A Tour of New Netherland


Fort Nassau

When the Dutch arrived in the New World, they decided that the capital of their North American province would be an island at the mouth of a great river: not Manhattan, but High Island (today Burlington Island) on the Delaware River. They set up a trading post there, but shortly thereafter director-general Peter Minuit determined that the North (Hudson) River would make a better base; it was Minuit who chose Manhattan as the capital. The fort and trading post on the Delaware was moved further upriver, to a site on the eastern shore, and was christened Fort Nassau. From this base, Dutch traders bought furs from the Indians of the region, the Lenni Lenape. The location wasn't the wisest, since the richest fur-trapping area was on the west side of the river. When Swedish adventurers set up their shortlived colony of New Sweden on the river in 1638, they selected a site nearer the bay and on the west side of the river for their post, which they called Fort Christina. The Swedes-led by none other than Peter Minuit, who had gained his extensive knowledge of the region serving the Dutch, until he was removed from his post-thus outmaneuvered the Dutch, and took the lion's share of the trade.

In 1651, Peter Stuyvesant, director-general of New Netherland, abandoned Fort Nassau, and relocated to a position on the west side of the river and below the Swedish fort, thus countering the Swedish move. Fort Nassau is today the site of Gloucester City, New Jersey, adjacent to Camden and across the river from Philadelphia.

About the New Netherland Institute

For over three decades, 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. More


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