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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.

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

Canarsie Indians received 60 guilders, wow! My American Indian heritage tells me it was theft on the part of the Dutch.

I guess the Indians didn't understand that the theft was justified because it was recorded on paper. We gave away our land for 26 guilders and the Dutch fortune hunters and modernisers charged us 30 guilders for Dutch frikadellen and kroketten.

If the Dutch have anything to be proud about it is the frikadellen and kroketten and friendly people. It was the friendly people and not the 26 guilders. What were going to do with the guilders?

By Hiram | 28 January 2008 5:30 PM

Excuse me. That above comment makes absolutely no sense. Is the writer saying the Dutch bamboozled the Canarsie Indians by overcharging? If that's the case, that is accurate however hey, that's what capitalism is all about. S

o the Dutch taught us Americans the first lessons of commerce. And we Americans are continuing in the grand Dutch tradition of trying to sell sell sell something worth nothing. Well maybe not that bad, at least we have marketing campaigns and a public awareness where corporations respond to the little man.

What do we have here in NL? We have corporations and individual retailers that just kick the little guy in the butt out the door when we have a complaint, legitimately.

By elise krentzel | 30 January 2008 2:00 AM

elise krentzel, the point was: The American Indians had no need for the Guilders; therefore, the Indians were conned or should I say swindled or manipulated. The Dutch probably told them they could exchanged the guilders for something in return. Who knows what the Dutch conned them for in order to get back the 26 guilders. Being of American, Indian heritage and haved lived in the Netherlands for a couple of years, I asked myself "It must have been because they were friendly and they served them frikadellen and kroketten." Yes, the Dutch, did "bamboozled" the American Indian but so what. We get our money back every day from the Europeans who gamble in our casinos. We love the Dutch because they are the cause and effect of the U.S. bye! God bless the Dutch nation.

By Hiram | 30 January 2008 4:37 PM

That was a different time and a different era of ethical thinking. One should not compare the values of people from ancient generations to the values of today or we will always feel betrayed and victims of history. We have come a long way as human beings and we will improve with time. We are still evolving as civilized society as you can all see the world is not perfect. It might never be perfect, but that was then and this is now. We can all pound on the Dutch and cry for the Indians but it will serve no purpose. I'd like to see those archives when it comes to New York. Meanwhile, is it in the internet?

By Carlos Borjal | 5 February 2008 9:39 PM

Woe to those who believe all they read on the internet without further research. A quick search of the Canarsie Indians will show you that they did not own the island they sold, it belonged to another tribe, a fact well known to NYC school children. Who bamboozled who? Would you like to buy a bridge?

By Harv | 16 July 2008 5:31 AM

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