Good Evening, God
It really is fun to discover that you had a HUGE hole in the history of America. And, I am certain that there are many more holes that would enjoy being filled. But, with the story of the Dutch in America — it is a hole that I had papered over with one small fact — the purchase of Manhattan for $24.
Actually, buying it, instead of conquering it — tells a fair bit about the Dutch. At that time they were buying and selling more than settling or invading. They made an effort to contact and trade with the Mohawks. The Mohawks in turn wanted to trade with the Dutch because their enemies, the Hurons, were allied and trading with the French.
Money seemed to be at the heart of the Dutch culture. But, it wasn’t just Free Trade that they valued. They also valued individual rights, and religious freedom. Two very important values! So for the most part their territory was open to everyone. . . ethnicity, language, or religion. At that time, it was virtually alone in its tolerance.
Another surprise was the extent of their area. South to Delaware and north to Albany. The trade with the Mohawks was a very early precursor to the Erie Canal and the opening of the Great Lakes. This one missing piece helped build connections with what I had previously learned.
And the reason it was missing? The paper records of that time were lost! The records in the Netherlands were actually sold as scrap paper in the 1800s. Just recently have Dutch records of that time been found in the basement of the New York library in Albany. Now the old handwritten Dutch is being translated and transcribed. And the puzzle of who we are as a people becomes a little clearer.