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Lesson summary: French and Dutch colonization

A high-level overview of French and Dutch efforts at early colonization.
French and Dutch colonization in the Americans focused on the profitable fur trade. Depending on Native Americans to hunt animals for their pelts, French and Dutch colonizers cultivated friendly relationships with Native Americans through intermarriage and military alliances.

Key terms

Samuel de ChamplainA French explorer who founded the first permanent French settlement in North America, Quebec.
QuebecThe first permanent French settlement, founded in 1608.
Henry HudsonAn English adventurer hired by the Dutch government who led an expedition to find a path to Asia through North America. His expedition led to the establishment of New Amsterdam.
New NetherlandsNew Netherlands was a Dutch colony founded in 1609 by the Dutch East India Company to maintain Dutch fur-trading practices.
Dutch East India CompanyA Dutch merchant company chartered in 1602 to carry on trade with Africa, the West Indies, North and South America, and Australia.
Fur tradingThe sale and exchange of animal furs (like beaver pelts). French and Dutch colonizers focused on trading furs with Native American tribes in North America.

French and Dutch colonization patterns

Core historical themes

Motivations for colonization: The French colonized North America to create trading posts for the fur trade. Some French missionaries eventually made their way to North America in order to convert Native Americans to Catholicism. The original intent of Dutch colonization was to find a path to Asia through North America, but after finding the fur trade profitable, the Dutch claimed the area of New Netherlands.
Establishing permanent settlements: Unlike the Spanish and English, the French and Dutch created few permanent settlements. French settlements were initially made up of fur traders, merchants, and missionaries, so that there were fewer than 5,000 settlers by 1672. Dutch settlements were also relatively small, and only about half of their residents were Dutch, the others being a mix of ethnicities, including Germans and French
Interactions with Native Americans: The goals of both the French and Dutch revolved around the fur trade. Unlike the Spanish and English, the French and Dutch fostered good relationships with Native Americans. The French in particular created alliances with the Hurons and Algonquians. Both the Dutch and the French relied on marriages with Native Americans to expand their fur trading operations.

Review questions

  • What was the main motivation for French colonization and Dutch colonization?
  • Compare French and Dutch colonization to Spanish colonization. What are two differences and one similarity?

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