Dutch American Stories – “The Patron Saint of New York”

"The Patron Saint of New York”

Jaap Jacobs

The New Amsterdam History Center has entered into a partnership with the National Archives in The Hague, NL, to publish a blog called Dutch American Stories. Twelve of the stories are written by historian Jaap Jacobs and twelve by other experts in the field of Dutch American Studies. So far, six of the 24 have appeared. The first story is “The Patron Saint of New York,” by Jaap Jacobs. We hope you will enjoy it!

Note: The story below and the next five Dutch American Stories are posted on the NAHC website. Please enjoy them there by clicking here.

The bonds that connect the American and Dutch peoples have been commemorated in various ways and at various levels. Dutch-American Friendship Day is a well-established annual event at the governmental level. In New York City, the historical memory of Petrus Stuyvesant has recently become controversial, but in the twentieth century his image was iconic.

Two hundred and forty years ago, on 19 April 1782, the Dutch States General decided to recognize John Adams as the envoy of the United States of America. It was the culmination of a contentious political process in which the Dutch Republic’s constituent provinces (Friesland being the first) instructed their delegates to vote in favor of accepting Adams’s nomination. With Adams in place as America’s minister plenipotentiary, the Dutch Republic reciprocated by naming Pieter Johan van Berckel as its first ambassador. Among his entourage were
two young Dutch noblemen, Gijsbert Karel van Hogendorp and Carel de Vos van Steenwijk. After Van Berckel’s installation, Van Hogendorp and De Vos van Steenwijk toured the east coast of America, and turned their American sojourn into the New World equivalent of the European Grand Tour that formed an essential part of the education of elite young men. They were the first Dutch tourists to explore the newly founded United States of America. 

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