Swedish Colonial Society -- "A Brief History of New Sweden in America"

Lady Jane, January 31 2013

A map of New Sweden, mid-1600s

The role of the English, Spanish, French, and even the Dutch is often noted in the early colonizing of America. Less well known is the fact that a colony of Swedes arrived in the Delaware Bay in 1638 -- less than twenty years after the Mayflower. The Swedish Colonial Society has documented this story on their website.

Augmented by further ship arrivals, this colony settled and spread along the banks of the Delaware River, in modern day Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Their numbers were never very large. About 600 Swedes and Finns immigrated to the colony over the span of a decade.

The downfall of the colony came in 1654, when new governor Johan Rising unwisely attacked and seized a Dutch fort at modern day New Castle, Delaware. The Dutch arrived in 1655 with greater numbers and forced New Sweden to surrender. The Dutch in turn were forced to surrender their colony to England in 1667.

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