Document: The Purchase of Manhattan Island, 1626

This letter from Peter Schaghen, written in 1626, makes the earliest known reference to the company’s purchase of Manhattan Island from the Lenape Indians for 60 guilders. Schaghen was the liaison between the Dutch government and the Dutch West India Company. In the letter, Schaghen reports the arrival of the ship Wapen van Amsterdam from the New Netherland colony. The original of this document is held by the Rijksarchief in The Hague, but is on display in New York City at the South Street Seaport Museum from September 2009 through January 2010. Read a translation.

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Rcvd. 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 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 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, P. Schaghen