The Story of the Walloons: at Home in Lands of Exile and in America

The Story of the Walloons: at Home in Lands of Exile and in America

The Story of the Walloons: at Home in Lands of Exile and in America

The Story of the Walloons: at Home in Lands of Exile and in America

Excerpt

There are thousands of books on New York and the Middle States -- Distinctive America -- but in scarcely one, European or American, except in a few local histories, is more than a passing reference made to the first home-makers of the Empire Commonwealth, and in many none at all.

Thirty-one years ago, after seeing in Leyden the records relating to Jesse de Forest, I proposed a memorial in honor of him and his fellow refugees for conscience' sake. He was the potential beginner of the commonwealth of New York, for he was the moving spirit in a colony of Walloons who were the first builders of homes with families and were tillers of the soil of [Terra] Nova Belgica, or New Belgium. This territory comprised the area of our four Middle States, and was so named when given a civic organization in 1626.

These first home-makers in Distinctive America were high-souled pioneers of the freedom of the human spirit and not merely seekers after gain, in fish and furs. They were beginners of the social life of the Middle States, with interests rooted in the soil. I proceed on the principle that men and women, homes and families, are the foundations of a State, and the Walloons began these in 1624. The . . .

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