The Dutch – people from the Netherlands – came to America in two waves. The first wave came at the very beginning of the period of European settlement. These Dutch established the colony of New Netherland in 1624, only a few years after the English arrived in Virginia and Massachusetts.
They founded settlements along the Hudson River and on Long Island in present-day New York, and in nearby New Jersey. In 1626, Dutch settlers bought the island of Manhattan, at the mouth of the Hudson River, from local Indians. There they established the village of New Amsterdam (now New York City). It soon became a thriving town.
When the Dutch surrendered their colony to the English in 1664, hundreds of Dutch families remained. Descendants of those families – the Vanderbilts and the Roosevelts, for example – have played an important role in the nation’s history.
A second wave of Dutch immigrants began arriving in the nineteenth century. They came seeking more opportunity than the crowded Netherlands could offer. Many settled in Michigan and other Midwestern states. They were admired by their neighbors for their hard work and good sense. Today, one famous celebration of America’s Dutch heritage is the annual Tulip Festival in Holland, Michigan.
Many place names in southern New York State – Brooklyn, Harlem, Flushing, the Catskills, the Bowery – are based on Dutch words.