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The Dutch have had a long, positive relationship with the United States since before they were a nation. Here is a short summary of their relationship through the centuries:

Dutch-Colonial Relations

The Netherlands has had a part in shaping US history since its colonial days. Dutch settlers were the original European inhabitants of Manhattan and the New York Bay area. If you take a look at some of the oldest New York City family names, you’ll find that there are still a number of telltale Dutch names on the list. After they abandoned their North American colonies for those of other places, their strong shipping fleet allowed the Netherlands to profit from a thriving trade business with the New World.


American Revolution

During the Revolutionary War, the Dutch found themselves siding with the colonists, as this allowed them the opportunity to profit from a free-trade system, instead of dealing with the price controls and restricted trade that England wanted to impose on the colonies. The Dutch helped the colonists by supplying them with arms. They stopped short of declaring war on England, like France did, mostly because of a century-long alliance with England, and family ties between the English and French monarchies. The ideals of the revolution resonated with a stagnant Dutch government. As they began looking for a more modern, effective system, they took many cues from the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. Holland also became the first foreign country to recognize the American Flag.

Dutch Colonies and Slave Trade

Even after leaving the lower 48 states, the Dutch continued a Caribbean presence that allowed them trade profits for goods like sugar with the new nation. Their African colonies allowed them to supply the colonies, particularly those in the South, with a large labor base in the form of slaves. Ironically, slavery was illegal in Holland, partially due to the ideals that were based on the US system of government. Long after slaves were emancipated, the strong African and Caribbean presence of the Dutch still made them a valuable trading partner with the US.

Modern Relations

The US and the Netherlands have been allies during two World Wars, and continue to be allies at NATO. Financially, the Netherlands are the third largest foreign investor in the United States. Shell Oil, a major US company, is based in the Netherlands, with the Dutch Royal family being the corporation’s single largest shareholder. As two nations that share many similar ideals, The Netherlands have supported most US military missions and recent wars like the Korean and Gulf War.

In 2013, President Obama appointed a new US ambassador to the Netherlands to represent the US at the Hague. Timothy Broas, a Maryland attorney and friend of the administration was dispatched in fall 2013. It is expected that this appointment will continue the positive relations that over two centuries of similar ideals have fused.


As two of the longest-running democratic governments, The Netherlands and the US governments both continue to be successful global players. It is likely that this will continue for centuries longer.

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