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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 356 pages of information about Knickerbocker's History of New York, Complete.

As the little squadron from Communipaw drew near to the shores of Manna-hata, a sachem, at the head of a band of warriors, appeared to oppose their landing.  Some of the most zealous of the pilgrims were for chastising this insolence with the powder and ball, according to the approved mode of discoverers; but the sage Oloffe gave them the significant sign of St. Nicholas, laying his finger beside his nose and winking hard with one eye; whereupon his followers perceived that there was something sagacious in the wind.  He now addressed the Indians in the blandest terms, and made such tempting display of beads, hawks’s bells, and red blankets, that he was soon permitted to land, and a great land speculation ensued.  And here let me give the true story of the original purchase of the site of this renowned city, about which so much has been said and written.  Some affirm that the first cost was, but sixty guilders.  The learned Dominie Heckwelder records a tradition[33] that the Dutch discoverers bargained for only so much land as the hide of a bullock would cover; but that they cut the hide in strips no thicker than a child’s finger, so as to take in a large portion of land, and to take in the Indians into the bargain This, however, is an old fable which the worthy Dominie may have borrowed from antiquity.  The true version is, that Oloffe Van Kortlandt bargained for just so much land as a man could cover with his nether garments.  The terms being concluded, he produced his friend Mynheer Ten Broeck, as the man whose breeches were to be used in measurement.  The simple savages, whose ideas of a man’s nether garments had never expanded beyond the dimensions of a breech clout, stared with astonishment and dismay as they beheld this bulbous-bottomed burgher peeled like an onion, and breeches after breeches spread forth over the land until they covered the actual site of this venerable city.

This is the true history of the adroit bargain by which the Island of Manhattan was bought for sixty guilders; and in corroboration of it I will add that Mynheer Ten Breeches, for his services on this memorable occasion, was elevated to the office of land measurer; which he ever afterwards exercised in the colony.

FOOTNOTES: 

   [33] MSS. of the Rev. John Heckwelder:  New York Historical Society.

CHAPTER VIII.

The land being thus fairly purchased of the Indians, a circumstance very unusual in the history of colonization, and strongly illustrative of the honesty of our Dutch progenitors, a stockade fort and trading house were forthwith erected on an eminence in front of the place where the good St. Nicholas had appeared in a vision to Oloffe the Dreamer; and which, as has already been observed, was the identical place at present known as the Bowling Green.

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