This paper explores the history of New Netherland in light of the Dutch struggle for identity during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Dutch originally belonged to the Holy Roman Empire as a Spanish territory, and were staunchly Catholic. However, with the coming of the Protestant Reformation, things began to change. With the Reformation came a revolution against their rulers, and also a religious diversity previously unheard of in Europe. This struggle carried over into the borders of America with the Dutch establishment of New Netherland. New Netherland was the experiment of religious freedom in practice for the Dutch. The colony became home to a wide variety of religious dissenters that found no resting place in Europe. The Dutch Reformed Church struggled for its autonomy against the increasing religious pluralism, and the latter eventually won out before the English took over New Netherland, renaming it New York and New Jersey after dividing the land. The pluralism present in New York and New Jersey helped set the tone for religious freedom in America today.
Keane, Kevan D.
"America's Dutch Identity: The Dutch, New Netherland, and the Struggle for Freedom of Religion,"
Bound Away: The Liberty Journal of History: Vol. 1
, Article 4.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/ljh/vol1/iss2/4