THE year 1651 was an important date in English history. The passage of the Navigation Act in that year marked the beginning of a commercial policy which soon led to disturbances in Massachusetts and Virginia, and in the end played a considerable part among the causes of the separation of the American colonies from the mother country. It also marked a sudden and violent change in the relations between the English and the Dutch. From time immemorial there had been unbroken friendship between the two peoples, and for three centuries the intimacy had been extremely close. In 1584, after the assassination of William the Silent, the people of the Netherlands sent to Elizabeth of England a formal invitation to become their sovereign; but this honour she declined, while she actively intervened in their behalf and sent an army across the Channel to aid them. Now in 1651, after the premature death of William's grandson, William II., a similar proposal to unite the two countries under one government was made by the English and refused by the Dutch. Let us observe how peculiarly the two countries were then situated with reference to each other.
Change in the relations between England and the Netherlands.