Dutch Occupation of Acadia

The Dutch Occupation of Acadia began in 1674, when the Dutch naval Captain Jurriaen Aernoutsz briefly occupied French-held areas of Acadia. Areas occupied included coastal towns along Maine and New Brunswick, two forts, and a French military headquarters. The last formal Dutch claim to Acadia was in 1676, but effective control of any territory ended much earlier.

Attack

In 1672 the Franco-Dutch War began, and England allied itself with the French. England and the Netherlands came to terms early in 1674, several months before the July day when Captain Jurriaen Aernoutsz sailed into New York harbor. Previously he had been sailing the North Atlantic Ocean looking for English and French Ships to attack. ["The Pirates of the New England Coast, 1630-1730". George Francis Dow, John Henry, pg. 44.]

In New York he met a trader named John Rhoades, a Massachusetts resident thoroughly familiar with the fur trade on the coasts of Maine and Acadia, who told him that the Dutch were no longer at war with the English, but that France had yet to come to terms. Rhoades went on to explain to Aernoutsz that the French colony in Acadia was barely defended and ripe for conquest. Aernoutsz took this suggestion to his a crew and they agreed unanimously. [John G. Reid. "Acadia, Maine, and New Scotland: Marginal Colonies in the Seventeenth Century", pg. 162.] John Rhoades would be the crews guide.

Aernoutsz immediately set sail for Fort Pentagouet in Penobscot Bay. There were only 30 French soldiers in the fort and they were lightly armed. The Dutchmen took the fort easily. While they were there they also took the French Military Headquarters. Following this, they sailed to Jemseg and captured another French fort there. At both places, Aernoutsz buried bottles with messages inside them proclaiming that "Acadie" was to be Dutch possession and henceforward known as "New Holland". [John G. Reid. "Acadia, Maine, and New Scotland: Marginal Colonies in the Seventeenth Century", pg 171.] The commander of the Forts, Jacques de Chambly, was taken prisoner by the Dutch at this time. [Mary Beacock Fryer. "Battlefields of Canada", pg. 246.]

Aernoutsz sailed to Boston where he disposed of his plunder, even selling the cannon from Fort Pentagouet to the Massachusetts government. Some time in October 1674 he sailed for Curaçao, but left his prisoners and a number of his company in Boston, including John Rhoades.

Aernoutsz’s efforts were soon negated by the action of Massachusetts. John Rhoades and the other men Aernoutsz had left in Boston, acting under Aernoutsz's orders to return to Acadia and maintain possession, began seizing New England vessels coming to trade with the Native Americans. Massachusetts apprehended Rhoades and his cohorts and tried them as pirates. Ultimately they were all released or banished from Massachusetts." [http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=34124 Aernoutsz, Jurriaen] ", "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online".] " [http://www.biographi.ca/EN/ShowBio.asp?BioId=34621 Rhoades, John] ", "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online".] [Ramerini, Marco. " [http://www.colonialvoyage.com/newnether.html The Dutch Settlements in North America] ".]

Aftermath

In September 1676 the Dutch West India Company made a belated effort to capitalize on Aernoutsz’s conquest by granting Rhoades a commission to reside and trade in Acadia and by appointing Cornelis van Steenwijck, a Dutch merchant in New York, governor of the "coasts and countries of Nova Scotia and Acadie.""Francis Champernowne: The Dutch Conquest of Acadie and Other Historical Papers", edited by Charles W. Tuttle and Albert H. Hoyt. ISBN 0788416952.]

Although the territory was claimed by the Dutch, they had no real power over the area. Later in 1676, the two forts were reoccupied by the French. The dispute over the colony was resolved by the Treaty of Nijmegen in 1678, in which the Dutch withdrew their claim to the colony. The treaty, which did not mention the claim, also ended the Franco-Dutch War.

References


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