Changing Hands: When New York Belonged to the Dutch and the English

By Buddah Lounge.

The Dutch held onto the region that is today New York City because of its lucrative opportunity for beaver fur. The fur trade was quite popular back in Europe, and this fueled intense interest in the area and a brief war with the natives. Known as “Kieft’s War,” the dispute boiled down to a Dutch merchant who attempted to extract profit from the natives.

His plan was to get the locals to pay something akin to protection money, which was not a concept that was foreign to the natives. When his request was ignored, Kieft sparked a war by attacking the natives and slaughtering 80 of them. The response was swift from the Lenape and Algonquin peoples, and the Dutch very nearly lost the colony to the natives if Holland had not reinforced them.

During its weakened state, the British launched an even greater offensive on the area. The Dutch had already built walls to defend against attacks from the English, and natives in the area. With the natives no longer assaulting the fortress, the British front intensified and they conquered the area in 1664. Upon settling there, they named it “New York” after the Duke of York, a name that stuck throughout the ages.

When Britain took control of the city, nearly half of its population consisted of slaves. Some were freed under Dutch or English law, and other owned substantial farms and land in the area. Within one hundred years, less than a quarter of the population was considered slaves.

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