Dutch Influence In America

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Dutch Influence In America

Dutch Influence In America

(Last Updated On: November 29, 2023)

Dutch America

The survival chances of a foreign language are pretty thin, especially if its speakers choose to switch to the native tongue. Of course, people converse using their mother tongue but the extent is shrinking. Even though the new generation is more into English than their ancestral linguistic approach, nations preserve their languages by either making their way to the administration through processions, newsletters, or parades.

A lot of languages are spoken in the U.S. The presence of Dutch in America dates back to the 17th century and more than 136,000 people still talk in Dutch at homes. Today, Netherlands may seem like the only owner of the Dutch culture but that’s far from true. Dutch America reflects a rich tapestry of Dutch heritage that has woven its way into the fabric of various regions across the country.

As per multiple sources on the internet, the majority of Dutch immigrants here in the US reside in Western Michigan, Montana, West coast in California, Colorado, North and South Dakota, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Wisconsin, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Manhattan Island, and Pennsylvania. In West Michigan, Dutch families and their children speak Dutch, maintaining a strong connection to their Dutch culture and heritage. Dutch settlements and the preservation of Dutch culture can be found in these areas, showcasing the enduring legacy of the Dutch in America. Dutch companies have also played a significant role in various regions, contributing to the cultural and economic landscape. The Dutch provinces’ influence on South America can also be observed through historical ties and cultural exchanges, impacting Native American communities and fostering a diverse cultural mosaic that continues to thrive. In fact, Dutch was one of the first European languages spoken in America, being used for more than 200 years in the New York region.

Dutch In American History:

To comprehend the roots of Dutch immigration, let’s journey through history. According to data from the American Community Survey, Dutch immigrants inhabited the North American region for a mere 40 years in the 17th century, yet their cultural imprint remains significant. Coney Island, known today for its vibrant atmosphere, was once part of this Dutch settlement heritage.

It’s widely acknowledged that New York was a Dutch colony before transitioning to English rule. However, delving deeper reveals lesser-known facets of Dutch influence. For instance, scholars often cite Peter Stuyvesant, a prominent figure in the nineteenth century, as emblematic of Dutch Americans’ impact on American history. Beyond territorial shifts, the Dutch heritage left an indelible mark on American society, influencing language—consider the lingering Dutch terms embedded in the English language used by Americans.

The Dutch Act of Abjuration, authored in 1581, is an intriguing tie between Dutch history and the foundation of American principles. Notably, historians draw parallels between this document and the evolution of American history. The Act, proclaiming independence from Spanish rule, mirrors elements found in the American Declaration of Independence, which later emerged against British rule. This convergence echoes the rights to revolt against tyranny and addresses grievances, underscoring a shared historical narrative between Dutch and American history.

New York Was Once New Netherland:

n the seventeenth century, before the Anglo-Dutch wars, the Hudson River valley was a Dutch colony, and it went way beyond the city of New Amsterdam or what we like to call it today, the city of New York. New Amsterdam came into existence after the farmers left their trading post and went ahead in the exploration of more areas. Block Island and Coney Island were part of this expansion.

The Dutch colonies at that time extended to today’s New Jersey, Connecticut, and Delaware. The conflict was huge, but after losing three of the Anglo-Dutch wars, the inhabitants gave up the land, and the whole area came under English possession. Peter Stuyvesant, known for his Dutch characteristics, was the last governor-general of the New Netherland.

The influence of Dutch provinces was significant in shaping the region’s early identity. Even today, echoes of this heritage persist in various aspects of American culture, exemplified in Dutch-American Friendship Day celebrations and Dutch Catholic immigrant settlements. Dutch workplaces played a crucial role in the economic landscape, leaving a lasting imprint on the development of industries and trade within New York and its surrounding regions.

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The Deep Impact of the Dutch Language:

Modern-day English is not unique because it has a tremendous number of loanwords from various languages. The Dutch language not only impacted modern English in daily usage but also left a significant mark on American culture and history. For instance, the name Brooklyn is the evolved form of the Dutch name of the old town of Breukelen. Words like Cashier, Bamboo, and Bundles all trace their origins back to Dutch. According to statistics, Dutch words account for approximately one percent of all the words in the English language, totaling more than 7000 words. This influence spans across North America, showcasing the linguistic legacy of Dutch settlers.

Interestingly, up until the first half of the twentieth century, Dutch was hardly spoken in America, except for the first generation of Dutch immigrants. However, this changed with Dutch immigration in the late 19th century. Taxes, low wages, and other injustices in their homeland prompted the Dutch to seek new opportunities in America, leading them to settle in various regions such as Michigan, Pella, Iowa, Orange City, and Zeeland. The 19th century marked the beginning of Dutch business history in North America, shaping communities and leaving a lasting imprint on the cultural landscape.

Dutch influence in America:

Dutch impacted the American cultural landscape by reshaping the lives of the populations already residing in the Hudson River Valley before the arrival of the Dutch immigrants. One of the most evident aspects that can still be seen in all its glory, even today, is the Dutch influence on architecture style. Surely the buildings depict the Dutch touch in more than one way even though they stayed for a short time.

Even today in New York and in North America, buildings from the era of New Amsterdam can be seen. Fort Orange and Fort Nassau, both belong to the era of the Dutch. The Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum in Brooklyn and the Richmond town in Staten Island are both here since the Colonial Dutch period. These tourist destinations are popular among citizens who still long for their colonial roots. For a person who’s originally from Amsterdam, wandering off the roads of lower Manhattan might seem very family. They can also see the Castello plan of the Dutch streets and the Broad street alongside Straten Island.

Americans Learnt Freedom of Religion from Dutch:

The U.S. is definitely the biggest advocate of freedom of religion today but it wasn’t the case from the beginning. At the time of the New Netherland, many people from different areas came to seek protection against religious injustice, and waves of immigration were witnessed. The followers of the church wanted to become a part of the Dutch community, as did Native Americans who found solace in the Dutch colony of the Americas.

Residents from Europe and other communities considered the Dutch colony a safe Heaven to practice their religion without fear. In a sense, it was the first blended society, cosmopolitan cities in the making. So, we can say that the real foundations for American society were set by the Dutch immigrants who embraced and taught freedom of religion, which would later become a cornerstone of American culture and identity.

Another reason why the Dutch settlers continued to shape the cultural landscape of North America, is because 90% of them chose to stay there even after it was turned into a British colony. The Dutch traits became a reason for social reform as women were landowners in the Dutch era. They could not only own but inherit land just like men. They were also given the right to practice their religion with freedom, in contrast to the constraints imposed by other colonies. The Dutch influence extended to various aspects of life, fostering an environment that encouraged academic management education and cultural diversity.

This legacy of Dutch Americans persists even into the 20th century, evident in the varied societal norms and practices that have been deeply ingrained in the American ethos. It’s a testament to their enduring influence that echoes through the records of the United States Census Bureau and scholarly organizations like the American Council of Learned Societies. The Dutch contribution remains an integral part of the American narrative, shaping perspectives on freedom, culture, and the principles that define the nation.

Dutch Role in The American Revolution:

Dutch heritage in American history is deeply rooted and pervasive, tracing back to Dutch settlement and their enduring cultural heritage. Dutch-American Heritage Day commemorates this rich legacy, celebrating the contributions of Dutch settlers and their descendants. Native Americans also intersected with Dutch settlers, influencing the evolving cultural heritage of the United States.

Dutch settlers made significant contributions during the American Revolution, their influence reverberating through pivotal moments. Philip Livingston and Lewis Morris, both of Dutch descent from New York, were among the signers of the Declaration of Independence, emblematic of the Dutch role in shaping American history.

Throughout the American War of Independence, Dutch communities in the original colonies actively supported the revolutionary cause. Their assistance, particularly from Sint Eustatius, facilitated the acquisition of essential arms for the revolutionary armies. Notably, the Dutch were the first to salute the flag, marking their acknowledgment of American independence in 1776.

The Dutch legacy in American history perseveres, their imprint evident across generations and integral to the cultural heritage of the United States.

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American Presidents with Dutch Ancestry:

America had several presidents with Dutch ancestry including:

  • Martin Van Buren was the 8th president of the US. He was the only president who grew up speaking Dutch as it was his first language.
  • Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th president of the United States. Known for his energy, vigor, and whim, he was the man who put the Republican party into the progressive camp.
  • Warren G. Harding was the 29th president who belonged to the famous Van Kirk Family of Dutch descent.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the US, was elected for four terms and served the office for 12 years from 1933 to 1945

Dutch In Modern America:

Dutch as a language is gradually becoming popular in other countries as well. It is now being taught in many institutions globally. Various books and ideas have been taken from Dutch literature for new students. Even in America, students are asked at schools to view and review documentaries that encompass the Dutch era. They are asked to write about the life of people from the New Netherland. Discuss their values, talk about their involvement in politics. Article and newspapers are also circulated for a deeper insight into the lives and traditions of the Dutch. Non-profits are also involved in the efforts of expansion of Dutch beyond borders, aligning with the International Cultural Policy of the Netherlands.

When it comes to entertainment, they are not behind. European immigrants have always settled in American communities. The famous actor, Dick Van Dyke is Dutch. Van Dyke has ruled the entertainment industry for six decades. Ronny, Johnny, and Donnie Van Zant, the brothers from Skynyrd have Dutch ancestry. The Dutch-American Heritage Day commemorates this connection and celebrates the contributions of Dutch Arts and Culture in Colonial America.

Today, Dutch is known as a language spoken mostly in cities of Europe, Netherlands, and Scandinavian populations, but now you know that there are Dutch connections in America too. In the Netherlands, Dutch has the status of the official language. By statistics, Dutch speakers also reside in England, France, Germany, Canada, and even places in Asia. The West India Company played a pivotal role in the Dutch origin and influence in various regions of the world, including North America and South America, contributing significantly to Business History and shaping American culture. Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch colonial governor, left a lasting impact on nineteenth-century America, particularly in the British colonies where Dutch influences merged with emerging anti-discrimination policies and the formation of American communities like Coney Island. Dutch Americans have played an integral part in shaping the cultural landscape of North America and continue to contribute to its rich tapestry.

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