Anthony Janszoon van Salee


Anthony Janszoon Van Salee is considered as the first known Muslim settler in the Americas and also the first inhabitant of Brooklyn in New York.  He was born to a Dutch father in 1607 in Spain and to his Muslim wife. His father became an admiral in the Morocco Navy working at the port of Sale (from where he gets his name) and would have converted to Islam.

He moved to Algiers and then to Amsterdam before getting on his journey to the Americas. He settled in Lower Manhattan area. Due to various disputes with the other settlers he was induced to move across the river to Brooklyn and became its first settler.


His Legacy

His accounts vary depending on the source but he definitely had troubles with others in the colony. He stood for the rights of minorities and that can also be a source of the issues he had. After moving out of Lower Manhattan he settled on a large land in Brooklyn that was later called as the ‘Turk Island’. He had a copy of the Quran that was auctioned many generations later.

There are many well known personalities that are his descendants including Warren Harding (the 29th President) and the Vanderbilt dynasty (including Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper).