Fort Orange

Fort Orange
The Dutch West India Company built Fort Orange in 1624. Encompassing a hill some 700 feet above the west bank of the Hudson River and facing the
ruins of Fort Nassau, this large square structure with palisaded walls stretched 500 feet in length.
Later known as Albany, Fort Orange was originally founded as a trading post, although it rarely housed more than twenty-five traders and an equal
number of mercenary soldiers employed by the Dutch West Indian Company. In the 1630s, the company brought eight refugee families from the Spanish
Netherlands to Fort Orange to provide labor and to grow food for the garrison. Two years later, however, they were relocated to Manhattan Island, both
for their own safety and to protect the company’s fur trading interests.
Through its intense participation in the fur trade, Fort Orange played an important role in changing the distribution of power in the region, especially the
future of the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. For neighboring Native Americans, the establishment of Fort Orange was a major element in the
shift from the use of traditional tools to European trade goods and weapons. Until 1624, Native Americans in the region had to get such goods from the
French in Canada, leaving them at a disadvantage as compared to their Algonquian and Huron rivals in the North, who were in closer proximity to the
French.
Access to Dutch goods from Fort Orange sparked the Mohawk-Mohegan War, which lasted from 1624 to 1628, although growing Mohawk political,
military, and demographic forces also spurred hostilities. In 1626, in an effort to protect their position, the Dutch mistakenly intervened in the MohawkMohegan
war. Commissary Daniel van Krieckenbeeck, a senior trader who worked on the Hudson for five years, sided with the Mohegan. Armed with
muskets, Krieckenbeeck and six other traders accompanied a Mohegan war party. Before reaching the Mohawk camp, the war party was ambushed.
Krieckenbeeck and three of his companions were killed. Some reports suggest that one Dutchman was roasted and eaten by the victorious Mohawk.
The Mohawk won the war and drove the Mohegan northeast of Fort Orange. With only one native power in the region, the growing trade monopoly of the
Dutch West India Company on the upper Hudson River was countered by the Mohawk’s control over access to the Dutch. Although they feared the
Mohawk were placing a stranglehold on their trade, the traders at Fort Orange were powerless to stop them.
Nevertheless, trade at Fort Orange flourished. Some 5,788 skins were purchased in 1625, 10,000 in 1628, and nearly 30,000 in 1633. Although guns
were exchanged, the majority of the Dutch trade involved metal goods such as hatchets, knives, hoes, and kettles, as well as wampum. The rapid
expansion of trade at Fort Orange led to intensified trapping in Mohawk territory, severely depleting beaver populations by 1640. After that time, the local
trade primarily depended on Mohawk capture of Huron and Algonquin fur convoys en route to Quebec.
During the second Anglo-Dutch War, Peter Stuyvesant surrendered the colony of New Amsterdam to Sir George Cartwright. The Dutch colony became
the British colony of New York, and Fort Orange became Albany. Both remained in British hands until the American Revolution, when they sided with the
rebels.
Solomon K. Smith
See also: Dutch; Dutch West India Company; Fortifications; New Netherland; New York; New York and New Netherland
(Chronology).
Bibliography
Innes, J. H. New Amsterdam and Its People. New York: New York University Press, 1969.
Kammen, Michael. Colonial New York: A History. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1975.
Steele, Ian. Warpaths: Invasions of North America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
Visions of New York State-Fort Orange, 1635 holidaymapq

17th Century – Fort Orange, 1635 – L.F. Tantillo Fine Art holidaymapq

Fort Orange Archeological Site Flickr – Photo Sharing! holidaymapq

Fort Orange – Clio holidaymapq

Where In the World is Fort Orange? holidaymapq

2 Ft Orange on the Hudson map2a.jpg holidaymapq

Directions and Map – Fort Orange Club holidaymapq

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