Manhattan letter returns to New York
Monday 28 January 2008
For the first time in history the inhabitants of Manhattan will be able to see the piece of paper which led to the establishment of New York, the Volkskrant reported on Saturday.
It takes the form of a letter dated 5 November 1626 which states that the Dutch settlers bought the island from the Canarsie Indians for 60 guilders.
The letter was filed away in the state archives on arriving in the Netherlands. But next year it will be sent back to New York for an exhibition about what was then known as New Amsterdam.
The Volkskrant says that by 1609 the Dutch had formed a settlement on Manhattan with typical Amsterdam houses along the canals.
Unlike the English Pilgrim Fathers, the Dutch consisted of fortune-hunters and modernisers, the paper says. And they were instructed by the West India Company not to drive away the natives with ‘violence and threats’ but to record their takeover of the island on paper.