Explorers of Dutch Descent Who Explored Delaware

Travel Destinations

By Caroline Lascom

The exploration and colonization of America is a captivating chapter in world history, filled with stories of exploration, conquest, and cultural exchange. One such story revolves around the Dutch exploration of Delaware, a region that would eventually become an integral part of the United States.

In the early 17th century, the Dutch Republic emerged as a major maritime power, with ambitions of establishing its own global empire. Seeking new trade routes and opportunities, the Dutch set their sights on the New World. Two renowned navigators, Henry Hudson and Samuel Argall, played significant roles in the Dutch exploration of Delaware.

Henry Hudson, an Englishman employed by the Dutch East India Company, embarked on several voyages to the New World in search of a Northwest Passage to Asia. In 1609, he sailed on the Halve Maen (Half Moon) and explored various regions along the eastern coast of North America. Hudson charted the Delaware Bay and River, which would later bear his name. His exploration opened the door for Dutch colonization efforts in the region.

Another key figure in the Dutch exploration of Delaware was Samuel Argall, an English sea captain who later switched his allegiance to the Dutch. Argall’s exploits in the New World are primarily associated with Jamestown, Virginia, where he played a controversial role in the early colonization efforts. However, in 1615, Argall led a Dutch expedition to explore the Delaware River and establish trading relationships with the local Native American tribes. His efforts contributed to the Dutch Republic’s growing influence in the region.

Overall, the Dutch exploration of Delaware was a crucial step towards eventual settlement and colonization. The explorations of Henry Hudson and Samuel Argall laid the foundation for Dutch claims and interactions with Native American tribes in the area. Although the Dutch presence in Delaware was short-lived, their contributions to the exploration of this region left a lasting impact on the history of America.

The Early Explorers of Delaware

Delaware, originally inhabited by Native American tribes such as the Lenape, was first explored by Europeans in the early 17th century. The Dutch were the first to extensively explore the area, seeking to establish trading outposts in the lucrative fur trade industry.

One of the early Dutch explorers of Delaware was Henry Hudson, an Englishman in the service of the Dutch East India Company. In 1609, Hudson sailed into Delaware Bay while searching for a northwest passage to Asia. Although he did not find the passage, his exploration brought attention to the potential wealth and resources in the region.

In 1610, Samuel Argall, an English captain, also explored Delaware Bay. He named Cape Henlopen after his hometown in England and claimed the area for England. However, the Dutch continued to explore and trade in the region, eventually establishing a fort and trading post on what is now the site of Wilmington, Delaware.

Another significant Dutch explorer of Delaware was David Pieterszoon de Vries. In 1631, he led an expedition to the area and established a trading post called Zwaanendael (Swan Valley) near present-day Lewes, Delaware. However, the settlement was short-lived as it was destroyed by Native Americans in 1632.

These early explorations paved the way for Dutch colonization in Delaware, with the establishment of Fort Nassau in 1624 and the subsequent founding of the town of New Amstel (now New Castle) in 1651. The Dutch presence in Delaware would eventually give way to English colonization as the region became part of the British Empire in the mid-17th century.

Henry Hudson

Henry Hudson was an English explorer who explored Delaware for the Dutch in the early 17th century. He is best known for his expeditions in search of a northwest passage to Asia.

Born around 1565, Hudson gained experience as a navigator and explorer through previous voyages to the Arctic and North Atlantic regions. In 1609, he was employed by the Dutch East India Company to find a northeast passage to Asia.

Hudson embarked on his famous voyage aboard the ship Halve Maen (Half Moon), which brought him to the area now known as Delaware Bay. He explored the bay and the surrounding region, making contact with the local Lenape Native Americans.

Hudson’s exploration of the Delaware area opened the door for Dutch settlement and trade in the region. The Dutch established trading posts and colonies, laying the foundation for future European settlement in Delaware and other parts of the United States.

Despite his accomplishments, Hudson’s exploration of Delaware ultimately did not result in the establishment of a permanent Dutch presence in the area. He continued his explorations and made further attempts to find a northwest passage, but his final voyage in 1611 ended in disaster when his crew mutinied and he was abandoned in Hudson Bay, Canada.

Henry Hudson’s contributions to the exploration of Delaware played a significant role in the early history of the region. His voyages paved the way for future European settlement and trade, shaping the cultural and economic development of Delaware and the surrounding areas.

Cornelis Hendricksz

Cornelis Hendricksz was a Dutch explorer who played a significant role in the exploration of Delaware for the Dutch in the early 17th century. Not much is known about his early life or background, but he is believed to have been born in the Netherlands around the late 16th century.

During his explorations, Hendricksz was a member of the Dutch West India Company, which had been granted a monopoly on Dutch trade and colonization in the Americas. He was tasked with navigating and mapping the Delaware River and surrounding areas to establish Dutch claims to the region.

In 1613, Hendricksz led an expedition up the Delaware River to establish a trading post near present-day Wilmington. He named the area “Zwaanendael” after the swans he encountered there. However, the trading post was abandoned within a year due to conflicts with the local Native American tribes.

In 1614, Hendricksz sailed to the Delaware River again, this time with the goal of establishing a more permanent settlement. He founded a new trading post called Fort Nassau, which served as a center for Dutch trade and colonization in the region for several years.

Hendricksz’s contributions to the exploration and colonization of Delaware were significant, as they helped establish Dutch claims to the region and laid the groundwork for future settlements. His expeditions also paved the way for the establishment of New Netherland, a Dutch colony that encompassed parts of present-day Delaware, New York, and New Jersey.

The exact details of Hendricksz’s later life and death are unknown. However, his explorations and achievements in Delaware remain an important part of the history of Dutch colonization in the Americas.

David de Vries

David de Vries was a Dutch explorer who played a significant role in the exploration of Delaware for the Dutch. Born in 1593, de Vries was a successful merchant involved in the lucrative fur trade. In 1631, he joined a Dutch expedition to establish a colony in North America.

De Vries arrived in the Delaware Bay in 1632 and established a trading post on the east side of the bay. He named the settlement Swanendael, meaning “Valley of the Swans.” The post was intended to serve as a base for fur trade and as a refueling station for ships traveling between the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (now New York City) and the Dutch West Indies.

However, the colony of Swanendael was short-lived. In 1637, it was attacked and destroyed by the local Native American tribe, the Lenape. De Vries himself was away on a trading voyage at the time and returned to find the settlement in ruins. He managed to establish good relations with the Lenape and negotiate for the return of some of the colonists who had been captured.

After the destruction of Swanendael, de Vries continued his explorations and trading activities in the region. In 1641, he returned to the Netherlands and published a book about his experiences in America, titled “Korte Historiael Ende Journaels Aenteyckeninge.” The book was widely read and helped to popularize the idea of Dutch colonization in North America.

In recognition of his contributions, the Dutch West India Company granted de Vries a land grant on Staten Island, where he settled and lived for the rest of his life. David de Vries died in 1655, leaving behind a legacy as one of the early Dutch explorers who helped establish the presence of the Dutch in Delaware.

Peter Minuit

Peter Minuit was a Dutch explorer who is known for exploring Delaware for the Dutch. He was born in Wesel, Germany around 1580. In 1626, Minuit became the Director-General of the Dutch West India Company’s colony of New Netherland.

Minuit is best known for his purchase of Manhattan Island from the Native Americans in 1626. The purchase was made for trade goods worth 60 guilders, which is equivalent to about $24 in modern currency. This transaction is often referred to as the “sale of Manhattan” and is considered one of the most famous land transactions in history.

Under Minuit’s leadership, the Dutch continued to explore the areas surrounding their settlements in New Netherland. In 1638, Minuit led an expedition to explore and establish a Swedish colony on the Delaware River. The settlement, known as New Sweden, was founded near present-day Wilmington, Delaware.

Minuit’s exploration of Delaware played a crucial role in establishing Dutch and Swedish presence in the region. His efforts laid the foundation for further European colonization and settlement in Delaware and the surrounding areas.

Unfortunately, Minuit’s time in New Sweden was short-lived. In 1639, he was recalled to the Netherlands to face charges of mismanagement and misconduct. He was replaced as Director-General of New Netherland by Willem Kieft.

Despite his controversial exit from New Sweden, Peter Minuit’s explorations and leadership left a lasting impact on the history of Delaware and the Dutch colonization of North America.

Samuel Blommaert

Samuel Blommaert was a Dutch merchant and investor who played a significant role in the exploration of Delaware for the Dutch. He was born in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1583, and later moved to Amsterdam.

Blommaert was one of the founders of the Dutch West India Company (WIC), which was established in 1621. The WIC was granted a monopoly on trade and colonization in the Americas, including the Delaware region.

Blommaert was an active trader and investor in the WIC, and he recognized the potential of Delaware as a lucrative trading post. He helped fund several expeditions to explore and establish settlements in the area.

Blommaert’s most notable contribution was his support of the expedition led by David Pietersz. de Vries in 1631. De Vries sailed to the Delaware River and established a settlement called Swanendael (now Lewes, Delaware).

Though Swanendael was short-lived due to conflicts with the local Native American tribes, Blommaert’s support and investments in the region laid the foundation for future Dutch colonization efforts in Delaware.

Blommaert continued to be involved in trade and exploration ventures in the Americas, and he played a key role in the development of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (now New York City).

Samuel Blommaert’s contributions to the exploration of Delaware for the Dutch were significant, as his financial support and investments helped pave the way for future Dutch settlements in the area.

David Pieterszoon de Vries

David Pieterszoon de Vries was a Dutch explorer who played a significant role in the exploration of Delaware for the Dutch. Born in the Netherlands in 1593, de Vries developed an interest in trade and exploration from a young age.

In 1635, de Vries embarked on a journey to North America, aiming to establish a Dutch colony in the region that is now Delaware. He arrived at the Delaware Bay and proceeded to explore the area extensively, documenting the native tribes he encountered and the natural resources he found.

De Vries established a trading post and fort at what is now known as Lewes, Delaware. He named the settlement Swanendael, which means “Valley of the Swans” in Dutch. However, the colony was short-lived and was destroyed by local Native American tribes in 1637.

Despite the failure of Swanendael, de Vries continued his exploration and trading activities in the region. He made several trips between the Netherlands and North America, establishing trade connections and participating in the fur trade. He also served as a director of the newly created Dutch West India Company.

De Vries documented his experiences and observations in a book titled “Korte Historiael Ende Journaels Aenteyckeninge,” which was published in 1655. This book provided valuable insights into the early Dutch exploration of the Delaware region.

In recognition of his contributions, de Vries was given the title of Patroon, which granted him certain privileges and land rights in the colonies. He went on to live a prosperous life and passed away in the Netherlands in 1655.

David Pieterszoon de Vries played a significant role in the exploration and colonization of Delaware for the Dutch. His efforts paved the way for the establishment of Dutch presence in the region and laid the foundation for future European settlements.

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Caroline Lascom

Caroline is a seasoned travel writer and editor, passionate about exploring the world. She currently edits captivating travel content at TravelAsker, having previously contributed her exceptional skills to well-known travel guidebooks like Frommer’s, Rough Guides, Footprint, and Fodor’s. Caroline holds a bachelor's degree in Latin American studies from Manchester University (UK) and a master's degree in literature from Northwestern University. Having traveled to 67 countries, her journeys have fueled her love for storytelling and sharing the world's wonders.

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