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May 2003


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"Daniel H. Weiskotten" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 23 May 2003 19:36:02 -0400
text/plain (43 lines)
The valuation origins aside, it is absolutely impossible to determine the
value of the materials that Peter Minuit used to "buy" the island of Manhattan.

A good read on this is James Loewen's _Lies my Teacher Told Me_.  He ponts
out that Minuit gave trinkets to the wrong people, but he paid off the
wrong people on purpose.  Minuit played off the rivaling Indian tribes,
paying the Canarsees for land controlled by the Weckquaesgeeks.  This led
to war which disrupted things and the Dutch stepped in and took it all.

The Weckquaesgeeks knew their permission to use the land was worth far more
than was being offered and turned the offer down. The Canarsees, on the
other hand, were more than happy to snag a few trinkets from Minuit for
something that was not theirs to grant.

I know there are many sides to this event, and the critical analysis is not
over by a long shot, but the basic notion that it was only $24.00 is what
thrills everyone.  The questions that need addressing are what the items
cost and were worth to Minuit (pennies to gain the whole island) and the
Weckquaesgeeks (the whole island in exchage for nothing) Canarsees (free

Then I'd like to know what the actual materials that were traded would be
worth to scholars, collectors or museums today!


         Dan W.
         (sorry, I couldn't help it!)

At 5/22/03 08:10 AM, you wrote:
>The valuation of $24 for the purchase of Manhattan island (60 guilders
>in Dutch currency) dates from AT LEAST the 1860 NYS Gazetteer, p.437
>(any earlier publication?).
>Is there a useful website that shows a table or gives inflation
>conversions from US economy earlier-period-dollars to an approximation
>of a recent-year-dollar?
>Tim Holls
>20030509.2145 resending