How Dutch is the United States?

Many American geographical names (Harlem, Flushing, Brooklyn), landmarks (Wall Street), families (Roosevelt, Van Buren) and words (dollar, cookie, boss, coleslaw) originate from the 17th-century Dutch colony New Netherland on Manhattan. Some five million Americans are of Dutch descent. The Dutch conceptions of religious tolerance and multiculturalism had a tremendous impact on the construction of the independent American Republic. The American Declaration of Independence (1776) is so similar to the Dutch Act of Abjuration (1581) that John Adams went as far as to say that “the origins of the two Republics are so much alike that the history of one seems but a transcript from that of the other.” According to American author Russell Shorto, it is not the early English settlements or the Pilgrim’s colony that represents a model of what America was to become, but rather the Dutch settlement on the island of Manhattan, “the first tolerant, multiethnic, upwardly mobile society on America’s shores.”

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