . in the forests, fishes in the rivers, good farm- land . . . Had we livestock for food, we had established their New Sweden. At the time, the Dutch were Europe’s com- mercial powerhouse, operating a huge trading fleet backed up by a powerful navy. One of their main commercial enterprises was the Dutch East India Company, established in 1602 to mo- nopolize the lucrative spice trade with the East Indies. But the company didn’t restrict its business to the east if money could be made elsewhere—and the New How the Dutch Founded New York In 1625 colonists from the Netherlands reached America and settled on the island now known as Manhattan. There they built New Amsterdam on land bought from the natives for just $24. It seemed a bargain but proved a relatively short-lived investment: In 1664 the Dutch surrendered the flourishing colony to their English enemies, who renamed the city New York.