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New Netherland, New York Genealogy
DUTCH FIRST PRESENCE IN THE ATLANTIC AREA
Why did the Dutch wait till the last decades of the 16th century to explore the Atlantic? There was no real need for the Dutch to enter this area prior to 1600 - the Dutch already controlled the staple trade of salt, grain, herring and wood in Europe. The grain was imported from Scandinavia and the other East-Sea countries and was transported to other European nations. When they shipped it to Spain (even during the war!) and Portugal, they returned with shiploads of salt that they again exported to the Northern European countries: Amsterdam being the largest mart, emporium of staple goods.
Besides that the Dutch didn't have to explore the wide Atlantic for fishing-grounds, like the French and English did from the 15th century when they fished and explored the waters around Newfoundland. The Dutch however controlled the North Sea fishery since the 15th century.
What actually did cause the Republic to set sail for the Atlantic coasts, West-Africa, Brazil, the Caribbean region, and, later, after Hudson's visit of the Hudson in 1609, the Northern-American coastal area? More and more Dutch historians mention the fact that the European trade had reached a certain level of saturation. This trade had brought so much prosperity and money that the Dutch could (or had to) spread their wings and sail the Asian, African and American coasts.
The conquest of Antwerp in the Southern Netherlands by the Spanish in 1585 speeded up this process of Dutch interest for naval expansion: skilled laborers, scientists, artists and merchants fled to the cities in the Republic, especially Amsterdam and Middelburg. Since Antwerp had been the main distribution-center in North-West Europe for spices from the East like sugar, wood and other tropical products, the knowledge (navigation, cartography) and the existing trade-contacts now came into Dutch hands.
Sugar-trade with the Canary Islands, Madeira, Sao Tome and Brazil, and salt trade at the Cape Verdian Isles, as well as some Caribbean isles and the coastal area of Venezuela (Punta de Araya), spread the Dutch over the Atlantic Ocean. Already before 1600 , more than one hundred ships sailed for Punta de Araya - mostly ships from the Dutch West Frisian cities Hoorn and Enkhuizen.
Privateering was another highly important element that led the Dutch ships to the West-African, Brazilian coasts and the Caribbean. Their main goal was to fight the Spaniards and Portuguese by obstructing their silver and slave transports, so damaging their economy, and to get rich by simply robbing them. The French- and English pirates already had proven the profits of this system in the Caribbee.
As for New Netherland... Soon after Hudson's voyage and exploration of the river named after him, up to present-day Albany, many Dutch merchants cast their covetous eyes on these freshly discovered territories along the Hudson, Delaware and Connecticut rivers. As early as 1611 a group of Lutheranian merchants from Amsterdam, called the Van Tweenhuysen Compagnie, sent a ship, the St.Pieter to the Hudson. Other companies quickly followed, and in 1613 the Hans Claesz.Compagnie from Amsterdam, two other groups from the city of Hoorn, and another from the Admiralty from Amsterdam.
The rivalry was heated, off and on even violent, and by and by the competing merchants woke up to the fact that they had to cooperate, resulting in the founding of the Nieuw Nederland Compagnie in 1614. This company united the different merchants, and with a charter granted by the States General for a period of three years, starting January 1, 1615, they obtained the monopoly for the discovered territories. At the end of this period however, in October 1618, the States General rejected a prolongation of this charter; most probably due to slumbering plans for a West Indian Company.
So, after 1618 the rivalry and competition started again till finally, the first ship under command of the WIC (which was founded June 3, 1621) set sail for America on July 16, 1623. This was the Mackereel, that sailed from Texel July 16, 1623, together with the Witte Duif, for New Netherland and Guyana respectively.
Sources: EEN ZEGENRIJK GEWEST DE GESCHIEDENIS VAN DE WIC
EEN ZEGENRIJK GEWEST
DE GESCHIEDENIS VAN DE WIC
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