A Guide to the United States’ History of Recognition, Diplomatic, and Consular Relations, by Country, since 1776: The Netherlands

Historical Overview

In 1779, while still fighting for independence from Great Britain, the Continental Congress of the United States commissioned Henry Laurens as Minister to the Netherlands in order to negotiate a treaty and a loan. The British Navy captured Laurens en route to Europe while carrying a draft of a proposal for a treaty between the newly independent United States of America and the Republic of the Netherlands. Britain subsequently declared war on the Netherlands in 1780.

The Netherlands, though a republic at the time the two countries established relations, is now a constitutional monarchy, a long-time ally of the United States, and a member of NATO.

Modern Flag of The Netherlands


Dutch Recognition of U.S. Independence, 1782.

The Republic of the Netherlands became the second nation to officially recognize the United States of America when The Hague accepted the credentials of Minister John Adams on April 19, 1782.

Consular Presence

Establishment of Consular Relations, 1798.

The Netherlands acknowledged Sylvanus Bourne as Consul General in Amsterdam on January 2, 1798. The Netherlands also acknowledged Jan Beeldermaker as Consul of the United States of America in Rotterdam also on January 2, 1798.

Closure of Consulate in Rotterdam, 1986.

The United States closed its consulate at Rotterdam in 1986.

Other Consulates.

From 1821 until after the U.S. Civil War, the United States also had consular representatives in Dordrecht, Harlingen, Den Helder and Zierikzee.

Diplomatic Relations

Establishment of Diplomatic Relations and the American Legation in The Hague, 1782.

Diplomatic relations and the American Legation in The Hague were established on April 19, 1782, when U.S. Minister John Adams presented his credentials.

Establishment of the Dutch Legation to the United States, 1783.

The United States received Peter John Van Berckel of the Netherlands as Minister Plenipotentiary in October 1783.

Closure of American Legation in The Hague, 1801.

The U.S. closed its legation at The Hague in May 1801, so that, as Secretary of State James Madison explained, the U.S. Government could reduce expenditures. In reality, it was clear that, as an ally of France, Dutch foreign policy was increasingly run by Napoleon. On September 2, 1801, U.S. Minister William Vans Murray departed the Batavian Republic, the last U.S. diplomat accredited to the Netherlands until 1814. During this time, American interests were overseen by Sylvanus Bourne, U.S. Consul in Amsterdam. Additionally, from time to time the U.S. minister in Paris would journey to the Batavian Republic/Kingdom of Holland in order to see to American interests. In 1802 the Dutch Minister to the United States R. G. van Polanen presented his letters of recall. For more details on the regime changes within the Netherlands between 1795 and 1814, please see “Key Diplomatic Events” below.

Netherlands Under French Control, 1810-1814.

Starting with the 1810 abdication of Louis Bonaparte from the throne of the Kingdom of Holland, the Netherlands was annexed to the French Empire.

Re-Opening of Diplomatic Relations, 1814.

Dutch independence and full sovereignty were regained in 1814 with the defeat of Napoleon. On September 24, 1814, Dutch Minister to the U.S. François Daniel Changuion presented his credentials to U.S. President James Madison. On December 19, 1814, the U.S. accredited William Eustis to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, who presented his credentials on July 20, 1815.

U.S. Legation moved to London, 1940.

The United States closed its legation to The Hague on July 15, 1940, after the German invasion of the Netherlands and reopened the legation in London near the Dutch government-in-exile on August 15, 1940.

Elevation of American Legation to Embassy Status, 1942.

The U.S. legation to the Kingdom of the Netherlands was elevated to the status of an embassy when Minister Anthony J. Drexel Biddle Jr. presented his new credentials as Ambassador to the government in exile in London on May 8, 1942.

U.S. Embassy Returned to The Hague, 1945.

Ambassador Stanley Hornbeck oversaw the return of the US Embassy to the Netherlands from London to The Hague on August 17, 1945.

Treaties and Agreements

Treaty of Amity and Commerce, 1782.

On October 8, 1782, the Netherlands and the United States signed a Treaty of Amity and Commerce in The Hague.

Convention on Recaptured Vessels, 1782.

On October 8, 1782, the Netherlands and the United States signed a convention governing recaptured vessels in The Hague.

Treaty of Commerce and Navigation, 1839.

On January 19, 1839, the United States and the Kingdom of the Netherlands signed a Treaty of Commerce and Navigation negotiated by U.S. Secretary of State John Forsyth and the Dutch Chargé d’Affaires near the United States, Evert Marius Adrian Martini.

Convention on Commerce, 1852.

On August 26, 1852, the United States and the Kingdom of the Netherlands signed a Convention on Commerce, designed to supplement the 1839 Treaty of Commerce and Navigation.

Convention on Consuls, 1855.

A convention regulating the rights, duties, and privileges of U.S. and Dutch consuls in the Netherlands and the United States respectively was signed at The Hague on January 22, 1855.

Convention on Rights, Privileges, and Immunities of Consular Officers, 1839.

On May 23, 1878, a Convention on the Rights, Privileges, and Immunities of Consular Officers was signed in Washington, D.C., by the U.S. Secretary of State William M. Evarts and the Dutch Minister Resident in the United States Rudolph Alexander August Eduard von Pestel.

Key Diplomatic Events

Establishment of the Batavian Republic, 1795.

In January 1795 the United Provinces of the Netherlands was overthrown and replaced with a new regime, known as the Batavian Republic, to which a young John Quincy Adams was assigned as U.S. minister. Adams believed the new republic to be an agent of French power.

Establishment of the Kingdom of Holland, 1806.

In 1806 the Batavian Republic became the Kingdom of Holland, and Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother, Louis Bonaparte, was installed as king. At the height of Napoleon’s domination of the European continent, in 1810 Holland was annexed to the French Empire.

Establishment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, 1814.

With the defeat of the French in 1814, the Dutch regained independence and full sovereignty, and in 1814 the Kingdom of the Netherlands was proclaimed.


  • Department of State Country Fact Sheet: The Netherlands
  • Department of State Country Information: The Netherlands
  • Hoekstra, Peter. Thirty-Seven Years of Holland-American Relation, 1803-1840, (Paterson, N.J.: Eerdmans-Sevensma Co., 1917).
  • van Minnen, Cornelis A. American Diplomats in the Netherlands, 1815-50, (New York; St. Martin’s Press, 1993).
  • Westermann, Johannes Cornelis. The Netherlands and the United States: Their Relations in the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century, (The Hague: Martinus Nyhoff, 1935).