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The Dutch West India Company


Founding new sweden Delaware
Founding new sweden Delaware

The Dutch West India Company was more interested in trade than in colonization. However, several of its members offered their services to the kingdom of Sweden as colonizers. One of them, Peter Minuit, the former director-general of New Netherland, led the Swedish expedition that established the first permanent settlement in Delaware. In March 1638 the expedition built a fortified trading post on the site of present-day Wilmington. It was named Fort Christina in honor of the queen of Sweden. Minuit secured a deed from the Native Americans for the land extending north from Bombay Hook to the Schuylkill River, which flows into the Delaware River at what is now Philadelphia. The territory was named New Sweden. Over the next 17 years more than a dozen expeditions arrived in New Sweden, bringing Swedish, Finnish, and Dutch settlers, as well as livestock, grain, and tools. Additional land was bought on both sides of the Delaware River. During the administration of Governor Johan Björnsson Printz (1643-1653), new forts, houses, mills, and wharves were built, tobacco was planted, and trade with the Native Americans was encouraged.

The Dutch West India Company still claimed the Delaware area and in 1651 attempted to gain control of it. Under the leadership of Peter Stuyvesant, governor of New Netherland, the Dutch built Fort Casimir on the site of present-day New Castle. The Swedes captured the fort in 1654, but the following year, Stuyvesant returned to New Sweden in greater force and seized the entire territory. Although many Swedes remained in Delaware, Swedish rule in North America was at an end.

In 1656 the Dutch West India Company, in financial difficulties, sold Fort Casimir and the land between the Christina River and Bombay Hook to the city of Amsterdam in The Netherlands. A settlement named New Amstel grew up at Fort Casimir and was made the capital of the area. By 1663 Amsterdam had acquired all the land from Delaware Bay to the Schuylkill River.

English Rule


The English, who competed with the Dutch for trade and colonies in North America, fought a series of three wars with them between 1652 and 1674. In 1664 the English captured all of New Netherland and the Dutch possessions in the Delaware Valley. This began the Second Anglo-Dutch War, which concluded in 1667 with the English in possession. Delaware was annexed by the English duke of York and for 18 years was governed as part of his colony of New York (which had been New Netherland). The Dutch, Swedish, and Finnish settlers who pledged allegiance to the English king were allowed to keep their lands and property. Settlers from England and from the

English colonies of Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York settled in Delaware, and the colony grew rapidly.The Dutch recaptured their former territory in 1673, during the Third Anglo-Dutch War. However, under the terms of the peace treaty they were forced to return it to England. "Delaware" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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