Dirk Alkemade

Dirk Alkemade (PhD student at Leiden University), our visiting Fulbright/NNI scholar, harrived at the NNRC on May 2 and was here. Dirk through July 31. His research was on the Dutch political refugees who came to the US in the revolutionary era (c. 1776-1815). You can read his rport here

 The American Revolution had a profound impact on the Dutch Republic. Dutch bankers and merchants saw promising trade opportunities with the emancipation of the American colonies. Moreover, Dutch intellectuals and politicians saw the American struggle for liberty as an example to combat aristocratic and semi-monarchical institutions in the Republic. It gave rise to the patriottenbeweging. When this movement was crushed in 1787, many patriotten had to flee the country. Whereas most patriots fled to France – which was on the brink of the revolution itself - some of them decided, among them Francis Adrian Van der Kemp and Adam Gerard Mappa, to cross the Atlantic to the New World. Here they set up new lives for themselves. Most of them ended up in upstate New York, where they came in contact with the local Dutch-American communities.  In his research project, Dirk Alkemade will investigate the life stories of these transatlantic refugees. How did they understand the age of revolution from across two continents? How did their experiences change their political outlook? 

 Dirk Alkemade is a PhD candidate at Leiden University, where he works on a dissertation on the radical democrat Pieter Vreede (1750-1837), a wool merchant from Leiden. Vreede was a close friend of Van der Kemp and Mappa. He became the leader of the democratic flank of the patriot movement in the 1780s, and later during the years of the revolutionary Batavian Republic (1795-1800). It was Vreede who staged a coup in 1798 resulting in the first Dutch constitution, transforming the old Republic into a modern unitary state. 

 He welcomes all suggestions on genealogical and archival sources and can be reached at d.g.a.alkemade@hum.leidenuniv.nl 

If you or anyone you know can trace the arrival of a Dutch ancestor back to this period, please contact Dirk. He will then attempt to determine whether they came merely as emigrants or whether they fled because of political turmoil in the Netherlands. 

Letter of Francis Adrian Van Der Kemp to George Washington, January 9 1790



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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