New York When It Was Still Amsterdam


Here’s how Amsterdam turned into New York overnight. New Amsterdam was renamed New York on September 8, 1664, in honor of the then Duke of York (later James II of England), in whose name the English had captured it. In 1667 the Dutch gave up their claim to the town and the rest of the colony, in exchange for control of the Spice Islands. Was it a good deal? Well, possibly, but what spices? And why is that man hanging in the middle of the picture below?


New Amsterdam in 1651
New Amsterdam in 1660
Map of New Amsterdam in 1660

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  1. Sorry, the first paragraph was a draft. It should read as follows: New Amsterdam was unilaterally re-incorporated as the City of New York and renamed thus in June 1665 (not September 8, 1664.) On July 31, 1667 the Dutch won the second Anglo-Dutch war and, by treaty, gave up control of New Netherland by negotiating sovereignty over Dutch Guiana (Suriname) and receiving control of one tiny English-held spice island named Run in the Banda archipelago, in the Moluccas. The man hanging from what is a fire-basket signal-pole (like a lighthouse) is a picture from Washington Irving’s book “The True History of New York” spoofing New York’s Dutch culture.

  2. New Amsterdam was unilaterally renamed the City of New York upon re-incorporation in June 1665 (not September 8, 1664.) On July 31, 1667 the Dutch won the second Anglo-Dutch was and, by treaty, received Suriname (Dutch Guinea) and control over one tiny English-held spice island in the Moluccas in lieu of New Netherland. The man hanging from the fire-basket light-pole is a picture from Washington Irving’s book spoofing the Dutch New Yorkers.

    The Dutch Republic did not surrender New Netherland to the British until March 5, 1674.

    To prevent casualties and to preserve their town, New Netherlanders yielded provisionally to the sudden British arrival of four frigates with a force of about 400 men in New Amsterdam Harbor in 1664 at a time when King Charles II and James, Duke of York, were trying to provoke war with the Dutch Republic.

    The unlawful English surprise incursion happened during peacetime between England and the Dutch Republic. Hence, the “Articles of the Transfer of New Netherland” of September 8, 1664, stated that New Netherland (not New Amsterdam) was conditionally transferred. I.e., the transfer of “this Place and Province” was subject to the agreement of the “King of Great Britain” and the “States of the United Netherlands.” The Province was to “be re-delivered into the hands of said States whenever his Majesty will send his commands to re-deliver it” – a veiled declaration of war (Condition 20.) The 1664 Articles were not signed by Director-General Petrus Stuyvesant.

    Charles and James received their war wish on March 4, 1665 until a temporary “uti possidetis” resolution maintaining the status quo between the two countries was signed on July 31, 1667.*

    The recapture of the New Netherland Province by the Dutch Republic took place with a fleet of 21 ships on August 24, 1673. After fierce battle, the English capitulated which resulted into the re-delivery of the province under Dutch jurisdiction and jurisprudence.


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