Trade in Albany


Dutch control ends: In 1665, trade on the Hudson River became uncertain. After forty years of trading with the Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) at Fort Orange, the Dutch outpost fell, along with the rest of the New Netherland colony, to the English. Unlike other European powers, the Dutch were far more interested in trade than territorial expansion; the loss of their trading posts and colony was a humiliating, economic blow.

Trade uncertain: This European territorial rivalry had serious consequences for New Netherland's Native allies and trading partners, the Kanienkehaka. Since the 1620s, trade in muskets with the Dutch had helped to assure Kanienkehaka military ascendancy over their numerous Native enemies. The lapse in trade with their Dutch allies in the mid-1660s came at a crucial time, as the Kanienkehaka faced three serious military opponents: the Susquennocks to the south, the Algonkian peoples to the east, and the French with their many Native allies to the north and west. The Kanienkehaka had to modify their political strategy to meet these challenges.

Lost allies: The English feared the Kanienkehaka would follow the other nations of the Rotinonsionni and make peace with the French to the north. The English quickly assured the Kanienkehaka of their commitment to maintaining the valuable trade and political alliance that the Dutch and Kanienkehaka had enjoyed. However, establishing supply lines proved a difficult and slow process for the English, threatening their shaky new alliance with the Kanienkehaka.


Guns: The Dutch had been trading with the Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) since the early 1620s, when individual Dutchmen established a secure trade with the Kanienkehaka in European goods, including the illegal sale of muskets. By 1643, the Dutch had traded nearly 300 muskets to the Kanienkehaka. The introduction of this weapon into Native warfare destabilized the balance of power in the region.

The fall: By the late 1650s, the colonial Dutch economy was in a slump. A series of wars with the Algonkian-speaking Natives living near New Amsterdam had taxed the economy's financial and human resources. The thinly-populated Dutch colony faced severe inflation and a shortage of European trade goods as it struggled to compete with the fast-growing New England colonies. New Netherland fell without resistance to the English in 1664. The victorious English renamed the colony New York. The Dutch trading post at Fort Orange was renamed Albany.

Securing the colony: With the Dutch out of the way, the French were the English's only European military and economic competitors. Despite their swift military victory, English control of their new colony was nominal at best. The colony's economy was unstable and the English's trade relations and military alliance with the Kanienkehaka were uncertain. The English feared that the Kanienkehaka would turn against them and join the rest of the Iroquois Confederacy in allying with New France. After gaining control of New York, the English feverishly wooed the Kanienkehaka away from the French to ensure their economic, political and military alliance. The English successfully reestablished strong trade relations, including an illegal trade in firearms; weapons again flowed freely from Albany throughout Iroquoia. The reaffirmation of trade and diplomatic ties between the English and Kanienkehaka ensured that a recently-negotiated Kanienkehaka peace with New France was short-lived.


An agreement: For the Kanienkehaka (Mohawk), trade with the Dutch was both the affirmation of a political and military alliance, and a way of obtaining useful and appealing objects. In one of their earliest meetings, the Kanienkehaka and the Dutch made a treaty and exchanged a wampum belt called Kahswentha; this served as a model for interactions between the two nations. Kahswentha established the Kanienkehaka and Dutch as "brothers," or equals, and affirmed the friendship between them based on reciprocal sharing of trade goods and other resources. Although the Dutch did not turn out to be good military allies, their trade in weapons gave the Kanienkehaka a decisive advantage over their enemies, and more than made up for Dutch unwillingness to fight alongside Kanienkehaka warriors.

Enemies: Hostilities between the Kanienkehaka and other Native groups had intensified and expanded throughout the seventeenth century. In addition to waging traditional warfare for revenge and personal honor, the Iroquois mounted more and more mourning wars as waves of European-based diseases swept through Iroquoia. Europeans' inexhaustible appetite for furs also intensified old animosities and ignited new ones among the Kanienkehaka and their neighbors. The Kanienkehaka increased their vigilance in protecting their hunting grounds from competing Native hunters. The Kanienkehaka also fought the French, who placed forts in Kanienkeh—on the Richelieu River in the 1640s and a trading post at Montreal in 1642—in an effort to restrict Kanienkehaka movements north and east.

New allies: The English conquest of the Dutch New Netherland altered Kanienkehaka diplomatic and military strategies. Without guaranteed access to firearms as the former Dutch colony became English New York, the Kanienkehaka could not confidently pursue their military goals. Threatened by powerful adversaries on three fronts, the Kanienkehaka acquiesced in 1666 to the four western Rotinonsionni nations' pressure to seek peace with New France. This move eliminated one threat and would hopefully provide access to French firearms to use against Kanienkehaka enemies. Though this peace with the French was short-lived, it left a lasting mark on the Kanienkehaka nation.

Captions for rollovers in the interactive scene illustrations.

Since making peace with the French in 1667, Kanienkehaka traders are less reliant on the Dutch and English; they can seek better quality goods and prices in Montrèal.

Upon seizing control of New Netherland, English officials have tried, with limited success, to regulate trade among individual traders and their Iroquois neighbors.

Dutch traders' narrowly focused quest for profit strains relations with the Iroquois, who view trade more as a demonstration of personal friendship and alliance.

Hatchets' multiple uses as everyday tools—as well as military weapons—make them desirable trade items.

Strong and easy to transport, copper kettles, or cooking pots are a welcome improvement over clay vessels.

The English must maintain their Iroquois neighbors' access to firearms if they expect to transfer the Iroquois alliance from the Dutch to the English.

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