Saul Bass’ Jazzy 1962 Animation Tackles the 1626 Sale of Manhattan

You know that story about Dutch settlers buying the whole of Manhattan for $24 (or 60 guilders) worth of junk jewelry? Not true. 

What really happened in 1626 is closer in spirit to those old yarns about hapless suckers tricked into buying the Brooklyn Bridge by cunning locals. 

Brooklyn’s Canarsee tribe sold the neighboring island out from under its proper owners, the Wappinger, a confederacy of Algonquin tribes, some of which had recently been at war with Dutch settlers. You think maybe Peter Minuit, New Amsterdam’s Dutch colonial governor, might have been wise to the ruse? 

God bless America! Shady political dealings from the get go!

Given the flimsiness of the historical record, animators Saul Bass and Art Goodman and director Fred Crippen can hardly be blamed for the inaccuracies of their 1962 retelling, above. 

It aired on the Chun King Chow Mein Hour, a television special starring satirist Stan Freberg, whose album “Stan Freberg Presents The United States Of America” provided the big Broadway style number that seals the deal with the prospective buyer. Culturally sensitive it ain’t, but there’s no denying it’s a jazzy bit of American history, animated and otherwise.

You’ll find Sale of Manhattan added to our list of animations, part of our larger collection, 700 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

Related Content:

A Short History of America, According to the Irreverent Comic Satirist Robert Crumb

Watch an Illustrated Video of Howard Zinn’s “What the Classroom Didn’t Teach Me About the American Empire”

Winsor McCay Animates the Sinking of the Lusitania in a Beautiful Propaganda Film (1918)

Ayun Halliday is an author, homeschooler, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday


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