Manhattan Purchase
4th Grade Manhattan Purchase Inquiry
What's the Real Story Behind the Purchase of Manhattan?

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Staging the Compelling Question

Supporting Question 1- Why were the Dutch interested in the region that became known as New Netherland?
NOTE: This is the first printed map of New Netherland; it was first published in Leiden, a city in the Netherlands.  It was made just a few years after the purchase of Manhattan. For the first time, New Amsterdam and Manhattan are included on a map. Places that can be easily identified are Manhattan (as a island), Long Island (“Lange Island” in Dutch) and Cape Cod. This map also shows, from south to northeast—Virginia, New Nederland, New England and New France: Notice how similar the Dutch work "Nieuw" is to the English word "New." Words in the upper left are in Latin: Nova Anglica (New England), Novum Belgium (New Netherland), and Virginia.
NOTE: This map offers a very different perspective from the previous one: This is perhaps the way a sailor would view his sailing from Europe to the North American coast.  It was printed in color and is beautifully illustrated. Notice the many different local animals (e.g., deer, foxes, beavers, rabbits), several Native Americans in canoes, European sailing ships, and two fortified Native villages. New France, New England,New Netherland, and Virginia are set off from each other by a colored border.  Once again, New Netherland is referred to as Nova Belgica, a Latin phrase.
  • Source C: Provisional Regulations for the Colonists adopted by the Assembly of the Nineteen of the West India Company (excerpts), March 28, 1624.

Supporting Question 2- How would botht the Dutch and the Natives benefit from the sale and purchase of land in Manhattan?
  • Source B: Peter Schaghen, letter describing the sale of Manhattan (original and translation), November 7, 1626
  • Source B: Dutch West India Company, guidelines for dealing with the Native peoples, Instructions and Further Instructions for Willem Verhulst (excerpts), January, 1625 and April, 1625
  • Source C: Isaack de Rasiere, letter to the Amsterdam Chamber of the West India Company (excerpts), September 23, 1626 Documents Relating to New Netherland 1624-1626 in the Henry E. Huntington Library,  San Marino, California. Translated by A. J. F. Van Laer, 1924. Available at
  • Source D: Indian Deed To The Directors of the West India Company for Land on Long Island (excerpts), August 1, 1638 Charles T. Gehring, editor and translator, New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch. Vols. GG, HH, & II: Land Papers. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980: pp. 8-9.
    Available at
  • Source A: Martha J. Lamb, description of the purchase of Manhattan, History of the City of New York, Vol.1 (excerpt), 1877 Martha J. Lamb. History of the City of New York: Its Origins, Rise and Progress, 1877. Public domain. Available at the Internet Archive:

Supporting Question 3- How are the stories told about the sale of Manahattan similar and different?
  • Source B: Marina van Rennselaer, description of the purchase of Manhattan, History of the City of New York in the Seventeenth Century, Vol. 1, (excerpt), 1909 Marina van Rennselaer. History of the City of New York in the Seventeenth Century, Vol. 1. New York: Macmillan, 1909. Public domain. Available at the Internet Archive:
  • Source C: Paul Otto, description of how the Dutch and Munsees each viewed the purchase of Manhattan, “The Dutch, Munsees, and the Purchase of Manhattan” (excerpts), reprinted in the New York State Bar Association Journal, January 2015 Reprinted with permission from: New York State Bar Association Journal, January, 2015. Vol. 87, No. 1, published by the New York State Bar Association, One Elk Street, Albany, New York, 12207. Available at
  • Source A: H. A. van den Eyden, granite carving depicting the purchase of Manhattan, 1926.

New York State Social Studies Framework Key Idea & Practices 4.3 COLONIAL AND REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD IN NEW YORK: European exploration led to the colonization of the region that became New York State. Beginning in the early 1600s, colonial New York was home to people from many different countries. Colonial New York was important during the Revolutionary Period.
 Gathering, Using, and Interpreting Evidence     Chronological Reasoning and Causation   Comparison and contextualization
Staging the Question Examine the painting by Albert Fredericks that presents the traditional view of the Manhattan purchase. Then read a contemporary article that points out the myths behind that view.