New Sweden

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Flag of Sweden

New Sweden (Swedish: Nya Sverige, Finnish: Uusi-Ruotsi) was a Swedish colony along the Delaware River on the Mid-Atlantic coast of North America from 1638 to 1655. Fort Christina, now in Wilmington, Delaware, was the first settlement. New Sweden included parts of the present-day American states of Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Along with Swedes and Finns, a number of the settlers were Dutch. Some Germans also came to the colony as soldiers in the Swedish army.

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History

By the middle of the 17th century the Realm of Sweden had reached its greatest territorial extent and was one of the great powers of Europe. Sweden then included Finland and Estonia along with parts of modern Russia, Poland, Germany and Latvia. The Swedes sought to expand their influence by creating an agricultural (tobacco) and fur-trading colony to bypass French and English merchants. The New Sweden Company was chartered and included Swedish, Dutch and German stockholders.[1]

The first Swedish expedition to North America embarked from the port of Gothenburg in late 1637. It was organized and overseen by Clas Fleming, a Swedish Admiral from Finland. A Dutchman, Samuel Blommaert, assisted the fitting-out and appointed Peter Minuit to lead the expedition. The members of the expedition, aboard the ships Fogel Grip and Kalmar Nyckel, sailed into Delaware Bay, which lay within the territory claimed by the Dutch, passing Cape May and Cape Henlopen in late March 1638[2], and anchored at a rocky point on the Minquas Kill that is known today as Swedes' Landing on March 29, 1638. They built a fort on the present site of the city of Wilmington, which they named Fort Christina, after Queen Christina of Sweden.[3]

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