Adriaen van der Donck

Possible portrait<ref group=notes>According to author [[Russell Shorto]]:<blockquote>The [[National Gallery of Art]] in Washington, D.C., has determined that in the twentieth century this painting passed through a pair of art dealers who were known to forge the provenances of some works, and thus now considers the subject uncertain.</blockquote> [[Russell Shorto|Shorto, Russell]] (2004) ''[[The Island at the Center of the World]]''. New York: Vintage Press. pp.112-113. {{isbn|978-1-4000-7867-7}}</ref> Adriaen Cornelissen van der Donck (1618 – 1655) was a lawyer and landowner in New Netherland after whose honorific ''Jonkheer'' the city of Yonkers, New York, is named. Although he was not, as sometimes claimed, the first lawyer in the Dutch colony (an 'honor' that befell the lesser-known Lubbert Dinclagen who arrived in 1634), Van der Donck was a leader in the political life of New Amsterdam (modern New York City), and an activist for Dutch-style republican government in the Dutch West India Company-run trading post.

Enchanted by his new homeland of New Netherland, Van der Donck made detailed accounts of the land, vegetation, animals, waterways, topography, and climate. Van der Donck used this knowledge to actively promote immigration to the colony, publishing several tracts, including his influential ''Description of New Netherland''. Charles Gehring, Director of the New Netherland Institute, has called it "the fullest account of the province, its geography, the Indians who inhabited it, and its prospects ... It has been said that had it not been written in Dutch, it would have gone down as one of the great works of American colonial literature."

Records from the colony brought to public attention in the early 2000s suggest that van der Donck was a significant figure in the early development of what would later become the United States, neglected by history because of the eventual English conquest of New Netherland. Today, he is also recognized as a sympathetic early Native American ethnographer, having learned the languages and observed many of the customs of the Mahicans and Mohawks. His descriptions of their practices are cited in many modern works, such as the 2005 book ''1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus''. Provided by Wikipedia
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