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The Dutch in Colonial America.

Updated on December 19, 2017

Those immigrants of Dutch heritage have played an important part in the development of the United States of America. The colonial possessions of the Dutch in the America's were quite minimal, the main Dutch possessions in the America's amounted to Suriname, Aruba, Bonaire, and CuraƧao. Surprisingly the settlements in the USA that began as Dutch have been numerous. It would seem that history has taken for granted and overlooked the influence of the Dutch settlers.

Since the first Dutch colonies were formed in the 17th century a lot of anglicization of the names occurred. This was because English was effectively the main language of the North America's. Because of a shared a heritage, the Dutch and English have a similar linguistic ancestry with the former having a less streamlined vocabulary. English language won out and many place names lost their original settlers direct input.

Colonial Dutch Flag
Colonial Dutch Flag

In 1613, the first Dutch settlers arrived and founded a great number of villages and a small town they would call "New Amsterdam" on the eastern coast of the North America's. This small town would later become the City of New York. The Dutch came over to the America's to start a new life and find a fresh challenge. The new colonists used their knowledge of construction to shape this new land and make good arable farmland. Americans with Dutch ancestry make up some 5,000,000 citizens according to the last American census. The Dutch Americans are usually located in the area around the Hudson River Basin and Lake Michigan. There are a lot of Dutch descendants in the main farming area's of the USA. States such as Ohio, Utah, Idaho, Nebraska, Iowa and Pennsylvania attracted a lot of second and third generation Dutch to the virgin farm lands of the interior.

Dutch place names in the USA

The influence of the Dutch people is still evident in the name of one of the USA's states. Rhode Island comes from the Dutch description of the state's red clay. In the city and state of New York the Dutch gave the names to islands such as Coney Island ( Rabbit Island ). They also gave names to areas of New York City, Harlem has Dutch roots as does Brooklyn.

Did you know that Broadway and Wall Street have Dutch origins. In New York state you will see place names such as Piermont, Orangeburg, Blauvelt and Haverstraw. So much of the initial Dutch influence is still there to this present day.

Famous Americans with Dutch Roots

  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • R. Romjin ( Mystique in X-Men Films )
  • Franklin Roosevelt
  • Dick van Dyke
  • Walter Kronkite

The Dutch colonists helped trade arms with the Revolutionaries in the American Civil War, and the people of the Netherlands were one of the first nations to actively recognise the United States of America after its declaration of independence. The Dutch have given numerous words to the America way of life, words such as Boss and Cookie have a Dutch origin. If Great Britain did not swap and annex the Dutch's colonial possessions in North America, I wonder how different the United States of America would have turned out.

The Dutch would later try and increase their possessions in the Caribbean Islands as a way to trade with the fledgling United States. In this time period of piracy and buried treasure. The Dutch and the British became more cordial due to a shared royal bloodline. The Dutch went on to become an empire known more for commerce than open warfare and annexation.

The Dutch saw more opportunity in the Pacific Islands and focused their attention on the south eastern edge of Asia. Java became their main source of colonial income and other foreign powers soon annexed their American interests.


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    • Unifiniti profile image

      Unifiniti 4 years ago

      Dutch New Amsterdam wasn't that rich as the slave colony Suriname. That's probably why they switched it.

    • Asp52 profile image

      Asp52 7 years ago from England

      Thank you for your kind comments,i have just learnt that the Dutch traded New Amsterdam for the English colony of Surninam. It was more profitable at the time for them. Strange how things work out.

    • Lalulinho profile image

      Lalulinho 7 years ago

      Great Hub--I love this kind of history as well. I think The Bronx was named after the Dutchman who owned land to the north of Manhattan... Also interesting how far the Dutch got around the world--South Africa (later I guess), Brazil (they tried to invade, anyway--I went on a tour once near Rio describing their attempts to take Brazil from the Portuguese), Indonesia, etc., etc. Keep the historical Hubs coming!

    • Asp52 profile image

      Asp52 7 years ago from England

      Glad that you enjoyed the hub, Dutch was still spoken in some parts of the States as first language until 1910 and a few church services were conducted in Dutch up until the 1920's.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 7 years ago from Southern Georgia

      I love the history of the early immigrants who helped found this country. Those settlers from the many different countries help make America's culture as diverse and wonderful as it is! Enjoyed!