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Should We Stay or Should We Go?

Being on Opposing Sides after a Colonial Takeover

In: Journal of Early American History
Author: Tom Weterings1
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The colonial map of the Americas during the seventeenth century was ever-changing. Near-constant warfare meant that colonies could change hands several times in a matter of decades, and that European settlers could at any time find themselves under “new management”. A takeover posed a potential threat to the colonists’ way of life, but the newcomers could be faced with a potentially hostile population as well. Differences in religion, language, political practice, as well as the question of loyalty could all pose serious obstacles for a good relationship between the new rulers and the old colonial population. This article addresses this issue from the perspective of the settlers. Taking the colony of Suriname as the main case, and by comparing it to other colonies such as Brazil and New Netherland, I conclude that most settlers were content to stay, with exceptions due to pressures by governments or incompatible religious differences.

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