Screenshot 2019-07-29 at 12.56.34 PM.png
Posts in British Era
The Cartographic Cudgel: New York, New England, and Colonial Boundary Disputes

The Cartographic Cudgel: New York, New England, and Colonial Boundary Disputes

By Nathan Braccio

In many senses, New York (and New Amsterdam/New Netherlands) should be considered the center of cartography in Colonial North America. Starting with the skilled Dutch cartographers, the mapping of New York was more regular and detailed then that of other colonies, including its neighbors in New England. As Patricia Seed has argued, the Dutch believed detailed records legitimized their claim to the region.[1] English colonists in New England did not treat maps the same way. They came from more parochial backgrounds in which maps were novelties and curiosities, not useful tools. However, when New York fell into English hands, a different kind of Englishman arrived there. Its new administrators, such as Governor Edmund Andros, were not parochial English townsmen like their New England neighbors. Like the Dutch, they saw the power of maps and wielded them as powerful weapons. The New York City-based administration of Andros would eventually come to export mapping as a tool and force the colonists of the region to acknowledge their import. Under Andros and other governors sent from England, both New York and New England became visualized through countless property maps and detailed maps of the boundaries between colonies.

Read More
"Most Everything Was Still Dutch”: Against the British Era Declension Narrative

"Most Everything Was Still Dutch”: Against the British Era Declension Narrative

By Joyce D. Goodfriend

The tenacity with which many Dutch commoners held to their native language — even as it diverged from the Dutch spoken in the Netherlands — did not escape the notice of influential New Yorkers. In the midst of the hotly contested election of 1768, politicians courting the vote of the city’s Dutch-speakers arranged to print a Dutch version of “A Kick for the Whipper by Sir Isaac Foot,” a partisan essay, in the New-York Gazette. In February 1775, when the printer of the New-York Journal published the “whole proceedings of the continental congress, held in Philadelphia in September and October 1774,” he alerted readers that his edition included “the principal parts, translated into Low Dutch.” Improbable as it may seem in light of the fact that English had long been “the language where power... resided,” Dutch remained a living language in New York City long after members of the elite assumed it would be displaced by English.

Reprinted from Who Should Rule at Home? Confronting the Elite in British New York City, by Joyce D. Goodfriend. Copyright © 2017 by Cornell University. Used by permission of the publisher, Cornell University Press.

Read More
​Who Put the Queen in “Queens”?

​Who Put the Queen in “Queens”?

By Katie Uva

Each of the boroughs has its own naming history. The Bronx is named after early settler Jonas Bronck. Brooklyn comes from a Dutch word meaning “marsh” or “broken land.” Manhattan derives from a Lenape word which has been translated variously as “land of many hills,” and, more recently, “the place where we get wood for bows.” Henry Hudson himself is said to have named Staten Island Staaten Eylandt, after the Staaten Generaal, the Dutch parliament.

Read More