Colonial New York



New York as New Netherlands

In 1609, Henry Hudson sailed across the Hudson River, and he claimed all the land touching it for the Dutch naming it "New Netherlands". When they landed, the natives were eager to trade with them.
In 1621, the Dutch West India Company was granted a charter to settle in New America.
In 1626, Peter Minuit sold trinkets to traded trinkets with Native Americans for Manhattan Island, so he's counted as the founder of New Netherlands. He had goals for New Netherlands to become an international Dutch trading post, and the goals were achieved.

Peter Stuyvesant was the first governor.

New Netherlands/York Becomes English

King Charles II "gives" the Duke of York New Netherlands.

The Dutch and the English have conflict, but in 1664 Dutch power of New Netherlands is transferred to the English, and not a single canon is shot from either side. New Netherlands is renamed New York.

As the years went by, New York became more and more English.

By 1700, there were about 20,000 people - double the amount when the colony was owned by the Dutch.

Life In the New York Colony


New York was based on economic opportunity due to the trading posts there. This led to a leeway for religious freedom for everyone including Quakers, Catholics, Lutherans, Jews and others. However, Protestanism could have been said to be the main religion since both the Dutch and the English were Protestant.

The colonists exported agricultural products and natural resources. It was one of the breadbasket colonies, since New York was one of the most wheat and grain producing colonies. New York was one of the big food producing region that included corn and wheat and livestock, including beef and pork.

Colonists made their living in many ways; fur trade, lumber trade, and as merchants and tradesmen, although most colonists were farmers. Other industries included the production of iron ore, lumber, textiles, furs and shipbuilding. Construction was made possible with all the money pouring in, and people of all classes benefited from the city's growth. Poor people became rich, and rich people became richer.


New York had a mild climate with warm summers and mild winters that were suited to agriculture and farming.

Farming was an important way of life in colonial New York, not just to feed families, but also to allow trade of products. Farms grew corn and tobacco near Manhattan Island, and potatoes, corn, grains, rice and indigo further up the Hudson River. A typical farm was 50 to 150 acres consisting of a house, barn, yard and fields.

Government/ Rights of the People

The New York colony was a proprietary colony until the English crown took over and it became a royal colony. Even though the colony was English, the Charter of Liberties gave free rights for Dutch, English and other colonists to settle in New York. Colonists were allowed freedom of religion and right to a trial jury. They also could elect an assembly to represent themselves to vote for a governor, who was appointed by King Charles II.

Social Norms

As wealth increased in the colony, class divisions came. At the top were wealthy merchants, middle class were people who owned less property but still owned something, and last were the people who made lower financial values, but they weren't actually poor. Wealthy people wore big powdered wigs and fancy dresses. But when New York started making profits, people on the lower part of social hierarchy could make their own homes as they made more profit, and even constructors and workers made profits as well.

A Day in the Life of a New York Colonist

People in New York led very interesting lives. Girls and women had to cook, clean, make clothing, soap, butter, and candles, take care of children, and make cloth. Boys and men had to build and fix things, work in the garden, hunt, make tools, and raise the animals. Like in New England, children attended a one-room school house where they were taught religion and prayers, reading, writing, and manners. When their work was done, women sewed, had corn husk weaving contests, or quilted, and men had shooting contests, foot races, and horse races. Children played marbles and hopscotch and made kites to fly.

New York is the Best, and Other Colonies Are Not

Sources Cited

  • Paulson, Timothy J. New York. New York: Children's, 2004. Print.
  • Somervill, Barbara A. The New York Colony. Chanhassen, MN: Child's World, 2004. Print.
  • Teitelbaum, Michael. New Hampshire. New York: Children's, 2004. Print.
  • Pobst, Sandy. Virginia. New York: Children's, 2004. Print.
  • Somervill, Barbara A. The Massachusetts Colony. Chanhassen, MN: Child's World, 2004. Print.