Atlantic World > Dutch emigration to North America in the 19th century

 Emigrants in New York

In 1664, during the Second Anglo-Dutch War, a British naval squadron sailed into New Amsterdam harbour, guns pointed threateningly at the small town. Governor Peter Stuyvesant found to his fury that the inhabitants were unwilling to put up any resistance against the superior power. The town and the colony of New Netherland were handed over to the English. New Amsterdam became New York.

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Dried up?
This did not mean the end of the Dutch presence in America, although it did cause the influx of Dutch immigrants to run dry for a long time to come. This changed early in the nineteenth century. At first dozens and eventually hundreds of Dutch emigrants, forced by the adverse economic conditions in their home country, left for the United States of North America. 

A Christian exodus
A spreading conflict within the protestant church resulted from 1846 onwards in groups of Dutch people leaving for the American Midwest for religious reasons. There they settled in communities that exerted a great appeal on their relatives left behind in the home country.

Shifting circumstances
Emigration to the New World depended on the situation in the Netherlands as well as on the opportunities offered by America. The outbreak of the American Civil War (1861-1865), with the attendant economic crisis, resulted in a temporary decrease of the influx of immigrants. The Homestead Act of 1862, offering land cheaply to immigrants, caused great interest and made immigration catch up after the Civil War.  More than twenty years later emigration peaked when more than nine thousand Dutch people moved to America. 

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