Point of Divergence (RTL)

From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty

In our timeline, the Dutch colony of New Netherland ended after it was ceded to England in 1667, following the 2nd Anglo-Dutch War. In this timeline, however, the colony holds out and repels the English invasion. But how, exactly? To understand the situation, we need to go 26 years back.

Adriaen van der Donck

The story begins when Adriaen van der Donck, a Dutch lawyer, arrived in New Netherland in 1641. He was immediately impressed by the land, which was thickly forested, hilly, and full of wildlife in contrast with the Netherlands. He ended up spending a good portion of his life in the colony, exploring and writing about this beautiful land. He traveled back and forth multiple times between his homeland and New Netherland to promote the Dutch West India Company run-colony.

It was not long after that he became an activist for Dutch-style republicanism and a prominent political figure in the colony. He despised the mismanagement and undemocratic methods of the Dutch WIC, a sentiment he shared with his fellow colonists. Van der Donck became the voice of the settlers, advocating for reforms and a change in the colonial government.

He was elected to the colony's Council of Nine in 1649. He had petitioned the Dutch States-General in Europe to remove the Dutch WIC from the colonial administration and establish a more liberal government. After several years of being ignored, his petition was finally heard and granted by the Dutch States-General on February 2, 1653. He was victorious.

New Netherland map published by Nicolaes Visscher II (1649–1702)

However, before he could sail back to the colony, the First Anglo-Dutch War broke out. Due to the war, the Dutch government rescinded its decision for the colony, and Van Der Donck's dreams for New Netherland fell apart.

Van der Donck's multiple attempts to return to the colony were blocked by the Dutch WIC because of the destabilizing effects of his activism, especially in a time of war. Two years later, Van Der Donck died. His dreams never came to fruition, and he became nothing but a footnote in New York history and American history in general.

This timeline explores what could have happened if his plans had materialized. The First Anglo-Dutch war still occurs in this timeline, but Van Der Donck was allowed to proceed with his new government in New Netherland.

Fast forward to the 2nd Anglo-Dutch war, when four English frigates sailed to New Amsterdam and demanded New Netherland's surrender. Due to the promotion of the colony and a boom in population thanks to Van der Donck's advocacies, the settlers were able to successfully repel this attempted invasion and secure New Netherland's position for the years to come.

See also