Peter Minuit (1580-1638) was director general of the New Netherland colony in America and founder of New Amsterdam. He later became first governor of New Sweden.
Of Huguenot Walloon descent, Peter Minuit was born in Wesel on the German Rhine. Growing up in his native city and apparently becoming a merchant there, he was deacon in the local Dutch Reformed congregation. In 1624 Spanish troops occupied Wesel; Minuit fled to Holland and then to the Dutch West India Company's American colony of New Netherland. In 1625 he was appointed to the governor's council of William Verhulst, but he soon returned to Amsterdam. Early 1626 found him once more in the colony, perhaps only as supercargo for the company; yet on September 23 the New Netherland council deposed Verhulst and proclaimed Minuit his successor.
Presumably Minuit had not planned to stay in America, for he sent for his wife only after his appointment as first director general. One of his earliest official acts was to convene Indian leaders of the region and to purchase Manhattan Island from them for trinkets valued at $24. This gave the company a semblance of legality for its occupation of the island, and its New Netherland headquarters was moved to Manhattan.
Upon completing a fort, warehouse, and mill, Minuit made his town of New Amsterdam the concentration point for scattered Dutch settlements in the colony. When regular church services commenced at New Amsterdam in 1628, Minuit and his brother-in-law (the company's storekeeper) served pastor Jonas Michaëlius as elders.
Missing records limit historical information on Minuit's administrative activities. It is known he opened both diplomatic and commercial relations with Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts in 1627. He also became involved in a bitter quarrel with Johan Van Remunde, secretary of the company in New Netherland; Michaëlius sided with the secretary and soon attacked Minuit as hypocritical, cruel, and dishonest. Both Minuit and Remunde were recalled to Holland for an investigation. After prolonged inquiry Minuit was discharged while Remunde returned to the colony.
Minuit retired to Emmerich, Duchy of Cleves. But in 1635 a company director recommended him to Sweden's chancellor as ideally qualified to establish a colony in America on the Delaware River. A meeting at The Hague (1637) resulted in the formation of a Swedish trading and colonizing company. Minuit, present at the organizational session, provided one-eighth of the 24,000 guilders capital.
Departing in late autumn with two shiploads of Swedish and Finnish colonists, Minuit reached Delaware Bay in March 1638. Late that month, having purchased a tract along the right bank of the river from neighboring Indian chiefs, he proclaimed "New Sweden" and erected Ft. Christina (present-day Wilmington). After completing the fort and leaving a subordinate in charge, Minuit sailed in June 1638 to the Caribbean to trade for tobacco. Visiting a Dutch merchantman in St. Christopher, he was drowned when a hurricane struck the island.
Data concerning Minuit are scattered and incomplete. For his life in New Netherland the best authorities are J. Franklin Jameson, ed., Narratives of New Netherland, 1609-1664 (1909); I. N. Phelps Stokes, The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909, vol. 1 (1915); and Albert Eckhof, Jonas Michaëlius: Founder of the Church in New Netherland (1926). There is some account of his role in New Sweden in Amandus Johnson, The Swedish Settlements on the Delaware, vol. 1 (1911), and Christopher Ward, New Sweden on the Delaware (1938). □
"Peter Minuit." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/peter-minuit
"Peter Minuit." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved April 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/peter-minuit
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.
Peter Minuit (mĬn´yōōĬt), c.1580–1638, first director-general of New Netherland, b. Wesel (then the duchy of Cleves). Sent by the Dutch West India Company to take charge of its holdings in America, Minuit purchased (1626) Manhattan from the Native Americans for trade goods costing 60 Dutch guilders and made New Amsterdam (later New York City) its center. Dismissed by the company in 1631, he later entered into negotiations with the Swedes and headed (1638) the group sent out to found New Sweden. He was lost in a hurricane in the West Indies.
"Minuit, Peter." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/minuit-peter
"Minuit, Peter." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved April 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/minuit-peter