History : Dec 2015-Jan 2016
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC HISTORY 15 MILESTONES World seemed a promising venture. In 1609 they hired English navigator Henry Hudson. Failing to find a north- east passage to Asia, he explored instead stretches of the American East Coast, the Delaware River, and the eponymous Hudson River. In 1613 a Dutch expedi- tion sailed up the Hudson, the next year founding Fort Nassau, what is today Albany, the capital of New York State. This settlement, dedicated to trading with the natives, ex- changed Europe- an goods, which would eventu- ally include weapons, for local goods, such as tobac- co, produce, and otter, mink, and bea- ver furs. In 1621 the Dutch West India Company was established with exclu- sive rights to exploit New Netherland, the collective name given to Dutch pos- sessions in North America. It stimulated colonization and fostered the foundation of many towns. Places such as Hartford, Connecticut; Schenectady and Kingston, New York; Gloucester City, New Jer- sey; and New Castle, Delaware, all owe their origins to the Dutch company. But it was their community along the lower Hudson River that would prove to be the most successful. Around 1624 a group of Dutchmen settled on a small islet that the natives called Pagganck (“Nut Island”) because of the plentiful walnut and chestnut trees growing there. Today it’s known as Governors Island. Barely a half mile away is Manhattan, a longer landmass that skirts the Hudson River for 13 miles. It was larger, more boun- tiful, and easier to defend than Nut Is- land, so in 1625 the new governor, Peter Minuit, moved the colony to Manhattan. But the Europeans weren’t alone in seeing its advantages: The island was already inhabited. In fact the entire cluster of Long Island, Manhattan, and Staten Island was divided up among a number of different Native American alliances. On Long Island there were the Montauk and the Manhasset, both part of the Metoac confederacy, as well as the Reckgawawanc and some groups of the Wappinger, also found on Manhat- tan. Two Delaware groups, the Canarsie and the Rockaway, shared what is now HENRY HUDSON (1565-1611) The Englishman Henry Hudson was hired by the Dutch as an explorer. THE DUTCH AND NATIVE AMERICANS THE ARRIVAL OF THE DUTCH had a dramatic impact on the lives of the Manhattan natives. But more destructive than violent clashes were the diseases Europeans unknowingly introduced, particularly smallpox. The Delaware tribe was reduced from approximately 20,000 people in 1600 to less than 4,000 in 1700; the Wappinger plummeted from some 8,000 in 1600 to a mere 90 survivors in 1698. UNIVERSAL IMAGES GROUP/ALBUM AKG/ALBUM BRIDGEMAN/ACI AN ENCOUNTER BETWEEN HENRY HUDSON AND NATIVE AMERICANS ALONG THE HUDSON RIVER IN 1609 THE GOVERNOR of New Amsterdam heeding the pleas of his constituents to surrender the city to the English without a fight. Oil painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris.