Three hundred and fifty years ago, in March 1664, King Charles II granted a vast swathe of North America to his brother, James, Duke of York (the future King James II). Stretching from the Delaware Bay to Maine, the territory encompassed the sprawling region that England’s Dutch rivals called “New Netherland.” In August 1664, four ships carrying three hundred troops under the command of Richard Nicolls arrived to make good the duke’s claims. Reinforced by militia from New England, the troops conquered New Amsterdam and Fort Orange without firing a shot, respectively rechristening them “New York” and “Albany.” Things went less peacefully farther south in present-day Delaware, but the Dutch town of New Amstel quickly became English “New Castle.” Meanwhile, the territory between Delaware and New York had been regranted by James to two of Charles II’s courtiers, John, Lord Berkeley, and Sir George Carteret. The latter hailed from the Isle of Jersey in the English channel, and so the place was named “New Jersey.”

On the occasion of the 350th anniversary of these events, “From Conquest to Identity: New Jersey and the Middle Colonies in the Seventeenth Century,” brings together scholars and the general public to consider the historical experiences and legacies that shaped the mid-Atlantic region’s early history. The program will open and close with wide-ranging discussions of the issues—on Thursday evening by journalist Mark DiIonno and on late Friday afternoon by a panel of leading scholars. On Friday morning and early afternoon papers delving more deeply into political, social, and cultural developments will be discussed. These papers will be circulated in advance to registered conference attendees.

The conference is free and open to the public, but preregistration is required for on-line access to the pre-circulated papers.

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