Giovanni da Verrazzano, an Italian ship captain in the service of France, entered New York Harbor in 1524 but did not really explore the region. In 1603 the northern boundaries of present-day New York were explored by Samuel de Champlain and a party of French fur traders. In 1609 the French explorer discovered what is now Lake Champlain. That same year an Englishman, Henry Hudson, sailed up the river that bears his name as far as the region around present-day Albany. Hudson’s report to his Dutch employers aroused much interest, and several Dutch trading vessels returned to the Hudson Valley for furs.
The first settlements in New York were made in 1624, when the Dutch West India Company sent out a boatload of colonists. Most of the settlers established themselves in the northern Hudson Valley, near the future site of Albany, at Fort Orange. Soon more colonists arrived and made their home on the lower tip of Manhattan, at a site that came to be known as New Amsterdam. In 1626 the governor of the colony, Peter Minuit, purchased Manhattan from the local Native Americans for trinkets valued at about $24. The Dutch colony, called New Netherland, grew slowly at first, because the Dutch West India Company neglected the northern outposts in favor of its holdings in the rich West Indies.
A handful of traders supplied the Native Americans who brought in furs, the region’s prime resource. In 1629, however, the company offered its members large estates, called patroonships, if they would send settlers to New Netherland. Most of these ventures did not succeed, because few Dutch wanted to leave their homeland.
In 1637 the company appointed Willem Kieft director-general of New Netherland. A dictatorial leader, Kieft drove the colony into war in 1641 with the Algonquian tribes of the area. After a series of disputes arose between settlers and natives over land ownership, Kieft tried to impose a tax on the Native Americans to help pay for fortification of the settlements. When the tribes refused, Kieft caused the massacre of more than 100 native inhabitants. Four years of raids and reprisals by both sides followed, in which more than 1,000 Native Americans and settlers were killed.
In the 18th century, the Iroquois often ceded land to the British and French for provisions or political concessions. The Iroquois Confederacy continued to play a central role in American history until after the American Revolution (1775-1783). Counties with legislatures may also have an elected executive. Most towns with more than 10,000 people are governed by a town board consisting of a supervisor and several council members. "New York" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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