DUTCH NEW YORK (known as “New Netherland” from 1609-1664)

  1. View“New York: Before the City” (with Eric Sanderson)

2. View Documentary on Henry Hudson

3. Read:   Biography of Jacob Steendam and his poem “In Praise of New Netherland” (1636)

4. View: Documentary on Washington Irving

5. Read: Washington Irving “Rip Van Winkle”  (1819)


POST A RESPONSE to 1) “Rip Van Winkle” AND 2) Eric Sanderson, Henry Hudson, OR Jacob Steendam

Your response to the story “Rip Van Winkle” should include a quote or passage that you are referring to. Consider discussing 1) the main character, his wife and family, 2) the setting (time and place of action), 3) the use of humor, 4) a particularly descriptive/enjoyable passage, 5) the theme or larger meaning of the tale.


  1. Mark

    great story!!!

  2. Manija Shouff

    “RIP VAN WINKLE” a story by Washington Irving, was about a man RIP VAN WINKLE who lived in a small village with his family. Everyone was fond of RIP, he was always available to help people with their problems, lend a hand to everyone including kids. “He assisted at their sports, made their playthings, taught them to fly kites…” Kids were happy to see him and he was happy to see them as well. It is Ironic how he could fix everyone’s problem but his own. RIP had a dog, children and a nagging wife who would nag all day, every day. Due to her nagging RIP leaves the house to go to the woods where he meets strange people in the top of the Kaatskill mountains and due to his love for drinking, he takes drinks after drinks and falls asleep.
    Once he wakes up, he notices everything has changed and that is been 20yrs since he came into the woods. Apparently, those strange people were spirits of Hendrick Hudson who were the first people who discovered the river and country. When he arrives to the village, he notices that the hotel he used to hang out by has changed, there was war and his friends had died. The story of RIP tells us that life goes on, nothing stays the same but RIP after 20yrs still continues living his life like before but now without his wife.
    Watching the documentary of Henry Hudson and the story RIP VAN Winkle, I would say if Henry left back home in June, those spirits would have not met RIP up in the mountains and there would not have been a story of RIP VAN WINKLE. History would have been written differently.

    • Mark

      Manija, You provide a nice overview of Washington Irving’s classic story. What do you think the larger meaning of this mysterious tale is, however? Nicely done.

      • Manija Shouff

        I think the larger meaning here is change, at one moment pictures of King George were hanged in the village and after the war, it was changed to George Washington’s picture and now they vote, friends in congress etc.

  3. Jingquan Feng

    After I finished Jacob Steendam’s poem “In Praise of New Netherland” Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle” and the videos, I found the all of them have a common theme, “Changes in the colony.” In the Ted talk show, Eric Sanderson showed us how New York changed from a beautiful natural paradise to a city full of steel and cement. I am kind of surprised about New York, or should I say “New Amsterdam” look like in the 1600s. I also found out that this time was not Columbus discover New York, the Dutches did. And this brings us a forgotten history of a Dutch colony called “New Amsterdam.”
    In the “In Praise of New Netherland” by Jacob Steendam, he described “New Amsterdam” as a paradise. For example, in his poem, he wrote: “a living view does always meet your eye, of Eden, and the promised land of Jacob’s seed; ho ould not, then, in such a formed community, Desire to be a Freeman.” However, if you are living in New York right now, you are not living in a paradise; you are living in a place full of noise and garbage. In my opinion, New York is a cage, not a paradise for freemen. Why? Because it is a city that never stops, when you sit on a subway or bus, you see a lot of people look tired and stressed. Also, in the poem, Jacob said he saw animals roaming around the place in the past. But now, you can only see cars driving around.
    About the “Freeman,” we have to mention Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle.” The storytime setting is when English came to the “New Amsterdam”; Rip Van Winkle is the main protagonist who lived in a village near the Hudson River. He is a good man that can do anything for you and had a noisy wife and a son. However, Rip is lazy about his housework. For example, Washington Irving wrote in the story: “Rip was ready to attend to anybody’s business but his own; but as to doing family duty, and keeping his farm in order, he found it impossible.” One day he decided to leave the house because of his wife’s complaint. He brought his gun and his dog and go to the mountain. Whenever he goes to the hill, he feels he becomes a freeman. Then he saw a stranger with dutch style clothing was trying to carry his barrel of liquor to the mountain. Like I mentioned before, he can do anything for every people he met. So he decided to help the stranger. When they reached the destination, Rip saw there were a couple of strangers dressed the same as the one he helped. They were playing nine pins, and the stranger offers him a drink; he drank that liquor, and he passed out.
    However, when he woke up, something strange happened. His gun rusted, his beard was very long, and his dog was missing. He back to the village everything changed. The ruler changed from King George the third to General Washington. And He found his son Rip Van Winkle Jr. In this story, we can see a lot of changes that come from colonization. Like the Inn that Rip used to chill with friends became a commercial hotel. The painting of General Washington represents the fade of freedom because Washington allows slavery. All of these stories and videos all talking about colonization can bring a lot of changes; it can affect people’s life. Colonization can change a paradise for Freemans to a cage full of “Prisoner.”

    • Mark

      Jingquan, Your discussion of the theme of “change” across all of these readings is very perceptive. It would make for a great larger essay. Certainly, we are currently living in another sudden, seismic transformation (the pandemic) that has again changed many many things. Excellent discussion.

  4. Marjan Ahmed

    The story of Rip Van Winkle is actually very mysterious. A person who slept through 20 years of his life. He lived in a small village near the Kaatskill mountain. His village was “At the foot of these fairy mountains”. The author Washington Irving described the village a way which makes me want to go and live there. “…the light smoke curling up from a village, whose single-roof gleam among the trees, just where the blue tint of the upland melt away into the fresh green of the nearer landscapes”. I can imagine how beautiful the mornings would be in that place. Rip Van Winkle was a simple good-natured man with a family. He had 2 kids, dog, and a wife who “…kept continually dinning on his ears about his idleness, his carelessness, and the ruin he was bringing on his family.” It is obvious his personal life was not that great with a wife like that. But again, he was willing to help anybody, but he never wants to do work in his own field. As the author said, “Rip was ready to attend to anybody’s business but his own…” He did not want to take responsibility for his family or the land he had, for which his wife was constantly taunting him. One day he left everything behind in the search of peace with his dog. He reached on of the highest points of the Kaatskill Mountains and spent the day there. Later he decided to return home to his family because he felt lonely. As we know he drank lots of alcohol from the spirits of Henry Hudson and some of his crew members and stayed in sleep for 20 years. Later returned to village and everything was changed. His kids grew up and he started to live a normal life. This story reminds of a short film I watched long time ago, where the person goes to mountains and meets a friend and they talk for very long time. He does not realize that he was talking to that person for 8 years and returns home. While I was reading the story of Rip Van Winkle, I had this crazy Déjà vu. I could not remember where exactly but I knew I saw it somewhere else.
    The story of Rip Van Winkle is of course related to Henry Hudson (Hendrick Hudson). As I watched the video of Henry Hudson, I got to know he was in the search of a route to China but kept on failing. He made multiple attempts. He even got married in the voyage and had 3 sons. At a point of time, his crews were frustrated and wanted to return back to Europe, but Henry did not want to give up, so he was left behind and eventually died. The spirits that Rip Van Winkle meets are Henry (mentioned in the story as Hendrick) Hudson’s and some of crews I believe.

    • Mark

      Marjan, You provide a very interesting review of the story and documentary. I bet the film you watched was influenced by this famous story. Excellent post.

  5. Lisbeth Rivas

    “Rip Van Winkle” a short story written by Washington Irving, focuses on a carefree man named Rip Van Winkle who lives in a village with his wife and kids in New York near the kaatskill Mountains. Rip Van Winkle is loved by most of the villagers because he is good at helping others, he is good with the kids of the village, and even does small odd jobs for the wives of the villagers that they do not want to do. However, in the eyes of his wife, He is inept at helping himself or his family. Causing him to pull away from his home and leaving the care of the farm and his kids in the hands of Dame Van Winkle. As a consequence, his children are ragged and his wife is enraged by his indolence. Although Rip Van Winkle is not a lazy man, when it comes to working on the farm it seems impossible for him to do. “In a word, Rip was ready to attend to anybody’s business but his own; but as to doing family duty, and keeping his farm in order, he found it impossible.” Since he does not have much motivation and did not have hope for his land he felt like there was no use to try. Rip liked to spend time with his friends who, are also considered to be lazy according to his wife, who would give Rip and his friends a hard time. Since Rip’s wife was unavoidable, Rip decided to go hunting in the woods with his dog, wolf. It was getting late so Rip decided it was time to head home as he was leaving, he began hearing a voice calling his name. Assuming that it was someone who knew him, Rip stuck around, but to his surprise, he sees an unfamiliar man carrying a barrel of liquor dressed in strange clothes. He then helps the strange man and realizes that the man is not alone. Rip is offered a drink and kept going back for more, causing him to get drunk and fall into a deep sleep. Upon waking up he realized that things had changed. As he approached the village he noticed how different the houses appeared. “The very village was altered; it was larger and more populous. There were rows of houses which he had never seen before, and those which had been his familiar haunts had disappeared.” Rip recognized no one in the town, everything was new to his eyes. He had gotten to what used to be his house and found it abandoned. No one was in sight. Sooner or later, Rip finds out what happened to everyone and why the town has changed. 20 years had gone by. Some of his friends had died, A few went to the army for the war that had occurred, one of his friends became part of the congress. Turns out what Rip had seen 20 years ago were ghosts of explorer Hendrick Hudson and his men who returned to Kaatskills every 20 years. I think the meaning of the story is that life goes on, people move on, things change. Although everything and everyone changed, Rip remained constant with the same routine he was doing 20 years ago regardless of the vast changes that occur around him. Emphasizing the contrast between the old village and the new village, the nature of the old inhabitants vs. the new inhabitants. I think one of the humorous parts of the story was Rip’s reaction to the passing of his wife. He was relieved to find out she had died before he “came back.”

    • Mark

      Lisbeth, You captured one of the very funny parts in the story at the end of your post. Some critics read Rip’s wife as representing “nagging” England that America had to break from in the Revolutionary War. The theme of change is also very important, as we’re again in a time of seismic transformation (in the city and nation at large). Great post!

  6. Aaliyah A Madurie

    The story written by Washington Irving was very interesting to read. It shows how important it is to appreciate what we have around us because nothing lasts Forever. This story is centered around the name of a man called Rip Van Winkle who lived in a small village. He was very kind and helpful towards the people in the village and they all loved him. He was ready to attend to anyone’s business besides his own. He found it impossible to make sure that his family is stable and that his farm is in good condition. He basically abandoned them. He had two sons and a caring wife who always nagged about how careless he is and the outcome of his family will be very unpleasant because of him. Whenever his wife gets on his nerves about his carelessness for the family he would go into the woods to do his favorite sport which was squirrel shooting. However, one day he made it to the mountain where he drank himself to sleep and was haunted by the spirits of Henry Hudson and his crew. Henry Hudson was an English navigator and explorer who repeatedly tried to find a route to Asia but was unsuccessful. Hudson was left behind on a boat by some of his crew members because of his driven motivation to find a route which he kept failing at. Winkle woke up just to find out that he had been asleep for 20 years. He returned back to the village to an old abandoned house and no family. His village was seemingly different.
    In relation to both stories, I feel as if both men were careless to their family. I say this because Henry wasn’t thinking about the life of his kids and wife when he was on his journey to find that route. I mean he did his best. He tried multiple times. But, so many unexpected things happened. He should’ve just gone home. Instead they all died later because of his stubbornness to go home. Van on the other hand we all know didn’t care about his personal life. He took the world very easy and would starve on a penny than to work for a pound.

    • Mark

      Aailyah, You do a fine job walking through this interesting story. It is a story that reflects on change and also, as you point out, family responsibility. Clearly Rip is someone who likes to be lazy and ignores his wife and responsibilities. Many male characters in American Literature seem to act this way!

  7. chris castellon

    After reading Washington Irving’s story “Rip Van Wrinkle” I believe the story is mysterious, because Rip Van Wrinkle had always fulfilled everyone’s needs but himself. According to the author it states: “Rip was ready to attend to anybody’s business but his own”. Furthermore he distance himself from his family especially his wife who repeats to him how he would ruin the family, this proves he did not respect his wife, furthermore he decided to leave the village, 20 years later he returned and his kids have grown and lived a normal life. it’s not just the story that is mysterious but Rip Van Wrinkle himself. while reading the story it’s hard to think what is on his mind nor does he show any emotion which makes it harder to know what’s on his mind. In addition after he returned he met a spirit of Hendrick Hudson the one who first discovered the river and the country. Rip then discovers that his friends died and a war had occurred. I’ve wondered how the story would have turned if Rip didn’t leave the village or if henry could’ve returned home.

    • Mark

      You raise great questions here Chris and hit on Rip’s curious behavior patterns. Some critics read Rip as a figure who rejects American capitalism and work ethic completely.

  8. Richard Li

    After reading “Rip Van Winkle”, I felt like I was kind of like him, a person who is willing to help anyone, and he will gladly do anything for his village. The village saw him like a god, always assisting them when they needed help. Everyone loved him. On the other hand, his wife and kids did not see him as a father. While he was helping everyone else, he was never helping himself or his family. It even said “On the other side he looked down into a deep mountain glen, wild, lonely, and shagged, the bottom filled with fragments from the impending cliffs, and scarcely lighted by the reflected rays of the setting sun.” showing that he had two sides of his personality, one with the village, and this one with his family and wife. This is the side that his family sees, while the light being reflected is when he helps the village and “in return” his family gets nothing. The time and place would be near some cliffs with water in the middle of the day to the end. I love the part where he kept going back and forth for drinks and eventually ended up drunk going back to the village, and seeing a whole new world, and everything changes from here on out. The meaning of this tale is that not everything will always stay the same. Everything eventually changes over time, and in order to survive, we must adapt and change ourselves too.

    So I watched the documentary on Henry Hudson. I was surprised he got married on his expedition and had 3 sons. He found what is called the Hudson river today. I was shocked when he didn’t want to go back home, and his crew threw his family off the boat and into a smaller one to leave to die, while they went back home.

    • Mark

      Your reading of “Rip Van Winkle” is excellent. He is a curious figure indeed and I agree that one of the central themes is “change.” We’re certainly in a moment of great change right now. The story of Hudson and his sons is certainly sad but it seems as if Rip Van Winkle found his lost crew in the mountains!

  9. Najeh Marcus

    The story “Rip Van Winkle” is interesting. Rip Van Winkle falls asleep for twenty years after over indulging in the alcoholic beverage given to him by the people in the Catskills Mountain. The interesting part is that story kind of alludes that he saw the spirts of Henry Hudson’s crew. A quote that supports this is in paragraph9, it states “He assured the company that it was a fact, handed down from his ancestor the historian, that the Catskills mountains had always been haunted by strange beings. That it was affirmed that the great Hendrick Hudson, the first discoverer of the river and country, kept a kind of vigil there every twenty years…”. Whatever happened in that Amphitheatre that night could have been supernatural event and can maybe explain why Rip woke up twenty years later. The story describes Rip as a helpful individual. He would help anyone with their errands and jobs but he when it came to his family business, he couldn’t do it. (Paragraph 6). We also learn that Rip had a dog named Wolf who was regarded the same as Rip because of its idleness. Rip’s son Rip who as described from the story seems like he acquired all of Rips traits and is his spitting image. Rip also had a daughter Judith Gardenier but she isn’t really described as much. Rip’s wife Dame Van Winkle is describe as having a temper and a sharp mouth. The setting of this story take place in a village near the Catskills Mountain to an Amphitheatre. The time of the story is pre-Revolutionary War and jumps to Post-Revolutionary War.
    The video “New York-Before the City” was also interesting. I always wonder how did New York looked before all these buildings were built. The video showed what type of animals and plants could have been in Manhattan. I think being able to see what type of things used to be there in the past like the Collect Pond is interesting. It makes me wonder how other places could have changed since the time they were inhabited.

    • Mark


      Excellent discussion of both the story and documentary. You make a funny pick-up in pointing out that both Rip’s dog and son are JUST like him!!!

  10. Lionel Desroses

    Rip Van Winkle was a known, well-respected, and lovable man in the village with a nagging wife. He was a man that would help with anybody’s needs without even a doubt. Most would say that Van was a kind neighbor and an obedient hen-pecked husband, which has made him very popular in the neighborhood. In the story of “Rip Van Winkle” (1819) by Washington Irving stated that “he was surrounded by a troop of them, hanging on his skirts, clambering on his back, and playing a thousand tricks on him with impunity; and not a dog would bark at him throughout the neighborhood.” This quote shows that many of the children liked Mr winkle, and even the dogs would not bark at him while he walks through the neighborhood because he was well known. Even-though he was ready to attend anyone in need, and he would not attend to his own, that’s why his wife would not stop nagging at him to do something helpful in the house. For that was seen as a lazy respectful man. He would help others build their fence while his own was slowly getting destroyed, liken his farm, and many others. Due to Van’s wife nagging morning, noon, and night, he decided to go to the mountain for some peace and hunt birds. While lying down under a tree in the mountain, he heard someone call his name; a strange fellow called him to help him carry a stout keg, which seemed full of liquor, which Van had no problem assisting the peculiar fellow. As he helped the odd fellow bring the stout barrel, he noticed more of the stranges fellow who was entertaining themself. With no one paying attention to Van, he decides to taste the beverage with one taste of the drink, which had multiple flavors of excellent, which provoke him to drink more. The next thing he knows is him waking him the next day with a stiff in his joint and with the strange fellow gone. As he walks down back to the village, he noticed some changes, and his house was not looking the same. He started asking around, and people would not recognize him until he’s daughter noticed the name and realized that his father had been gone for 20 years now. It was at this moment that Van sees that he was gone for 20 years.
    Henry Hudson was one of the greatest explorers who failed at finding a route from Europe to Asia. while Hudson was failing badly at finding the passage, he also found a wife and had three sons on his voyage. Even though Hudson was not ready to give up on his search but his crew was ready to throw in the towel. With Hudson not ready to give, the crew decided to throw him overboard with his son, so they put him in a small boat and took the ship back to England.

    • Mark


      Great overview of both the story and documentary. What do you think are the larger lessons and themes of the story, however? For that matter, what is Henry Hudson doing in the story?

  11. Dan

    Please forgive my late posting. I keep thinking I have till Wednesday for these assignments because that is the day classes started.
    Rip Van Winkle seems to be a master of his own undoing, but story kind of seems like an old fashion fairy tale fantasy about getting rid of your nagging wife. The point being that the time in which this story was written, women were not respected as well as they should be. But I feel I can relate to this story very closely due to first-hand experience with the area where the story takes place (the picture I shared is from this area), and experience I had there last summer. As Van Winkle went into the woods alone only to come out 20 years later, I too found myself stuck in the backcountry of the Catskills for days last summer. The experience of being alone, only able to escape by one’s own fortitude was as timeless as a 20-year passing.
    I can understand the legend of Henry Hudson playing nine-pins every 20 years during thunder storms. The last time I was up in the Catskills, there was a bad thunder storm, which scared me, even though it only got as close as 8 miles. The echo of the thunder was so loud that it brought terrifying fantasies of waking the dead. It felt more intense then a storm in the city, maybe because of how the sound bounces off the mountains while you’re in between them.

    • Mark

      Dan. Thanks for your post. It’s right on time, so no worries. It’s fantastic that you’ve had a chance to experience the Catskills which Irving writes about. You probably also drove over the “Rip Van Winkle” Bridge. The place remains as magical now as it was then, as you point out.

  12. Afshan S (Lil B)

    Sorry for the late post, professor!

    Response to Jacob Steendam & In Praise of New Netherland
    I never really knew the history of New York/America immediately after Columbus “discovered” America. I know that New York City was once New Amsterdam, but how it changed over to the British is something I never really learned, so it was a bit surprising to find that Steendam was kicked out of his home two years after arriving and building a new home. I wonder how the transition looked like when the Dutch had control over Manhattan to when the English took over.
    It seems like In Praise of New Netherland is the first depiction of what we now call “The American Dream.” I don’t know where the American Dream originated, but it seems like Steendam had a very hopeful outlook for this new land, trying to convince people in the Netherlands to make the voyage over. In the poem he writes “Choose you New Netherland, which no one shall disdain; Before you time and strength here fruitlessly are spent,” … and “Desire to be a Freeman; and the rights decreed,” which seems like Steendam’s saying that you can basically do anything there, and that resources are plentiful and life there is much better than it is back in the Netherlands.
    Steendam seemed to have lived an interesting life given the era he lived in. Born in the Netherlands, moved to New Amsterdam, built a home, only to lose it when the British take over two years later, moved back to the Netherlands, then to India where he ended up dying at the age of 57.

    Response to Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving
    After reading Steendam, I’m curious as to what the transition of power looked like when the British arrived to New Netherland, which is what Rip Van Winkle seems to take a guess at the aftermath. It’s interesting that he chose Rip Van Winkle to be very passive/opposed to working because maybe that was a metaphor for the way that the Dutch reacted to the English taking over? I don’t want to read too far ahead and base it only on the readings, but from my recollection the Dutch are very neutral about global affairs, which may be commentary on Irving’s part on the Dutch’s presence in what would become America. When asked what he thought of the elections after his 20-year sleep, he said “I am a poor quiet man, a native of the place, and a loyal subject of the king, God bless him!” just to avoid any problems.
    Irving has a lot of humor spread throughout the story, especially in the first half of the story. I’ve never seen the phrase “a tolerable blessing” before reading RVW, which is just silly to think about. I’m not quite sure what was meant by “as usual with the amiable sex,” when talking about the “good wives of the village,” does the author mean that Rip was having sex with them? I still get a bit confused by stuff written before the 1900s. It’s funny to see that the other wives blame his wife despite Rip not providing for his family, citing an aversion to “profitable labor.”
    Overall I’m glad that to have finally read something by Washington Irving considering that he’s had an impact on the history of New York. Now I feel tempted to go to the Catskill Mountains and visit Irvington to find out more about him.

    • Mark

      Thorough and thoughtful reply Afshan. In regards to the Dutch, you are completely right in noticing that Irving represents the Dutch as lazy and carefree. In a sense Rip is a counterpart to aggressive, loud, political Americans — like America is now! The Dutch by 1664 would cede New Amsterdam to the English and would concentrate their colonial might in South America and the Indies.

  13. Jawad Awada

    In Rip Van Winkle, this story shows how the main character Rip Van Winkle had lived a simple life for the most part while living at home. However at one point when he was away from home that changed as all of a sudden he experienced something out of the ordinary compared to how he used to live. His neighbors also described him as a kind person which shows that kind of individual he was. The village that he lived in was located in the Catskill Mountains which is something different. His relationship with his neighbors was very good, but when it comes to his household relationships that was the complete opposite. It seemed to me that he did not care much about his family, and that he cared more for the neighbors. One thing that caught my attention was when the writer described Rip Van Winkle. There was a point that was made in the passage that helped envision how Rip Van Winkle looked when “his long grizzled beard, his uncouth dress”. This quote in particular helped me imagine how Rip Van Winkle actually looked like and to me it was a great source of imagery that was used. Another striking point and in my opinion the fact that he was a colonial Dutch American who fell asleep for twenty years was by far the most intriguing part of this story. To me it also seemed like he had a good heart because of the fact that he liked helping people, but when it came to helping his own family that was not the case. So one day when he decided to go outside he took his dog and his gun and headed to the mountains I believe. While he is there he comes across a guy who is lifting a barrel of liquor but is struggling to do so. So as helpful as Rip Van Winkle was he decided to help. Overall he helps the guy with the barrel and Rip Van Winkle finds himself at this gathering that had other men drinking so he decides to join them. Rip Van Winkle has too many drinks and ends up getting drunk and falls asleep, however when he wakes up it is twenty years later which is something very shocking. So overall by the time he wakes up he is waking up to a new world.

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