New York, both the city and the state, is named after the house of York and particularly for James Stuart, then Duke of York, one of the most successful slavers in colonial American history.
President Donald Trump wondered aloud during a raucous press conference Tuesday whether the impulse to tear down memorials to leaders of the Confederacy like Gen. Robert E. Lee would slip into calls to remove monuments to America’s founders, like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, both of whom owned slaves.
The memory of slavery is enshrined in the name New York as well as the name of the nation’s capitol, even though both cities have vastly changed from their christening.
James Stuart conquered the settlements between the Delaware and the Connecticut rivers from the Dutch in 1664, and the name of the principal port, New Amsterdam, was promptly changed to honor the new master. James’ brother, King Charles II of England, gave the territory to the duke in exchange for four beaver pelts annually.