As famed English explorer Henry Hudson began his exploration into North America, never would he imagine what he would soon discover. After joining the Dutch East India Company in 1609, he became the commander of one of the richest colonizing companies in all of the world. After crossing the Atlantic Ocean that same year, Hudson and his crew traveled as far as the Chesapeake Bay before returning up the coast to explore a peninsula and its giant river, later to be known as the Hudson River. “For more than a week Hudson and his men explored the Lower Bay, marveling at its wild beauty and fertility.[i]” Upon hearing his discovery, many European nations took to wanting to know more about North America and its offerings to wealthy nations. By 1625, the Dutch West India Company wanted to exploit the trade down further to the lower part of the Hudson River. The river as a whole was used for bartering as well as encouraged the trade of fur and pelts, as well as used for fishing and hunting. The Dutch West India Company sent a group to claim the territory between the Connecticut and Delaware Rivers, with Peter Minuit as the company’s leader. In order to avoid war and conflict amongst the local Native American tribe the Lenape, “Minuit arranged to purchase Manhattan Island from the resident Indians for sixty guilders worth of trade goods.[ii]” In his report back to the company about the territory surrounded by the Hudson River, he stated, “..the land is suited for growing tobacco and various kinds of grain, it would be well to take along proper persons to cultivate these.[iii] With this report, the encouragement of establishing a settlement came into full effect as the population of the island began to double in size. The settlers relied heavily on the Hudson River. The river was not only used as a source of irrigation and water supply but also as another barrier of protection from oncoming invaders. The river has served as a travel way for boats, potentially carrying trade cargo imports and exports back to the nations and to the colonies
[i] Burrows, Edwin G., and Mike Wallace. Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
[ii] Berman, Milton. “Founding of New Amsterdam.” Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2019.
[iii] Peter Minuit, and G. B. Keen. “Letter of Peter Minuit Proposing the Founding of the Colony of New Sweden.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 6, no. 4 (1882): 458.