New York Colony


Thanks to the exploration of the area by Henry Hudson, the Dutch were able to claim what became New York as “New Netherlands”. The colony was first settled in 1614, when the Dutch established a fort, at what is present day Albany. The Dutch government let a private company (the Dutch East India company) organize the colonization of the area. In 1626, the new governor of the colony, Peter Minuit purchased Manhattan Island from the Native Americans for jewelry that was valued at $24. The city of New York was founded there. The Dutch tried to settle large estates in their new colony, but few Dutchman wanted to move. William Kieft was appointed the director general of the New Netherlands. Kieft entangled the colony in a war with local Indians. Peter Stuyvesant replaced Kieft in 1647. Stuyvesant was an effective administrator, but a dictatorial leader. In 1644, the British became engaged in a war with the Netherlands and seized the colony. Governor Stuyvesant wanted to attack the English, but the citizens were unwilling to fight.

King Charles then granted the colony to the Duke of York’s brother. The first British governor of the colony was Colonel Richard Nicolis. He met with the settlers in what became Long Island and Westchester. Nicolis promised the colonists both religious freedom and limited local autonomy. In 1682 Thomas Dongan became the governor. He created a representative assembly, which passed the “Charter of Liberties and Privileges” that provided rights for the residents of the colony. Before the Charter could be put into effect the Duke of York became King. He decided to combine New York with the royal colony of New England. This angered the residents of New York. New York was quickly returned to an independent colony. As the New York colony developed the British distributed large plots of lands especially along the Hudson River.

In 1689, James was overthrown in the “Glorious Revolution”. The British governor was captured in Boston. Jacob Liesler, a German born merchant led a revolt against the colonial government. Liesler established a local assembly. In 1691, King William, who had replaced James, sent Colonel Henry Slaughter to regain control of the colony. Colonel Slaughter had Leisler executed.

New York was a cosmopolitan city, with a diverse population. The first Jewish immigrants to North America came to New York. The city of New York had a diverse amalgamation of houses of worship. New York City established itself as a leading trade center.