To understand the reason for Dutch immigration it helps to have an overview of the history of the people of Holland, also referred to as the Netherlands. Due to the central location of Holland the Dutch people originally intermingled with many other ethnic groups and ancient tribes such as the Saxons, the Franks, the Slavs, the Celts and the Gauls. During the Middle Ages the Christianization of the Dutch people replaced the tribal structures. The tribes merged to form the Dutch race sharing the same identity, language, culture and many similar physical characteristics. The first Christian religion of Holland was Roman Catholic but in 1517 Martin Luther initiated the Protestant Reformation which resulted in the whole of Northern Europe, with the exception of Ireland, coming under the influence of Protestantism. Most of the people living in the North, South and West of Holland were Protestant led by Desiderius Erasmus and the majority of those living in the Southeast remained Catholic. Also refer to Examples of PUSH and PULL Factors of Dutch Immigration.
History of Dutch Immigration to America: The Major Waves of Dutch Immigration
The history of Dutch Immigration to America began as the first explorers and traders arrived in the New World. The Dutch settled the second colony in America they called New Netherland, which would later become known as New York. There were three major Dutch immigration waves to America.
The first wave of Dutch immigration was during the 1600's when the Dutch West Indies Company sponsored explorers to the New World and established the Patroon land grant system
The second major wave of Dutch immigration began during the 1840’s, sparked by religious, political and economic factors in Holland
The third wave of Dutch immigration followed the end of World War II in the late 1940's
History of Dutch Immigration to America in the 1600's: Henry Hudson
The history of Dutch Immigration to America began in the 1600's with the explorations of Henry Hudson (1565 – 1611). Captain Henry Hudson was English but when he failed to obtain backing from London he signed a contract with the Dutch United East India Company on January 8, 1609. Hudson sailed on his ship the Half Moon to the New World. His expedition passed the Jamestown colony and he sailed on reaching the mouth of the 'Hudson River' and claimed the land for Holland.
History of Dutch Immigration to America in the 1600's: Colonial America - Adriaen Block
The history of Dutch Immigration to America moved on in the 1600's when Adriaen Block (c. 1567 – 1627), a Dutch private trader explored various regions of the New World and in 1611 established the first Dutch settlements in Rhode Island and Connecticut. The first Dutch settlement is believed to be Block Island named after Adriaen Block. The Block Island settlement was quickly abandoned and colonists did not return there until 1661.
History of Dutch Immigration to America in the 1600's: Colonial America - New Netherland
In 1614 the first Dutch explorers, Adriaen Block, Hendrick Christiaensen, and Cornelius Jacobsen Mey, claimed land which became known as New Netherland (Nieuw-Nederlandt) that covered areas of the Mid-Atlantic States which would become known as New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Connecticut. New Netherland was first established specifically for trading purposes and backed by Dutch trade companies. Fort Nassau trading post was established in 1614 within present-day Albany, New York by Hendrik Christiansen and Jacob Eelkens. Hendrik Christiansen was appointed the first Director of the New Netherland. The explorers made trade agreements with the Algonquian and Mohican Native American Indian tribes. The history of Dutch Immigration to America was therefore started by people who were hoping to make a profit.
History of Dutch Immigration to America in the 1600's: Colonial America - The Dutch Fleets
The Dutch were well equipped to start the colonization of New Netherland. Holland had large merchant and shipping fleets and in the 1600's about 10% of Dutch adult males were sailors. At this time the Dutch were great diplomatic and trading allies of the Scandinavian countries. The Scandinavians supplied the Dutch with the timber needed to build their ships. Due to these close alliances, immigrants from Scandinavia came across in Dutch ships and settled among the Dutch in New Netherland.
History of Dutch Immigration to America in the 1600's: Colonial America - Fort Orange
The Dutch were keen to exploit the natural resources of the New World, especially in relation to the fur trade. In 1624, Dutch merchants, working with the Dutch West India Company, traveled to America and established another trading post and settlement called Fort Orange, on the west bank of the Hudson. 30 families arrived on the ship called the New Netherland, under the command of Captain Cornelis Jacobsz May. Additional Protestant colonists arrived a year later in 1625. Hendrik Christiansen, the Director of the New Netherland, was killed by Native Indians and the Dutch needed a replacement. A man called Peter Minuit (1580 – 1638) was appointed to the position by the Dutch West Indian Company.
History of Dutch Immigration to America in the 1600's: Colonial America - The Patroon System
The history of Dutch Immigration to America and the story of the first Dutch colonists were given a boost in 1629 as officials from the Dutch West India Company established the feudal Patroon System. The Patroon system, a Charter of Privileges and Exemptions, was a document written by the Dutch West India Company in an effort to induce colonists to settle in New Netherland. The charter offered a generous grant of land to any member of the Dutch West India Company who could bring to and settle 50 persons in New Netherland. The members who took the grant of land were given the position of patroon, or lord, of the land.
History of Dutch Immigration to America in the 1600's: Colonial America - Kiliaen van Rensselaer
The only successful settlement started under the patroon system was by land chartered by Kiliaen van Rensselaer in 1630 on the upper Hudson River. Kiliaen van Rensselaer became the founding patroon of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck, although he never visited his colony in person. The patroonship was maintained intact by Rensselaer descendants for more than two hundred years and the family were amongst the richest people in America.
History of Dutch Immigration to America in the 1600's: Colonial America - Peter Minuit
Peter Minuit was appointed Director of the New Netherland (1626 - 1633) and chose the island of Manhattan as its capital. The major port on Manhattan was named New Amsterdam (which would later be changed to New York). The colonists began to independently trade furs rather than working for the Dutch West India Company and the Dutch West Indian Company blamed Peter Minuit. His position as Director-General was terminated. Peter Minuit was then employed by the Swedish West India Company and established Delaware as the New Sweden colony in America.
History of Dutch Immigration to America in the 1600's: Colonial America - Peter Stuyvesant
Peter Stuyvesant (1592-1672) became the last Dutch Director-General of the colony of New Netherland from 1647. The population of Dutch Americans reached about 2,000. Peter Stuyvesant overthrew the Swedish authority in the region and suppressed Native Indian uprisings. He also settled the boundary between New Netherland and Connecticut that involved the sacrifice of a large amount of lands. Peter Stuyvesant, an ardent supporter of the Dutch West India Company, came into conflict with the the leading burghers who sent the famous Vertoogh, or Remonstrance, to the states-general asking for burgher government and other reforms and in 1653 the first municipal government for the city of New Amsterdam was established, modeled after the cities of Holland.
History of Dutch Immigration to America in the 1600's: Holland supports Dutch Colonization
Dutch Immigration to America became an official policy in Holland in 1656 when the Dutch state decided to support New Netherland. The government issued a proclamation stating that "all mechanics and farmers who can prove their ability to earn a living here shall receive free passage for themselves, their wives and children." The power exerted by the Dutch West India Company commercial enterprise declines.
Dutch Immigration to America in the 1600's: New Netherland taken by the British and becomes New York
Dutch Immigration to America remained at a low level, the cautious Dutch people were reluctant to move to the dangerous, unknown lands of the New World. The Dutch Immigration to America had resulted in a population of less than 8,000 Dutch-Americans in America. Disaster struck the colonists as the Dutch lose New Amsterdam to the British. In March 1664, King Charles II granted his brother, the Duke of York, a proprietorship between the Delaware and Connecticut Rivers, which included New Netherland. The Duke of York sent Colonel Richard Nicolls, with a fleet of 4 ships and 300-400 men, to take possession of the lands. The Dutch surrendered New Netherlands without a fight and it was renamed re-named as New York, after the Duke of York. The British takeover halted further immigration from the Netherlands and Peter Stuyvesant was blamed for the loss of New Netherland to the English. The English did not impose severe restraints on the Dutch colonists and the vast majority remained in New York and the Dutch language and culture flourished.
History of Dutch Immigration to America in the 1700's
Dutch Immigration to America was very slow in the 1700's. The political, religious and economic conditions in Holland were stable in the 1700's compared to many other European countries and few Dutch people were motivated to take the long hazardous journey from Holland to face and uncertain future in America. Some Dutch immigrants of the 1700's did however take up the offer of free land, joining Dutch colonists in New York and established other Dutch settlements particularly in New Jersey and South Carolina.
History of Dutch Immigration to America in the 1700's: The American War of Independence
Dutch Immigration to America in the 1700's was further halted by the political conflict that had began to grow between Britain and the colonies. In 1775 the American War of Independence (1775 - 1783) erupted. The Dutch-Americans were divided. The majority supported the rebels and the Dutch Republic had been secretly providing ammunition, supplies and weapons to the revolutionaries. Others, especially the merchants, preferred to maintain a neutral position in the conflict. The Dutch support of the rebels and the continuing trade between Holland and America during the revolution led to the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780–1784).
History of Dutch Immigration to America in the 1700's: Statistics
The 1790 U.S. census showed that Dutch Immigration to America had resulted in about 100,000 people claiming to be Dutch-born or Dutch-ancestry. The number would substantially increase during the next wave of Dutch immigration to America during the 1800's. Dutch Immigration to America started slowly in the early 1800's but this all changed due to economic disasters, political turmoil and religious tensions in Holland.
History of Dutch Immigration to America in the 1800's: The Seceder Movement
A new religious movement called the Seceders emerged in 1834 prompted by a deep concern for the creeping liberalism in the Protestant Dutch Reformed Church that was moving away from its deep commitment to Calvinism. The Dutch government attempted to repress the pious Seceder movement and religious persecution led to a great wave of immigration to America. Total congregations settled in the farming regions of the mid-west favoring Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan. They were led by men such as Albertus Christiaan van Raalte (1811-1876) and Henry Scholte (1805-1868), the founder of the Holland Colony of Marion County. Nearly half of the Dutch immigrants between 1845 and 1849 belonged to the dissenting Protestant Seceder movement.
Dutch Immigration to America in the 1800's: Catholic immigrants led by Theodore J. van den Broek
In 1848 Father Theodore J. van den Broek (1783-1851) led a large group of Catholic Dutch emigrants who settled in the areas around the communities of Little Chute, Holland Town, and Green Bay in Wisconsin.
History of Dutch Immigration to America in the 1800's: The 'Hungry Forties'
Holland, like many other European countries, suffered from serious crop failures including the potato blight (1845-1849) which led to great poverty, hunger, disease and destitution, referred to as the ' Hungry Forties'. Dutch Immigration to America increased again following the European Revolutions of 1848 as peasants remonstrated against the terrible conditions. The failure of the Dutch revolutionists led to a small wave of political refugees who fled to America.
History of Dutch Immigration to America in the 1800's: The Second Wave of Immigration
During the second wave of Dutch immigration during the mid 1800's over 250,000 Dutch immigrants entered the United States - it was called the Great Migration. Among Dutch emigrant family heads, 60% were farmers and agricultural laborers. Holland had been hit by the agricultural revolution and the influx of cheap American wheat leading to a massive decline in grain prices. The flow was halted by the outbreak of the American Civil War. Those who came after the Civil War tended to be individuals who were stimulated by letters from family and friends already established in America. Up to this period there were no immigration restrictions in America.
History of Dutch Immigration to America in the 1800's: Immigration Restrictions and Ellis Island
In the 1880s there was another great agricultural crisis in the northern Netherlands and about 75,000 Dutch people immigrated to America desperate for new land and new opportunities. The agricultural crisis hit many countries across Europe and many turned to the United States where industries were booming during the Industrialization of America. The 1880's witnessed a massive increase in immigration to America and between 1881 - 1890 a total of 5,246,613 immigrants flooded into the US. There were calls for the US government to restrict immigration and various restrictive immigration laws were passed. In 1892 the Ellis Island immigration center (1892 - 1954) was opened.Preference was shown to the "Old Immigrants" and few Dutch immigrants were turned away.
History of Dutch Immigration to America in the 1900's
From 1900 to 1914 another 75,000 Dutch emigrants made their way through Ellis Island to start a new life in the US. Dutch immigration dropped significantly during the World Wars of the 1900's. After WW2 60,000 Dutch-Indonesian migrants arrived from Indonesia, formerly known as the Dutch East Indies, via the Netherlands.
History of Dutch Immigration to America in the 1900's: The 1953 Flood Disaster
The final surge of Dutch immigration to America occurred following the 1953 Flood Disaster (Watersnoodramp). The flood disaster resulted in 1,836 deaths and the widespread destruction of property. After the flood disaster in the Netherlands, the US Refugee Relief Act provided for 15,000 ethnic Dutch with at least 50% European blood and immaculate legal and political track records to immigrate to America.
Dutch Immigration to America
Since 1820 nearly 360,000 people have emigrated to the United States from Holland. This level of immigration amounted to 0.7% of the total foreign immigration during this period. According to the 2011 United States Census, 4,810,511 Americans, claimed Dutch ancestry. It is little wonder that Dutch immigration to America has had such significant impact on the culture of Americans.
Dutch Immigration to America Facts Sheet and Timeline for kids
Important facts about the history of Dutch Immigration to America and US laws that effected the migrants from Holland are contained in the following facts sheet and history timeline for kids.
Dutch Immigration to America Fact Sheet and Timeline for Kids