The Island at the Center of the World

Topics: New Netherland, Netherlands, Dutch West India Company Pages: 3 (999 words) Published: April 4, 2012
It is not uncommon that many students are taught that the colony of New Amsterdam had a short-lived non revolutionary life before the British takeover in 1664, but Russell Shorto contradicts that with recently unearthed Dutch records and his book The Island at the Center of the World. This story focuses on the New Netherlands Dutch colony and its influence on the city and state of New York, which Shorto states when saying “It is a distinctly European tale, but also a vital piece of America’s beginning.” (Shorto 1).

This books contribution to United States history is also great. In fact, is looks at an area of American history that is often forgotten or overlooked and helps show how the Dutch influence in this area has infiltrated into our society today. This book shows how the settlement in New York began as a scheme of the Dutch West India Company to gain control over more land and riches that they could potentially export to Europe. Many people think and/or taught that people came to America only to gain religious freedom, but the colony of New Amsterdam is not that case. New Amsterdam was a settlement created out of commerce, rather than religious survival and this is an important fact to realize when seeing the city of New York Today as one of the most influential and richest cities in the world.

The Dutch settlement started in 1609 when the Dutch East India Company sent out Henry Hudson, and English navigator, to look for a route to the Indies not controlled by Spain. His subsequent discoveries laid claim to lands in North America for the founding of New Netherland. Over the next 60 years or so Dutch entrepreneurs would establish a series of trading posts, towns, and forts up and down the Hudson River, including New Amsterdam or what we know as Manhattan today. For the first twenty years or so efforts to colonize the areas were slow and unsuccessful, as a result the Dutch Parliament chartered the West India Company to oversee the Dutch ventures in the...
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