In 1602, the government of the Republic
of the Seven United Netherlands chartered the Dutch East India Company
(Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie
, or VOC) with the mission of
exploring for a passage to the Indies and claiming any unchartered territories
for the United Provinces.
In 1609, English explorer Henry Hudson attempted to find a northwest
passage to the Indies, instead discovering areas of current United States
and Canada, among others giving his name to the Hudson River and Hudson
Bay and claiming the surrounding land for the VOC.
After some early trading expeditions, the first settlement was founded
in 1615: Fort Nassau, on Castle Island, near present-day Albany, New York.
The settlement served mostly as a trade post for fur trade with the natives
and was later replaced by Fort Oranje (or Fort Orange) at present-day Albany.
In 1621, a new company was established for with a trading monopoly in
the Americas and Africa: the Dutch West India Company (Westindische
Compagnie or WIC). The WIC sought recognition for the area in the New
World - which had been called New Netherland - as a province, which was
granted in 1623. Soon after, the first colonists, mostly from present-day
Belgium, arrived in the new province.
In 1626, director general of the WIC Peter Minuit "purchased" the island
of Manhattan from Indians and started the construction of fort New Amsterdam.
In the same year, Fort Nassau was built in the New Jersey area. Other settlements
were Fort Casimir (Newcastle, Delaware) and Fort Beversrede (Philadelphia).
In 1655, the main settlement of New Sweden, Fort Christina, was captured
after the Swedes had briefly occupied Fort Casimir. Large numbers of the
inhabitants of these settlements were not Dutch, but came from a variety
of other European countries, including England.
In 1664, English troops, under the command of the Duke of York (later
James II of England) attacked the New Netherlands colony. Being greatly
outnumbered, director general Peter Stuyvesant surrendered New Amsterdam,
with Fort Orange following soon. New Amsterdam was renamed New York, Fort
Orange was renamed Fort Albany.
The loss of the New Netherland province led to the Second Anglo-Dutch
War during 1665-1667. This conflict ended with the Treaty of Breda in which
the Dutch gave up their claim to New Amsterdam in exchange for Suriname.
From 1673 to 1674, the territories were once again briefly captured
by the Dutch in a renewed war with England, only to be returned at the
Treaty of Westminster.
Dutch colonization of Sint Maarten began in 1620 although the onwership
of the island changed hands at least 16 times before 1816 when it was permanently
split between French and the Netherlands. Several islands were captured
and fortified to prevent Spanish attacks in the ongoing Dutch war for independence
from Spain and to exploit timber and salt resources:
St. Eustasius 1635
The Netherlands Antilles remain colonies of the Netherlands although they
were granted self-rule in 1954.
The Dutch established a base on St. Croix in 1625 the same year that the
British did. French Protestants joined the Dutch but conflict with the
British colony led to the its abandonment before 1650. The Dutch established
a settlement on Tortola in 1648 and later on Anegada and Virgin Gordo.
The British took Tortola in 1672 and Anegada and Virgin Gordo in 1680.
The Netherlands made numerous attempts to colonize the island in the 17th
century. All of these attempts were destroyed by rival European powers.
Dutch settlements on Tobago existed:
1628-1637 destroyed by Spanish
1654-1666 conquered by British and destroyed by French
1672 destroyed by British
1676-1677 destroyed by French
The European colony in Suriname was founded in the 1650's by Lord Willoughby,
the governor of Barbados. This colony was captured by the Dutch under Abraham
Crijnsen during the Second Anglo-Dutch War. It was sold to the Dutch West
India Company in 1683 and came to be known as Dutch Guiana. They colony
developed an agricultural economy based on African slavery. During the
Napoleonic Wars, England controlled Suriname from 1799-1816 when it was
returned to the Dutch. The Netherlands granted Suriname independence in
1975 although political instability resulted in large numbers of Surinamese
moving to the Netherlands.
The Dutch West Indian Company built a fort in 1616 on the Essequibo River.
The Dutch traded with the Indian peoples and, as in Suriname, established
sugar plantations worked by African slaves. While the coast remained under
Dutch control, the English established plantations west of the Suriname
River. Conflict between the two countries meant parts of the region changed
hands a number of times, but by 1796 Britain had control of the region.
The Netherlands ceded he colonies of Essequibo, Demerara, and Berbice to
Britain in 1814.
Between 1638 and 1640 the Netherlands comes to control almost half of Brazil,
with their capital in Recife. The Dutch West India Company sets up their
headquarters in Recife. The governor, Johan Maurits invites artists and
scientists to the colony to help promote Brazil and increase immigration.
The Portuguese win a significant victory in the battle of Guararapes in
1649. By 1654, the Netherlands has surrendered and returned control of
all Brazilian land to the Portuguese.
See also European
colonization of the Americas