New York colony
New Amsterdam, conquered by England in 1664, was the heart of the Dutch commercial empire in North America (New Netherland). The former Dutch holdings were granted to James, Duke of York, brother of the English king Charles II and renamed. New York included present-day Maine, much of the Massachusetts coast, Long Island, and what became the New Jersey colony. By the time of the American Revolution (1775–83), New York was second only to the Pennsylvania colony in its ethnic diversity.
The coastal region of the colony of New York was probably first explored by Europeans in 1524, when Giovanni da Verrazano, an Italian serving the French government, mapped the area. The Dutch visited the region as early as 1609 and eventually established Fort Orange (modern Albany) in 1624 and New Amsterdam (see New York, New York) at the mouth of the Hudson River in the following year. From these settlements, they created a trading network that extended into the Hudson, Connecticut, and Delaware River Valleys. Under the patroon system, members of the Dutch West India Company were granted large tracts of land in return for bringing settlers. Although the maximum number of Dutch settlers in the mid-Atlantic region was only about 10,000, they generally enjoyed good relations with the Indians and proved difficult to dislodge during the Anglo-Dutch Wars (1652–78). The Dutch government was permanently ousted in 1673.
From its establishment, the area was a polyglot mixture of Dutch, Belgians, French Huguenots, Finns, Swedes, Portuguese Jews, and English. The English government allowed the original settlers and merchants to remain in business and granted them freedom to worship in the Dutch Reformed tradition. Although intermarriage and long association diminished ethnic identities, New York, along with New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware (see Delaware colony), remained an ethnically heterogeneous region. With the devastation of the European War of the Spanish Succession (1702–14), significant numbers of German and Scots-Irish immigrants added to the ethnic mix. Many New Yorkers actively supported the American Revolution, but there were strong pockets of Loyalists, particularly in New York City and upstate. More than 30,000 eventually left the state. Although ranked only fifth in population in 1700 (19,000) behind Virginia, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Connecticut, New York grew rapidly in the 18th century. By 1800, New York City, with a population of 60,000, had overtaken both Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Boston, Massachusetts, as the first city of the new republic.