- Ordinary People in the New World: The City of Amsterdam, Colonial Policy, and Initiatives from Below, 1656-1664
- conference on "The Valorization of Ordinary People," June 2012, La Bretasche, France
- Book/source title
- In praise of ordinary people: early modern Britain and the Dutch Republic
- Pages (from-to)
- New York: Palgrave Macmillan
- Document type
- Conference contribution
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School of Historical Studies (ASH)
Between 1656 and 1664 the City of Amsterdam, uniquely, possessed a "City Colony" in the Dutch colony of New Netherland. Called New Amstel, this fledgling colony on the South River—the current Delaware—for a brief time cemented the commitment of Amsterdam to the preservation of the Dutch colony in New Netherland, perpetually—and fatally—under threat from English encroachment. Born out of the anxiety of the Dutch West India Company, which saw the numbers of English settlers swell each year, the City of Amsterdam was persuaded to undertake the settlement of the shores of the Delaware river. There, Dutch settlers were few and far between, and were surpassed in numbers by Swedes and Finns. After the difficult early years, the colonization gained momentum after 1660, and the settlement increased considerably until the English invasion in October 1664 put an end to the Dutch colony. Amsterdam turned to other colonial endeavors with less inhibitions and more chance of success, for example, the rich sugar-producing plantations of Guyana. The memory of the unique experiment of the short-lived City Colony quickly faded.
This chapter on Amsterdam and its City Colony does not deal with its history as such, but with what this episode of Dutch colonial history reveals about the role and the capabilities of ordinary people in this enterprise.
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