Little Bits of History

New Sweden

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 29, 2012

Johan Björnsson Printz

March 29, 1638: The first Swedish colony is established in the New World. New Sweden included portions of what are today Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The Realm of Sweden was reaching its peak during this period. Through a series of wars, Swedish forces ruled several areas of Europe. Colonization in the New World was a logical move. The first Swedish expedition left for America in late 1637. The voyagers left from Gothenburg with Clas Fleming, a Finnish admiral in charge. Peter Minuet, a Dutchman, was to lead the expedition.

Kalmar Nyckle, a pinnace, and Fogel Grip, a smaller ship, sailed past Cape May and Cape Henlopen and into the Delaware Bay. They anchored at a place today called Swede’s Landing. Their first order of business was to build a fortification which they named after their queen. Fort Christina was built at present day Wilmington. The Dutch had previously attempted to settle along the Delaware River and counted the regions as their territory. The Dutch and Swedes divided the area north and south of the river, leaving each with access to the lucrative beaver pelt trade.

The Swedish colony began with holdings which included most of present day Delaware and then moved up the river to include sections of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. They eventually established four forts in Pennsylvania, one in New Jersey, and a second one in Delaware. They also founded seventeen permanent settlements. They were some of the early European settlers (along with the Dutch and British) to reside in the Philadelphia area. The Swedes controlled the area from 1637-1655 when the Dutch took over. The British took on nominal control of Philadelphia in 1664 and William Penn really changed things in 1682.

New Sweden was governed by Johan Björnsson Printz from 1643-1653. Under his leadership, the colony expanded. In May 1654, the Swedes captured a Dutch fort without being fired upon – the Dutch were out of gunpowder. Dutch governor, Peter Stuyvesant, led a reprisal action (apparently with gunpowder) and retook the fort along with Fort Christina. The Swedish colony was incorporated into Dutch New Netherlands on September 15, 1655.

Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit. – Frank Borman

For three hundred years we have had our focus on the individual. We have distinguished him from the objective world as the Middle Ages did not think of doing. We have given him the world and the universe as a playground for exploration and discovery. – John Grierson

America has been discovered before, but it has always been hushed up. – Oscar Wilde

Each colony became accustomed to planting new settlements and to claiming new boundaries. – Albert B. Hart

Also on this day:

Rationing – In 1948, rationing of items increased to include more food products.
Ice Jam – In 1848, the Falls at Niagara stopped flowing.
Vesta – In 1807, Vesta was discovered.

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