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A Free Reading Passage on Patroonships for AP U.S. History

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

May 23

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Patroonships are a referenced topic in the European Colonization topic in Period 2 of AP U.S. History. You could reference this example on your AP U.S. History test.



a map of the Rensselaerswyck patroonship
a map of the Rensselaerswyck patroonship/public domain

In the early 17th century, the Dutch West India Company established a unique land system in their North American colonies known as the patroonship system. This system was designed to promote the colonization and development of New Netherland, the Dutch colony that included parts of present-day New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut.


A patroonship was a large land grant given to wealthy Dutch investors, called patroons, who agreed to bring settlers to the colony. Each patroon was required to transport at least 50 settlers to New Netherland within four years. In return, they received vast estates along the Hudson River and were granted extensive manorial rights. This meant that patroons had almost complete control over their lands and the people living on them, similar to the feudal lords in Europe.


Patroons had the authority to establish courts, appoint local officials, and enforce their own laws within their patroonship. The settlers, often called tenant farmers, worked the land and paid rent to the patroon. They also had to provide a portion of their crops or goods as a form of tribute. In return, the patroon provided the settlers with tools, livestock, and housing, creating a self-sufficient and economically productive estate.


One of the most notable patroonships was Rensselaerswyck, established by Kiliaen van Rensselaer. It encompassed much of what is now Albany and Rensselaer counties in New York. Rensselaerswyck became a prosperous and influential settlement, demonstrating the potential success of the patroonship system.


However, the system also faced significant challenges. The feudal nature of patroonships clashed with the more democratic and individualistic ideals that were beginning to take root in other parts of the American colonies. Tenant farmers often resented the high rents and the patroon’s control over their lives. Additionally, conflicts with Indigenous peoples over land and resources added to the difficulties.

Despite these challenges, the patroonship system left a lasting legacy. It played a crucial role in the early settlement and development of New Netherland and influenced the social and economic structures of the region. Even after the English took control of New Netherland in 1664 and renamed it New York, the large estates established under the patroonship system continued to shape the landscape and society of the Hudson Valley for generations.



PRINTABLE READING PASSAGE ON PATROONSHIPS

Would you prefer to share a printable passage with your students? Click the image below to grab it!



Patroonships Free Reading Passage


Do you want to watch a video about the New Netherlands?





European Colonization


Period 2


AP U.S. History




Patroonships



#Dutch #NewAmsterdam

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

May 23

13

0

0

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