The Political Evolution of Nassau County, NY: A Journey Through History

Nassau County, NY has a rich and complex political history that has shaped the county into what it is today. From its early days as a Dutch colony to its current status as one of the most populous counties in New York, Nassau County has experienced numerous political events that have left a lasting impact on its residents and the surrounding region. As an expert in the history of Nassau County, I will take you on a journey through some of the major political events that have shaped this county over the years.

The Dutch Influence

The history of Nassau County dates back to the 17th century when it was first settled by the Dutch. Originally known as Long Island, the area was renamed Nassau in honor of Prince William of Orange-Nassau, who later became King William III of England.

The Dutch influence can still be seen today in the names of many towns and villages in Nassau County, such as Hempstead, Oyster Bay, and Flushing. During this time, the Dutch West India Company governed the area and established a system of land grants to encourage settlement. This led to the development of several towns and villages, including Hempstead, which was founded in 1644 and is now the oldest town in Nassau County.

The American Revolution

Like many other parts of New York, Nassau County played a significant role in the American Revolution. In 1776, British troops landed on Long Island and engaged in a series of battles with American forces. The most notable of these battles was the Battle of Long Island, which took place in what is now Brooklyn and Queens but had a significant impact on Nassau County. After the war ended, Nassau County became part of the newly formed United States and was officially established as a county in 1899. It was named after the Dutch Prince William of Nassau, who had become King William III of England.

The Rise of Suburbia

In the early 20th century, Nassau County experienced a significant population boom as more and more people moved out of New York City and into the suburbs.

This was due to the development of new transportation systems, such as the Long Island Rail Road, which made it easier for people to commute to the city for work. The growth of suburbia also led to the development of new towns and villages in Nassau County, such as Levittown, which became one of the first planned communities in the United States. This suburbanization also brought about changes in the county's political landscape, as more residents began to demand better services and representation from their local government.

The Civil Rights Movement

During the 1950s and 1960s, Nassau County, like many other parts of the country, experienced significant social and political changes as a result of the Civil Rights Movement. In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech at Hofstra University in Hempstead, calling for an end to racial discrimination and segregation. Despite this call for change, Nassau County remained largely segregated until the late 1960s when a series of court cases forced local school districts to desegregate. This led to protests and demonstrations by both black and white residents, highlighting the deep racial divide that existed in the county at that time.

The Modern Era

In recent years, Nassau County has continued to evolve politically.

In 1993, Thomas Gulotta became the first Republican County Executive in over 30 years, and he held the position for 16 years. In 2009, Democrat Edward Mangano was elected as County Executive, marking a shift in political power. One of the most significant political events in recent years was the 2017 corruption trial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and his wife Linda. They were both found guilty of corruption charges and sentenced to prison, highlighting the ongoing issue of political corruption in the county.

The Future of Nassau County

As we look to the future, Nassau County continues to face challenges and opportunities. The county's population is becoming increasingly diverse, with a growing Hispanic and Asian population.

This has led to a shift in political demographics, with more diverse candidates running for office and winning elections. Nassau County is also facing economic challenges, with high property taxes and a struggling economy. However, there are also opportunities for growth and development, particularly in the areas of technology and healthcare.


The history of Nassau County is a fascinating one that has been shaped by various political events over the years. From its Dutch roots to its current status as a diverse and dynamic county, Nassau County has come a long way. As we continue to move forward, it is essential to remember our past and learn from it as we shape the future of this great county.

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