New York Colony Facts
New York was officially founded in 1664 when English forces captured New Amsterdam and took control of the Dutch colony of New Netherland. The Dutch initially founded their colony in 1614, which included portions of present-day New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, and Delaware. Following the English takeover, New York was one of the most diverse colonies and was heavily influenced by its Dutch origins and the impact of European immigrants, including French Huegenots. New York was briefly part of the Dominion of New England and then became a Royal Colony following the Dominion’s collapse. By the end of the French and Indian War, New York was allied with the Iroquois Confederacy and New York City was one of the most profitable port cities in Colonial America.
New York has been known as New Netherland, New York Colony, Colony of New York, and the Province of New York.
1664 Charter Establishing the Duke of York’s Territory
Date Granted — King Charles II the charter to James, the Duke of York, on March 12, 1664.
Recipients of the Charter — The charter was granted solely to James, the Duke of York.
First Government — The charter gave James and his “heirs and assignees” the power to establish a government for the colony. Although James was technically the Governor, he never visited the colony and ruled through the Lieutenant-Governor. The first Lieutenant-Governor of New York was Richard Nicolls.
Type of Charter and Colony — Because the charter was granted to a person, it was a Proprietary Charter, which made New York a Proprietary Colony. Under the charter, the Proprietor was given the freedom to govern the colony, as long as its laws were based on English law at the time.
Early History of New York Colony
The early history of what eventually became the Province of New York centered around the Hudson River Valley, stretching 150 miles from Long Island Sound to Canada via the Hudson River and a series of lakes.
Native American Indians
As with the other 13 Original Colonies, Native American Indians were the first inhabitants of the New York Colony.
Flint spear tips as old as 9,000 years have been found by archaeologists, along with evidence of sophisticated tools and agricultural practices. Around 5000 B.C., native people living in the Paleolithic Age inhabited a region encompassing present-day New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.
By the 12th Century, the cultures of the Iroquois and Algonquins emerged and dominated New York. Algonquian tribes like Mahican and Delaware lived in Eastern New York while the Iroquois settled in Western New York.
The Algonquian tribes were small and mobile, living near water — New York’s coastal plain and the river valleys. They found food through hunting, fishing, and plant gathering. They trapped for furs and made pottery and baskets, which they used to trade with other tribes.
These Algonquians were the first to encounter Europeans and suffer from European diseases. They also suffered from conflicts with Europeans and the Iroquois, especially over the Fur Trade.
Iroquois tribes built large, palisaded towns centered around longhouses. They inhabited the lower Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Valley regions, relying on hunting, gathering plants, and cultivating corn.
In the 14th Century, cold temperatures made growing maize difficult for all the tribes living across New York, leading to a shortage of arable land and natural resources. Famine led to competition and frequent wars between the tribes.
To ensure peace among the western tribes, five Iroquois nations formed the Iroquois Confederacy — the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca — which was also known as the Great League of Peace and “Haudenosaunee,” meaning “people of the longhouses.” The French referred to it as the Iroquois Confederacy while the English called it the Five Nations. In the early 18th Century, the Tuscarora joined the confederacy, and it became the Six Nations.
Arrival of European Explorers
In the early 1600s, European explorers and traders entered the Hudson Valley. Most of them were looking for the legendary Northwest Passage — a water route to Asia and the Far East — or riches, including gold and silver.
Verrazano and Gómez
The first European explorer of New York was Giovanni da Verrazano, commissioned by the King of France to find the Northwest Passage. In 1524, Verrazzano anchored between Staten Island and Brooklyn but had to leave due to a storm, preventing further exploration.
In 1525, a Portuguese pilot named Esteban Gómez sailed up the Hudson River but quickly abandoned the search for the Northwest Passage.
Although European explorers failed to find the Northwest Passage, gold, or silver, they did find the Fur Trade, a lucrative business that required coordination with some Indian tribes — and created competition with others.
The early European settlements and trade networks were primarily established by Europeans between Albany in the North and New York City in the South. Over time, they extended to the eastern side of the Mohawk River Valley and northeast along the coast of New England. There were also settlements on Long Island.
Henry Hudson and the Dutch West Indian Company
In 1609, the first significant exploration of New York took place when Henry Hudson, an Englishman working for the Dutch East India Company, sailed 90 miles up the river that would be named after him — the Hudson River. Hudson’s voyage laid the foundation for the Dutch claim to territory in North America from Cape Cod to Delaware Bay.
Dutch West Indian Company
By 1621, a group of Dutch merchants established the Dutch West India Company (DWIC), a national joint-stock company that was granted a monopoly over Dutch trade in West Africa and the Americas.
The early economic ventures in New Netherland were in constant competition with the English, who were a constant threat. The English sought to establish trading posts in the Hudson River Valley and Connecticut River Valley to strengthen their claims over the entire East Coast of North America.
New York Colony Before the English — New Netherland
The First Colonists in the Hudson River Valley
In 1624, the DWIC sent 30 families to the region to establish the colony of New Netherland. Nearly all of these settlers were Walloons — French-speaking Protestants from the southern Netherlands — present-day Belgium. They established Fort Orange at present-day Albany.
In May 1626, Peter Minuit, the first Director General of New Netherland, arrived at Manhattan Island. He acquired the island from the Indians for goods valued at around 60 Dutch florins. He established the settlement called New Amsterdam, which quickly became the primary settlement in the colony.
By 1628, roughly 270 European people were living in New Amsterdam and Fort Orange was home to between 14 and 30 fur traders.
Early Struggles of New Netherland
The DWIC intended for New Netherland to become a self-sustaining colony, and its purpose was to help carry out the Fur Trade with the Indians. However, the trading posts struggled, much to the disappointment of the DWIC’s directors in Amsterdam.
Impact of the Patroon System
To help spur growth, the directors developed the “Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions” which laid out the Patroon System. It offered significant land grants to investors who were known as “Patroons.” Each Patroon invested in the colony by paying for 50 settlers and their families to move to New Netherland. In return, the Patroon was granted land along the Hudson River, and acted as a landlord, overseeing the families that lived on the property. Patroons were also given opportunities to become involved in the Fur Trade.
Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, one of the original investors in the DWIC, operated one of the few profitable Dutch patroonships, known as “Rensselaerswyck.”
However, due to the company’s monopoly over the Fur Trade, additional investors were excluded, and the Patroon System is historically considered unsuccessful, especially in comparison to the Headright System that was used in the Southern Colonies.
Diversity in New Netherland
In the early 17th century, the Netherlands was known for being at peace with other nations, job opportunities, and religious freedom. It was an attractive place for immigrants, including English Separatists seeking religious freedom, and native Dutch wanted to stay, making it difficult for the DWIC to recruit colonists.
As a result, the DWIC was forced to recruit colonists from all over Europe — mostly young, unmarried men — and a diverse culture developed. It is estimated that as many as 18 different languages were spoken in the colony as Dutch, Belgians, Swiss, English, Germans, and Scandinavians found their way to the Hudson River Valley and nearby regions.
Labor and the Introduction of Slavery
The difficulty in recruiting colonists contributed to a labor shortage in New Netherland, leading the DWIC to introduce African slaves in 1626. Most of the slaves were given tasks such as guarding livestock, working on farms, and loading and unloading ships. They also helped with military projects.
Under Dutch rule, black slaves received the same religious, economic, and legal rights as whites. In 1644, when some of the first slaves petitioned for their freedom, the company granted them “half-freedom.”
The arrangement allowed slaves to gain their liberty and some land but required them to work for the company and earn wages. They were allowed to marry, own property, travel in the colony, and even testify in court cases against free whites. However, they had to pay an annual fee to the DWIC to retain their status. The descendants of these slaves formed free black families, and owned farms in the countryside outside of New Amsterdam.
By 1664, around 700 people of African descent lived in New Amsterdam, out of nearly 9,000 residents.
New England and New Sweden
While New Netherland struggled to grow its population, the English colonies in New England were quickly expanding due to the Great Puritan Migration. As New Englanders looked for new places to settle, they migrated south to Long Island.
In 1640, a group from Massachusetts founded the English settlement in New York. However, the English and Dutch had significant cultural differences, which led to conflict between the two factions.
By the mid-17th century, New Netherland was still not profitable for the DWIC. Half of the company’s debt, roughly 1 million guilders, was because of New Netherland. English encroachment on Long Island threatened New Netherland, which still failed to attract enough settlers to help defend its territory.
The DWIC looked to change its fortunes in the region.
- In 1639, the company gave up its monopoly over the Fur Trade, allowing white settlers to become involved.
- A year later, the Patroon System was revised, so any colonist who brought five other settlers would receive 200 acres of land.
These changes increased interest in the fur and slave trade and created additional economic activities, such as the growth of tobacco and the harvesting of timber. Ultimately, the economic opportunities helped increase immigration to New Netherland.
Growth of New Amsterdam
The economic changes contributed to the population of New Netherland increasing from 1,000 inhabitants to nearly 2,000 between 1638 to 1643. The arrival of new colonists helped transform New Amsterdam from a struggling trading post into a successful port city under the guidance of Stuyvesant.
In 1650, Stuyvesant negotiated a treaty with New England that restricted Puritan settlements to Long Island.
Dutch-Indian Conflicts Lead to the Arrival of Peter Stuyvesant
The conflict between Europeans and Indians in the Hudson River Valley started in 1609 with the Battle of Lake Champlain. A small contingent of French, led by Samuel de Champlain, fought with Algonquin, Huron, and Montagnais warriors against the Iroquois Confederacy. It was the first battle in the Beaver Wars.
In the lower Hudson Valley, the Dutch kept peace with the Iroquois Confederacy for the sake of the Fur Trade, while land disputes created tension with the southern Algonquin tribes.
As New Netherland grew, tensions escalated with Indians in the region, especially the Algonquins in the lower Hudson River Valley. The Dutch viewed the Algonquin as impeding expansion, while the Algonquin resented the Dutch for taking their lands and allowing their livestock to damage their cornfields.
From 1641 to 1645, Kieft’s War raged, as Willem Kieft, the director of New Netherland, led a campaign that resulted in the deaths of nearly 1,600 Indians. This Lenape suffered significant losses, and never fully recovered and numerous communities on Long Island and Staten Island were destroyed in Indian attacks.
Kieft was recalled to the Netherlands and replaced by Peter Stuyvesant, the last — and one of the most capable — director of the company.
Anglo-Dutch Wars and the End of New Netherland
Despite the population growth, economic success, and peace, New Netherland found itself entangled in the conflict between England and the United Provinces — the Dutch Republic — for over commerce and naval power.
The Second Anglo-Dutch War erupted In 1665 over competition in Africa and perceived violations of the 1660 English Navigation Act.
New York Colony Begins
In 1664, King Charles II issued a charter to his brother James, the Duke of York, granting him all the land between the Delaware and Connecticut Rivers — which included New Netherland. James sent a fleet to New Amsterdam, which intended to capture the colony by force.
At first, Peter Stuyvesant hesitated to surrender, but he surrendered the colony without a battle. The English promptly renamed both the city and the colony New York, in honor of James.
New York was the only English colony in America acquired through conquest. Despite English control, Dutch influence remained, and the colony’s diversity continued to be a prominent characteristic of culture.
Soon after the English took control of New York, Governor Richard Nicolls called for a meeting of representatives from the 16 towns on Long Island and Westchester County. The outcome of the meeting, which took place on March 1, 1765, was a set of laws — known as the “Duke’s Laws” — that governed the City of New York.
The laws were based on English law, Dutch law, and existing Colonial law, and established a court system and local law enforcement. The laws were extended to the entire colony on June 12. The colonists were critical of the Duke’s Laws because they did not provide for the election of an assembly, however, the laws mandated religious tolerance.
Preferential treatment for merchants in New York City also helped create a political divide in the colony.
Settlers in Albany were upset with the privileges granted to New York City merchants, such as a 1678 law establishing their monopoly over export trade and a 1684 law making New York City the colony’s sole entry port. To address their concerns, New York officials granted Albany merchants a monopoly in the Fur Trade in 1686.
The Third Anglo-Dutch War
In 1673, during the Third Anglo-Dutch War, William of Orange sent a Dutch fleet to retake New York City. The city surrendered without a fight and was renamed New Orange.
However, Dutch control only lasted 15 months. When the Third Anglo-Dutch War concluded in 1674, the Dutch returned the colony to the English as part of the peace negotiations.
Although the Duke of York granted a charter in 1683 that ensured a legislature and personal freedoms — the Charter of Liberties — the colony remained a Dutch society ruled by English officials. Settlements along the Hudson River retained the Dutch language and culture well into the 18th century.
The Covenant Chain with the Iroquois
In 1677, Governor Sir Edmund Andros and the Iroquois Confederacy established an alliance known as the “Covenant Chain,” which was represented by an Iroquois wampum belt.
However, each side interpreted the meaning of the Covenant Chain differently. The Iroquois saw it as recognizing their autonomy, while the English viewed it as asserting their authority over the Iroquois, reducing concerns about the Iroquois forming an alliance with the French.
Dominion of New England
In 1688, a royal decree from James II incorporated New York into the Dominion of New England, which was administered from Boston. The Dominion was an unpopular government that encompassed New England, the Jerseys, and New York.
When news of the overthrow of King James II in 1689 reached the American Colonies, the colonists, already anxious due to rumors of a French-Native American conspiracy and the weakened state of their colony, rebelled against Lieutenant Governor Nicholson.
The Glorious Revolution and Leisler’s Rebellion
Even before word reached North America in 1689 of the Glorious Revolution, colonists had already rebelled against the Dominion, leading to its overthrow.
In New York, Captain Jacob Leisler and the New York Militia took control of Fort James in Manhattan and held it in the name of King William and Queen Mary, forcing Governor Nicholson to flee.
Leisler, an immigrant from Germany who had married a wealthy Dutch widow, used rumors of a French invasion to maintain control of the colony. However, Leisler established his own form of strict government, frequently infringing on English legal and economic rights.
When Leisler refused to relinquish authority, he was deposed and convicted of treason. He and his son-in-law were executed in 1691.
New York Becomes a Royal Colony
In 1691, New York became a Royal Colony with the establishment of the General Assembly, English courts, and the preservation of traditional English liberties.
Characteristics from the Dutch period remained, including tenant farming on large estates, the concentration of political power within a few prominent families, ongoing conflicts between New York City and settlements further up the Hudson River, an economic focus on Atlantic trade, and the diverse ethnic and religious culture.
Between 1691 and 1710, several European wars between England and France carried over into North America. However, New York refrained from participating in King William’s War (1689–1697) and Queen Anne’s War (1702–1713), due to the colony’s inadequate defensive fortifications and the high costs.
The French also refrained from carrying out military campaigns against New York to avoid upsetting the Iroquois, whom they were involved with in the Fur Trade. Around 1701, the Iroquois negotiated treaties with both the British and French, which ended the Beaver Wars and ensured their neutrality in future British-French conflicts.
The Court and Country Factions
In the 18th century, the political disputes that developed during Leisler’s Rebellion evolved into a conflict between the competing interests of merchants and landowners.
Over time, the legislature gained privileges as Royal Governors consistently sought higher revenues through taxes. However, the Governors found it difficult to remain out of local power struggles, which were shaped more by family alliances and cultural distinctions than by specific political ideologies.
In 1709, Lewis Morris formed a coalition of Hudson Valley farmers, artisans from New York City, and small traders in Albany and New York City. Morris brought together these groups by pledging to improve roads, land regulations, and provide access to affordable currency for farmers. He also committed to offering traders import safeguards, incentives for local production, and regulations on peddlers. Additionally, he agreed to levy higher taxes on the wealthy.
From 1710 to 1720, Governor Robert Hunter aligned himself with the Morris faction, offering special privileges to artisans, shopkeepers, and small farmers. He also extended protection to religious dissenters and the Dutch community.
In 1720, Adolph Philipse and Pieter Schuyler started to seek support from wealthier merchants in New York City and Albany, prominent landowners, Anglicans, and less affluent freemen.
When William Burnet succeeded Hunter, he formed a coalition with the Morris faction, creating tension with the Philipse-Schuyler group.
These two groups became known as the Court – the Philipses-Schuyler faction — and Country — the Morris faction.
The Court faction focused on engaging in overseas trade, intercolonial commerce, the slave trade, and negotiations with native peoples.
The Morris faction focused on building a robust intracolonial economy.
In 1734–1735, the political landscape changed when John Peter Zenger, the printer of the recently established New York Weekly Journal, a newspaper associated with the Country faction, published articles that were critical of Cosby’s administration.
Governor William Cosby, who was aligned with the Court faction, responded by arresting Zenger on charges of libel. However, a jury acquitted Zenger in a famous court case that helped establish the concept of Freedom of the Press.
During the 1750s and 1760s, a new wave of immigration brought settlers from New England and Western Europe, including Palatine Germans, French Huguenots, Scots, Scots-Irish, and other Germans.
Certain farmers, led by New Englanders who were accustomed to owning land, found themselves in confrontations with the old Patroon families that owned large plantations along the Hudson River. These conflicts sometimes escalated into violence, prompting the deployment of British troops to restore peace.
New York Colony, the Iroquois, and New France
The conflicts between Britain and France for control over North America often took place in the frontier between New York and New France, and both nations sought to secure the support of the Iroquois Confederacy.
Due to their control of the Fur Trade and influence in Western New York, the Iroquois skillfully manipulated the English and French, pitting them against each other to serve their own interests.
The first three Anglo-French conflicts — King William’s War (1689–1697), Queen Anne’s War (1702–1713), and King George’s War (1744–1448) — had significant consequences in North America due to:
- Destruction of frontier settlements.
- Disruptions in the Fur Trade.
- Increased importance of New York in the effort to remove France from North America.
As English settlers encroached on Iroquois territory, the Iroquois Confederacy became increasingly estranged from their allies, leading them to declare the Covenant Chain was broken.
In 1754, as the French and Indian War loomed, British officials convened a major conference in Albany to restore the Covenant Chain. As a result of the Albany Congress, the Iroquois allied with the British during the French and Indian War (1754–1763).
Most of the major battles on the mainland took place north of Albany, which is where the final invasion of Canada was launched. Albany became the focal point for mainland operations, and the French were finally driven out of North America in 1763.
New York Colony Geography
New York Colony was located along the Atlantic Coast in the Middle Colonies Region of the British Colonies. On the North, New York was bordered by New France. To the East, New York was bordered by the New Hampshire Grants, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Portions of New Jersey and Pennsylvania ran along the southern border. Much of the western border was dominated by Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, where the Iroquois Confederacy lived.
New York Colony Terrain
The terrain of New York was diverse. Mountains dominated the northeast, while lowlands extended from Lake Ontario along the border of Canada. Coastal plants dominated the Atlantic Coast. Like the other Middle Colonies, New York featured a combination of geographical attributes found in the New England Colonies and the Southern Colonies, including fertile soil and land that was well-suited for agriculture.
New York Colony Climate
New York enjoyed a temperate climate featuring warm summers and mild winters, which provided favorable conditions for farming and agriculture.
New York Colony Economy and Natural Resources
New York’s economy was predominantly focused on trade, with a strong emphasis on exporting food products from the Hudson Valley to the West Indies and furs to Europe, which is why the Fur Trade with the Iroquois and other tribes was so important
The Fur Trade in New York revolved around Albany and Oswego served as important trading posts for the French, Indians, and the British.
An important feature of New York’s economy, which carried over from New Netherland, was the active involvement of women in trade. Building on Dutch traditions, women in New York and Albany played significant roles as merchants and shopkeepers.
New York also possessed abundant natural resources, including fertile farmland, timber, furs, and coal. Of particular significance was access to iron ore, a valuable natural resource that allowed for the production of tools.
Iron ore was also an important export, as were grains, timber, and fur pelts.
New York Colony Religion
From the days of New Netherland, the colony had religious diversity. While the Dutch Reformed Church was initially the official church of New Netherland, many groups were tolerated, including Lutherans, Jews, and Quakers. Over time, the Church of England became the official church, but religious diversity continued in the Province of New York.
New York Colony Slavery
Following the transition from Dutch to English control, slavery continued in New York Colony. However, two significant incidents took place that led to the passage of Slave Codes that significantly reduced the rights of slaves.
- In 1712, black slaves set fire to several buildings, resulting in the deaths of at least nine individuals who tried to extinguish the flames. 25 slaves were convicted of participating in the incident, which is known as the New York Slave Revolt, and 18 of them faced execution, some even subjected to torture.
- Rumors of additional slave rebellions persisted throughout the 1720s and 1730s. These tensions culminated in a 1741 investigation into a slave conspiracy. The plot allegedly involved setting fire to New York City, murdering its white population, and delivering the port to the Spanish, with whom Britain was at war. A year-long series of trials related to the conspiracy ended in the execution of 31 people by burning and hanging, including four whites, and the banishment of over 70 others.
Conflict Over the New Hampshire Grants
New York laid claim to the New Hampshire Grants until 1791 when the territory became the state of Vermont. Starting in 1741, New Hampshire Governor Benning Wentworth sold land in the region, which is how it became known as the New Hampshire Grants.
When the Crown established the region as belonging to New York, it set off a violent conflict between New York authorities and settlers who bought their land from New Hampshire. New York authorities tried to evict people, and a militia group known as the Green Mountain Boys formed, under the leadership of Ethan Allen and Seth Warner, fought back, protecting the property rights of the landowners.
New York Colony Timeline
The Native American Indians in the New York Region belonged to Algonquian or Iroquoian groups. Algonquian tribes like Mahican and Delaware lived in the East, while the Iroquois migrated and settled in the West.
Early 16th Century
Western Iroquoians established the League of Five Nations (or “League of Peace”). This league included the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca tribes. It ensured peace within the confederacy and asserted dominance over eastern Algonquin and non-League Iroquois to the west and south, like the Huron and Susquehanna peoples.
Seven provinces in the Low Countries, meeting in Utrecht, established the United Provinces and its governing body, the States-General. This alliance aimed to defend against Spain. The Dutch, through this unity, would enhance their standing among European nations and emerge as a leading commercial power in Western Europe. They expanded trade across continents, including Africa, Asia, and eventually the Americas.
The States-General officially incorporated the Dutch East India Company.
English captain Henry Hudson, working for the Dutch East India Company, sailed the Half Moon along the North American coast. His goal was to find the mythical Northwest Passage to Asia. On August 26, he entered Delaware Bay, and on September 12, he reached Manhattan Island.
During a second voyage to North America, this time under the English flag, Hudson explored the Canadian Shield, including Hudson Bay. However, his crew mutinied and abandoned him, along with a few others. The crew returned to England, and a search the following year failed to find Hudson.
Three Dutch businessmen established the United New Netherland Company. They secured a trading monopoly in the region known as New Netherland, spanning from Cape Cod to Delaware Bay, granted by the States-General. Their primary goal was to engage in the Fur Trade with the Indians. Although the company sent four expeditions to America, none of them were successful. By 1617, the United New Netherland Company dissolved, and its exclusive trading privileges were revoked.
A truce between Spain and the Netherlands ended, and the Dutch sought to expand their share of maritime and colonial trade, challenging Spain. In June, they established the Dutch West India Company, which started operations in 1623.
During the spring, the Dutch West India Company established the first settlement of the New Netherland colony by resettling approximately 30 Walloon families — French-speaking refugees from the southern Low Countries — at Fort Orange, which is now known as Albany, situated along the Hudson River.
In May, Peter Minuit, the first Director General of New Netherland, arrived at Manhattan Island. He acquired the island from Indians for goods valued at around 60 Dutch florins. The Indians viewed it as a land-use agreement, not exclusive possession. Minuit named the settlement New Amsterdam, and it became the colony’s primary settlement.
The Dutch West India Company changed its approach by concentrating settlers in New Amsterdam, rather than spreading them out through Dutch territory. Outposts like Fort Orange were limited to a small number of licensed fur traders.
The directors of the West India Company approved the Vryheden, also known as the “Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions.” The document laid the foundation for the Patroon System. To become a Patroon, qualified shareholders were required to transport a minimum of 50 settlers to New Netherland. Becoming a Patroon granted extensive land rights, including a tract of land measuring four leagues — over 70 miles in length — as well as judicial and administrative authority within the granted territory and limited access to the Fur Trade.
In March, New Sweden was founded at Fort Christina on Cape Henlopen, which was on the shores of Delaware Bay. The expedition, led by Peter Minuit, included Swedish and Dutch settlers. Over the next four years, expeditions carried a small number of settlers to the colony, which struggled.
Sir Edwin Plowden, an Englishman, established a settlement called “New Albion” at Salem Creek, located in the southern part of New Netherland. Plowden encountered various challenges, including a rebellious crew that deserted him and rivalry from New Sweden. New Albion failed and Plowden returned to England in 1648, where he faced imprisonment due to debts.
Kieft’s War, named after Governor William Kieft, started a period of conflict between New Netherland colonists and Indian tribes. Kieft’s policies caused the conflict, leading to significant loss of life and destruction in New Netherland. At one point, the colonists were pushed back to New Amsterdam. Kieft hired English mercenaries from Connecticut to carry out raids on the Indians, which turned the tide of the war. By 1645, the Dutch and Indians were weary of war and negotiated a peace treaty.
The Dutch West India Company’s trade monopoly with New Netherland ended. However, the company maintained its authority in policymaking and suggested addressing the labor shortage in New Netherland by increasing the use of African slaves. The company’s rationale was that European laborers were expensive to transport and less reliable as workers.
In May, Peter Stuyvesant, an experienced colonial administrator, assumed the role of Director-General of New Netherland.
The Treaty of Hartford was finalized between the Dutch and English, setting the boundary between New Netherland and the New England colonies as ten miles east of the Hudson River. It was a significant concession by New Netherland to the territorial claims of New England.
In September, Stuyvesant led an expedition into territory claimed by both New Netherland and New Sweden. He established Fort Casimir, 6 miles south of New Sweden’s Fort Christina. Fort Casimir was a sparsely populated outpost, with only 14 Dutch families residing there by the spring of 1653.
In England, Parliament passed the first Navigation Act, which triggered the First Anglo-Dutch War. Commercial restrictions and escalating tension between the Netherlands and England led to 20 years of conflict.
In May, Johann Rising led a New Sweden expedition that captured Fort Casimir. Stuyvesant responded by assembling a fleet of 7 Dutch ships, carrying more than 300 soldiers. The fleet sailed to Fort Casimir, captured it, and forced the surrender of Fort Christina. With the victories, New Sweden was merged into New Netherland.
Bakers in New York City went on strike, protesting low prices.
The First Espous War took place, as Dutch settlers fought with Esopus Indians. A group of Dutch settlers fired on a gathering of Esopus who were celebrating with brandy, which they had been given as payment for working on Dutch farms. The Esopus retaliated with raids on Dutch settlements and the war party laid siege to the walled settlement of Wiltwijck. The colonists received reinforcements from New Amsterdam, and the war conflict came to an end in July 1660, when the Indians agreed to exchange land for food.
The tumultuous times in England, including the English Civil Wars and Oliver Cromwell’s Interregnum, ended with the Stuart Restoration. King Charles II ascended to the throne. Soon after, English interest in New Netherland increased.
In July, the Council for Foreign Plantations appointed a committee to assess the possibility of seizing New Netherland through military action.
The Second Esopus War broke out in 1663. In June, New York leaders contacted the Esopus tribe, seeking to establish a treaty. The Esopus responded by expressing their custom of conducting unarmed and open peace talks.
On June 7, a party of Esopus arrived at Wiltwijck and were allowed inside the town. Unknown to the settlers at Wiltwijck, the Esopus had already attacked and destroyed the nearby village of Nieu Dorp, which is present-day Hurley, New York.
The Esopus spread out and launched a surprise attack, setting fire to houses and abducting women before eventually being repelled by the settlers. The Esopus managed to escape, and the settlers promptly repaired their defenses.
The Indians took roughly 45 women and children as prisoners, including Catherine Du Bois and her three children, one of whom was just a baby.
Throughout July, New York military forces searched for the Esopus but were unable to locate them. The Esopus responded by carrying out hit-and-run attacks. Finally, the Dutch secured the service of a Mohawk as a guide and gathered a force large enough into Esopus territory.
As the Dutch marched, they burned Esopus fields. Eventually, they engaged the Esopus and killed their chief, which ended the war and expanded the territory of New Netherland.
Meanwhile, Catherine’s husband, Louis Du Bois, organized a search party to look for his wife and children.
According to legend, about 10 weeks after the women and children were taken from Wiltwijck, the Indians took Catherine Du Bois and the baby, whose name was Sarah, and tied them to a pile of logs, intending to set fire to the wood. As the Esopus went to light the wood, Catherine started singing Psalm 137, which entertained them and they waited. When she finished, they asked her to sing more, which she did. Before she finished the last song, Dutch soldiers arrived and saved Catherine, Sarah, and the other captives.
King Charles II granted a large tract of land to his brother, James, Duke of York. It included the area between the Delaware River and the Connecticut River.
James was a director of the Royal African Company, competing with the Dutch in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. He was also an Admiral of the Royal Navy and looked to use his military power to challenge the Dutch and take New Netherland.
In April, a parliamentary committee released a report stating that the Dutch were England’s primary commercial competitors, justifying James’s intention to conquer New Netherland.
On August 28, an English expedition led by Richard Nicolls, appointed by James as Lieutenant Governor, arrived at the Hudson River near New Amsterdam. They demanded the formal surrender of New Netherland. Meanwhile, English forces from Connecticut took control of Long Island.
Stuyvesant decided to agree to the terms of surrender on August 29.
On September 8, a formal surrender treaty was signed, transferring the Dutch colony of New Netherland to England. At that point, it was a Proprietary Colony and the name was changed to New York.
The agreement preserved Dutch property rights, such as homes and land, and granted all European residents in the province the status of “free denizens,” regardless of their nationality.
As Proprietor, James gave substantial land grants to his supporters, covering the entire region between the Hudson River and the Delaware River. A significant portion would eventually become the New Jersey Colony.
Richard Nicolls, the Acting Governor of New York, issued the “Duke’s Laws,” the first English laws in New York. Initially, the laws only pertained to the towns of Long Island, most of which were English settlements before 1664. In 1674, the laws were applied to Manhattan Island and then extended to the entire colony by 1676.
In April, the Duke of York designated Francis Lovelace as the successor to Nicolls, and he assumed the role of Lieutenant Governor. Lovelace arrived in March 1668.
The Third Anglo-Dutch War started in the spring of 1672. During the conflict, the Dutch reoccupied New York for over a year, starting in July 1673. The 1674 Treaty of Westminster ended the war and returned New York to England.
Edmund Andros assumed the role of Lieutenant Governor in New York, which started a period of more stringent government oversight in New York. Andros formed an alliance with the Iroquois Confederacy and strengthened royal authority in New York. However, his approach and favoritism created political opposition. He also refused to convene the legislature, governing through courts of assize — county towns — which he controlled because he appointed the judges.
Following Bacon’s Rebellion, war parties from the Five Nations went south and raided the Virginia Piedmont Region, seeking to take control of the Piscataway and Susquehannock. Militia forces from Maryland and Virginia engaged the Iroquois.
In New York City, cartmen went on strike. 12 of them were charged with contempt and lost their jobs, which was the first time striking workers were prosecuted in America.
Louis DuBois and a group of French Huguenots, known as the New Paltz Patentees, bought 40,000 acres from the Esopus Indians. The land stretched from the Hudson River to the Shawangunk Mountains.
DuBois and the New Paltz Patentees established the town of New Paltz in present-day Ulster County, New York, on a small rise over the Wallkill River. The other Patentees were:
- Louis Bevier
- Pierre Deyo
- Christian Deyo
- Antoine Crispell
- Abraham DuBois
- Isaac Dubois
- Hugo Freer
- Abraham Hasbrouck
- Jean Hasbrouck
- Andries LeFevre
- Simon LeFevre
A smallpox outbreak spread across New York City, killing hundreds of people.
Coopers in the city tried to establish unified labor rates. They were indicted and convicted on charges of conspiracy. This was one of the first times legal means were used to discourage the formation of a union.
The Duke of York recalled Edmund Andros to England due to reports of civil unrest in the New York Colony. Unrest continued, leading the Duke to reevaluate the government.
In August, Thomas Dongan, the successor to Andros, arrived in New York, carrying instructions from James. These instructions ordered the establishment of a colony-wide legislature, for the purpose of easing political tensions.
In October, the legislature met at Fort James in October and produced the Charter of Liberties and Privileges. This document safeguarded individual freedoms and outlined the legislature’s powers. Although it was approved by Dongan, his council, and the Duke, it was never officially sanctioned by the Crown.
In 1684, King Charles II started to reorganize the administration of the colonies.
Dongan organized a conference at Albany between the Iroquois Confederacy and delegates from New York, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts. The purpose of the conference was to end hostilities between Virginia and the Iroquois Confederacy. A treaty was agreed to, known as “Lord Howard’s Treaty.” It was named after Lord Howard of Effingham, the Governor of Virginia.
From New York’s perspective, it was more important to ensure the Covenant Chain remained intact and the center of the Fur Trade remained at Albany. Ultimately, peace was achieved by appeasing the Iroquois:
- The Iroquois were allowed to move through the Piedmont Region to raid other Indian tribes, but they agreed to keep to the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains and stay away from English settlements and plantations.
- By allowing the Iroquois to pass through at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it essentially blocked English settlement, which allowed the Iroquois to use the region for hunting.
In February, King Charles II died and the Duke of York became King James II. Meanwhile, the Lords of Trade met and reviewed colonial charters, including New York’s. Based on the review, which indicated New York was straying from royal control, James revoked the New York Charter on March 3.
In October, the Edict of Nantes was revoked by King Louis XIV. French Huguenots were faced with a choice between converting to Catholicism, spending life in a prison or convent, or fleeing the country. There were about 800,000 Huguenots living in France and nearly 25 percent of them left France. A significant number of them immigrated to New York in the 1680s and 1690s.
In May, Governor Dongan received instructions from London informing him New York’s Charter was revoked.
Meanwhile, the Dominion of New England was established, which eventually included New York, New Jersey, and all the New England Colonies, and it was administered by a royally appointed Governor, Joseph Dudley, who was based in Boston.
Edmund Andros returned to America in 1686 and replaced Dudley as Governor. By 1686, New York was fully incorporated into the Dominion.
The French launched an expedition known as the Hudson Bay Expedition and attacked trading posts run by the Hudson’s Bay Company. The French captured several English trading posts, including Fort Albany in New York. In September, English forces tried to retake the fort but were defeated in the First Battle of Fort Albany.
In England, King James II was criticized for being Catholic and for his efforts to improve relations with France.
Opposition reached its peak in June when Parliament extended an offer to the throne to James II’s daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange, who ruled the Netherlands. On November 5, William, leading a small army, arrived in England to remove James II from the throne.
James responded by fleeing to France and scheming with King Louis XIV to retake the English throne, reinstate Catholic rule, and expand French borders. When France invaded the Rhineland, it started the Nine Years’ War in Europe, as Protestant nations fought to stop the expansion of Catholic France. The war carried over to North America as King William’s War (1688–1697).
William and Mary were established as joint monarchs after consenting to the English Bill of Rights, which was written by Parliament.
In April, the news that James had been overthrown reached Boston. A Boston crowd pursued and arrested Governor Andros, effectively ending the Dominion of New England.
Soon after, Jacob Leisler, a German immigrant and devout Calvinist, took power in New York, and Governor Francis Nicholson fled the colony. In June, Leisler issued a proclamation in the name of William and Mary.
Leisler was quick to abuse his power and in December 1689, William and Mary appointed Henry Sloughter as Governor of New York.
On February 9, a French expedition of 200 men, including Indian allies, attacked Schenectady, New York. Around 60 British and Dutch settlers were killed and 27 were taken as prisoners.
In April, Leisler organized a conference at Albany to address the French threat. Representatives from Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Connecticut attended, but the conference failed to accomplish anything.
In January, Richard Ingoldesby, who had been commissioned Lieutenant-Governor of New York, landed in New York City with two companies of soldiers. He demanded possession of Fort James, but Leisler refused to surrender it without an order from the King or the Governor.
Ingoldesby attacked the fort on March 17 but failed to capture it.
Soon after, Governor Sloughter arrived in New York and ordered Leisler to hand over the fort. Leisler refused until Sloughter was officially sworn in as Governor. Once that took place, Leisler complied and Sloughter had him arrested and charged with treason.
Leisler’s trial was held from March 31 to April 17, resulting in his conviction. He was executed on May 16.
During the summer, Sloughter unexpectedly died. Richard Ingoldesby assumed the role of Governor.
Benjamin Fletcher succeeded Ingoldesby. His administration was marred by corruption, including bribery and embezzlement from customs revenue. Fletcher also used connections with Indians to increase his personal wealth.
The Ministry Act established support for the Church of England in four New York counties, which was opposed by the Dutch Reformed Church and its congregations.
To address Dutch dissatisfaction, Governor Fletcher granted a charter of incorporation to the Dutch Reformed ministers. This effectively elevated the Dutch Reformed Church to the same status as the Church of England.
Richard Coote, 1st Earl of Bellomont became Governor of New York.
As war between England and France loomed, New York entered into a treaty with the Iroquois Confederacy, establishing a state of armed neutrality between the two sides. The Iroquois also reached similar agreements with the French. These treaties helped bring an end to the Beaver Wars.
The General Assembly passed an act granting suffrage to freeholders whose property had a net value of 40 pounds. This allowed approximately half of New York’s adult white males to vote.
A yellow fever epidemic led to the deaths of more than 10 percent of the population of New York City.
Queen Anne appointed her cousin, Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury, as Governor of New York and New Jersey. Cornbury’s tenure was controversial and scandalous, as he used questionable legal means to increase his power and was known for wearing the latest in English women’s fashion in public.
In 1702, Queen Anne’s War erupted between the English and the French. New York was the most vulnerable of the English Colonies because its frontier bordered French territories in the Great Lakes Region and St. Lawrence Region.
The General Assembly issued orders for the construction of two roads. One through New York County and Westchester County, leading to Connecticut. The other one was to go across Long Island to East Hampton.
John Lovelace, 4th Baron Lovelace of Hurley, replaced Lord Cornbury as Governor.
Paper money was issued for the first time by order of the General Assembly.
Richard Ingoldesby was the acting Governor of New York.
Robert Hunter replaced Ingoldesby as Governor.
The New York City Council established the city’s first slave market by declaring that all slaves for hire should gather at the Wall Street Market for the convenience of potential employers. As the 18th Century progressed, more than 10 percent of the city’s population would be enslaved, rising to 15 percent by the 1720s.
Fears of a slave revolt became a reality on the night of April 6–7 when approximately 25 slaves gathered and armed themselves. They set fire to outhouses and buildings and waited for white townspeople to respond to the alarm. When the townspeople arrived, the slaves attacked, resulting in several deaths. On April 7, a manhunt led to the capture or death of the slaves involved in the uprising. A total of 27 were tried for conspiracy, and 21 of them were found guilty and executed.
The Treaty of Utrecht ended Queen Anne’s War.
William Burnet became Governor of New Yori.
In September, a conference was held in Albany, with delegates from New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia meeting with leaders of the Iroquois Confederacy. An agreement was reached known as the Treaty of Albany, which was similar in scope to the 1684 Albany Agreement. The Iroquois were allowed to travel south, provided they did not cross into the Piedmont Region south of the Potomac River.
New York expanded its frontier defenses by building Fort Oswego on the Niagara frontier, at the location of a trading post that had been established two years earlier.
Governor Burnet was transferred to Massachusetts and replaced by John Montgomerie.
William Cosby was appointed Governor of New York. Like many other administrations, Cosby’s was plagued by corruption and controversy.
John Peter Zenger, the printer of the New York Weekly Journal, faced trial for libel when his newspaper, which opposed Governor Cosby, published editorials criticizing the governor. Zenger’s lawyers were successful and he was acquitted. The case legitimized political opposition to the Crown, which was represented by the Governor. It established the foundation for Freedom of the Press in America.
James Alexander, a prominent member of the anti-Cosby faction, wrote a detailed account of the case titled “Brief Narrative of the Case and Tryal of John Peter Zenger,” which Zenger published in 1736.
The General Assembly secured the right to make specific annual appropriations instead of relying on vague long-term grants, as determined by the Governor. The change essentially gave the Assembly control of colonial funds, including the salaries of the Governor and other appointees.
From October 24 through November 19, English revivalist George Whitefield preached to New York City crowds, estimated to be in the thousands. Whitefield was the most prominent evangelist of the First Great Awakening.
In April, striking bakers in New York City faced trial on charges of conspiracy. They had refused to bake bread for a week in protest of the high price of wheat. However, no convictions were made in the trial, establishing a precedent for the use of strikes as a tactic for protests by New York workers.
On April 8, Fort George caught fire and over the following weeks, a series of fires swept through the city, destroying both public and private buildings. Rumors spread that the fires were intentional and that slaves were planning a revolt., similar to the 1712 incident.
A 16-year-old indentured servant named Mary Burton came forward with information. She took advantage of the city leaders’ promise of immunity and a financial reward by testifying that she had overheard workers and slaves planning an uprising in the tavern where she worked. The testimony implicated the tavern owner, his wife, two of their slaves, and a prostitute, all of whom were tried and executed.
Similar to the Salem Witch Trials, Burton’s accusations continued, implicating more individuals, many of them black, as part of the conspiracy. The panic died down when Burton started accusing wealthy members of the city’s white upper class.
George Clinton became Governor of New York.
The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle ended King George’s War between the English and the French.
Following the war, the French strengthened their position in North America, particularly in the upper Ohio Valley. They sought to form an alliance with the Iroquois Confederacy, which was the only native group in the region still allied with the British.
The French constructed Fort Duquesne at the Forks of the Ohio — the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers at present-day Pittsburgh — an important location on the frontier.
To address the threat posed by the French and their Indian allies in the Ohio Valley, an intercolonial conference was held in Albany in June and July. 23 delegates from 7 colonies attended and met with Iroquois leaders, who were upset over English encroachment into their lands. The meetings successfully restored the Covenant Chain with the Iroquois.
After the negotiations with the Iroquois were completed, the colonial delegates discussed a formal plan of union, which was initially proposed by Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania. The Albany Plan of Union aimed to establish an intercolonial government to oversee frontier defenses. However, it was rejected by both the legislatures of the individual colonies and the British ministry.
Meanwhile, a Virginia militia expedition led by George Washington attempted to remove the French from Fort Duquesne. Washington led an attack on a French party at the Battle of Jumonville Glen and the French retaliated at the Battle of Fort Necessity. Washington was forced to surrender and return to Virginia. However, the battles initiated the last conflict between New France and the English Colonies — the French and Indian War.
British General Edward Braddock designed a three-pronged strategy to capture French forts in the Ohio Valley and the Great Lakes region, including Niagara and Crown Point near Lake George in the upper Hudson River Valley. Unfortunately, Braddock’s Expedition ended in failure, with Braddock and his forces suffering a massacre in July along the Monongahela River.
William Johnson’s expedition managed to defeat a combined force of French and Indian allies who had ambushed them at the Battle of Lake George. However, the victory came at a high cost, with Johnson’s forces suffering heavy casualties in the process, including the death of King Hendrick, an important Iroquois leader.
The war escalated as England and France declared war on each other. The French and Indian War spread to Europe as the Seven Years’ War.
William Johnson formed a military alliance with the Iroquois, who were considered British subjects.
In August, the British and their colonists suffered a significant defeat when the French captured Fort Oswego, leading to a general British retreat to Albany.
To raise revenue for defense, the New York General Assembly passed a Stamp Act, which will be followed by similar measures over the next three years.
In July, a British attack on French forces at Fort Ticonderoga ended in failure. The British were unable to breach the French outer defenses and suffered heavy casualties. The British regulars suffered over 1,600 casualties, while colonial militia units lost more than 330 men.
In New York City, King’s College graduated its first class.
The French and Indian War turned in favor of the British and the French were defeated at Fort Niagara in July, severing the link between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Meanwhile, Fort Ticonderoga fell to the British and colonial forces, and the French abandoned Crown Point.
On September 8, the French surrendered Montreal, the last step in the conquest of New France. The fighting in the North American portion of the war ended.
The Treaty of Paris ended the Seven Years’ War, with the French ceding their territory in North America to the British.
New York Colony APUSH Review
Use the following links and videos to study the New York Colony, the Middle Colonies, and the Colonial Era for the AP US History Exam. Also, be sure to look at our Guide to the AP US History Exam.
New York Colony APUSH Definition and Significance
The definition of New York Colony for APUSH is a colony established by the Dutch West India Company in the early 17th century, originally known as New Netherland. It included parts of present-day New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut. In 1664, the English seized control of New Netherland and renamed it New York in honor of the Duke of York, who later became King James II of England. The colony was known for its diverse population, with Dutch, English, and other European settlers.
The significance of New York Colony for APUSH is its critical role in the Fur Trade, and its strategic location made it a center for trade and commerce. Later, it became one of the Original 13 Colonies and played a significant role in the American Revolution and American Revolutionary War.