IntroductionQuite a few Americans do have some sort of idea about the Netherlands and for those who need some background or trivia there is a great site with frequently asked questions about the Netherlands and there is even a site on the Internet about sports in the Netherlands, just to mention a few.
Some Americans have visions of the great Dutch painters Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh or pictures that come from the tale of Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, a tale that only very few Dutch are familiar with. Quite a few Americans have read the moving diary of Anne Frank and come to visit the "Achterhuis" on the Prinsengracht in Amsterdam.
Some do even know that the painter De Koning, the writer Jan Willem van de Wetering, the movie director Paul Verhoeven, and the movie actors Rutger Hauer and Jeroen Krabbe, basketball player Rik Smits of the Indiana Pacers, astronaut Wubbo Okkels, gitarists Jan Akkerman and Eddie van Halen, and the Concert Gebouw Orchestra all come from that small country across the Atlantic. Some identify Holland with fresh flowers, some with Heiniken Beer or Grolsch Beer. Some know that a good vodka and the finest gin in the world, or actually genever as it is properly called, comes from Hooghoudt right here in Groningen, though some prefer Bols or Bokma or one of the numorous other brands. Some Dutch firms or partly Dutch multi-nationals like Philips, Unilever, Akzo and Shell are known in other circles where some Americans also realise that the Dutch are among the large investors in the US. Besides lots of expressions with the word "Dutch" in it that have a rather negative connotation, there is also a market for special Dutch products in the USA.
On the other side of the Atlantic the Dutch have their own ideas about the Americans. There is still an immense gratitude for the liberation in the Second World War and for the help to rebuild the country via the Marshall plan. But there is also criticism for the role the US played in South East Asia, for a consumption oriented materialistic culture. Then there is great admiration for what the US has achieved in music, in sports, in space, in movies.
But the two countries have a much greater common history than many people know. The impact of the US on the Netherlands is well known, but the role the Dutch played in American history is not that well known.
The assistance during the revolution received from France is very well known and commemorated on a number of US stamps. Since Barbara Tuchman wrote The First Salute some people do know that the US flag was officially saluted for the first time by a foreign power on the Dutch colony St.Eustatius, the island that was so important for supplies to the rebelling American colonies that it was nicknamed the Arsenal of the Revolution and that the English decided to take it during the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War of 1780-184. That a number of bankers from Amsterdam had early contacts with the American rebels and provided the necessary financial support is less known, although president Clinton mentioned this in one of the speeches he made during his visit in 1997 to commemorate the 50th aniversary of the Marshall Plan.
Very few Americans know that three of their presidents were of Dutch descent :Van Buren, and the Roosevelts. FDR - actually remembered a nursery rhyme in Dutch, which he had learned as a child. The Roosevelt Research Institute in the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands commemorates that the Roosevelts originally came from island of Tholen. But also very few people know that Eddy van Halen was born in the Netherlands, or that the band the Golden Earring actually comes from The Hague, in the Netherlands. In these pages we will also have a closer look on the Dutch impact on American history.
This text is partly based and partly scanned from a brochure which was spread by the Dutch Government at the time of the bicentennial of Dutch-US relations: Hans Koning,The Netherlands and the United States, a tale of two countries. [Government Publishing Ofice, The Hague 1982]: it is our intention to update the text as much as possible