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Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano


Forest of New Jersey
Forest of New Jersey

Italian explorer John Cabot saw the New Jersey coast in 1498, but the Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano was the first European to explore and chart it, in 1524. The first Europeans to set foot in New Jersey were sailors from the Dutch-owned ship Half Moon, commanded by English explorer Henry Hudson, in 1609. Dutch adventurers, fur trappers, and traders followed, and about 1620 a trading post was established at Bergen, now part of Jersey City.

Other Dutch settlers established Fort Nassau on the Delaware River in 1623 and Jersey City at the mouth of the Hudson River in the early 1630s. Small Swedish settlements were planted in southern New Jersey, beginning with Fort Elfsborg in 1638. The Dutch West India Company claimed the areas of New Jersey and New York as the colony of New Netherland, and in 1655 the colonial governor, Peter Stuyvesant, expelled the Swedish.

The English had never recognized either Dutch or Swedish claims to New Jersey. England based its claim to New Jersey on Cabot’s voyage and on the power of its navy. In 1664 the Dutch surrendered New Netherland to the English, who renamed the area west of the Hudson River New Jersey, for the island of Jersey in the English Channel. "New Jersey" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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