The Dutch In America - 13 Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know

June 28, 2021

The relationship that the Netherlands and the United States have dates back hundreds of years – to the early 1600s to be exact. There’s an abundance of information regarding the two countries, such as different fun facts, fascinating historical details, and ways that these two vastly different places have affected one another over time.

We’ve compiled a comprehensive piece that covers 13 facts about the Dutch in America that you likely weren’t aware of when it comes to the relationship and connection between America and the Dutch people.

1. Why did the Dutch Come to America?

The Dutch made their way to America initially to avoid religious persecution from holding secret religious services, because many of the Dutch citizens had varying religious views and wanted to worship in the best way that they saw fit.

This did not sit well with the Church of England, so the Dutch citizens gathered their resources and escaped and sailed west towards America. Many others also joined in leaving the Netherlands in the pursuit of trading opportunities, with fur and spices being the primary commodities for this.

The Dutch thought they could likely find a way to India via the route they were sailing, but they instead discovered North America.

2. When did the Dutch Arrive in America?

Way back in the early 17th century, the Dutch explorers that comprised the Dutch East India Company made their way to what they thought was going to be India. They stumbled upon the United States and found it to be a good area to set up trading posts.

The exact year was somewhere around 1614, and the number of Dutch citizens that later decided to make the trip across the ocean increased over the next several years in hopes for a better life with more opportunities.

3. Where did the Dutch Settle in America?

The Dutch initially settled in the territories that we now acknowledge as New York, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and New Jersey. New York was the initial land to be discovered, more specifically the area that correlates to Manhattan and Albany, and this was also the primary location that was fought over later on after years of settlement.

Different parts of Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and New York were combined to create New Netherland, with New Amsterdam corresponding to Manhattan and being the capital and major hub within this colony.

4. What Part of America did the Dutch Colonize?

The Dutch first colonized the state we know as New York, as well as portions of the states New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Connecticut – and they titled it, New Netherland.

New York was the main focus of the Dutch as it had the most promising trade opportunities, and it was the region that most of them chose to reside throughout the duration of the colonization.

New Amsterdam (now Manhattan) was the capital of New Netherland, and this was by far the most densely populated area of Dutch individuals throughout the New Netherland colony.

The Hudson River that can be seen in New York is also of Dutch influence because Henry Hudson was part of the original discovery team in the early 1600s that located this waterway and New York.

5. What did the Dutch Call America?

When the Dutch first landed in America, they ended up discovering what we now know as New York. This state did not always have this name, because when the Dutch decided to settle here, they chose to call the entire region that they understood to be America by the name New Netherland.

The capital of New Netherland was named New Amsterdam, and there was a fort called Fort Amsterdam that was built here to serve as protection for the colony and the trading posts that were established. The colony held this name for about 50 years while it was settled by the Dutch people.

6. What did the Dutch Sell New York For?

The Dutch eventually gave up their land to England after roughly 50 years of colonization here. There was intimidation via the British towards the Dutch saying that they would start a war over the land if they did not forfeit it.

The Dutch did not really stand a chance against England if a war occurred, since only about 9,000 Dutch people were living here at the time – and the British troops were much larger.

The Dutch people yielded the land they had acquired peacefully, and after a series of battles that happened over the course of 2 years back in Europe as a result of what happened in America, the English and the Dutch came to an agreement that the Netherlands could instead have the island of Run, which is in the South Pacific.

This tropical island could not be any more different from the bustling city of New York, but at the time of the trade, the island was quite appealing due to its astonishing ability to harvest spices – particularly nutmeg.

7. What Religion did the Dutch Bring to America?

People started to flee from the Netherlands due to threats of religious persecution if they kept worshiping independently and in secret, so there was certainly a religious impact made on Americans after they arrived.

The formal religion that was conceived here was the Dutch Reformed Church, and the influences from the Dutch and this religion are still seen today in the various reformed churches that exist throughout America.

Roman Catholicism is another commonly practiced religion amongst the Dutch, and there are regions of the United States that have been heavily influenced by the Dutch in this aspect. Protestantism is still the most popular religion that is observed among Dutch American citizens today, though.

8. What did the Dutch Bring to America?

In case you were not aware, a large quantity of the American culture has been influenced in one way or another by the Dutch. Language, architecture, food, and even politics have been influenced by the Dutch in the United States.

There are Dutch influences and people with ties to the Netherlands all over the States, but especially in New England can you see how the architecture has really stuck around over time.

Mansard roofs and curved eaves can be frequently seen around the Hudson River Valley, which is an iconic Dutch-style roofing technique.

Plenty of delicacies and sweet treats like cookies, pancakes, pretzels, waffles, and doughnuts were also introduced to America through the Dutch, and all of these things are still eaten every single day throughout the States.

You will find cities with Dutch names all over America, and a surprisingly large quantity of words in the English language stem from Dutch!

9. How did the Dutch Treat the Natives?

There were already many Native Americans that lived in the region of New York when the Dutch first arrived. Unlike how many colonizers treated the Native Americans upon their arrival, the Dutch found it important to keep the relationship peaceful and as one that both parties could benefit through.

The Native Americans and the Dutch composed a trade treaty so that intentions were clear and there were no misunderstandings. There were a few issues over the duration of the Dutch settlement in northeastern America, but it was mostly cordial.

The Dutch did not want to impose or force their way of life on the Native Americans, and mostly just wanted to create a successful trading system to generate wealth for everyone involved.

10. Did the Dutch Enslave American Indians?

When it comes to the Dutch and American Indian relationship, they had a respectful trading affiliation. There was a lot of slave trading involved within the Dutch East India Company in Asia and Africa, and these individuals were unfortunately sold to benefit the trading systems in America and throughout Europe.

When the Dutch actually landed in New York and began communication with the American Indians, it was kept amicable and they mostly began trading with the Iroquois tribe, which was very prominent at the time.

11. Did the Dutch Bring Santa?

One of the most interesting facts regarding the influence that the Netherlands has had on the United States is that the Dutch culture actually introduced the concept of Santa to the States.

Everyone in America knows who Santa Claus is, and he is dearly beloved by children throughout the country. In the Netherlands, the name originated as “Sinterklaas” and this was altered to Santa Claus in the English language.

Sinterklaas has played an integral role in this culture and was even informally considered a patron Saint of New Amsterdam.

The first mention of Santa Claus in America was in 1773, and the rest is history. It’s safe to say that this Christmas tradition that the Dutch brought to America is not going anywhere anytime soon.

12. When did the Dutch Leave America?

The Dutch colonizers left America when the English took the land, which was in September of 1664. Some were able to move elsewhere, and the English did not force those that were living in the newly acquired New York territory to leave.

Between the 1800s and early 1900s, thousands of more Dutch citizens decided to emigrate over to America. Holland was very densely populated at the time, and they were encouraged to emigrate to the States if possible.

It is estimated that about 8 million people now living in America are of Dutch descent.

13. Where do Most Dutch People Live in America?

Since the Dutch were primarily concentrated in the northeastern region of America when they were settled there, there are still many Dutch Americans that can be found living here.

There are Dutch Americans all around the States, though, especially in the midwestern states like Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. These states in particular have very good, fertile land available for growing crops and other farming purposes, which is why many of the Dutch that stated in America migrated to these regions.

There are towns throughout the US with names inspired by places in the Netherlands, such as Holland, Michigan, Hague, North Dakota, and Dutch Harbor, Arkansas. Some of these towns even hold yearly festivals to commemorate the lovely Dutch heritage.

MORE ABOUT THE NETHERLANDS & THE USA?
Then please check out our other articles about these two countries.

- Dutch Culture vs American Culture: How Do They Differ?
- Which Typical Dutch Names Are Being Used In The USA?
- Which American Actors Have Dutch Roots?
- What Do American People Think Of The Netherlands?
- Netherlands And USA - The History Of The Dutch In America
- Dutch Police vs American Police: How Do They Differ?
- Dutch vs American: How Do These Countries Differ?
- How Did The Dutch Influence America? Facts You Didn't Know
- The Dutch And Americans: What Is Their Relationship Like?

Conclusion

This concludes our list with 13 different facts you probably didn’t know about the Dutch in America. For being such a small country, the Netherlands has a fascinating history and they have certainly had a large and lasting impact on the United States.

These are just some of the key points regarding much of the past that the Netherlands and America share, and it has all played an integral role in the close friendship that these two countries have developed and continues to possess today.

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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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