Fort Amsterdam

Fort Amsterdam (subsequently named Fort James, Fort Willem Hendrick, Fort James (again), Fort William Henry, Fort Anne and Fort George) was a fort on the southern tip of Manhattan. It was the administrative headquarters for the Dutch and then English/British rule of New York from 1625 or 1626, until being torn down in 1790 after the American Revolution.

The fort changed hands eight times in various battles including the Battle of Long Island in the American Revolution, when volleys were exchanged between the fort and British emplacements on Governor's Island.

The construction of the fort marked the official founding date of New York City as recognized by the Seal of New York City. In October 1683 what would become the first session of the New York legislature convened at the fort. Guns at the fort formed the original battery; nearby Battery Park is named for this feature. The fort's site is now occupied by the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, which houses the George Gustav Heye Center, part of the National Museum of the American Indian.

New York, then known as New Amsterdam, in 1660. Fort Amsterdam is the large quadrangular structure towards the tip of the island.


Dutch Rule (1625/1626–1664)

Fort Amsterdam on Manhattan
Fort Amsterdam

Fort Amsterdam was designed by Cryn Fredericks, chief engineer of the New Netherland colony. Seventeenth-century Dutch forts all followed a similar design. Probably originally intended as a standard star-shaped fort, Fort Amsterdam had four sides with a bastion at each corner to better protect the walls. The fort was built of hard-packed earth or rubble because earthworks would absorb cannon fire without collapsing as stone walls might. Much of the construction was probably done by enslaved Africans held by the Dutch West India Company.[1]

The fort was constructed at the southern tip of Manhattan Island, at the junction of the East and North (now known as the Hudson) rivers. Building commenced in 1625 under the direction of Willem Verhulst, the second director of the New Netherland colony. The elevation of the site was originally somewhat higher than it is today. The fort stood on a hill that sloped down to Pearl Street and Bowling Green.[2] (The hill was cut down in 1788, when the fort was demolished, and the site was graded to approximately its present level.)

Map of Manhattan in 1660, based on the Castello Plan, with the fort on the left

At the time, Manhattan was sparsely settled, as most of the Dutch West India Company operations were upriver along the Hudson in order to conduct trading operation for beaver pelts.[3] According to John Romeyn Brodhead, while the fort was under construction, three Wechquaesgeek individuals traveled south from the area of present-day Westchester County to barter beaver skins. When they reached the Kolck, a pond near what is now Chinatown, they were set upon by three farmhands, and one of the two adults was killed. When the young boy who was with them grew older, he took his revenge for the murder of his uncle, which act served as a pretext for Kieft's War.[4]

The fort was the nucleus of the New Amsterdam settlement and its mission was protecting New Netherland colony operations in the Hudson River against attack from the English and the French. Although its main function was military, it also served as the center of trading activity. It contained a barracks, a church, a house for the West India Company director, and a warehouse for the storage of company goods.[5]

Troops from the fort used the triangle between the Heerestraat and what came to be known as Whitehall Street for marching drills.

It is sometimes asserted that around 1620, the Dutch East India Company contacted the English architect Inigo Jones asking him to design a fortification for the harbor. Jones responded in a letter with a plan for a star-shaped fortification made of stone and lime, surrounded by a moat, and defended with cannon. Jones advised the company against constructing a timber fort out of haste. The involvement of Jones cannot be corroborated with reliable documentary evidence.

English Rule (1664–1673)

Map of Manhattan in 1664 with the fort on the right

In autumn 1664, four English warships with several hundred soldiers onboard arrived in New Amsterdam’s harbor and demanded the Dutch surrender. Although Peter Stuyvesant at least outwardly prepared to fight, prominent city residents persuaded him to stand down, and on September 8 he signed the colony over without any blood being shed in one of the skirmishes of the larger Second Anglo–Dutch War. The English renamed the fort Fort James, in honour of James II of England, and New Amsterdam was renamed New York in recognition of James's title as Duke of York.[6]

Dutch Rule (1673–1674)

In August 1673, the Dutch brought in a fleet of 21 ships and recaptured Manhattan. The Dutch attack was part of the bigger Third Anglo-Dutch War. The fort was renamed Fort Willem Hendrick in honor of William III of England, who was Stadtholder and Prince of Orange, and New York was renamed New Orange. In 1674, the fort and New Orange were turned back over to the English in the Treaty of Westminster (1674) which ended the war (the Dutch got Suriname).

English Rule (1674–1689)

The English once again named the area "New York" and returned the Fort James name. During this period, Thomas Dongan, 2nd Earl of Limerick, who was the royal governor of New York, convened the first legislature of New York in October 1683 for a meeting at the fort. Dongan was also the first to establish batteries of cannon to the south of the fort.

Colonist rule (1689–1691)

In 1689, following the Glorious Revolution (English Revolution of 1688), in which William and Mary acceded to the throne, German-born colonist Jacob Leisler seized the fort in what was called Leisler's Rebellion. He represented the common people against a group of wealthy leaders represented by Pieter Stuyvesant and others and enacted a government of direct popular representation. By some accounts, he also acted to redistribute wealth to the poor.

English/British Rule (1691–1775)

A view of Fort George with the city of New York, from the SW
View of Fort George from the harbor

Leisler's rule ended in 1691, when British sovereign William's new governor (appointed in 1690) finally reached New York. The fort had earlier been named for Willem when he was head of the Dutch government. He became the sovereign of the English government by the overthrow of James in the Glorious Revolution. The fort was renamed Fort William Henry in honor of the new Protestant king.[7]

The fort continued to be named for subsequent British sovereigns: Fort Anne (for Anne, Queen of Great Britain) and Fort George for the succession of Georgean monarchs (George I of Great Britain, George II of Great Britain, George III of the United Kingdom).

92 guns were added to the battery in 1756 during the French and Indian War, the North American front of the Seven Years' War.

Colonist/rebel Rule (1775–1776)

The fort became the target of American rioting following Parliament's passage of the Stamp Act 1765. Activists spiked the guns at the battery to make them inoperable.

In the American Revolution, the colonists under George Washington seized the fort in 1775,[8] before the colonies formally seceded from the British Empire. During the Battle of Long Island, guns from the fort engaged British frigates starting on July 12, 1776. Between September 2 and 14, the fort and British guns on Governors Island exchanged volleys.

British Rule (1776-1783)

The British recaptured the fort along with lower Manhattan in September 1776. They occupied the city and ruled New York from the fort throughout the war. Thousands of slaves migrated to the British lines in New York to gain promised freedom by fighting with them during the war. A large camp of freedmen was set up nearby.

Afterward, the British evacuated more than 3,000 former slaves from New York to Nova Scotia, to fulfill their promise. Others were taken to the Caribbean and some to London. Many found the climate harsh in Nova Scotia, and supplies late and limited. They struggled to settle there, also having to deal with slaveholding Loyalists. More than 1,700 former African Americans emigrated to Freetown, Sierra Leone in 1792, after Britain set up a new colony in West Africa for free blacks and liberated slaves.

American Rule (1783–1790)

The Government House, New York 1650665
The Government House, built on the site of Fort George in 1790

The Americans took over the fort in Manhattan on Evacuation Day, November 25, 1783, after the British pulled out. In 1788, the government ordered the razing of Fort George (as it was then known). Its materials were used as landfill to add to the shore and expand the Battery.[9] The fort was torn down in 1790, and the Government House, intended as the presidential residence, was built on the site.

The need for new fortifications soon became apparent, especially as tensions started rising again with France and Great Britain. In 1798, guns were placed in temporary fortifications on the Battery. Eventually a new fort, Castle Clinton, was built on Lower Manhattan to the southwest, shortly before the outbreak of the War of 1812 with Britain.[10]

The site of Fort James was redeveloped for the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House. Prior to landfilling and the creation of Battery Park, it was located at the shoreline of the Hudson River but is now a few blocks away.

See also


  1. ^ "History of Slavery in New York". Slavery in New York.
  2. ^ Davis, Asahel (1854). History of New Amsterdam. New York: R. T. Young.
  3. ^ "Fort Amsterdam". New Netherland Institute.
  4. ^ Brodhead, John Romeyn (1853). History of the State of New York. New York: Harper & Brothers.
  5. ^ National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy. The New Amsterdam Trail (PDF).
  6. ^ Hemstreet, Charles (1905). Nooks and Corners of Old New York. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  7. ^ Carleton, Guy Lee; Thorpe, Francis Newton (1904). "The Dutch Under English Rule". The History of North America. New York: G. Barrie & sons. p. 167.
  8. ^ "Fort George". February 19, 2006. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
  9. ^ "The Battery". New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.
  10. ^ "Historic Timeline of The Battery". The Battery Conservancy.

External links

Coordinates: 40°42′15″N 74°00′49″W / 40.7042°N 74.0137°W


Abandze is a small town near the Atlantic Ocean coast of Ghana, lying north-east of Cape Coast in the Central Region of Ghana. In 2010, the town had a population of 3,632. It grew around the Dutch Fort Amsterdam, established in 1598. The fort was rebuilt as the British settlement in the region, renamed Fort York, in 1645. It was then recaptured by the Dutch in 1665 and reverted to its original name, mirroring the British takeover of New Amsterdam which renamed that settlement New York. Long since disused, the fort has since been partially restored and is sometimes known as Fort Kormantin.

Majority of the people who live at Abandze are fisher men and women.

Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House

The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House is a building in New York City built in 1902–1907 by the federal government to house the duty collection operations for the Port of New York. It is located at 1 Bowling Green, near the southern tip of Manhattan, roughly on the same spot as Fort Amsterdam, the original center of the settlement of New Amsterdam, and Government House, the mansion built as an official residence for the President of the United States, but which was never occupied. The Custom House was named to commemorate Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and its first Secretary of the Treasury.

The building is now the home of the George Gustav Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian, as well as the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York; since 2012, it is also the home to the National Archives at New York City.

Ashanti–Fante War

The Ashanti–Fante War (1806–1807) was a war fought between the Ashanti Confederacy and the Fante Confederacy in the region of what is now the Republic of Ghana.

The Ashanti Confederacy was a major Akan kingdom in West Africa and within the Gold Coast. The Fante were a related Akan group that was based mainly along the coastal regions of the Gold Coast. Rivalry between the Ashanti and Fante had long existed, historically, the Fante being considered a breakaway group of the original Akan clan, but by the beginning of the 19th century, this rivalry had escalated to hostility.

At the time, the British were the traditional European allies of the Fante, whereas the Dutch sided with the Ashanti.

The war began when the Ashanti king, known as the Asantehene, brought charges of robbing graves on a number of Fante subjects from the town of Assin. Fleeing Ashanti lands, these accused people were granted refuge by the Fante. Ashanti king Osei Bonsu sent out an army against the Fante. At Abora, four miles from the Fanti town of Cape Coast, a battle was fought, in which the Ashanti were victorious and they captured the accused. The meagre Fante forces had faced a much larger Ashanti army, but fought bravely. Ashanti troops went on to attack the Dutch fort at Kormantine (Fort Amsterdam). The British then tried to appease the belligerent Ashanti. Colonel Torrane, British commander of the Fante town of Cape Coast, handed over Kwadwo Otibu, the old and blind Assin king to the Asantehene, despite the very real possibility of his being executed by the Ashanti, which he later was.

Attack on Saint Martin

The Attack on Saint Martin was a failed attempt by the Dutch Republic to recapture the island and former base of the Dutch West India Company (WIC) from the Spanish. In 1633 the Spanish had invaded Saint-Martin (Sint Maarten) and Anguilla, driving off the French and Dutch inhabitants. The French and Dutch banded together to repel the Spanish and it was during a 1644 sea battle that the Dutch commander Peter Stuyvesant, later the governor of New Amsterdam, unsuccessfully besieged Fort Amsterdam and was forced to retreat with the loss of hundreds of men. A stray Spanish cannonball shattered his leg, which had to be amputated. But luck was on the Dutch side, and when the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Netherlands ended, the Spanish no longer needed a Caribbean base and just sailed away in 1648.

Fort Amsterdam, Ambon

Fort Amsterdam (also formerly known as Blokhuis Amsterdam) is a fort and a blockhouse in Hila town, Leihitu Subdistrict, Central Maluku Regency, Ambon Island, Indonesia. The blockhouse was built in 1637 by the Dutch East Indies Company.

Fort Amsterdam, Ghana

Fort Amsterdam is a fort in Kormantin, Central region, Ghana. It was built by the English between 1638 and 1645 as Fort Cormantin or Fort Courmantyne, and was captured by admiral Michiel de Ruyter of the Dutch West India Company in 1665. It was subsequently made part of the Dutch Gold Coast, and remained part of it until the fort was traded with the British in 1868. The Fort is located at Abandze on the north-east of Cape Coast in the Central Region of Ghana.

Fort Amsterdam (Curaçao)

Fort Amsterdam is a fort located in Willemstad, Curaçao. It was constructed in 1634 by the Dutch West India Company (DWIC) and served not only as a military fort but also as the headquarters of the DWIC. Currently it serves as the seat of the government and governor of Curaçao. The fort is named after the Amsterdam chamber of the DWIC and was considered the main of eight forts on the island.

Fort Amsterdam (Sint Maarten)

Fort Amsterdam is a historic fort on the island of Saint Martin, near the Sint Maarten town of Philipsburg.

Fort Amsterdam (disambiguation)

Fort Amsterdam usually refers to the 17th century Dutch fort built in what is now New York City.

Fort Amsterdam may also refer to:

Fort Amsterdam, Ambon, Indonesia

Fort Amsterdam (Curaçao)

Fort Amsterdam, Ghana

Fort Amsterdam (Sint Maarten)

Fort Casimir

Fort Casimir was a Dutch fort in the seventeenth-century colony of New Netherland. It was located on a no-longer existing barrier island at the end of Chestnut Street in what is now New Castle, Delaware.

Fort Wilhelmus

Fort Wilhelmus was a factorij in the 17th-century colonial province of New Netherland, located on what had been named Hooghe Eyland (High Island) (also called Verhulsten Island) on the Zuyd Rivier, now Burlington Island in the Delaware River in New Jersey. More a trading post than a military installation, it was built in 1625 by colonists from the Netherlands in the employ of the Dutch West India Company, with the intention of establishing a physical claim to the new territory and to engage in the fur trade with the indigenous population of Lenape and Minqua. The Walloon families had originally arrived at Noten Island (Governors Island) across from Fort Amsterdam in the Upper New York Bay, They had been sent south in order to begin the population of the province of New Netherland. They were later recalled to New Amsterdam since the Dutch West India Company had decided to concentrate their settlement efforts along the North River, or Hudson River.The fort was likely so called from "Het Wilhelmus" (pronunciation ; English translation: "The William"), a song which tells of Willem van Oranje, his life and why he is fighting for the Dutch people. It became, in 1932, the national anthem of the Netherlands and is the oldest national anthem in the world.

Although it was not recognized as the official national anthem until 1932, it remained popular with the Dutch people since its creation.

History of Curaçao

The island of Curaçao was first settled by the Arawaks, an Amerindian people native to the area. They are believed to have inhabited the island for many hundreds of years before the arrival of Europeans.

Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts

The Ministry of Tourism of Ghana is the government ministry responsible for the development and promotion of tourism-related activities in the country.

New Amsterdam

New Amsterdam (Dutch: Nieuw Amsterdam, pronounced [ˌniʋɑmstərˈdɑm] or [ˌniuʔɑms-]) was a 17th-century Dutch settlement established at the southern tip of Manhattan Island that served as the seat of the colonial government in New Netherland. The factorij became a settlement outside Fort Amsterdam. The fort was situated on the strategic southern tip of the island of Manhattan and was meant to defend the fur trade operations of the Dutch West India Company in the North River (Hudson River). In 1624, it became a provincial extension of the Dutch Republic and was designated as the capital of the province in 1625.

By 1655, the population of New Netherland had grown to 2,000 people, with 1,500 living in New Amsterdam. By 1664, the population had exploded to almost 9,000 people in New Netherland, 2,500 of whom lived in New Amsterdam, 1,000 lived near Fort Orange, and the remainder in other towns and villages.In 1664 the English took over New Amsterdam and renamed it New York after the city of York in Yorkshire. After the Second Anglo-Dutch War of 1665–1667, England and the United Provinces of the Netherlands agreed to the status quo in the Treaty of Breda. The English kept the island of Manhattan, the Dutch giving up their claim to the town and the rest of the colony, while the English formally abandoned Surinam in South America, and the island of Run in the East Indies to the Dutch, confirming their control of the valuable Spice Islands. Today much of what was once New Amsterdam is New York City.

New Netherland

New Netherland (Dutch: Nieuw Nederland; Latin: Nova Belgica or Novum Belgium) was a 17th-century colony of the Dutch Republic that was located on the east coast of America. The claimed territories extended from the Delmarva Peninsula to southwestern Cape Cod, while the more limited settled areas are now part of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut, with small outposts in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. The colony was conceived by the Dutch West India Company (WIC) in 1621 to capitalize on the North American fur trade. It was settled slowly at first because of policy mismanagement by the WIC and conflicts with American Indians. The settlement of New Sweden by the Swedish South Company encroached on its southern flank, while its northern border was redrawn to accommodate an expanding New England Confederation.

The colony experienced dramatic growth during the 1650s and became a major port for trade in the north Atlantic Ocean. The surrender of Fort Amsterdam to England in 1664 was formalized in 1667, contributing to the Second Anglo-Dutch War. In 1673, the Dutch retook the area but relinquished it under the Treaty of Westminster (1674), ending the Third Anglo-Dutch War the next year.

The inhabitants of New Netherland were European colonists, American Indians, and Africans imported as slave laborers. The colony had an estimated population between 7,000 and 8,000 at the time of transfer to England in 1674, half of whom were not of Dutch descent.

Pavonia, New Netherland

Pavonia was the first European settlement on the west bank of the North River (Hudson River) that was part of the seventeenth-century province of New Netherland in what would become the present Hudson County, New Jersey.

Peach Tree War

The Peach Tree War, also known as the Peach War, was a large-scale attack by the Susquehannock Nation and allied Native Americans on several New Netherland settlements along the Hudson River (then called the North River), centered on New Amsterdam and Pavonia on September 15, 1655.

The attack was motivated by the Dutch conquest of New Sweden, a close trading partner and protectorate of the Susquehannock. The attack was a decisive victory for the Native Americans, and many outlying Dutch settlements were forced to temporarily garrison in Fort Amsterdam. Some of these settlements, such as the Staten Island colony, were completely abandoned; while others were soon repopulated (and equipped with better defenses), as Director-General Stuyvesant shortly repurchased the rights to settle the west bank of the North River from the Native Americans.

Province of New Jersey

The Province of New Jersey was one of the Middle Colonies of Colonial America and became New Jersey, a state of United States in 1783. The province had originally been settled by Europeans as part of New Netherland, but came under English rule after the surrender of Fort Amsterdam in 1664, becoming a proprietary colony. The English then renamed the province after the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel. The Dutch Republic reasserted control for a brief period in 1673–1674. After that it consisted of two political divisions, East Jersey and West Jersey, until they were united as a royal colony in 1702. The original boundaries of the province were slightly larger than the current state, extending into a part of the present state of New York, until the border was finalized in 1773.

Zwaanendael Colony

Zwaanendael or Swaanendael was a short-lived Dutch colonial settlement in Delaware. It was built in 1631. The name is archaic Dutch for "swan dale [or valley]." The site of the settlement later became the town of Lewes, Delaware.

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