America's (Neglected) Debt to the Dutch: An Institutional Perspective
39 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2006 Last revised: 6 Oct 2009
Date Written: November 13, 2007
In the late sixteenth century, the Dutch fought a successful war to secede from a major empire. They wrote a declaration of independence and adopted a federal model of Republican governance almost exactly two hundred years before the Americans. The Dutch republic and its political institutions subsequently inspired and protected enlightenment scholars. Its leading political family and army played a crucial role in curtailing English absolutism in England and in England's American colonies, and its federal template provided a model for early American institutions. Its early financial support for the American republic helped that new republic avoid an early bankruptcy. To a considerable extent, all these effects were consequences of the decentralized and relatively liberal institutions adopted by the Dutch republic in the late sixteenth century.
Keywords: political history, constitutional design, revolution, dutch republic
JEL Classification: N21, F54, H11, D72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation