Ruling the waves

By GREG COOK  |  June 23, 2009

Anti-Dutch propaganda from this fighting remains with us today in the phrases "Dutch courage" and "Dutch treat." But the legacy of the Dutch Golden Age is deeply rooted in the present United States. The 1581 Dutch Act of Abjuration, which announced the split from Spain, was a model for our Declaration of Independence. As the republic threw off outside control and religious oppression, it offered relative tolerance to groups like the Puritans, who went on to help found New England. America's wide-open, on-the-make capitalism is a descendant of the Dutch trading empire, which prized thrift, industriousness, business savvy, and the bottom line while welcoming anyone with something to sell. These guiding principles were seeded here by the Dutch trading settlement of New Netherland. Its capital, New Amsterdam, took in such Dutch-named areas as Brooklyn, Harlem, and the Bronx. Today, of course, we know it by the name it acquired after the British seized it from the Dutch in 1664: New York.

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