America’s Flemish Roots

A quote from The Flemish American blog, 5 October 2008

Among high society in Eastern parts of this country [the USA], to claim descent from the 'Dutch' of New Netherlands assures a certain credibility. […] 2009 marks the quadricentennial of Henry Hudson's voyage to 'discover' the New York area. NY state plans a huge celebration […] To that end PBS plans a major documentary. The Dutch government also has plans for a documentary. There is a major book being published by scholars of that period ('Dutch-American Relations 1609-2009'). There will be special exhibits at NY museums. There has been special state grants to The Holland Society, The New Netherlands Project, The New Amsterdam Historical Society, etc. I think you get the idea.

Where am I going with this? Well, New Netherlands was founded, financed, governed, protected and settled by the Flemish. Plantijn, who supplied the maps for the 1609 expedition, was an Antwerpenaar. So was Van Meteren (who was also the 'Dutch' ambassador to England and the author of the first 'Dutch' history and the one who secured Hudson for this job. Judocus Hondius (from Wakken) was Hudson's interpreter when he came to the Netherlands before the expedition. The Henry Hudson expedition had at least 3 Flemings. The follow up in 1611 for at least 10 years to the expedition (meaning the first commercial expeditions to exploit Hudson's discoveries) were financed by Arnout Vogel (from Antwerp) and captained by Adriaen Block (from Dendermonde). Their company was De Nieuw Nederland Compagnie. It was a 'voorcompagnie' (predecessor company) of De West Indische Compagnie (WIC) which actually colonized Nieuw Nederland beginning in 1624 […]

[T]he first child born in Nieuw Amsterdam, Sarah Rapalje, was the daughter of an Antwerpenaar weaver. Govert Lockermans – the most successful trader in Nieuw Nederland – was from Turnhout. George Bush's ancestor Willem Beekman, mayor of New Amsterdam was from Deinze […]

Over the past several years in research, courtesy largely of the translated records of the New Netherlands, I have recorded approximately 100 Flemings – from Aalst, Aecken, Brugge, Brussel, Ghent, Hoboken, etc. – who helped found and grow Nieuw Nederland (ofte Nova Belgica). Their descendants include US Presidents, famous literary and cultural people, as well as politicians and inventors. These include: Daniel Webster (the dictionary name), Thomas Edison, and even Edward Hopper (the artist). My point here is that if New Netherlands was 'Dutch', it was Dutch with a very strong Flemish accent.

The Flemish need to reclaim this part of history. Vlaams Huis can do that. Once reclaimed, Vlaams Huis can capture state money (from NY, NJ, and CT), federal money, and free publicity. This will better enable the Flemish government (eg, thru the Flanders Investment Trade office, etc.) to promote Flanders in America. The 2009 Quadricenttenial of Hudson's 1609 voyage is just around the corner. And in tribal America the timing could not be any better.
See also:

How Flanders Helped Shape Freedom in America, 11 July 2005