How the Indians Ripped Us Off on Manhattan

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RUSH: One final element here. Many of you — many of us — believe that the United States in its early days was mean and selfish. We cheated people. Among the people we cheated were the Injuns, the Native Americans. We stole Manhattan from them for the equivalent of 24 measly bucks. How many of you people believe this? I was taught the same thing.

Yeah. “One of the great myths of Thanksgiving is that we swindled the Indians when we bought Manhattan Island from them. We swindled them. Twenty-four bucks is the equivalent” price we paid. “It turns out, according to a book about Theodore Roosevelt, that that’s not true. It turns out that the Indians are the ones that ran the real estate scam when they sold Manhattan.

“It’s a book on Theodore Roosevelt, Commissioner Roosevelt: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt and the New York City Police, 1895-1897, by H. Paul Jeffers. Here are the relevant” words about this: “‘A persuasive case can be made that the city of New York began with a swindle. For generations school children have been taught that a slick trick was played on unsuspecting Indians by the director of the Dutch West India Company, Peter Minuit.

“‘In 1626 he purchased the island of “Manna-hatin” for sixty gilders worth of trinkets, about $24.’” By the way, there still is a Manna-hatin Park. Murders take place there. They do a lot of murder investigations in Manna-Hatin Park. But this is 1626.

“‘What Minuit did not know at the time, however, was that his masterful real estate deal had been struck with the Canarsie tribe,’” the forerunners of the Guardian Angels, “‘residents of Long Island; they held no title to the land they sold to the Dutch.’” (laughing) They didn’t have the property rights! (laughing) They sold it and it wasn’t theirs to sell — typical of a bunch of people from Canarsie.

“‘In due course, the intruders from Amsterdam who thought they had pulled a sharp one on the locals were forced into negotiating a second, more costly deal with the true landlords of Manna-hatin,’ which is what it was called, Manna-hatin.”

And in honor of that, there’s still a Manna-Hatin Park. So… (laughing) The 24 bucks that we paid did not buy anything (laughing), because the people selling it — the Canarsie tribe, the forerunners of the Guardian Angels — had nothing to sell. They didn’t own it.

I just love the story.

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