During the colonial era European conflicts often spilled over into colonies along the Atlantic seaboard. Caribbean islands produced sugar; Southern Atlantic colonies produced cotton, tobacco, and ship stores; and the Northern Atlantic colonies were famous for furs and lumber. As the Europeans fought, they likewise sought to control all of their enemies’ commerce and resources.
The Anglo-Dutch Wars were a series of three 17th-century conflicts fought for control of worldwide trade; and were mostly conducted by naval warfare. Both the Netherlands and England were rapidly expanding commercial nations, and each wished to control these vast profits. To do so meant that either England or the Netherlands had to destroy their enemies’ fleet, conquer or raid their colonies, and capture or disrupt their merchant marine. The Second and Third Anglo-Dutch naval wars involved both the Dutch and English and this fierce economic rivalry brought these wars to the shores of Hampton Roads.