The Dutch controlled what is now New York City and the Hudson Valley only for a generation, from 1624 to 1664, but their impact was large. There were few Dutch who wanted to settle in New Amsterdam, so the Dutch had to recruit resident from all over Europe. There were Germans and Scots and English. There were Catholics and Protestants and Jews. There were Spanish and Italians. They all had to get along with each other.
New Netherlands began under the control of the West India Company, which was thoroughly profit-oriented but monopolist, but from about 1640, it was characterized by free trade. The Dutch allowed freedom of religion, and New Amsterdam, which became New York City, was remarkably diverse for its day.
The Dutch were nonetheless ruthless in their dealings with the native peoples, and traded in slaves. The English took New Nederland in 1664, but the Dutch influence lasted a remarkably long time.
In the upper Hudson River valley the Dutch had set up a patroon system that attempted to set up a lord and peasant relationship, with long-lasting consequences for New York politics, lasting well into the 1800s.
The Dutch language gave English the words “cookie” and “boss” and also apparently “Yankee.” President Martin van Buren (in office 1837-1841) spoke only Dutch when he grew up, the only American President whose native language was not English and both president Roosevelts had Dutch ancestry.
However, the most important Dutch influence has been that New York City has been remarkably tolerant and remarkably diverse for nearly four centuries, contributing greatly to the tolerance and diversity of the whole country.
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