NewAmsterdambecomesNewYork 1

The city’s namesake: the Duke of York, later King James II, was granted control of a large area.

After a brief battle between the Dutch and the English, New Amsterdam became New York on Sept. 8, 1664. That’s the day Dutch Gov. Peter Stuyvesant surrendered New Amsterdam to an English naval squadron commanded by Col. Richard Nicolls.

The colony had been established by the Dutch West Indian company in 1624 and encompassed all of what is now known as New York City, parts of Long Island, Connecticut and New Jersey. The book “The Neighborhoods of Queens” by Claudia Gryvatz Copquin notes that one of the earliest settlements was in Maspeth, which was settled in 1642 by both English and Dutch colonists. Newtown, largely present-day Elmhurst, and Jamaica, dubbed Rustdorp by Stuyvesant because it was used as rest town at the time, were mostly inhabited by the English settlers who had moved from New England and were settled in 1652 and 1656, respectively. Stuyvesant was willing to grant them charters provided they swore allegiance to Dutch rule.

When the British took over, the area became part of the County of Yorkshire. In an article on the Thirteen WNET website entitled “A Walk Through Queens” David Hartman and Barry Lewis noted that in 1637 Stuyvesant periodically made grants of land to various Dutch settlers in the regions presently known as Astoria, Hunters Point and Long Island City in Queens. Manhattan, named for the local Indian tribe, was famously bought rather cheaply for $24 worth of trinkets and later added. As the Dutch settlement expanded conflicts developed between the colonists and the Native Americans, and in 1641 almost 1,000 Native Americans and settlers were killed in the war that followed.

The English already felt an entitlement to the New Netherlands colony. It had originally been discovered by English sailor Henry Hudson, who, employed by the Dutch, was looking for the North-West Passage people at the time believed led to India. But the Dutch won out — until 1664.

Matters weren’t helped by the fact that Stuyvesant was an unpopular leader at the time and the Dutch colonists under his care refused to rally behind him against the British invasion. In the chapter titled “How New Amsterdam became New York” of the book “This Country of Ours: the Story of the United States” by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall, Marshall details how disaffection with the governor led to the British takeover of New Netherlands. Ironically, Stuyvesant had already replaced another unpopular and autocratic governor. But the settlers found Stuyvesant even more dictatorial and harsh than his predecessor.

“If anyone appeals my judgments I shall make them a foot shorter and send the pieces to Holland. Let them appeal in that way,” Stuyvesant is noted as saying when some of the settlers sent letters back to Holland to complain about his tyranny.

In 1664 Charles II of England secretly granted all the land between Delaware and Connecticut to his brother, James, then the Duke of York, and later King James II, and sent a fleet of ships under Nicolls to claim it. Despite the prosperity of the colony, the will of the settlers was apparently not with Stuyvesant and when it came time to fight the British in 1664 the Dutch colonists refused.

“You know in your own conscience that your fortress is incapable of making head three days against so powerful an enemy,” the settlers wrote to Stuyvesant, urging him to surrender. He finally did and, in honor of the Duke of York, New Amsterdam became New York.

After the defeat of the Dutch by the British forces, Fort Orange became Fort Albany and the Dutch flag was removed, to be replaced by the British flag. The British and Dutch settlers managed to coexist relatively peacefully, according to Marshall even though British rule proved as autocratic as the Dutch.

In 1673 the Dutch briefly regained control of the land and once again New York became New Amsterdam, but it was a short-lived victory, and in 1674 the British regained control until they, too, were eventually defeated by the American Revolutionaries.

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