Alternative History

New Netherland

Uudet-Alankomaat (Finnish)
Nouvelle-Néerlande (French)
— Associated State of the Dutch Republic
Timeline: Cromwell the Great

OTL equivalent: New Netherland (1614–1667)

Flag Coat of Arms
New Netherland (in yellow). Includes Iroquois Confederacy.
Excelsior (Latin)
("Ever Upward")
(and largest city)
New Amsterdam
Other cities New Amstel, Fort Cassimir, Fort Altena and Fort Orange-Beverwijck
Amerikaans and Dutch
  others French, English, German dialects, Swedish, Finnish, Northern Iroquoian languages, Algonquian languages, Dutch based pidgins (Jersey Dutch and Pidgin Delaware), and Dutch based creole (Mohawk Dutch and Negerhollands)
Netherlands Reformed Church
  others Other Protestant denominations, Catholicism, Judaism, native animistic beliefs and Longhouse Religion (Gaihwi:io)
Ethnic groups
European (Dutch, English, German, Finnish, Swedish, French)
  others Native Americans
Government Colony of the Dutch Republic administered by the Dutch West India Company (1614-1682), Generality Land of the Dutch Republic (1682 to date)
  legislature States General[1]
General Stadholder Willem V
Minister-President Paulien Van Buren
Established 1614
Currency Dutch rijksdaalder, leeuwendaalder and guilder (until 1801), New Netherlander guilder (1 NNƒ= 100 cent), Wampum beads and barter.
Time zone GMT-5

Tot handel, en tot scheepvaart,uitgezocht,

met havens, die den aard zelf heeft gewrocht
tot heul, van wie in ’t lijden wordt gebrocht
en raakt verlegen.

(Jacob Steendam, Lof op Nuw-Nederland, 1661)

The New Netherland (Dutch: Nieuw-Nederland, Latin: Nova Hollandica or Novum Hollandium) is colonial province (generality land) of the Dutch Republic located on the East Coast of North America. The claimed territories extended from the Chesapeake Peninsula to extreme southwestern Cape Cod. The effective controlled are on the islands of Manhattan and Long Island and along the Hudson, Mohawk, Delaware and Connecticut rivers.

It limits to the Northwest with the lands of Iroquois Confederacy (a Dutch protectorate since 1708), northeast with the New England and southeast with Maryland.


Settlements of New Netherland.

The colony was conceived as a private business venture of the Dutch West India Company (WIC) to exploit the North American fur trade. During its first decades, New Netherland was settled rather slowly, partially as a result of policy mismanagement by the WIC and partially as a result of conflicts with Native Americans. The settlement of New Sweden, captured in 1655, encroached on its southern flank, while its northern border was redrawn to surly accommodate an expanding New England.

During the 1650s, the colony experienced dramatic growth and became a major port for trade in the North Atlantic and the Commonwealth colonies despite the restrictions of the Navigation Acts.

The Flushing Remonstrance of 1657 brought religious freedom against Stuyvesant and the will of English settlers of New Netherland. The directors of the WIC advised to end all acts of religious persecution and harassment were to be not officially sanctioned. All ordinances against it were repelled. Quakers, Baptists and others dissidents were allowed to preach and meet.

Although New Amsterdam gained full city rights in 1653, it did not stop the complains on the lack of same liberties as in the metropolis for the colony, economic freedom and the removal of the colony from the control of the WIC. Politics in New Netherland had three main factions: Governor's party, Localists party and the English party.

The Second Remonstrance of New Netherland is delivered to the Dutch States-General in 1673 demanding end of company rule and establishment the territory as a colony. This document starts the route to complete autonomy.

The first elections to the Council of New Netherland in 1675 gave a majority of its seats to the Localists, followed by the English party and the Governor's partisans. The Council voted a series of grievances that affected the colony and had not being addressed by the authorities. The chief one was free trade, followed by a more open policy of migration and colonization, lack of freedoms and abuses of the authorities.

Former flag of Netherland under WIC rule (1614-1682.

In 1680, Willem III Prince of Orange as Stadtholder moves a motion to establish the colony of New Netherland as separate from the rule of the Dutch West India Company to the States-General. In 1682, under careful lobby of governor-general Anthonie Heinsius, New Netherland becomes a self governing colony with the same status as a Generality Land of the Dutch Republic, but with an elected assembly and director general named by the Stadtholder. The immediate effect is that all restriction for trade, migration and settlement in New Netherland are abrogated. Jews are allowed to settle permanently in New Amsterdam (with or without passports) along complete freedom of religion.

In 1724 Stadtholder Johan Willem Friso issued a New Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions based on a proposition of the Council of New Netherland. This charter takes most of its provisions from the British Claim of Rights Act of 1702.

The French and Indian War (1756-1760) forced the establishment of a local army — the American Army (Amerikaans leger). The American Army, after much negotiations was to be financed by the New Netherland, with the Dutch Republic providing the commanding officers. The American Army shifted from a volunteer army in its first year to conscript one, due to low number of soldiers that volunteered in its first call. Patroonships and townships were assigned enlistment quotas or pay replacements. Enlistment was also opened to all non-Dutch, being its main components the English and Finn-Sweden.

The Iroquois, generously provided with firearms and supplies, became the de facto main force used by the colony in fighting fellow Native Americans allied to France. Using guerrilla tactics, bands of young Iroquois kept in check the advance of the French in the Ottawa river and across the Great Lakes.

After the Peace of Paris, many expected the American Army to be downsized, however the soldiers and officers refused not before overdue payment and pensions were issued. After much contention from the Council the troops were paid. However the General Stadholder ordered that a reduced and volunteer American Army be kept as a permanent armed force. with the provision that a local officer corps be formed.

The Ontario Lands, claimed by the Haudenosaunee, were given to Britain. This arrangement was ignored by the Five Nations, leading to minor skirmishes between the Iroquoians and British settlers.

Seal of New Netherland until 1798.

Flag of New Netherland from 1682 to 1798.

The European Revolutionary Wars (1790-1810) and the French invasion of the Netherlands cut the immediate communications and political ties that New Netherland had with the Metropolis. The political and social crisis that followed led to drastic measures and decisions. Director-General Pieter Van Heeswijk, assumed full control and aligned a wide political compact breaking with the previous factional politics that characterized New Netherland. Important measures were to establish a permanent army and navy and an signed an alliance with the British colonies. Having de facto full home rule Van Heeswijk called for a constitutional convention to draft and approve a constitution. The Constitution of 1796 established a new state administration an the political status of an associated state of the Netherlands.


Ship arriving to New Amsterdam.

The Patroonship plan of 1628 granted large tracts of land and gave the rights to the land as well as legal rights to settle all non-capital cases, quite similar to a manorial lord. In return the Patroon would agree to bring over settlers and colonize the land at his own expense. Additionally Patroons were allowed to trade with New England and Maryland and to engage in both the fur trade, subject to a company tax and could participate in the fish trade.

Under the Patroonship plan, New Netherland expand with more colonists and settlements taking hold. The nerve center the patroonships was along the Hudson River from New Amsterdam north-west to Fort Orange , followed by the Mohawk river were Iroquois patroons were given out.

New Sweden was from the outset colonized by Sweden-Finnish farmers that had small or medium sized land holdings. The patroon system of land tenure was established around New Amsterdam, Pavonia and Bergen unsuccessfully spreading south. The native Lenape (Delaware people) were displaced by armed pressure and European style farming and settlements to the west bank of the Delaware.

The North River Treaty

In March 1663 the Iroquois and Dutch West India Company (WIC) envoys meet at Fort Orange to sign the North River Treaty. This was the result of proposal by the WIC. After several month of negotiations both delegations meet to sign the Treaty and exchange gifts. The Treaty defined the relationship between both parties. The Dutch were giving open access to Iroquois and establish factorijs (trade posts), forts and schools, and the Iroquois given freedom of movement and commerce in New Netherlands and New Amsterdam. Exchange of food in case of scarcity and free trade between the two parties. The WIC guaranteed the supply of guns and munitions. Mutual recognition of the titles of the Iroquois patroonships and Dutch purchases in Iroquois lands. both parties could buy and sell land in their territories. Finally each year at the same date the envoys would meet to exchange gifts, complains and suggestions. Legal issues would also be addressed in these meetings.

The Treaty of Teantontalago / Mabee Fort of 1708

After the The Beaver Wars the Iroquois were in a dire situation due to diseases and reduction of population along the rearmament by the French of rival Iroquois tribes, This pushed the Haudenosaunee to establish alliances with the Dutch and English colonies. With the Dutch a closer alliance was signed by Treaty of Teantontalago/Mabee Fort of 1708, becoming the Haudenosaunee a Dutch protectorate with a large degree of autonomy (New Netherland-Iroquois Condominium).


Pieter Van Heeswijk. Founding Father of Hudsonia (former New Netherland). Director-General (1793-1796), President Executive Committee (1794-1796) and Minister-President (1796-1812).

The Director General (Directeur-Generaal) was in charge of the colony of New Netherland. The Director General was named by the Dutch West India Company from 1624 to 1682. After 1682 the office was named and responsible to the Stadtholder. The State Directory was formed in 1685 to assist in its executive functions the Director General, with part of its membership named by the Council of New Netherland.

Until 1652 the Council of Nine Men, an elected citizens board in 1647, 1649, 1650 and 1652, advised the Director General. It became the basis for the municipal government when the city of New Amsterdam received its municipal charter in 1653. Beverwyck received its city rights in 1652. Nieuw Haarlem was formally recognized in 1658.

The Second Remonstrance of New Netherland is delivered to the Dutch States-General in 1673 demanding end of company rule and establishment the territory as a colony. Under pressure from the Dutch and English residents that demanded representation Beekman installed in 1675 the Council of New Netherland (Raad van Nieuw-Nederland), after consultation with the Heeren XIX who granted its permission. The Council would advice the Director General and approve in some cases matters or regulations brought to its consultation or by its own initiative. Its members would be elected from the cities and villages of New Amsterdam, Beverwyck, Nieuw-Amstel, Nieuw Haarlem and other important settlements. The Council of New Netherland gained limited local legislative powers in 1685 and the right to name part of the State Directory.

The Second Remonstrance called for the establishment of an independent judiciary at large. A high appellate court, the Supreme Court was established with the right of appeal to the Supreme Court of the Netherlands. However, the Constitution of 1796 restricted the right of appeal to the Netherlands to a limited number of cases. The Provincial, Districts and Local courts were gradually established for dealing with civil, criminal and commercial law.

Statue of Pieter Van Heeswijk facing the States General of Hudsonia.

With the change of its status to generality land in 1682 not only New Netherlands gained complete autonomy but also has jurisdiction of all India affairs (i.e. relations with Iroquois Confederacy). With the Iroquois it signed the Treaty of Teantontalago (or Mabee Fort) in 1708 taking them under protection of New Netherland and the Dutch Republic. By the Treaty, Iroquia was granted its own local and mixed affairs courts with the right to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Cut off from the metropolis during the European Revolutionary Wars, New Netherland began exercise wide independence in its internal affairs and relations with its neighbours. The Constitutional Convention, elected in 1795, ratified the de-facto independence by changing the name of New Netherland to Hudsonia and under the Constitution of 1796 it became an Associated State of the Netherlands. Hudsonia also took over the affairs with Iroquia with mixed results that would later led to a native movement for self government and representation.

The States General, the devolved legislature established by the Constitution of 1796, replaced the Council of New Netherland. The representatives of the States General are elected by the City of New Amsterdam, the townships and the patroonships circles[2] for a five year term in staged elections and their number of representatives is determined according to the electoral census.

Delegates from Iroquia have the right to address and petition the States General.

A parliamentary system, based on the one of the Homeland, was established. The Minister-President and the State Directory are named by and responsible to the States General.

Director Generals of New Netherland
  • ...
  • Peter Stuyvesant (1647-1672, died in office)
  • Wilhelmus Beekman (interim 1672-1673, 1673-1681)
    • Military Commanders Admiral Jacob Binckes (1672-1674), General Anthonij Colve (1672-1678)
  • Cornelius Van Steenwyk (1681-1687)
  • Wilhelmus Beekman (1687-1700)
  • Jacobus Van Cortlandt (1700-1722)
  • Koenradd Van Rensselaer (1722-1730)
  • Pieter Van Brugh (1730-1738)
  • Marcellus Hattaway (1738-1742) first non Dutch Director General
  • Gerolt Van Dijk (1742-1749)
  • Laurens De Groot (1749-1758)
  • Garret Waterman (1758-1763)
  • James de Lancey (1763-1765)
  • Cadwallader Colden (1765-1768)
  • James de Lancey (1768-1772)
  • Alexander Van De Laar (1772-1784)
  • Arnout De Lauwers (1784-1789)
  • Willem Romeijnders (1789-1793)
  • Pieter Van Heeswijk (1793-1794)
President Executive Committee of New Netherland
  • Pieter Van Heeswijk (1794-1796) Constitutional Reform
Minister-President of Hudsonia
  • Pieter Van Heeswijk (1796-1812, died in office) Constitutional Reform
  • Jonas Schneiders (1812-1817) Anti-Rent
  • Seward Blythe (1817-1823) Conservative
  • Sieger Siddall (1823-1829) Conservative => United Conservative Party
  • Maarten Van Buren (1829-1834) Radical League, split from the the National Reform Party
  • Lodewijk Meeuwessen (1834-1837) Farmers Union
  • Maarten Van Buren (1837-1843) National Reform Party
  • Willen Van Ogtrop (1843-1848) Radical League
  • Barend Spears (1848-1852) United Conservative Party
  • Paulien Van Buren (1852-1863) National Reform Party
  • ...

Political Parties

The first elections to the Council in 1675 marked the appearance of the first parties of New Netherland. These were: the Localists (Lokalist), the English Party (Engelse partij), Governor's partisans and independents. The Localists represent the interest of the patroons. The English Party rallied the English speakers and emigrants. The merchants of New Amsterdam run as independents having a mix of interests.

New Netherlanders were no strangers to events in the home country and many paid close attention to the politics of the Metropolis. The ideas of the Enlightenment and republicanism led many in New Amsterdam to identify with the Patriots and form the Radicals (Radicalen). The Radicals opposed aristocratic cliques and the Orange autocracy and promoted self government in New Netherland. Opposed to the Radicals were the Unionist (Unionistische, the former Localists), and the Orangist party (Orangistische partij).

At the eve of the European Revolutionary Wars the main parties were the Radicals, Unionist and Anti-Rent (Anti-huur). The latter a movement of European and Iroquois tenant farmers that campaigned to abolish rents and later moved to call for the ownership of the lands they worked in the manors of the patroons. The Anti-Renters set the precedent for multi-ethnic politics in its organization, polices and campaign in Dutch, English and Iroquoian languages.

Pieter Van Heeswijk formed the first national party, the Constitutional Reform (Constitutionele hervorming). It was formed by members of the Orangists, now the Conservatives (Conservatieven), the Radicals and the Anti-Renters. The main purpose was to secure the independence of New Netherland from the French, help the Anti-French allies, open relations with the British colonies, and full democratic home rule. Once obtained full self-rule under the Constitution of 1796 only the personality of Van Heeswijk, until his death, held them together.

The break of the Constitutional Reform Party and Van Heeswijk's clique lead to the establishment several competing groups: The Moderates that became the National Reform Party (Nationale Hervormingspartij); several Conservative groups that merged in the United Conservative Party (Verenigde Conservatieve Partij); the Radical League (Radicale Bond); the Anti-Rent that evolved in the Farmers Union (Boerenbond).

Administrative Division

New Netherland is administratively divided in provinces under the administration of commissioners, named by the Minister-President, former Director General. The Iroquois Confederacy (Iroquia), a protectorate under the Treaty of Teantontalago/Mabee Fort of 1708, was administered by a Resident-Commissioner named by the Director General.

Local government and administration was first established in the city administration of New Amsterdam and chartered townships. The patroonships were under the authority of their proprietor. The right of local inhabitants and citizens to exercise power in local self government in a broad or limited manner was only established by the Constitution of 1796. Before the Constitution, several acts and decrees had given the right to a limited and selected number of townships and had created an independent judiciary in patroonships. The early provinces had only an Commissioner — usually a patroon—, until the Constitution mandated the creation of elected provincial states, ending the mostly unchecked authority of the patroons.

The municipality (gemeente) became the basic unit of local government distinguishing between cities and villages that different governing bodies, rights, duties and electorate.

The Constitution of 1796, besides incorporating the main clauses of the Treaty of Teantontalago, it also provided that the Iroquois Confederacy (Iroquia) would remain a distinctive political entity with its Resident-Commissioner named by the Minister-President that would be assisted, advised and consider the opinions and resolutions of the Grand Council, an assembly of the Hoyenah (chiefs) or sachems.


New Netherland as never been a homogeneous society. Thought, a Dutch colony most of its inhabitants are of other European origin. For example a large majority is English, followed by Dutch, German, Finnish, Swedish and French. The main reasons to settle in New Netherland are commercial activity, farming lands and the arrival of refugees from America and Europe.

The other important inhabitants are Native American with the Iroquois being the largest group followed by the Algonquians. The later located in New Sweden and New Amsterdam.

The WIC introduced slavery with the importation of black slaves who worked as farmers, fur traders, and builders. They had a few basic rights and families were usually kept intact. They were admitted to the Dutch Reformed Church and married by its ministers, and their children could be baptized. Slaves enjoyed several legal rights. Some were permitted to work after hours earning wages equal to those paid to white workers. After given up the administration of the colony in 1680, slaves were freed becoming citizens of New Netherlands.

This mix of peoples is expressed in speech. Several Dutch based pidgins and creole are spoken in New Netherland. For example Jersey Dutch and Pidgin Delaware, Mohawk Dutch and Negerhollands. However, the establishment of a national primary school system that used the New Netherlands Dutch as its medium of instruction as lessen the varieties of creoles and pidgins. English, French, Swedish, Finnish and German dialects are still spoken but restricted to local farming communities.

Socially the patroons, landholders with manorial rights, are at the top of the society followed by merchants, public administrators, artisans and craftsmen, farmers, land and city workers and servants.

The patroons are the local aristocracy, having an equal status as their counterparts in the Netherlands. Patroons are not distinguishable by ethnic group, being of equally of Dutch and Iroquois origin. Along the valley of the Hudson River, patroons ruled their vast estates with near total autonomy being themselves political and social notables in their townships. Unlike the aristocratic planters of Virginia, to whom they were frequently compared, they did not practice wide-scale plantation slavery. The climate was too moderate for cash crops (cotton and sugar) that were grown further south as in Virginia and Florida. The patroons’ main source income came from the rents paid by tenant farmers working on their lands- frequently the descendants of those farmers originally brought over by the patroons as indentured servants or contract labourers.

However, in New Sweden the land propriety is of small free landholders, mainly Sweden-Finnish farmers, never developing large states or manors.


Agriculture is a major component of the economy of New Netherland. Its main outputs comprise dairy products, cattle and other livestock, vegetables, nursery stock, and apples.

New Amsterdam and its surrounding metropolitan area dominate the economy. Manhattan is the leading center of banking, finance, and communication. New Netherland also has a large manufacturing sector, which includes printing and publishing and the production of garments, furs, railroad rolling stock, and bus line vehicles. Some industries are concentrated in upriver locations also, such as ceramics and glass and photographic equipment.

  1. Replacing the Council of New Netherland (Raad van Nieuw-Nederland, 1675-1796)
  2. Electoral districts of the patroonships.