Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
This dissertation is an analysis of the political chaos in New York in the second half of the 1600s and the effect that had on the Dutch-identified population there, specifically the development of a distinct New York Dutch ethnicity. The ultimate conclusion of this dissertation is that political turmoil in New York from 1664 through the early years of the eighteenth century, turmoil brought about largely by events in England and continental Europe, caused a split in the Dutch population. One part of that community developed a new identification as a distinct people, a New York Dutch ethnicity. Another part did not embrace this new definition of what it meant to be Dutch in New York and were driven from the community. Two main threads of inquiry are followed. First is the relationship between political events in England and continental Europe and those in New York. From the 1664 English Conquest of the Dutch colony of New Netherland onward, New Yorkers were forced into a reactive stance, with their political reality adjusting to events in England, the Netherlands, and Europe far more so than they were able to act autonomously or influence events on the other side of the Atlantic. Second is change within the Dutch-identifying community and the identities of people in New York due to the political events of the era. There was no strong sense of Dutch nationalism or ethnicity in New Netherland at the time of the 1664 English Conquest, and only subsequent political events in the colony caused a New York Dutch ethnicity to emerge. This ethnic identification distinguished the Dutch New Yorkers not only from English-identifying fellow colonists but also from people in the Netherlands. These two threads are analyzed in light of theories of ethnicity and change in ethnic communities developed by scholars studying later eras of history, using the questions and analytical methods of these theories to study changes in the identities of Dutch and Dutch-affiliated New Yorkers brought about by the political turmoil of the era. This analysis is about the Dutch community, but the ideas presented are clarified and illustrated through a focus on the lives of two men often at the center of the political chaos and other changes in the colony, Nicholas Bayard and Jacob Leisler. These two men were involved in all the important political events of their city and colony, most often on opposite sides. They became driving forces in the ultimate split of the Dutch community that was largely brought about by a 1689 uprising of the militia of New York City against the English-appointed government officials in the colony. Bayard was a member of the government while Leisler rose to lead the oppositional movement that came to be called Leisler's Rebellion. By the end of Leisler's time as de facto head of the government in New York and many years of political feuding that followed, Bayard's personal identity no longer aligned with the New York Dutch ethnicity that had emerged, thus making him one of those driven from the community, while Leisler in memory became the martyr around which the new identification coalesced.
© The Author
Headrick, Rachael Nicole, "Rebellion and Ethnicity in Colonial New York: Jacob Leisler, Nicholas Bayard and their World" (2017). Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects. William & Mary. Paper 1530192372.
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