Traditionally it has been argued that modern American history has English roots onto which, over time, cultures from many other nations were grafted to create a multicultural society that became a multiethnic model for progressive societies all over the world. This course will question this perspective and argue that the contemporary multicultural and liberal model is by no means a deviation from an “originally Christian, Puritan America” but rather the realization of a type of society that originated in the Dutch settlement on Manhattan, and which was later to become New York. We will argue that there are good reasons to justify that the multicultural, liberal, tolerant, multi-lingual United States of today are not a deviation from how America used to be, but rather the realization of a model that was initiated in 17th-century New Netherland.
We will complement this vision, however, with indigenous and African-American voices in and about New Netherland. We will pay attention to the connection between the Dutch settlement on the American East Coast and the Dutch strongholds in the Caribbean that were developing into major centers of slave trade. In the final part of this course, we will draw conclusions from our study of the subaltern voice of the Other (the indigenous, the African American) in order to critically analyze the major faults of the Dutch colonial society in New Netherland. These conclusions will enable us to discuss the apparent contradiction between the liberal, tolerant, multicultural society that grew under Dutch role on the American East Coast and the existence of slavery as well as the military campaigns against the indigenous population.