New Netherland and the Global Marketplace

The Transportation of Goods and People across the Atlantic Ocean


In the early 17th century, the Netherlands was the most important commercial nation in Europe, and the city of Amsterdam was the country's trading hub.  In North America, New Amsterdam, the Dutch colony’s major trading port, linked Europe, Africa, South and Central America, the Caribbean, and the North American colonies.

Furs, tobacco, and food stuffs, such as grain and meat, were the most important products of New Netherland. These products were shipped to Europe in exchange for a variety of consumer goods such as iron tools, cloth, wines, and weapons. They were also shipped to the Caribbean for salt, sugar, dyewood, and horses. Shells from the Caribbean—as well as from Long Island—were used to make wampum beads or sewant. These shell beads were valued and used like money. 

Dutch trading vessels also brought to New Netherland indentured servants from Europe and slaves from Africa and the Caribbean. Unlike slaves, indentured servants signed contracts with their masters setting out the terms and length of their service.

This seventh grade lesson focuses on the essential question: “What was New Netherland’s role within a larger global network of trade in goods and bound labor (both slaves and indentured servants)?” It was designed by educators who participated in the New Netherland Institute’s and New York State Museum’s 2012 summer institute: Angela Spanakos, Barbara Cella, Jill Leinung, Nancy Schultz, and Jenna Bartow.

English and Dutch ships taking on stores at port, by Jacob Knyff (1673)

About the New Netherland Institute

For a quarter century NNI has helped cast light on America's Dutch roots. In 2010, it partnered with the New York State Office of Cultural Education to establish the New Netherland Research Center, with matching funds from the State of the Netherlands. NNI is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. More

The New Netherland Research Center

Housed in the New York State Library, the NNRC offers students, educators, scholars and researchers a vast collection of early documents and reference works on America's Dutch era. Directed by Dr. Charles Gehring. More


find_us_on_facebook_logo.gif Twitter_logo_blue.png   Marcurius_Heading_Linear.jpg 

Shop Now

Visit the NNI shop for books, maps, notecards & More

Subscribe Now

Subscribe to NNI's email list to receive information about events, activities, conferences, and research. More

Join NNI

Members allow NNI to support the New Netherland Research Center and to undertake research and educational programs