Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"The world is shitting Dutchmen!"

“The world is shitting Dutchmen!”

By Walter Haan,

Yesterday, August 18, 2009, was the 345 year anniversary of an English fleet sailing into New Amsterdam’s harbor and demanding the surrender of New Netherland in 1664. The Dutch governor-general, Peter Stuyvesant stomped around on his wooden leg and at first refused to surrender. Convinced by towns people that New Amsterdam’s fort was too weak to resist and that they didn’t want to see the town destroyed in a bombardment, Stuyvesant did surrender under very generous terms. The English didn’t want the town and colony destroyed either because it was valuable real estate and a very successful trading colony: New Amsterdam became New York City and New Netherland became the English colony of New York.

2009 is also the 400th anniversary year of Henry Hudson, under contract to the Dutch, sailing up the Hudson River looking for a passageway through North America to the riches of the Orient. Next month there will be events in New York City and up the Hudson River as far as Albany to mark Hudson’s voyage and the beginning of almost 60 years of Dutch rule in the area. Among the happenings, a Dutch frigate will sail up the Hudson to Albany, which they called Fort Orange.

Throughout the 17th Century, the English and Dutch fought wars for naval supremacy. Not generally known, but in 1672 a Dutch fleet, after looting and bombarding Virginia, sailed into New York harbor and demanded the English surrender. The Brits promptly surrendered and one reason was that the Dutch fleet was the largest armada ever seen along the eastern coast. New York City became New Orange for a year until another peace treaty returned New York to English control.

During one of the Anglo-Dutch wars, the Dutch had the audacity to sail into London’s harbor to tow away the largest English warship and set the harbor and London in flames. Samuel Pepys, English politician, declared, “The world is shitting Dutchmen!”

I happened to see figures recently that show the Netherlands is still very important today in world trade. It is the fifth largest export nation in the world, after the usual suspects such as China, Japan and the United States. Now my question is how could a nation of 16 million people, just double the population of New York City, be the FIFTH largest export nation, up there with us? We are a nation of 300+ million people. What are we doing wrong or not well enough to allow a runt of a nation to compete with us so effectively?

Perhaps we need the world to shit some Dutchmen in America to help us be more competitive in world trade.—Copyright © 2009 by Walter Haan,


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