The Sale of Manhattan

The letter below, sent by representative of the States General, Pieter Schaghen, to the directors of the WIC on November 5th, 1626, is the only written evidence of an amazing transaction: the sale of Manhattan. According to Schaghen’s letter, written upon return of the Arms of Amsterdam ship in Holland some months later, Dutch settlers — headed by Peter Minuit, governor of New Netherland (17th Century New York) — gave local Native Americans goods worth 60 guilders in exchange for the island. According to Wikipedia, this equates to approximately $1000 in modern currency.

Transcript and translation follow. Image courtesy of Henry Hudson 400, the original of which now resides at the Rijksarchief in The Hague.


Recep. 7 November 1626

Hooghe Moghende Heeren

Hier is ghister t’schip t’wapen van Amsterdam aengekomen ende is den 23en septem: uyt Nieu Nederlant gezeylt uyt de Rivier Mauritius. rapporteren dat ons volck daer kloec is en: vreedigh leven hare vrouwen hebben ooc kinderen aldaer gebaert hebben t’eylant Manhattes van de wilde gekocht, voor de waerde van 60 guld: is groot 11000 morgen. hebbende alle koren half mey gezeyt, ende half augusto gemayd. daer van zeyndende munsterkens van zomerkoren, als taruw, Rogge, garst, haver boucweyt, knarizaet, boontjes en: vlas.

Het Cargasoen van tvsz schip is

7246 bevers vellen
178½ otters vellen
675 otters vellen
48 Mincke vellen
36 Catloes-vellen
33 Mincken
34 Ratte vellekens.
Veel eycken balcken. En: Noten-hout.

Hier mede Hooghe Moghende Heeren, zyt den Almogende en genaden bevolen.

In Amsterdam den 5en Novem: Ao 1626.

Uwe Hoo: Moo: Dienstwillighe

(Signed, ‘P. Schaghen’)


Recep. 7 November 1626

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. The women also have borne some children there. They have purchased the Island of Manhattes from the savages for the value of 60 guilders. It is 11,000 morgens in size. 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 Muskrat skins
Many oak timbers and nut wood.

Herewith, High and Mighty Lords, be commended to the mercy of the Almighty,

In Amsterdam, the 5th of November anno 1626.

Your High and Mightinesses’ obedient

(Signed, ‘P. Schaghen’)