America and the Netherlands: separated by an ocean but connected by a flag

By: Varun Uchil, Rini Bhattacharyya, Rohin Nair, and Yehonadav Feygin

Section: 07

American flag flying in the wind
American flag flying in the wind

The American flag, which originally had 13 stars – arranged in a circle – and 13 stripes in order to reflect the amount of colonies present at the time, is a banner that is commonly flown throughout the country and its territories. It has 50 stars to represent the 50 states in America, but maintains the 13 stripes to represent the original 13 colonies. The stars are white, and arranged in a square pattern in front of a square blue background, and the stripes alternate between red and white.


The National Animal of America, the Bald Eagle, superimposed on the National Flag
alexander library

loading map - please wait...

alexander library 40.505055, -74.452415
This picture indicates the American flag displayed in front of Alexander Library, which also marked on the preceding map.


The American flag is a common staple of most neighborhoods in the United States, with, most neighborhoods containing at least a handful of flags and with some neighborhoods where a front yard WITHOUT a flag would be considered amiss. The American flag can be found in various different places such as office building, educational establishments, and even homes. It is a symbol of this country’s freedom from British reign and is representative of America’s values. Betsy Ross was chosen by George Washington to create the first American flag which had thirteen stars to represent the thirteen colonies. As colonies, and later states, were added to the nation, the flag was correspondingly altered to reflect this, with the latest edit coming in the late 1950’s with the addition of Alaska and Hawaii as states. Common folklore had always indicated that the first foreign salute of a flag came in 1778, in the Quiberon Bay in France. However, more contemporary research on the subject indicates that the first foreign salute of the original Stars and Stripes actually came 2 years prior, and was carried out on the U.S.S. Andrew Doria and conducted by Dutch Captain Johannes de Graaf. The American Flag has no direct connection to Rutgers University but if one really thinks about the American Flag, many of the ideals it represents are a direct the origin of the ideals of Rutgers. The constitution, which is a directly represented by the American Flag, states that everyone should have an equal opportunity to chase the American dream, and to have the freedom to choose what and how he or she wants to accomplish regardless of race, gender or religion. Rutgers directly emphasizes this ideal, as it is ranked the second most diverse AAU public flagship institution in the “U.S. News & World Report” rankings. The American flag may seem like a strange artifact to choose to draw a connection to the Netherlands. However, in context of the theme of “Shared Values” among the two nations, the connection appears to be given a new validity. The reason that we chose the American flag as our artifact, as stated previously, is that the Dutch were the first foreign country to recognize the United States as a sovereign nation from the crown. However, the underlying connection between the Dutch and the United States actually goes deeper than this historical anecdote. The Netherlands and the United States are both free nations that are at the forefront of the new age, a scenario that would not be possible without the paramount value that liberty takes in both societies. Today, the American flag is a symbol of patriotism. People revere the American Flag and most households or institutions contain one or more flags. The Flag is a symbol of what it is to be American. It has 50 stars, encompassing all fifty states, and thirteen stripes to pay homage to the original thirteen states of the union. The Red Blue and White are iconic in American culture. Many products in shops use these colors in order to appeal to Americans. This prompts an interesting question. Why does the flag appeal to people? The Flag is the most direct symbol of American independence and power. The Flag asserts American authority, as evidenced by the planting of the flag at Iwo Jima. It also invokes a sense of pride in the country. Americans believe the flag to represent the country as a whole, which is why they face it while reciting the pledge of Allegiance. Every person in America, regardless of their differences accepts the flag as a symbol of unity. The Flag is so respected that desecration of the flag is highly frowned upon. Perhaps, the best way to describe the American flag would be to use the word sacred. “O say does that Star Spangled/Banner yet wave/O’er the land of the free/and the home of the brave” – Francis Scott Key, 1814. Though a statement made almost half a century after the original American flag was made, there is perhaps no more relevant line to the ideals embodied by the emblem of our nation. The line, which is also a famous part of the national anthem, indicates that the speaker, Mr. Scott Key, is imploring us to forever fly the flag over our prosperous and free nation. In 1909, The New York Times actually published a fascinating piece on the first recorded salute to the American flag. It explains that “The first recorded salute by a foreign officer to the flag of the Continental Congress and the United States of America was at the island of St. Eustatius on November 16, 1776, by the Dutch governor, de Graeff, after his reading the Declaration of Independence.” The article also goes on to explain De Graaff’s forward-thinking acceptance of the United States America by not only showing his support to the American government against the British crown, but also by opening the Dutch harbor at St. Eustatius to freely trade with the Americans.



Return to home page.

Cornelius Low House

Cornelius Low House

loading map - please wait...

Cornelius Low House 40.511957, -74.465198

Joseph Acoury, Sneh Shah, Reshni Mahtani, Aaron Wong

Our artifact is the Cornelius Low House located at 1225 River Rd, Piscataway Township, NJ 0885. It was built in 1741 and the land for the house was purchased from William Williamson. The owner of the house,  Low’s family is originally from Holland and is therefore Dutch. His grandfather eventually left Holland and migrated to the Americas. Cornelius then moved to New York and established himself as a merchant. Cornelius picked the Raritan location to build his house because it overlooked the pier and his warehouse, which he was then able to keep a watch on. The house was built on grounds that are now part of Rutgers University. Our visit to the house sparked an interest in it. Hearing about its dramatic history and its origins exciting all of the members of our group, so making this choice was fairly easy.


The house’s transformation to a museum is very interesting. In 1979, Middlesex County, New Jersey bought the house and grounds. Under the guidance and administration of the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission. The County acquired the Low House to use as a local heritage museum for discussing the history of New Jersey and its context within that of national events. As the home of the Middlesex County Museum, the Low House was established to provide exceptional, educational experiences through the presentation of original research relating significant people, historic places, events and attitudes to the State of New Jersey. At the moment, the Low House is an exhibit of the history of New Jersey diners.

Return to home page.

The Netherlands and America: Sisters in Art

 Thought to be the home of the “first modern economy”, the Netherlands were experiencing a shining Golden Age by the 17th century. The nation had grown economically prosperous from its trade, dominating the lucrative trade of spices and other goods. At the same time, the Dutch were free of overt royal influence or religious dominion, allowing the development of a new ideal, a new “modern individual”: secular, middle-class, and urban.

This ideal was particularly visible in Dutch art: the rise of the businessman and middle class caused a boom in the art industry, with as many as 1,700 artists active during the Golden Age. Rather than saints or royalty, the subjects of Golden Age paintings were simply wealthier civilians, dressed smartly but not decadently, striving to be the center of the scene, but not from divine right, and often bearing some sign of the accomplishments that made them so privileged.

The artistic ideal of the modern man did not stay confined within Dutch borders. Following the exploration of Henry Hudson in 1609, the Dutch West India Company gained colonization rights and settled along the Hudson River, establishing what is today New York. With them, the Dutch traders and settlers brought their cultural ideas and artistic styles, which have since been integrated into American culture, giving rise to the similarities between American and Dutch culture present to this day.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 7.29.47 PM
(American, 1768-1836) Simeon De Witt, 1804
Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 7.33.12 PM
(Dutch, 1606–1669), Portrait of Cornelis Claesz. Anslo, 1641







Given some time to compare works of art from either culture, one will find that the themes conveyed by both are indeed quite similar. For example, portraiture in either culture will not only focus on the subject, but on the signs of (usually) his success, and the root of it in light of the modern man stereotype. The lighting makes the subject “pop” out of the background, and will having him holding (or at least standing very close to) some sign of education and worldliness.

In Rembrandt’s 1641 work, Portrait of Cornelis Claesz. Anslo, there is scarcely a background at all, and the man is holding a book while casually gesturing at more. Much later, In the 1804 American work Simeon De Witt by Ezra Ames, again the subject’s coloring contrasts just enough with the environment’s scheme to stand out, and he places his hand on a table with maps and a globe, pen in hand. These are wealthy, educated men and these artists, separated by over a century and by nationality, are elegantly showing that off in very similar ways. The artistic modern man has clearly crossed borders.

America’s Dutch roots are as relevant today as ever!

Here are some good reasons why:

  • European colonization of New Jersey started soon after the 1609 exploration of its coast and bays by Sir Henry Hudson.
  • Dutch settlement in the seventeenth century concentrated along the banks of the North River and the Upper New York Bay, though they maintained trading posts along the Delaware River as well.
  • In 1658, the last Director-General of New Netherland, Peter Stuyvesant, “re-purchased” the entire peninsula known as Bergen Neck, and in 1661 granted a charter to the village at Bergen, establishing the oldest municipality in the state.
  • Once the English gained control of the New Netherland colony through the Treaty of Westminster, the Duke of York gifted the land between the Hudson and Delaware Rivers to two of this loyal friends, Sir George Carteret and Lord Berkeley of Stratton, who then changed the name of the area to New Jersey, after the English Channel Island of Jersey.
  • The Dutch Reformed Church played an important role this expansion, following the course of the Hudson River in the north to the Raritan River in the south, settlement and population grew.  
    The American Presbytery secured a charter in 1766 for Queens College (now Rutgers University), where the appointment in 1784 of John Henry Livingston as professor of theology marked the beginning of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, located on College Ave. campus.

Both of the paintings discussed in this post are housed right here at Rutgers in the Zimmerli museum! Connect with these cultural roots by seeing these Golden Age artworks for yourself, today!

Peter Stuyvesant’s Pear Tree

By: Liliya Bondarenko, Alfred Smajlaj, Juhee Thakkar and Paul Chamesian.



Peter Stuyvesant’s pear tree, located on 13th Street & 3rd Avenue in New York City. 

13th + 3rd

loading map - please wait...

13th + 3rd 48.216038, 16.378984


Peter Stuyvesant, the once director-general of New York City, planted this pear tree in order to be remembered by the future inhabitants of the city. The tree grew as New York City did, lasting for almost 200 years. It was fenced in. It was a tree that grew ripe fruit and often bloomed, but unfortunately died after being damaged in a car accident. It is now commemorated with a plaque in the same area that it once grew, and keeps citizens of New York in touch with their Dutch roots.











Peter Stuyvesant’s pear tree was located on the corner of 13th Street and 3rd Avenue in New York City, near where he built his home. He was the director-general of the New Netherlands colony from 1647 up to 1664, when the Dutch lost it to the British and New Amsterdam was renamed New York. After losing the colony, Stuyvesant went back to The Netherlands, and when he again returned to New York, he brought a pear tree from his farm with him. The tree flourished, and continued to live while New York grew around it, even being fenced in for protection. Unfortunately, the tree was damaged in a car accident and had to be removed. The story of Stuyvesant’s tree shows how dearly people hold the idea of their past, and demonstrates how important it is to do so. Even in the 1800s, people knew how important it was to hold on to artifacts of the past, and to make sure that even when the physical artifact is gone, something is there to remember it by. This artifact is not expressly related to the history of Rutgers, but it is important for American history in general. It is one of the few links we have to our Dutch ancestry, compared to the many ideas and objects we have connected to our British ancestry. We chose this artifact specifically for that reason – that it is expressly connected to one of the Dutch leaders who helped to colonize and shape New York City.

In September of 1890, the Holland Society of New York placed a plaque on the same corner that the tree once lived, in order to keep the memory of New York’s Dstuyvesanttreeplaqueutch ancestry alive.






In 2003, a new tree was planted in the same spot as the original, in the hopes of it lasting for the same amount of times as the previous one.

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 11.13.42 PM








A view of 13th and 3rd today. If you look closely you can see the plaque on the buildinthirdandthirteenthst2011g. 








Return to home page.