Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
CLAIM OF THE WEST INDIA COMPANY
AND what I thus heard, without being minded to
play the listener, was that among the orders given by
the West India Company, was one to the effect that
before Master Minuit should do anything toward
taking upon himself the governing of the country,
the land of Manhattan Island was to be bought of the
brown men, and these useless trinkets were to serve in
the stead of purchase money.
To the better understanding of this order, let me go
back in the tale to where I have said that the West India
Company claimed to own the land which was called New
Netherland. Their reasons for making such claim
were that the Dutch government had, many years
before, sent out the ship Half Moon, commanded by
an Englishman named Henry Hudson, who believed
himself to be the first white man that ever saw these
rivers; and afterward that famous Dutch seaman,
Adrian Block, had followed Master Hudson, stopping
 at this same island of Manhattan. Therefore it was,
because of their vessels being supposed to have come
to this place first, that the people of Holland claimed
the land as their own.
As I came to know later, however, a certain sailor
from Florence had been sent to America by the French
king, near ninety years before Master Hudson's
coming, and, on landing nearabout where we then were,
claimed all the country in the name of France.
Perhaps the West India Company knew somewhat
of this, and, fearing the French king might set up
ownership to the island of Manhattan, had decided to buy
it of the Indians so they might say it was doubly theirs,
first because of having been discovered by them, and
again because of being bought in fair trade.
All this which I have just told you came to me
afterward, when I knew more of the great world and of the
manner in which the nations of the earth struggled
one against another to increase their possessions.