The New Netherlander Antilles, also known as the New Netherlander West Indies, are a collection of Caribbean islands which are part of the Union of New Netherland — which include the two Caribbean states of Curazao and Statia. The islands were acquired by New Netherland during the later decades of the 19th Century, and governed as territories up until the 1950s. Since the admission of the Territory of Curazao, the word has become an umbrella term for the non-continental states of New Netherland.
In the 1860s, President William H. Seward began the movement to expand New Netherland, advocating that the nation could become an imperial power by peaceful means. The first step towards this came in the Summer of 1863, when Seward orchestrated the purchase of the Danish West Indies from Denmark, opening up New Netherland to Caribbean trade. After his administration, Seward would continue towards the expansion of New Netherland, leading to the acquisition of the Dutch West Indies from the Netherlands in 1876, and Saint Barthélemy from Sweden in 1878.
New Netherland's claims would not reach their present-day shape until the late 1890s, and the move towards independence in Venezuela. Fearing actions against their claims may take hold after independence, President Grover Cleveland authorized the occupation of the coastal islands north of Venezuela. The action lead to the short-lived Venezuela War, in which New Netherland fought off Venezuelan attempts to retake the islands. Cleveland's successor (Garret Hobart) lead to the annexation of the occupied islands in 1898.
With the discovery of oil in the early 20th Century, the islands witnessed a boom in population and development. The move towards statehood grew out of the Great Depression, in which island activities were largely reduced and in many cases ignored. The establishment of a state would allow the islanders more control over their local issues, as well as say in New Netherland as a whole.
In the late 1950s, statehood would become a reality. However, differences between the southernmost islands and the northernmost islands lead to debates over how statehood should be achieved. By this time, much of the economy and population was being centered in the Leeward Antilles (off the coast of Venezuela), which included the territorial capital at Willemstad. The residence of the Leeward Islands and the Virgin Islands argued that they were absent from the economic developments during the early 20th Century, and began to support their separation from the territory.
In a referendum held in 1958, the southernmost islands voted unanimously in favor of statehood, while the northernmost islands voted overwhelmingly to be a separate entity. Curazao was admitted a few months later, only encompassing the coastal islands; with the rest of the territory becoming the newly formed Territory of Statia (named after the historically prosperous Sint Eustatius colony). In 1960, Statia was granted statehood.
- Virgin Islands
- Saint Martin (half)
- Saint Barts
- Saint Eustatius (Statia)
- Isla Aves