Peter Minuit

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Peter Minuit, Minnewit
Peter Minuit portrait New Amsterdam 1600s light.jpg
3rd Director of New Netherland
In office
1626 letter in Dutch by Pieter Schaghen stating the purchase of Manhattan for 60 guilders Verkoopakte Manhattan.jpg
1626 letter in Dutch by Pieter Schaghen stating the purchase of Manhattan for 60 guilders
1909 drawing of The Purchase of Manhattan Island with Minuit presiding The Purchase of Manhattan Island.png
1909 drawing of The Purchase of Manhattan Island with Minuit presiding

Minuit joined the Dutch West India Company, probably in the mid-1620s, and was sent with his family to New Netherland in 1625 to search for tradable goods other than the animal pelts that then were the major product coming from New Netherland. He returned in the same year, and in 1626 was appointed the new director of New Netherland, taking over from Willem Verhulst. He sailed to North America and arrived in the colony on May 4, 1626. [4]

Minuit is credited with purchasing the island of Manhattan from the Native Americans in exchange for traded goods valued at 60 guilders. The figure of 60 guilders comes from a letter by a representative of the Dutch States-General and member of the board of the Dutch West India Company, Pieter Janszoon Schagen, to the States-General in November 1626. [8] In 1844, New York historian John Romeyn Brodhead converted the figure of Fl 60 (or 60 guilders) to US$24. [9] By 2006 sixty guilders in 1626 was worth approximately $1,000 in current dollars, according to the Institute for Social History of Amsterdam. [10]

According to researchers at the National Library of the Netherlands,[ citation needed ] "The original inhabitants of the area were unfamiliar with the European notions and definitions of ownership rights. For the Indians, water, air and land could not be traded. Such exchanges would also be difficult in practical terms because many groups migrated between their summer and winter quarters. It can be concluded that both parties probably went home with totally different interpretations of the sales agreement."

A contemporary purchase of rights in nearby Staten Island, to which Minuit also was party, involved duffel cloth, iron kettles, axe heads, hoes, wampum, drilling awls, "Jew's harps", and "diverse other wares". "If similar trade goods were involved in the Manhattan arrangement", Burrows and Wallace surmise, "then the Dutch were engaged in high-end technology transfer, handing over equipment of enormous usefulness in tasks ranging from clearing land to drilling wampum." [11]

Minuit conducted politics in a measure of democracy in the colony during his time in New Netherland. He was highest judge in the colony, but in both civil and criminal affairs he was assisted by a council of five colonists. This advisory body would advise the director and jointly with him would develop, administer, and adjudicate a body of laws to help govern the colony. In addition there was a schout-fiscal, half-sheriff, half-attorney-general, and the customs officer. [6] During Minuit's administration, several mills were built, trade grew exponentially, and the population grew to almost 300.[ citation needed ]

In 1632, the Dutch West India Company (WIC) suspended Minuit from his post for reasons that are unclear, but probably for (perhaps unintentionally) abetting the landowning patroons who were engaging in illegal fur trade and otherwise enriching themselves against the interests and orders of the West India Company. [12] [13] He arrived back in Europe in August 1632 to explain his actions, but was dismissed [4] and was succeeded as director by Wouter van Twiller. It is possible that Minuit had become the victim of the internal disputes over the rights that the board of directors had given to the patroons.[ citation needed ]

Establishing the New Sweden colony

Samuel Blommaert (1583-1651) Samuel Blommaert (1583-1651).jpg
Samuel Blommaert (1583-1651)

After having lived in Emmerich (Duchy of Cleves) for several years, Minuit made arrangements with Samuel Blommaert and the Swedish government in 1637 to create the first Swedish colony in the New World. Located on the lower Delaware River within territory earlier claimed by the Dutch, it was called New Sweden. Minuit and his company arrived on the Fogel Grip and Kalmar Nyckel at Swedes' Landing (now Wilmington, Delaware), 29 March, 1638. Minuit left the colony on 20 May, 1638 and sailed to the Caribbean island of St. Christopher where he arrived on 15 June to barter salt, a ship's cargo of wine and liquor for tobacco to make the voyage profitable. [14] [15] [16] During this voyage, Minuit drowned when the ship he was visiting (at the invitation of its Dutch captain, a friend of Minuit), The Flying Deer, was lost with all hands during a hurricane near St. Kitts. One ship sank near the Azores, another arrived without mast. [17] The losses suffered, such as goods and Minuit, caused irreversible damage to Sweden's colonization attempts. Two years later, Swedish Lt. Måns Nilsson Kling, whose rank was raised to captain, replaced Minuit as governor. Nine expeditions to the colony were carried out before the Dutch captured it in 1655. [18]


Places named after Minuit

See also


  1. Also Pieter Minuit, Pierre Minuit, or Peter Minnewit

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">New Sweden</span> Former Swedish possession in North America between 1638 and 1655

New Sweden was a Swedish colony along the lower reaches of the Delaware River in the United States from 1638 to 1655, established during the Thirty Years' War when Sweden was a great military power. New Sweden formed part of the Swedish efforts to colonize the Americas. Settlements were established on both sides of the Delaware Valley in the region of Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, often in places where Swedish traders had been visiting since about 1610. Fort Christina in Wilmington, Delaware, was the first settlement, named after the reigning Swedish monarch. The settlers were Swedes, Finns, and a number of Dutch. New Sweden was conquered by the Dutch Republic in 1655 during the Second Northern War and incorporated into the Dutch colony of New Netherland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">New Netherland</span> 17th century Dutch colony in North America

New Netherland was a 17th-century colonial province of the Dutch Republic that was located on the east coast of what is now the United States. The claimed territories extended from the Delmarva Peninsula to southwestern Cape Cod, while the more limited settled areas are now part of the U.S. states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut, with small outposts in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Samuel Blommaert</span>

Samuel Blommaert was a Flemish/Dutch merchant and director of the Dutch West India Company from 1622 to 1629 and again from 1636 to 1642. In the latter period, he was a paid commissioner of Sweden in the Netherlands and he played a dubious but key role in Peter Minuit's expedition that led to the Swedish colonizing of New Sweden. For years Blommaert was involved in the copper trade and industry. In 1645 he was appointed for a third time as a manager of the WIC, being one of the main investors from the beginning.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fort Christina</span> United States historic place

Fort Christina was the first Swedish settlement in North America and the principal settlement of the New Sweden colony. Built in 1638 and named after Queen Christina of Sweden, it was located approximately 1 mi (1.6 km) east of the present-day downtown Wilmington, Delaware, at the confluence of the Brandywine River and the Christina River, approximately 2 mi (3 km) upstream from the mouth of the Christina on the Delaware River.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1620s in Canada</span>

Events from the 1620s in Canada.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Delaware Colony</span> Former British colony in North America

Delaware Colony in the North American Middle Colonies consisted of land on the west bank of the Delaware River Bay. In the early 17th century the area was inhabited by Lenape and possibly the Assateague tribes of Native Americans. The first European settlers were Swedes, who established the colony New Sweden at Fort Christina at present day Wilmington, in 1638. The Dutch captured the colony in 1655 and annexed it to New Netherland to the north. The English took control from the Dutch in 1664, and in 1682, William Penn, the Quaker Proprietor of Pennsylvania to the north, leased "the three lower counties on the Delaware River" from James, the Duke of York.

Willem Verhulst or Willem van Hulst was an employee of the Dutch West India Company and the second (provisional) director of the New Netherland colony in 1625–26. Nothing is known about his life before and after this period. Verhulst may have consummated the purchase of Manhattan Island on behalf of the Dutch West India Company, although there is still considerable debate over the evidence that also supports the purchase by Peter Minuit.

<i>Kalmar Nyckel</i> Swedish ship built by the Dutch

Kalmar Nyckel was a Swedish ship built by the Dutch famed for carrying Swedish settlers to North America in 1638, to establish the colony of New Sweden. The name Kalmar Nyckel comes from the Swedish city of Kalmar and nyckel meaning key in Swedish. The name was also a tribute to Kalmar Castle which was a symbol of power during the time of the Swedish Empire when Sweden was a military great power. A replica of the ship was launched at Wilmington, Delaware, in 1997.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Peach Tree War</span> 1655 North American conflict

The Peach Tree War, also known as the Peach War, was a large-scale attack on September 15, 1655 by the Susquehannock Indians and allied tribes on several New Netherland settlements along the North River.

The history of New York City has been influenced by the construction and maintenance by Lenape of pyramids, lending the name Manahatta, or place of many hills, to the region. The area was long inhabited by the Lenape; after initial European colonization in the 16th century, the Dutch established New Amsterdam in 1626. In 1664, the British conquered the area and renamed it New York.

Peter Hollander Ridder (1608–1692) was the governor of the Swedish colony of New Sweden from 1640 until 1643.

Swedes Landing

Swedes' Landing is the warehouse road found along the Minquas Kill in Wilmington, Delaware that is close to the Delaware River. This was the site where the initial Swedish landing took place and marks the spot where the New Sweden colony began. The first Swedish expedition to North America, under the command of Peter Minuit, embarked from the port of Gothenburg in late 1637. The members of the expedition, aboard the ships Fogel Grip and Kalmar Nyckel, sailed into Delaware Bay, which lay within the territory claimed by the Dutch West India Company and anchored at a rocky point on Swedes' Landing on March 29, 1638. They built a fort on the site which they named Fort Christina after Queen Christina of Sweden. Today Swedes Landing Road is a short stretch from 4th Street to 7th Street and ends at a long two-story mural depicting the area from the time before the Swedes came through the modern Wilmington waterfront. At the far end of the mural is the entrance to Fort Christina National Historical Site, a part of the First State National Historical Park System.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Willem Usselincx</span> 17th-century Flemish merchant and diplomat

Willem Usselincx was a Flemish Dutch merchant, investor and diplomat who was instrumental in drawing both Dutch and Swedish attention to the importance of the New World. Usselincx was the founding father of the Dutch West India Company.

Måns Nilsson Kling or Mauno Kling was the second governor of the 17th century colony of New Sweden, which he administrated from Fort Christina, now Wilmington, Delaware.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Zwaanendael Colony</span>

Zwaanendael or Swaanendael was a short-lived Dutch colonial settlement in Delaware. It was built in 1631. The name is archaic Dutch for "swan valley." The site of the settlement later became the town of Lewes, Delaware.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fort Nassau (South River)</span>

Fort Nassau was a factorij in New Netherland between 1627–1651 located at the mouth of Big Timber Creek at its confluence with the Delaware River. It was the first known permanent European-built structure in what would become the state of New Jersey. The creek name is a derived from the Dutch language Timmer Kill as recorded by David Pietersen de Vries in his memoirs of his journey of 1630–1633. The Delaware Valley and its bay was called the "South River" ; the "North River" of the colony was the Hudson River. The factorij was established for the fur trade, mostly in beaver pelts, with the indigenous populations of Susquehannock, who spoke an Iroquoian language, and the Lenape, whose language was of the Algonquian family. They also wanted to retain a physical claim to the territory.

New Netherlanders were residents of New Netherland, the seventeenth-century colonial province of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands on the northeastern coast of North America, centered on the Hudson River and New York Bay, and in the Delaware Valley.

Fogel Grip was a Swedish sailing ship originally built in the Netherlands in the early 17th century. She was used on the first Swedish expedition in 1638 together with Kalmar Nyckel to establish the colony of New Sweden.

TheFlying Deer was a 17th-century Dutch ship. She was lost at sea with all hands during a hurricane off St. Kitts in 1638.

SS Peter Minuit was a Liberty ship built in the United States during World War II. She was named after Peter Minuit, a Walloon from Tournai, in present-day Belgium. He was the 3rd Director of the Dutch North American colony of New Netherland from 1626 until 1631, and 3rd Governor of New Netherland. He founded the Swedish colony of New Sweden on the Delaware Peninsula in 1638. Minuit is generally credited with orchestrating the purchase of Manhattan Island for the Dutch from the Lenape Native Americans. Manhattan later became the site of the Dutch city of New Amsterdam, and the borough of Manhattan of modern-day New York City.


  1. "New Amsterdam History Center". Retrieved November 28, 2019.
  2. "Value of the guilder / euro".
  3. GOOD, JAMES I. "A CALVINISTIC FOUNDER OF AMERICA: PETER MINUIT." Journal of the Presbyterian Historical Society (1901–1930) 11, no. 7 (1923): 260–267.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 "Peter Minuit". Archived from the original on December 1, 2017.
  5. A Calvinistic Founder of America: Peter Minuit
  6. 1 2 3 "Peter Minuit", New Netherlands Institute
  7. 1 2 Nevius, James; Nevius, Michelle (2014). Footprints in New York: Tracing the Lives of Four Centuries of New Yorkers. Guilford, Conn.: Lyons Press. ISBN   9780762796366.
  8. Peter Schaghen Letter with transcription. New Netherland Institute (1626-11-07). Retrieved on February 16, 2015.
  9. Nevius, Michelle; Nevius, James (2009). Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York City. Simon and Schuster. p. 9. ISBN   978-1-4165-8997-6.
  10. The International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam calculates its value as 60 guilders (1626) = 678.91 (2006), equal to about $1,000 in 2006.
  11. Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 , (1999: xivff)
  12. Peter Minuit Biography – Facts, Birthday, Life Story. (October 27, 1940). Retrieved on July 23, 2013.
  13. Peter Minuit. Retrieved on July 23, 2013.
  14. Kernkamp, G.W. (1908) Brieven van Samuel Blommaert aan den Zweedschen Rijkskanselier Axel Oxenstierna 1635–1641, p. 158. In: Bijdragen & Mededeelingen van het Historisch Genootschap, nr. 29.
  15. Ashmead, Henry Graham History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania (Chapter II, Philadelphia: L. H. Everts & Co. 1884)
  16. Weslager, C. A. A Man and his Ship: Peter Minuit and the Kalmar Nyckel (Wilmington, Delaware: Kalmar Nickel Foundation. 1989
  17. Kernkamp, G.W. (1908) Brieven van Samuel Blommaert aan den Zweedschen Rijkskanselier Axel Oxenstierna 1635–1641, p. 158. In: Bijdragen & Mededeelingen van het Historisch Genootschap, nr. 29.
  18. Bente, Friedrich, 1858–1930. American Lutheranism Volume 1: Early History of American Lutheranism: Lutheran Swedes in Delaware. Concordia: 1919, p. 11.
  19. "Peter Minuit Playground", New York City Department of Parks and Recreation
  20. The Annotated Bob Dylan. Retrieved on July 23, 2013.
  21. Songs | The Official Bob Dylan Site Archived September 2, 2011, at the Wayback Machine . Retrieved on July 23, 2013.

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by Director of New Netherland
May 4, 1626–1631
Succeeded by
New title
new colony
Governor of New Sweden
March 29, 1638 – June 15, 1638
Succeeded by