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Mapping an Empire: Cartographic and Colonial Rivalry in Seventeenth-Century Dutch and English North America Author(s): Benjamin Schmidt Source: The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, Vol. 54, No. 3 (Jul., 1997), pp. 549-578 Published by: Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture Stable URL: Accessed: 28/01/2010 09:23 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.j
  Mapping an Empire: Cartographic and Colonial Rivalry in Seventeenth-Century Dutch andEnglish North AmericaAuthor(s): Benjamin SchmidtSource: The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, Vol. 54, No. 3 (Jul., 1997), pp. 549-578Published by: Omohundro Institute of Early American History and CultureStable URL: Accessed: 28/01/2010 09:23 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture  is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserveand extend access to The William and Mary Quarterly.  Mapping an Empire: Cartographic and Colonial Rivalry n Seventeenth-Century Dutch and English North America Benjamin Schmidt ^ 'OW do maps influence empires? How do the signs and symbols of geography shape the contours and circumstances of colonial expan- sion? Consider the case of the Netherlands-cartographers extraor- dinaire of early modern Europe-and England and their respective pursuits of New World ambitions. For the better part of the seventeenth century, the Dutch Republic and England waged an inconspicuous yet nonetheless vigorous struggle over that section of America situated between the thirty-eighth and forty-second paral- lels, extending westward from the Atlantic coast, and referred o, variously, as New Netherland, New England, and ultimately New York. The contested land lay beyond the range of the common Hapsburg enemy and therefore invited a rivalry on terms somewhat different from others theretofore con- ducted in America. For much of this period, in fact, the Anglo-Dutch antago- nists in the New World remained nominal allies in the Old, united in their struggle against Spanish imperialism ( universal monarchy ) and reformed Catholicism ( Romish popery ). Indeed, both maritime powers plundered the Caribbean waters to their mutual profit, and both prosecuted colonial strategies at the expense of the Iberian powers in South America. Both sought easy profits in the south, while pursuing more elusive empires in the north. Elusive, that is, for a variety of reasons, not least of which was the inten- sifying friction between the Dutch and English at their various points of colonial contact. Whatever the ultimate outcome of the rivalry (and the pre- sent state of colonial historiography ends to demote the role of the eventual loser), the process of colonial positioning and imperial asserting turned out to be a lively one, especially during the middle decades of the seventeenth century. The two nations had in fact never been equally balanced in the Benjamin Schmidt is an assistant professor of history at the University of Washington. He would like to acknowledge the helpful comments received when versions of this article were pre- sented at the annual conference on New York State History (I995) and at symposiums held at Hofstra University and the Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften, Vienna. He especially thanks David Buisseret, Susan Danforth, Charles Gehring, Richard Kagan, Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, Ineke Phaf-Rheinberger, Stuart Semmel, Pamela Smith, and Louise Townsend for their criticisms. He gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the H. F. Guggenheim Foundation and the Committee on Degrees in History and Literature at Harvard University. The William and Mary Quarterly, 3d Series, Vol. LIV, No. 3, July I997  550 WILLIAM AND MARY QUARTERLY New World. Though the republic's navy compared favorably with its com- petitor's, the English easily outnumbered the Dutch in numbers of settlers abroad. From the start, moreover, the growing population of the English majority quickly spilled onto those lands claimed by the Dutch minority. Throughout the i63os and i640s, hostilities flared along the southern and northern borders of the Dutch settlement, occasioning repeated demands from both parties for more clearly-and more ambitiously-enunciated expressions of sovereignty. Meanwhile in Europe, matters heated up danger- ously around the middle of the century, by which time Parliament had passed the first Navigation Act (i65I), deliberately designed to challenge Dutch shipping. Antagonisms erupted into full-blown war the following year, commencing the first of three major conflicts between the leading Protestant powers of seventeenth-century Europe. It was around this time, too, that the newly instated governor of New Netherland dispatched a lengthy memoir to the States General in The Hague meant to articulate, as forthrightly as possible, the Dutch position in North America. Peter Stuyvesant, the presumed author of that memoir, was certainly no stranger to the challenges of empire, having served the Dutch West India Company for most of his adult life, first as supercargo in the West Indies (where he famously sacrificed a leg for his patrons' ambitions) and later as director general of New Netherland. Shortly after assuming the latter post in i647, Stuyvesant drew up his Description of the Boundaries of New Netherland -really a position paper of sorts-concerning the extent and limits of Dutch sovereignty in North America. He aimed to set the record straight on Dutch prerogatives abroad and to preempt any further English usurpations, s he called them, or larger-scale conflicts. For, what- ever the imbalances n America, the Dutch enjoyed the right of prior posses- sion (jus primae occupationis) by their governor's estimation, in recognition of their pioneering efforts in the early years of the century. From as early as the i6ios, Stuyvesant argued, the States General had chartered commercial companies to explore and settle these uninhabited ands, and the Dutch West India Company, founded in i62i, had taken great pains to compensate the Indians for the rights to the same. Any English claim to Dutch lands could be justifiably ignored.1 But where, precisely, did these lands lie and how could the governor actually prove the primacy of Dutch claims? To establish exactly that, Stuyvesant referred their High Mightinesses of the States-who in turn referred the English ambassador-to the oldest maps of the colonies, which clearly outlined the Dutch possessions and plainly demonstrated (so the director general maintained) the legality of the States' dominion: 1 [Peter Stuyvesant], Description of the Boundaries of New Netherland, in E. B. O'Callaghan and B. Fernow, eds. and trans., Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York hereafter ited as N.Y Col. Docs.), 5 vols. (Albany, 853-i887), 1:542-46. The document was read at The Hague on Nov. 6, i653, signed last of February, 65I, and appar- ently drawn up sometime in i649 by the governor or his officers (see ibid., 546 n. i). It thus coincides precisely with the mid-century Anglo-Dutch hostilities.  MAPPING AN EMPIRE 551 We shall now state how long and how wide the limits of New Netherland can be asserted along the coast, inasmuch as it has been discovered and frequented by the Dutch nation, in virtue of the above mentioned [West India Company] charter, long before any of the English visited that coast, as can be demonstrated y old maps whereon he islands, bays and rivers tand recorded y Dutch names.2 These old maps-presumably attached to the memoir and ceremoniously unfurled for the regents' perusal-were intended to clinch the case by offering irrefutable geographic evidence of the Dutch-ness of New Netherland.3 f the lands possessed Dutch names, then they must, of course, be of Dutch posses- sion. And the maps demarcated a province unmistakably labeled New Netherland, consisting of numerous recognizably Dutch place-names: New Holland for the distinctive hook-shaped cape located along the forty-second parallel, Vlieland and Texel for the sizable slands just south of that cape, New Amsterdam for the bustling commercial port at the colony's center, Fort Nassau for the outpost situated along the colony's southern river, and so forth. Geography, n other words, and most particularly artographic nomenclature, supported Dutch claims. A few years ater, another official memoir of English Encroachments ade much the same point when it confidently declared that New Netherland was first discovered and found, in the year i609, by the Netherlanders, as its name imports. That this country was first of all discov- ered and found out by Netherlanders, he document continued, appears lso from the fact that all islands, bays, harbors, rivers and places . . . have Dutch names. 4 Once again, the Dutch offered a neat, if somewhat syllogistic, argu- ment of inherent geographic affinity and cartographic uperiority. With a wave of Dutch maps-maps produced in the Netherlands yet published in multiple languages and circulated hroughout Europe-Stuyvesant and the States hoped to stave off the challenge of English arms. To those interested in creating a New World empire, maps surely mat- tered. Together with other tools of the geographic trade-globes, atlases, prints, paintings, travel narratives-maps provided the means to construct, no less than project, an image of power and possession abroad. No mere semblance of empire, maps furnished monarchs and merchants the very materials out of which distant empires could be fashioned. Mapmaking, conclude J. B. Harley and David Woodward in their multivolume History of Cartography, was one of the specialized intellectual weapons by which power 2 [Stuyvesant], Description of the Boundaries of New Netherland, 544 (emphasis added). 3 Such cartographic petitions, had been used some 35 years earlier when the Block and Hendricksz. maps arrived at The Hague (i6I4 and i6i6, respectively; see pp. 557, 572 below) attached to requests for trading privileges n the outlined regions. 4 Memoir of the English Encroachments on New Netherland, in O'Callaghan and Fernow, eds., N. YCol. Docs., I:564 (emphasis added). The memoir was drawn up from divers letters, papers and documents comprising the situation of New Netherland and received by the States General on Jan. 2, i656.


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Jul 23, 2017
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