Wall Street was not always just the New York Stock Exchange, in the 1600’s, it got its name because it WAS THE CITY WALL protecting the Dutch West India Company’s colony of New Amsterdam.  In the 1600s, the English and the Dutch were major commercial rivals (Dutch West India Company vs English East India Company).  Tea, silk and spices were hotly traded commodities and conflicts between these two massive corporations eventually erupted in a series of wars.

By the middle of the 17th century the Dutch had built by far the largest mercantile fleet in Europe, with more ships than all the other states combined, and their economy, based substantially on maritime commerce, gave them a dominant position in European trade, especially in the North Sea and Baltic. Furthermore, they had conquered most of Portugal’s territories and trading posts in the East Indies and much of Brazil, giving them control over the enormously profitable trade in spices.  The commercial tensions between England and the Netherlands were intensified when the English Parliament passed the Navigation Act 1651.  This limited Dutch trade with any of the English colonies in America unless the shipping was done in “English bottoms” i.e. English ships. Indeed, any shipping coming into English ports or the ports of English colonies from anywhere in the world was required to be carried in English ships.  Furthermore, the Navigation Act forbade all trade with those English colonies that retained connections and sympathy for the royalist cause of Charles I. To have accepted the terms of the Navigation Act was seen by the Dutch as agreeing to subordinate Dutch trade to the English trading system.   This insulted Dutch pride and damaged their economy, but the more immediate cause of the war was the actions of the English navy and privateers against Dutch shipping.  Through a series of blockades and major naval battles, the English eventually gained superiority over the Dutch but Dutch privateers still hamstrung the English Navy. 

Eventually Oliver Cromwell sued for peace in April 1654.  As a result of these negotiations, the Dutch gained hegemony over the spice trade in the East Indies and England acquired several Dutch colonies in America including a small, poorly managed colony called New Amsterdam. The residents of that colony resented their government, and thus the English were able to take over the island without a shot. The English renamed it New York.

Published by Michael Carver

My goal is to bring history alive through interactive portrayal of ordinary American life in the late 18th Century (1750—1799) My persona are: Journeyman Brewer; Cordwainer (leather tradesman but not cobbler), Statesman and Orator; Chandler (candle and soap maker); Gentleman Scientist; and, Soldier in either the British Regular Army, the Centennial Army, or one of the various Militia. Let me help you experience history 1st hand!

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