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Advertising New Netherland

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Nolan Alexander

AHIS 290



        In A Description of New Netherland by Adriaen Van Der Donck, Donck delivers a vast and finely detailed account of the landscape of the newly found land that the Dutch had discovered at the dawn of the 17th century.  Coining it New Netherlands, after their home country, Donck discusses everything from trees, bodies of water, fruits, vegetables, wildlife, medicine, the natives, and even the land itself.  Donck does it in a way however, to attract intrigue from his home country and to have his fellow Dutchmen and Dutchwomen come and populate the land.  To achieve that goal, Donck comprehensively explains that the potential of the new found land, describing how it is likely to have much better productivity in all areas, than that of the Dutch home country.  

        Donck begins early in his account, explaining the different bodies of water and their possible uses.  He notes how some bodies could be of use to people from his homeland  writing of the “many watercourses, streams, and running creeks with many beautiful waterfalls good for all kinds of milling work.”[1] And then moves on to end the paragraph with how the “big ponds and basins” are “well stocked with fish.”[2]  Continuing with his nature descriptions, he writes of the “thousands of morgens, which are very suitable for establishing villages, settlements, farms, and plantations.”[3]  Furtherly, he notes how attractive the land could be by stating that all though the land is quite overgrown, if it “is cleared and brought under the plow, it is fertile beyond compare.”[4]  He even backs this up with a conversation he had with one of the natives where he had said to Donck that “”I see that you are having that land made ready for use; you will do well, it is very good land and bears grain in great quantity.””[5]

        Donck moves on in his documenting of the land and its great potential on describing that the trees in the new land “are too plentiful and in the way”[6] explaining that it is a good thing because they could be “useful for building ships and houses as well as for fencing farmland.”[7]  He later writes of the fertility and efficiency of the vegetables in the new land having “observed that they are less cared for and cultivated and yet grow equally well.”[8]  He later revisits this a few pages later but on a broader scale.  Donck talks of the food and drink of New Netherland writing that they are “reasonably cheap” and that there is “more than enough”[9] This being the case, he explains how food is “beginning to be supplied to other countries in the vicinity, such as the Virginia, the West Indies, and the Caribbean Islands.”[10]  He immediately after explains of the possible riches to come out of the trading for which he writes that it “is expected to increase year by year and in time to become good business, particularly if the trade with Netherlands Brazil were to be added.”[11] 

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