The Netherlands circa 1900

The Netherlands was and still is under a sort of Parliamentary system of government, with a Monarch, a Parliament, and a constitution that was established in 1814. The queen that ruled around the time Hendrik left for America was Queen Wilhelmina. Around 1900, the Dutch government was disputing whether public or nonpublic schools should receive government funding. It was finally resolved in 1917, when an amendment was added to their constitution saying that both public and private church related schools were to receive funding. One of the reasons Hendrik left the Netherlands was because his church, the Reformed church, was being persecuted by the ruling family of the Netherlands. The area of ‘t Zandt where Hendrik lived was divided into two large classes, the day laborers, and the rich farmers. Hendrik’s family was part of the laborer class, and they worked for one of the rich families in ‘t Zandt. Hendrik also had 6 brothers, and his father had a hard time trying to find work for them. Times were not all that good in the Netherlands, which opened up the possibility of wanting to come to America for the Schoonvelds.

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