New Netherland - North American Colonies

Taken from The British Empire in the Nineteenth Century (1898) by Edgar Sanderson

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colonies recognized the authority of Charles the Second, who thereupon granted a charter to Massachusetts, including a constitution with full legislative and executive power within the colony, provided their Acts were not at variance with the laws of England. Charters were also given to Connecticut and Rhode Island. The Navigation Acts of 1661 and 1663, allowing the imports and exports of the colonies to be carried only in English vessels, and further restricting trade, severely affected the commerce of the now thriving Massachusetts. Much discontent arose, and the colony defied the provisions of the Acts in trading direct with the West Indies. In 1686 James the Second, carrying out a plan formed by his predecessor, placed the government of Massachusetts in the hands of a President and Council, devoid of power to make laws or to impose taxes. No representative assembly was to exist, and the abode of freedom was thus subjected to a stern despotic sway. This final effort of Stuart tyranny was swept away by the Revolution of 1689. The troubles of past years had included a war in 1675, against the Indian " King Philip". Many towns in Massachusetts and other parts of New England were burnt, and the struggle lasted till the end of 1676, when Philip was defeated and slain.

The colonies now to be dealt with were partly acquired by conquest. The Dutch, in some parts of the New World, had been beforehand with their European rivals in maritime affairs. Captain Henry Hudson, whose name survives in a strait, a grand bay, and a noble and beautiful river, was an English navigator in the service of Holland. In 1609 he entered the harbour where the "Empire City " was thereafter to stand, and sailed for one hundred and fifty miles, in the hope of reaching the Pacific Ocean, up the river to which his name was given. Such were the European conceptions at that date of the shape and size of the North American continent. It was on this discovery that the Dutch based their claim to possess the land stretching from Cape Cod to the river Delaware, to which they gave the designation of "New Netherland". Their ships soon began to visit this region for traffic in furs with the Indian hunters. In 1615 a trading-post was formed on Manhattan Island, and a fort was erected to the south of the present site of Albany. Their "West India Company" made a permanent settlement at New Amsterdam, … continue reading »

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