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A Dutch Official Reports on the Purchase of Manhattan

In this letter to superiors at the Hague, Pieter Schaghen describes conditions in New Amsterdam, including the purchase of Manhattan from local Indians for goods worth sixty guilders. Scholars have speculated that the Indians who took part in this transaction likely had a different view of it, and did not believe they had sold the island to the Dutch. Schaghen served as a liaison between the Dutch government and the Dutch West India Company (WIC). The WIC, founded in 1621 by Dutch merchants, held a trade monopoly in the Americas and also oversaw Dutch participation in the African slave trade.

High and Mighty Lords
My Lords the States General
At the Hague

High and Mighty Lords,

Yesterday the ship the Arms of Amsterdam arrived here. It sailed from New Netherland out of the River Mauritius on the 23d of September. They report that our people are in good spirit and live in peace there. The women also have borne some children there. They have purchased the Island Manhattes from the Indians for the value of 60 guilders. It is 11,000 morgens in size [about 22,000 acres]. They had all their grain sowed by the middle of May, and reaped by the middle of August. They sent samples of these summer grains: wheat, rye, barley, oats, buckwheat, canary seed, beans and flax.

The cargo of the aforesaid ship is:

7246 Beaver skins
178½ Otter skins
675 Otter skins
48 Mink skins
36 Lynx skins
33 Minks
34 Weasel skins
Many oak timbers and nut wood.

Herewith,

High and Mighty Lords, be commended to the mercy of the Almighty.
In Amsterdam, The 5th November [AD] 1626

Your High and Mightinesses' obedient,
P. Schaghen

Source | Pieter Schaghen to the Directors of the Dutch West India Company, 7 November 1626, National Archives, The Hague; from the New Netherland Institute, http://www.newnetherlandinstitute.org/nnp/documents/schagen_main.html.
Creator | Pieter Schaghen
Item Type | Diary/Letter
Cite This document | Pieter Schaghen, “A Dutch Official Reports on the Purchase of Manhattan,” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed December 11, 2018, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/691.

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