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ORIGINS

Wars of Succession - 17th Century Anglo-Dutch Conflicts and Manhattan

by Michael Begun

Throughout the seventeenth century, Dutch and English forces waged both continental and naval warfare over colonial territory on the eastern coast of America. The first of these antagonisms erupted when the English Parliament drafted the Navigation Acts in 1651 with the direct purpose of harming Dutch shipping prospects in New Netherlands. When the First Anglo Dutch War broke out in 1652, the Dutch were forced into a defensive position in which they sought to maintain their dominance in international trade. The English instigated the war in order to both improve its economic concerns and more importantly, to enhance the political stability of Cromwell's precariously led Commonwealth.1

The English pursued the Second-Anglo Dutch War with hopes of expanding royal authority, which had seemingly drastic effects on New York history. In 1664, James, Duke of York, instigated the war through an armed invasion of Dutch Manhattan that left the island's colonists with no choice but to surrender. Continental Holland retaliated, however, "taking the English outpost of Surinam to the north of Braziland the spice island of Run in the East Indies" and eventually making the English sue for peace.2 The Dutch, however, made the critical error of agreeing to a treaty in which each side was able to keep their war claims3; Manhattan, therefore, passed officially into the hands of the British.

There were some Dutch leaders who disagreed with this settlement and so began the Third Anglo Dutch War, during which the Dutch retaliated in force, eventually going so far as to retake Manhattan in August 1673, and to establish a new dominion called "New Orange" under a man named Anthony Colve. A mere fifteen months later however, the Treaty of Westminster was signed ending the Third Anglo-Dutch War, which stipulated that the Dutch return New Orange to the English permanently. Ironically, the Duke of York would eventually reign in England as James II, only to be quickly overthrown in the famous Glorious Revolution in which James was dethroned for simply being "too Catholic," to the point where the English populace suspected that he was an agent of the pope.4 His daughter, Mary, became the wife of Willem of Orange, Stadtholder of the Netherlands; Willem thus was invited to rule as King of England, mostly to ensure that the throne would be occupied by a Protestant monarch.5

In this manner, Manhattan officially passed once again under the dominion of a temporally Dutch authority. Regardless, this continental "flip-flop" became ultimately less important to Manhattanites than the "relationships between their own ethnic communities and their ties to traders, shippers, and families in other parts of the world."6

Endnotes

1. Capp, B. S. Cromwell's Navy: the fleet and the English Revolution, 1648-1660. Clarendon Press, 1989. p. 637

2. Shorto, R. Island at the Center of the World. New York: Vintage Books, 2004. p. 367

3. Ibid. P. 307

4. Ibid. p. 308

5. Ibid. p. 309

6. Ibid. p. 309

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