Learn more about Peter Minuit
Peter Minuit (1580–August 5, 1638) was a Belgian Walloon from Wesel, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, then part of the Duchy of Cleves. He had Belgian Walloon parents. He was the Director-General of the Dutch colony of New Netherland from 1626 until 1633 and founder of the Swedish colony of New Sweden in 1638. By tradition he purchased the island of Manhattan from the Canarse Native Americans, on May 24, 1626.
Minuit's Walloon family was one of many Protestant families that escaped the Spanish government of the Spanish Netherlands (Low Countries) now known as Belgium, and found refuge in the Dutch Republic and Protestant parts of the Holy Roman Empire. Peter himself was born in a time of great upheavals and struggles by Protestants against Catholics, which culminated in the Thirty Years' War and finally led to an exhausted Peace of Westphalia a century later.
Minuit was appointed the third director-general of New Netherland by the Dutch West India Company, in December 1625, and arrived in the colony on May 4, 1626. On May 24 of the same year, he is credited with the purchase of the island from the natives — perhaps from a Metoac tribe known as the Canarsee — in exchange for trade goods valued at 60 guilders. This figure is known from a letter by Peter Schagen to the board of the Dutch West India Company: a traditional conversion to US$ 24 using 19th century exchange rates is not particularly meaningful. The trade goods are sometimes identified as beads and trinkets, but that may also have been an embellishment by 19th century writers. A contemporary purchase of rights in Staten Island, New York to which Minuit was also party involved duffel cloth, iron kettles and axe heads, hoes, wampum, drilling awls, "Jew's Harps," and "diverse other wares". If the island was purchased from the Canarsees, they would have been living on Long Island and maybe passing through on a hunting trip. In 1631 or 1632, Minuit was dismissed from his post and recalled to Europe. He was succeeded as director-general by Wouter van Twiller.
In 1636 or 1637, Minuit made arrangements with Samuel Blommaert and the Swedish government to create the first Finno-Swedish colony in the New World. Located on the lower Delaware River at what is now Wilmington, Delaware, within the territory earlier claimed by the Dutch, it was called New Sweden, with the Swedes (and Finns) landing there in the spring of 1638. Minuit finished Fort Christiana that year, then departed to return to Stockholm, Sweden for a second load of colonists, and made a side trip to the Caribbean to pick up a shipment of tobacco for resale in Europe to make the voyage profitable. Minuit died while on this voyage during a hurricane at St. Christopher in the Caribbean.
The official duties of the governorship were carried out by the Finnish Lieutenant (raised to the rank of Captain) Mauno Kling, until the next governor was chosen and brought in from the mainland Sweden, two years later.
Peter Minuit is commemorated by Peter Minuit Plaza, a small park at the foot of Manhattan, New York City; by a marker in Inwood Hill Park at the site of the actual purchase; by a granite flagstaff base in Battery Park, which shows the historical purchase; by the Peter Minuit School (Public School 108); New Holland the Peter Minuit Chapter of the D.A.R.; and also by a Memorial on Moltkestrasse in Wesel (Germany).
|Director of New Netherland|
May 4, 1626–1631
Sebastiaen Jansen Krol
|Governor of New Sweden|
March 29, 1638 – June 15, 1638
Måns Nilsson Kling
- Peter Minuit is one of the 'Founding Fathers' that could be found in the game Colonization developed by Sid Meier for Microprose.
Tobias Arand, Peter Minuit aus Wesel - Ein rheinischer Überseekaufmann im 17. Jahrhundert; in: Schöne Neue Welt. Rheinländer erobern Amerika, hg. v. Rheinischen Freilichtmuseum und Landesmuseum für Volkskunde in Kommern, Opladen 2001, 13-42
- Weslager, C. A. (1989). A Man and his Ship: Peter Minuit and the Kalmar Nyckel. Wilmington: Kalmar Nickel Foundation. ISBN 0-9625563-1-9.
 External links
- Project Gutenberg's Narrative New Netherland, edited by J.F. Jameson, includes a footnote about the life of Minuit, but gives an improbable birth date of 1550.
- The Canarsees
- Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace: Gotham, 1999.
- Kenneth T. Jackson, ed.: Encyclopedia of New York City. 1995.
- The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation & Tall Ship Kalmar Nyckel.de:Peter Minuit