Commercial expansion of the Netherlands.—During the reign of Philip II occurred the revolt in the Netherlands. Spanish political and commercial restrictions, and the establishment of the Inquisition, united the great commercial cities, the nobles, and the common people of the northeastern provinces in a rebellion which did not cease until the Hollanders had secured virtual independence by the truce of 1609. During the struggle Dutch ships raided the Spanish and Portuguese trade routes. As early as 1577 a trade to the White Sea was begun. Soon Dutch ships were trading to Italy and the Baltic, and by 1598 they had extended their commerce to Alexandria, Tripoli on the Syrian coast, and Constantinople, to the Cape Verde Islands and the Guinea coast. The desire to reach India influenced Dutch statesmen to attempt to find a northeast passage. Between 1594 and 1597 four expeditions were sent out; they failed to find the passage but gained considerable knowledge of Nova Zembla and Spitzbergen.
East Indian trade.—For years Dutch sailors had been employed by the Portuguese and were well acquainted with the routes to India and America. In 1596 a company was organized to open a trade with the Far East; their fleet sailed around the Cape of Good Hope, stopped at Madagascar, and then proceeded to Java and the Moluccas, returning home the next year. Several companies were immediately formed, and in 1598 twenty-two vessels sailed by the Cape of Good Hope route for the East, and Olivier van Noort passed through the Straits of Magellan and circumnavigated the earth. In 1602 the States General chartered the United East India Company. Several fleets were despatched and succeeded in gaining a foothold in Ceylon and along the coasts of India, in Java, the Moluccas, and various other places. The traders met with great opposition from the Portuguese and Spaniards, but when peace was made in 1609 the Dutch were given the right of trading to Spanish ports outside of Europe, and they soon firmly established their power in the Far East where they absorbed much of Portugal's commerce.
Henry Hudson.—The East India Company hoped to find a shorter route to India and in 1609 employed an English mariner, Henry Hudson, to search for a northwest passage. Meeting with ice and storms, he headed his ship, the Half Moon, toward the west. Sighting land at Newfoundland, he examined the New England coast, rounded Cape Cod, and sailed to Virginia and southward. Turning north, he probably ran into Chesapeake Bay, certainly entered Delaware Bay, and then sailed northward to what is now New York harbor. The Hudson River was explored to a point above Albany and friendly relations with the Iroquois were established. The East India Company, however, was making such handsome profits in the East that the furs of New Netherlands failed to attract it.
The Cape Horn route discovered.—The Dutch were still hopeful of finding another route to India, and when Jacques le Maire quarreled with the directors of the East India Company, he planned to form a separate corporation and seek a route south of the Straits of Magellan. The people of Hoorn assisted him in fitting out two vessels which were placed under the command of William Corneliaz Schouten. On the long voyage the smaller vessel was destroyed, but Schouten with the larger one in 1616 discovered Cape Horn.
Dutch activities in the Hudson River region, 1610-1621.—The Hudson River region was visited by traders in 1610-1611, and in 1612 Dutch merchants sent Christianson and Block to Manhattan Island to engage in the fur trade. In 1613 Cornelius May was also sent over. The next year Fort Nassau, later named Fort Orange, was built near the present site of Albany. An extensive exploration of the coast was also made, Block sailing along the northern shore of Long Island, examining the lower waters of the Connecticut River, and exploring Narragansett Bay and Cape Cod. The result of these activities was the formation, in 1614, of the New Netherlands Company, which was given the monopoly of the trade between the fortieth and forty-fifth parallels. An important fur trade was rapidly developed in the Hudson Valley and exploration of the coast was continued. In 1616 Hendrickson examined Delaware Bay, and in 1620 the same region and Chesapeake Bay were visited by May. The southern extremity of New Jersey still bears the name of the Dutch explorer.
The West India Company.—One of the most enterprising Dutch merchants was William Usselincx, who had long hoped to profit by the opening of West Indian trade. The idea was opposed by the East India Company and by some of the Dutch statesmen, especially Olden Barnevelt, who feared that it would bring about new difficulties with Spain. In spite of this, Dutch vessels appeared in Guiana and the Antilles, and in 1613 settlements were attempted in Guiana at Essequibo and Berbice. In 1618 Olden Barnevelt fell from power and Usselincx immediately became active in the formation of a company. In 1621 the West India Company was chartered, receiving a monopoly of Dutch trade for twenty-four years on the coast of Africa as far as the Cape, and for America and the islands east of New Guinea. Usselincx, believing that the directors had too much power and the shareholders too little, and desiring a colonizing rather than a trading corporation, severed his connection with the company and departed for Sweden, where he interested Gustavus Adolphus in commercial enterprises.
Dutch settlements in Brazil, Guiana, and the Antilles.—Settlements were now established by the "Beggars of the Sea" all the way from Brazil to Hudson River, and there were prospects that the Caribbean Sea would become a Dutch instead of a Spanish lake. Brazil was the most important base. Bahía, taken in 1624, lost in 1625, and recaptured in 1627 by the celebrated Piet Heyn, was again lost, but by 1637 Olinda, Recife and Pernambuco had been captured in spite of determined resistance. Prince Maurice of Nassau now took possession of Brazil from Bahía to the Amazon River, and established there a Dutch state, with its capital at Mauritiópolis. In spite of liberal Dutch rule, however, and of an alliance now with Holland against Spain (1641), the Brazilians arose, and after years of heroic fighting expelled the intruders (1661). Meanwhile the Dutch had established colonies in Guiana at Berbice, Aprouage, and Pomeroon, as well as at Essequibo. In the Antilles they had settlements at Curaçao, Buen Aire, Aruba (1634), St. Eustatius, Saba (1635), and St. Martin (1638). During the same period the West India Company had established a flourishing colony on the northern mainland and called it New Netherlands.
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