For how the little Dutch boy came to America, we turn to Washington Irving’s, A History of New York.
Hendrick Hudson, voyaging to find a northwest passage, set sail from Holland in 1609. He was employed by the Dutch East India Company.
The ship reached North America and entered a majestic bay. Hendrick Hudson is also credited with discovering a beauteous island. It was the island of Manna-hata.
About three or four years after Hendrick Hudson had returned to Holland, some low dutch colonists set sail from Amsterdam, headed for America. Their ship was called the Goede Vrouw (Good Woman). Letters patent had been granted to the Dutch colonists by their government authorizing an association of merchants called the West India Company. This granted them exclusive trade (a monopoly) on the Hudson River. The name of the ship, the Goede Vrouw, was in honor of the wife of the president of the Dutch West India Company.
The Goede Vrouw came to anchor at the mouth of the Hudson River, near what is now called Gibbet Island, so called because a pirate named Joseph Andrews was hanged there on May 23, 1769. The Dutch colonists beheld, on the Jersey shore, a small Indian village. A group went by boat from the Goede Vrouw to make a treaty with the natives. When they approached shore, they spoke through a trumpet (something like a bullhorn) to the startled Indians. These “poor savages” recoiled from “the tremendous and uncouth sound of the low dutch language” and ran off to hide in the marshes. There they miserably perished, “and their bones being collected, and decently covered by the Tammany Society of that day, formed that singular mound, called Rattle-snake-hill, which rises out of the centre of the salt marshes, a little to the east of the Newark Causeway.”
The Dutch colonists took possession of this abandoned Indian village called Communipaw. There they formed a thriving community. Many little Dutch boys, of the type which put their finger in the dam and saved Holland, began to be born. And Communipaw became the egg from which was hatched today’s city of New York. (Further background: Dutch Boy Helps Confront Structural Problem, Ersjdamoo’s Blog, November 2, 2014.)
As the colony began to thrive, it became known under the general name of Nieuw Nederlandts. The Dutch settlers became attracted by “the transcendent charms of a vast island.” The original name of this island is disputed. Today it is called Manhattan. It was first called either Manhadaes, Manahanent, or Manadaes, say some. But Irving calls attention to a more ancient authority which calls it Monhattoes, Munhatos, and Manhattoes. The name is said to be derived from the great Indian spirit Manetho, who was supposed to have had this island as his favorite residence. However Master Juet, who sailed with Hendrick Hudson on his earlier voyage, called it Manna-Hata, meaning the island of Manna, i.e., a land flowing with milk and honey.
During the golden reign of Wouter Van Twiller, the town of New Amsterdam arose out of the mud. In those halcyon days, many more Dutch colonists came to America, “where they might enjoy unmolested, the inestimable luxury of talking.” The Indians invented a sarcastic name for these people, calling them Yanokies, “which in the Mais-Tchusaeg (or Massachusett) language signifies silent men – a waggish appellation, since shortened into the familiar epithet of Yankees…”
Later, during the unhappy reign of Wilhelmus Kieft, jeeringly called William the Testy, a law was enacted to prohibit smoking. By mathematical demonstration, William the Testy proved that smoking was “an incredible consumer of time, a hideous encourager of idleness, and of course a deadly bane to the morals of the people.” Reacting to this tyrannous law, the Dutch people surrounded the mansion of William the Testy, and puffed steadily on their pipes until the mansion was enveloped in murky clouds. Finally a compromise was reached: the custom of smoking would be permitted to continue, but the fair long pipes which had prevailed in the days of Wouter Van Twiller, which long pipes denoted “ease, tranquility, and sobriety of deportment,” were replaced by “little captious short pipes, two inches in length.”
Peter Stuyvesant was the last, “and like the renowned Wouter Van Twiller, he was also the best, of our ancient dutch governors.” Peter Stuyvesant took office on May 29, 1647. During his reign, New Amsterdam built the battery. Like the famous dam in Holland into which the little Dutch boy had put his finger, the battery stood at the waters’ edge. It was a formidable mud breast work filled with clam shells.
In the island of Manna-Hata, the land flowing with milk and honey, the Dutch settlers had built a wall to protect themselves from Indians, pirates, and other dangers. The path along this wall eventually became a bustling commercial thoroughfare. The path was named Wall Street. Today, milk and honey trickles down from this Wall Street upon the people of this, our happy land.