If I could choose a time and place to live in from our studies in our textbook I would probably choose to live in present-day New York City when it was known to be New Netherland. In 1609 when Henry Hudson sailed into New York Harbor in search of a Northwest Passage to Asia, he discovered an area abundant in animals whose fur could be traded and Native Americans who were more than willing to make these exchanges of goods with them. New Netherland would have been one of the best places to live from what we study because in the early seventeenth century, the Netherlands was a leader in the world’s economy, with Amsterdam being the center of shipping and banking for Europeans.
This was one of the Netherlands’ golden ages. They also placed liberty at the top of their list of priorities. Two freedoms unknown to the rest of the world were held by those living in New Netherland—freedom of press and freedom to privately practice any religion. Those living in New Netherland were lucky to enjoy more freedoms than any other colonists living elsewhere in North America. Though there was no elected assembly or town council, the governor would still call on prominent citizens for their input on certain issues. And in terms of religion, the Dutch long prided themselves on their religions tolerance.
Any religion could be practiced so long as it was privately. However begrudging Catholics were about it, religious dissent was indeed tolerated in New Netherland. Unlike Puritan New England for example, no one in New Netherland was forced to attend the official church, nor was anyone executed for holding the wrong religious beliefs.And when it came to slaves, even they possessed rights in the eyes of the law.
While the Dutch dominated the Atlantic slave trade in the early seventeenth century, in New Netherland allowed their slaves to have “half-freedom,” a concept in which slaves paid a fee to the Dutch West India Company and work when called upon, but were otherwise allowed to support on land given 130to them. The Dutch also came with the intent to trade in North America, not to conquer. Dutch authorities forbade settlement prior to payment in areas where they recognized the sovereignty of Indians. Though they certainly weren’t free from conflict with Indians, they related to them on the level of being fellow victims of Spanish oppression and therefore treated them more fairly than some British colonies.
As a female, I feel that another reason the Dutch settlement in North America would be the best fit for me is because married women had greater independence here than in any other colony at this time in American history. Women in New Netherland kept their own individualities even after marriage. They were allowed to borrow money, go to court, and even own property. It didn’t automatically fall under ownership of their husband.
Husbands would even will their positions to their widows and daughters, not only to their sons.Overall, I think New Netherland in the early seventeenth century would have been the most ideal environment for me. With it’s religious freedom, independent females, and better treatment of Indians and Africans than was normal in American colonies, I think that it would have been the lesser of evils in early America.