Netherlands And USA - The History Of The Dutch In America

December 12, 2020

The Netherlands is known as a true seafaring country. This has ensured that the Dutch have spread and settled all over the world. Many Dutch have left for America over the centuries, so the two countries have a long and rich history. In this blog, you can read about the role the Netherlands played in American history.

The Dutch and Americans go way back and have had a lot of momentous and historical moments. People from the Netherlands have been in certain parts of America since at least the 1600s, and the two countries have become close allies and have helped each other in numerous political and war situations.

In today’s article, we are going to go into depth about the history that exists between the USA and the Netherlands. We will find out when the Dutch made their way to America, and all about the topic of the Dutch colonizing in America. We will even learn about some of the presidents of the United States that have strong Dutch roots.

What is the History of the USA and The Netherlands?

What exactly is the history of the USA and the Netherlands? This is a very broad question, but it comes down to a few different things. The Netherlands and the United States go back to at least the 1600s when a ship with Dutch migrants made its way to what we today know as New York.

As the years have gone on, the two countries have helped each other in many ways. The United States played a key role in liberating the Netherlands after the Second World War.

The Netherlands was extremely helpful to the United States during the Korean War and has helped immensely in keeping peace with the Middle East for some time.

The two countries have fought alongside each other in several wars, they have signed multiple treaties, and have been solid allies. The Netherlands was one of the very first countries to recognize the United States as an independent and sovereign nation back in 1782. 

Both countries joined in on many world organizations, such as NATO, together and have signed numerous treaties to attempt to keep a peaceful world and relationship. 

Even after the Second World War, the United States signed the Marshall Plan to help aid the Netherlands financially once everything was over. 

The USA and the Netherlands have a seemingly inseparable bond that has stood the test of time.

New York is where the Dutch arrived for the first time in America:

When did People From the Netherlands Come to the USA?

The Netherlands came to America in the very early 1600s in search of escaping religious persecution. 

The Dutch proceeded to migrate to the United States for the next few hundred years in search of new opportunities as well as farmland, which they were successful in finding. 

They also continued to migrate to America because of higher taxes and lower wages in the Netherlands. They experienced way more religious freedom and were able to finally start their own churches.

The Dutch initially landed in what they named New Amsterdam, which is now called New York City. The entire region up the Hudson River Valley was coined as New Netherland. 

The people from the Netherlands brought many different goods over, primarily fur and various food items. Potatoes, cabbage, and fish were among the goods that were brought along on the lengthy journey. 

As the years went on, the Dutch continued to migrate to America for more economic reasons rather than anything else.

The Dutch settlers continued to expand throughout the North American continent surrounding New York. Today, you will see communities with the most Dutch influence in the Midwest, but there is truly Dutch influence everywhere in the country

In our other articles, you can read and learn about all of the Dutch towns and the various Dutch traditions and celebrations that take place each year in them.

Did The Netherlands Colonize America?

The colonization of the Netherlands in America began way back in the 17th century. The initial plan was to find a path to Asia through North America. 

The English explorer Henry Hudson led the expedition, and he discovered what we now recognize as the Hudson River in New York. After realizing that the Hudson River did not lead to Asia, they decided to settle on the surrounding land. 

The Dutch traded fur that they brought with them and established plantations that ended up resulting in a thriving settlement. The very first Dutch settlement was founded around the year 1615, and it was called Fort Nassau, which can be correlated to present-day Albany, New York.

After the first settlements, more and more ships from the Netherlands made their way to the United States. The settlers began to expand along the Connecticut River and the Delaware River. 

It is important to note that while a lot of the settlers coming from Europe were of Dutch ancestry, not every single one of them was. There were many Germans, Belgians, and Scandinavians that made their way to America, as well.

Eventually, in the 1700s, the Dutch played a key and helpful role in the American Revolution and in forming the United States. A couple of Dutch Americans helped form and sign the Declaration of Independence, which was influenced and inspired after the Dutch Act of Abjuration.

The Henry Hudson Bridge, the area where the Dutch settled:

Why Did The Netherlands Colonize America?

There are a few reasons that the Netherlands began colonizing North America. As mentioned above, a large reason that the individuals from the Netherlands made the journey to America and began to colonize it was to escape religious persecution. 

People in the Netherlands were running the risk of persecution for holding secret religious services that the Church of England did not approve of. 

The Dutch called the region along the Hudson River Valley New Netherland, and they decided to settle there.

When the Dutch ended up in North America, they formed good and healthy relationships with the Native Americans, unlike other settlers at the time. 

Eventually, after about 60 years of the New Netherland colonization took place, the Dutch lost the land to the English after a series of wars and battles. 

Many Dutch individuals still stayed in the United States and moved elsewhere throughout the country.

How Many US Presidents are Dutch Descendants?

There have been numerous United States presidents throughout history that have been descendants of the Dutch culture. 

Some presidents actually grew up in Dutch-speaking families, where English was not even their first official language. This can also be seen in the Dutch names like Van Buren and, Roosevelt.

American presidents which have Dutch roots:

  • Martin Van Buren was the 8th president of the United States and spoke Dutch growing up.
  • Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th president, and he had ancestors that migrated from the Netherlands.
  • Warren G. Harding was the 29th president, and he had Dutch ties on his mother’s side.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt was the 32nd president, he also had ancestors that migrated from the Netherlands.
  • George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush were the 41st and 43rd presidents of the United States, and they claim to have relation to a very prominent Dutch family from the Netherlands.

Several of these presidents are some of the most well-known presidents that have existed, and they have done major things for politics in America. 

There are likely even more presidents that the United States has had over time that have connections in their family tree to the Netherlands. Besides presidents, many American actors have Dutch roots as well.


We have just learned all about the USA Netherlands history that has taken place over time between the United States and the Netherlands. The two countries go way back, and a lot has happened in the 400 plus years since the Dutch initially landed in the United States. 

The Netherlands did start to settle and colonize the States, but they were able to maintain a positive friendly relationship with the Native Americans and as a result establish a thriving settlement.

You have surely gained some useful information through this article regarding the lengthy history between the USA and the Netherlands. For example, the regions where this happened would have looked very different today if it had not happened. 

This has resulted in the Dutch and Americans still maintaining a very good relationship, which will probably last a long time.

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Written by

Leo van den Berg
As a Dutchman I am extremely proud of the beautiful country in which I live. My goal is to convey my passion and love for the Netherlands to as many people as possible.

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