Founding of New Sweden

An Electronic Edition · Israel Acrelius (18th Century)

Original Source: "The Founding of New Sweden" In Volume IV. Boston: Directors of the Old South work. Old South Meeting House.

Copyright 2003. This text is freely available provided the text is distributed with the header information provided

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The Founding of New Sweden

After that the magnanimous Genoese, Christopher Columbus, had, at the expense of Ferdinand, King of Spain, in the year 1492, discovered the western hemisphere, and the illustrious Florentine, Americus Vespucius, sent out by King Emanuel of Portugal, in the year 1502, to make a further exploration of its coasts, had had the good fortune to give the country his name, the European powers have, from time to time, sought to promote their several interests there. Our Swedes and Goths were the less backward in such expeditions, as they had always been the first therein. They had already, in the year 996 after the birth of Christ, visited America, had named it Vinland the Good, and also Skrællinga Land, and had called its inhabitants “the Skrællings of Vinland.” It is therefore evident that the Northmen had visited some part of North America before the Spaniards and Portuguese went to South America. But the question is, What would have been thought about Vinland if no later discoveries had been made, and what they thought about it before the time of Columbus ?

Every region in America was discovered in its own separate time. Virginia was discovered in the year 1497 by Sebastian Cabot, a Portuguese, who was then the captain of an English ship. Its coasts were afterwards visited by those brave knights, Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh, the latter of whom called the land VIRGINIA, after Queen Elizabeth of England, who lived unmarried. Under this name was included all the country stretching from Cape Florida to the St. Lawrence River, which was formerly called Florida, when separate names were not yet given to its coasts. That was done about the year 1584. Captain De la Ware, under the and of the English Admiral James Chartiers, was the first who discovered the bay in which the Indian river Poutaxat debouched, and gave his name, Delaware, to both the river and the bay, in the year 1600. These countries were repeatedly visited by the English: first by those sent out by Sir Walter Raleigh from Bristol, in the year 1603, and afterwards by Sir G. Popham and Captain James Davis, but little more was accomplished than that they learned to know the people, erected me small places and forts, which, however, were soon destroyed by the savages. In the year 1606 body of emigrants was sent to the northern regions, by two companies, called the London and the Bristol Companies. The former settled southward on the Chesapeake Bay; the latter, on the Kennebeck, or Sagadahoc River. Each had its territorial rights secured by a patent. In the year 1620, a dispute arose between them about the fisheries at Cape Cod, when a new patent was given. The Bristol Company, which received an accession of some persons of rank and distinction, changed its name to that of the Plymouth Council, and obtained a right to all the lands lying above the 40th degree up to the 48th degree of north latitude, which was three degrees farther north than the former grant, and included the greater part of Acadia, or New Scotland, and also extended westward from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean: all this was included in New England. The rest remained under Virginia.

About the same time the Hollanders undertook to steal into these American harbors. They took a fancy to the shores of the bay called by the Indians Menahados, and the river Mohaan Henry Hudson, an Englishman in the service of the Holland East India Company, had first discovered those places, and called the bay after his own name, Hudson’s Bay. ‘P his East India Company, in the year 1608, sold its right to the country, which it based upon its priority of discovery, to some Hollanders. These obtained from the States-General of Holland an exclusive privilege (privilegium exclusivum) to the country, and took the name of ” The West India Company of Amsterdam.” In the year 1610 they began to traffic with the Indians, and in the year x613 built a trading post (magazin) at the plat now called Albany, and in the following year placed some cannon there. Samuel Argall, the Governor of Virginia, drove them out in 1618 ; but King James I. gave them permission to remain, that their ships might obtain water there in their voyages to Brazil. From that time until 1623, when the West India Company obtained its charter, their trade with the Indians was conducted almost entirely on shipboard, and they made no attempts to build any house or fortress until 1629. Now, whether that was done with or without the permission of England, the town of New Amsterdam was built and fortified, as also the place Aurania, Orange, now called Albany, having since had three general-governors, one after the other. But that was not yet enough. They wished to extend their power to the river Delaware also, and erected on its shores two or three small forts, which were, however, soon after destroyed by the natives of the country.

It now came in order for Sweden also to take part in this enterprise. William Usselinx, a Hollander, born at Antwerp in Brabant, presented himself to King Gustaf Adolph, and laid before him a proposition for a Trading Company, to be established in Sweden, and to extend its operations to Asia, Africa, and Magellan’s Land (Terra Magellanica), with the assurance that this would be a great source of revenue to the kingdom. Full power was given him to carry out this important project; and thereupon a contract of trade was drawn up, to which the Company was to agree and subscribe it. Usselinx published explanations of this contract, wherein he also particularly directed attention to the country on the Delaware, its fertility, convenience, and all its imaginable resources. To strengthen the matter, a charter (octroy) was secured to the Company, and especially to Usselinx, who was to receive a royalty of one thousandth upon all articles bought or sold by the Company.

The powerful king, whose zeal for the honor of God was not less ardent than for the welfare of his subjects, availed himself of this opportunity to extend the doctrines of Christ among the heathen, as well as to establish his own power in other parts of the world. To this end, he sent forth Letters Patent, dated at Stockholm on the 2d of July, 1626, wherein all, both high and low, were invited to contribute something to the Company, according to their means. The work was completed in the Diet of the following year, 1627, when the estates of the realm gave their assent, and confirmed the measure. Those who took part in this Company were: His Majesty’s mother, the Queen Dowager Christina, the Prince John Casimir, the Royal Council, the most distinguished of the nobility, the highest officers of the army, the bishops and other clergymen, together with the burgomasters and aldermen of the cities, as well as a large number of the people generally. The time fixed for paying in the subscriptions was the 1st of May of the following year (1628). For the management and working of the plan there were appointed an admiral, vice-admiral, chipman, under-chipman, assistants, and commissaries; also a body of soldiers duly officered.

But when these arrangements were now in full progress, and duly provided for, the German war and the king’s death occurred, which caused this important work to he laid aside. The Trading Company was dissolved, its subscriptions nullified, and the whole project seemed about to die with the king. But, just as it appeared to be at its end, it received new life. Another Hollander, by the name of PETFR MENEWE, sometimes called MENUET made his appearance in Sweden. He had been in the service of Holland in America, where he became involved in difficulties with the officers of their Rest India Company, in consequence of which lie was recalled home and dismissed from their service. But he was not discouraged by this, and went over to Sweden, where he renewed the representations which Usselinx had formerly made in regard to the excellence of the country and the advantages that Sweden might derive from it.

Queen Christina, who succeeded her royal father in the government, was glad to have the project thus renewed. The royal chancellor, Count Axel Oxenstierna, understood well how to put it in operation. He took the West India Trading Company into his own hands, as its president, and encouraged other noblemen to take shares in it. King Charles 1. of England had already, in the year 163I, upon representations made to him by John Oxenstierna, at that time Swedish ambassador in London, renounced, in favor of the Swedes, all claims and pretensions of the English to that country, growing out of their rights as its first discoverers. Hence everything seemed to be settled upon a firm foundation, and all earnestness was employed in the prosecution of the plans for a colony.

As a good beginning, the first colony was sent off; and Peter Menewe was placed over it, as being best acquainted in those regions. They set sail from Götheborg, in a ship-of-war called the Key of Colmar, followed by a smaller vessel bearing the name of the Bird Griffin, both laden with people, provisions, ammunition, and merchandise, suitable for traffic and gifts to the Indians. The ships successfully reached their place of destination. The high expectations which our emigrants had of that new land were well met by the first views which they lead of it. They made their first landing on the bay or entrance to the river Poutaxat, which they called the river of New Sweden; and the place where they landed they called Paradise Point.

A purchase of land was immediately made from the Indians; and it was determined that all the land on the western side of the river, from the point called Cape Inlopen or Hinlopen,3 up to the fall called Santickan, and all the country inland, as much is was ceded, should belong to the Swedish crown forever. Posts were driven into the ground as landmarks, which
were still seen in their places sixty years afterwards. A deed was driven up for the land thus purchased. This was written in Dutch, because no Swede was yet able to interpret the language of the heathen. The Indians subscribed their hands and marks. The writing was sent home to Sweden to be preserved in the royal archives. Mans Kling was the surveyor. He laid out the land and made a map of the whole river, with its tributaries, islands, and points, which is still to be found in the royal archives in Sweden. Their clergyman was Reorus Torkillus of East Gothland.

The first abode of the newly arrived emigrants was at a place called by the Indians Hopokahacking. There, in the year 1638, Peter Menuet built a fortress which he named Fort Christina, after the reigning queen of Sweden. The place, situated upon the west side of the river, was probably chosen so as to be out of the way of the Hollanders, who claimed the eastern side,-a measure of prudence, until the arrival of a greater force from Sweden. The fort was built upon an eligible site, not far from the mouth of the creek, so as to secure them in the navigable water of the Maniquas, which was afterwards called Christina Kihl, or creek.

The country was wild and uninhabited by the Hollanders. They had had two or three forts on the river,–Fort Nassau, where Gloucester now stands, and another at Horekihl, down on the bay. But both of these were entirely destroyed by the Americans, and their occupants driven away. The following extract from the History of the New Netherlands, which Adrian van der Donck published in the year 1655, with the license and privilege as well of the States-General as of the Nest India Company, will serve as proof of what we have said.

“The place is called Hore-kihl, but why so called we know not. But this is certain: that some years back, before the English and the Swedes came hither, it was taken up and settled as a colony by Hollanders, the arms of the States being at the same time set up in brass. These arms having been pulled down by the villany of the Indians, the commissary there resident demanded that the head of the traitor should be delivered to him. The Indians, unable to escape in any other way, brought him the head, which was accepted as a sufficient atonement of their offence. But some time afterwards, when we were at work in the fields, and unsuspicious of danger, the Indians came as friends, surrounded the Hollanders with overwhelming numbers, fell upon them, and completely exterminated them. Thus was the colony destroyed, though sealed with blood, and dearly enough purchased.”

Notwithstanding all this, the Hollanders believed that they had the best right to the Delaware River ; yea, a better right than the Indians themselves. It was their object to secure at least all the land lying between said river and their city of New Amsterdam, where was their stronghold, and which country they once called “The New Netherlands.” But, as their forces were still too weak, they always kept one or another of their people upon the east side of the river to watch those who might visit the country. As soon, therefore, as Menuet landed with his Swedish company, notice of the fact was given to the Director-General of the Hollanders in New Amsterdam. He waited for some time, until he could ascertain Menuet’s purpose ; but, when it appeared that he was erecting a fortress for the Swedes, he sent him the following protest : –

Thursday, May 6, 1638.

“I, William Kieft, Director-General of the New Netherlands, residing upon the island of Manhattan, in the Fort Amsterdam, under the government belonging to the High and Mighty States-General of the United Netherlands, and the West India Company, chartered by the Council Chamber in Amsterdam, make known to you, Peter Menuet, who style yourself Commander in the service of Her Royal Majesty, the Queen of Sweden, that the whole South River of the New Netherlands, both above and below, hath already, for many years, been our property, occupied by our forts, and sealed with our blood, which was also done when you were in service in the New Netherlands, and you are, therefore, well aware of this. But whereas you have now come among our forts to build a fortress to our injury and damage, which we shall never permit; as we are also assured that Her Royal Majesty of Sweden has never given you authority to build forts upon our rivers and coasts, nor to settle people on the land, nor to traffic in peltries, or to undertake anything to our injury : We do, therefore, protest against all the disorder and injury, and all the evil consequences of bloodshed, uproar, and wrong which our ‘Trading Company may thus suffer: And that we shall protect our rights in such manner
as we may find most advisable.” Then follows the usual conclusion.

In his History of the New Netherlands, already cited, Adrian van der Donck- likewise relates how protest was made against the building of Fort Christina; but there, also, he gives evidence of the weakness of the Hollanders in the river, on the first arrival of the Swedes, and that their strength consisted almost entirely in great words.

“On the river,” he says, “lies, first, Maniqua’s Kihl, where the Swedes have built Fort Christina, where the largest ships can load and unload at the shore. There is another place on the river called Schulkihl, which is also navigable. That, also, was formerly under the control of the Hollanders, but is now mostly under the government of the Swedes. In that river (Delaware) there are various islands and other places, formerly belonging to the Hollanders, whose name they still bear, which sufficiently shows that the river belongs to the Hollanders, and not to the Swedes. Their very commencement will convict them. Before the year 1638, one Minnewits, who had formerly acted as director for the Trading Company at Manhatans, came into the river in the ship Key of Colmar, and the yacht called the Bird Griffin. He gave out to the Hollander, Mr. van der Nederhorst, the agent of the West India Company in the South River, that he was on a voyage to the West India Islands, and that he was staying there to take in wood and water. Whereupon said Hollander allowed him to go free. But, some time after, some of our people going thither found him still there, and he had planted a garden, and the plants were growing in it. In astonishment eve asked the reasons for such procedure, and if he intended to stay there. To which he answered evasively, alleging various excuses for his conduct. The third time they found them settled and building a fort. Then we saw their purpose. As soon as he was informed of it, Director Kieft protested against it, but in vain.”

Thus Peter Menuet made a good beginning for the settlement of the Swedish colony in America. He guarded his little fort for over three years, and the Hollanders neither attempted nor were able to overthrow it. After some years of faithful service he died at Christina. In his place followed Peter Hollendare, a native Swede, who did not remain at the mead of its affairs more than a year and a half. He returned home to Sweden, and was a major at Skepsholm, in Stockholm, in the year 1655.

The second emigration took place under Lieutenant Colonel JOHN PRINTZ, who went out with the appointment of Governor of New Sweden. He had a grant of four hundred rix dollars for his travelling expenses, and one thousand two hundred dollars silver as his annual salary. The Company was invested with the exclusive privilege of importing tobacco into Sweden, although that article was even then regarded as unnecessary and injurious, although indispensable since the establishment of the bad habit of its use. Upon the same occasion was also sent out 1~lagister John Campanius Holm, who was called by their excellencies the Royal Council and Admiral Claes Flemming, to become the government chaplain, and watch over the Swedish congregation.

The ship on which they sailed was called the ” Fama.”
It went from Stockholm to Götheborg, and there took in its freight. Along with this went two other ships of the line, the Swan and the Charitas, laden with people, and other necessaries. Under Governor Printz, ships came to the colony in three distinct voyages. The first ship was the Black Cat, with ammunition, and merchandise for the Indians. Next, the ship Swan, on a second voyage, with emigrants, in the year 1647. Afterwards, two other ships, called the Key and The Lamp. During these times the clergymen, Mr. Lawrence Charles Lockenius and Mr. Israel Holgh, were sent out to the colony. The instructions for the governor were as follows: –

“Instructions, according to which Her Royal Majesty, our Most Gracious Queen, will have the Lieutenant Colonel, now also the appointed governor over New Sweden, the noble and well-born JOHN PRINTZ, to regulate himself as well during his voyage as upon his arrival in that country. Given at Stockholm, the 15th of August, 1642.

“Inasmuch as some of the subjects of Her Royal Majesty and of the crown of Sweden have, for some time past, undertaken to sail to the coasts of the Rest Indies, and have already succeeded in conquering and purchasing a considerable tract of land, and in promoting commerce, with the especial object of extending the jurisdiction and greatness of Her Royal Majesty and of the Swedish crown, and have called the country NEW SWEDEN; wherefore and inasmuch as Her Royal Majesty approves and finds this their undertaking and voyaging not only laudable in itself, but reasonable, and likely, in the course of time, to benefit and strengthen Her Royal Majesty and the Swedish throne: so has Her Royal Majesty, for the promotion of that work and for the assistance of those who participate therein, furnished them for the making of that important voyage, and also for the confirming and strengthening of that important work thus begun in New Sweden, for said voyage, two ships, named the Fama and the Swan, as well as some other means necessary thereto, under a certain Governor, whom Her Majesty has provided with sufficient and necessary powers, having thereunto appointed and legitimated Lieutenant Colonel John Printz, whom she has, accordingly, seen good to instruct upon the points following.

“2. The ships above named having proceeded to Götheborg, John Printz, the Governor of New Sweden, shall now, without any delay, take his departure to said place, so arranging his journey by land that he may reach there by the first opportunity. Going down to Götheborg, he shall assist in ordering and arranging everything in the best manner possible, and especially in accordance with the best regulations that the members of the company can have made; and as concerns his own person, and that of his attendants, he shall so arrange his affairs that he may immediately, in the month of September next following, set sail from this country and proceed to sea.

“3. But either before, or at the time when the ships are about to set sail from Götheborg, the Governor shall consult with the skippers and officers of the ships, considering and deciding, according to the state of the wind and other circumstances, whether he shall direct his course to the north of Scotland, or through the channel between France and England.

” 4. Under Way, and on the journey, he must see to it that the officers and people of the ships perform their duties at sea truly and faithfully; and in all important and serious matters he can always avail himself of the aid and counsel of the persons aforesaid, who usually form the council of a ship; he shall also have every important occurrence carefully noted, causing a correct log or journal thereof to be kept, of which, also, he shall, by every opportunity, send hither a correct copy.

“5. The Governor, God willing, having arrived in New eden, he must, for his better information, bear in mind that the boundaries of the country of which our subjects have taken possession extend, in virtue of the articles of the contract entered into with the wild inhabitants of the country, as its rightful lords, from the seacoast at Cape Hinlopen, upwards along the west side of Godin’s Bay, and so up the Great South River, onwards to Minque’s Pil, where Fort Christina is built, and thence still farther along the South River, and up to a place which the wild inhabitants call Sankikans, where the farthest boundaries of New Sweden are to be found. This tract or district of country extends in length about thirty (30) German miles; but in breadth, and into the interior, it is, in and by tile contract, conditioned that Her Royal Majesty’s subjects, and the participants in this Company of navigators, may hereafter occupy as much land as they may desire.

“6. Recently, and in the year last past–viz., 1641 – several English families, probably amounting to sixty persons in all, settled, and begun to build and cultivate the land elsewhere, namely, upon the east side of the above-mentioned South River, on a little stream named Ferken’s Kil ; so have also the above-named subjects of Her Majesty, and participants in the Company, purchased for themselves of the wild inhabitants of the country the whole of this eastern side of the river, from the mouth of the aforesaid great river at Cape May up to a stream named Narraticen’s Kil, which tract extends about twelve (12) German miles, including also the said Ferken’s Kil, with the intention of thus drawing to themselves the English aforesaid. This purchase the Governor shall always, with all his power, keep intact, and thus bring these families under the jurisdiction and government of Her Royal Majesty and the Swedish crown ; especially as we are informed that they themselves are not indisposed thereto; and should they be induced, as a free people, voluntarily to submit themselves to a government which can maintain and protect them, it is believed that they might shortly amount to some hundred strong. But, however that may be, the Governor is to seek to bring these English under the government of the Swedish crown, inasmuch as Her Royal Majesty finds it to be thus better for herself and the crown as partners in this undertaking; and they might also, with good reason, be driven out and away from said place; therefore Her most Royal Majesty aforesaid will most graciously leave it to the on of Governor Printz so to consider and act in the premises as can be done with propriety and success.

“7. There is no doubt that the Holland Vest India Company will seek to appropriate to themselves the place aforesaid, and the large tract of land upon which the English have settled, and the whole of the above-named east side of the Great South River, and that so much the rather as their fort or fortification of Nassau, which they have manned with about twenty (zo) men, is not very far therefrom, upon the same eastern side of the river; just as they also make pretensions to the whole western side of the aforesaid South River, and, consequently, to all that of which our subjects aforesaid have taken possession, which they have seized, relying upon their Fort Nassau, whereby they would take possession of the whole South River, and of the whole country situated upon both sides of the same river. It is for this that they have protested against the beginning which her before-mentioned Majesty’s subjects have made in settling and building; and, so far as they could, have always opposed and sought to prevent our people from going up the South River and past their Fort Nassau. Therefore shall the Governor take measures for meeting the agents and participants of said Holland West India Company in a proper manner; and with mildness, but firmly, remonstrate, and make known to them the upright intentions of Her Royal Majesty and her subjects in the premises, that nothing has herein been sought, or is now sought, other than a free opening for commerce ; that Her Royal Majesty’s subjects have, in a just and regular manner, purchased of the proper owners and possessors of the country that district of which they have taken possession, and which they have begun to cultivate; and that they cannot, therefore, without injustice, oppose Her Royal Majesty or her subjects, or seek to disturb them in their possessions without doing them great injury. But should the same Holland Company, contrary to all better hopes, allow themselves to undertake any hostility, or make any attack, then, in such case, it will only be proper to be prepared with the best means that circumstances will allow, and so seek to repel force by force ; therefore, as this, like everything else, is best judged of and decided on the ground, so also does Her Royal Majesty place it in the Governor’s discretion to meet such vexations, in the first instance, with kind admonitions, but, if these are not effective, then with severity, according to the best of his understanding, so as to arrange everything to the best advantage and honor alike of Her
Royal Majesty and the members of the Company. But if no such troubles arise, which it is hoped will be the case, and Her Royal majesty and her subjects remain undisturbed in that which they have rightfully brought into their possession, then shall the Governor hold good friendship and neighborhood with the aforesaid Hollanders at Fort Nassau, and with those who d”-ell upon the North River at Mankatan’s, or New Amsterdam, as also with the English who dwell in the country of Virginia, and make no inroads upon any of them, nor interfere with that of which they are in the actual possession. Especially, since the adjacent English in Virginia have already commenced to offer Her Royal Majesty’s subjects in New Sweden all kinds of useful assistance, and to let them procure, upon reasonable payment, such cattle and seed-corn as they may desire ; therefore shall the Governor continually seek to give free and undisturbed course to the correspondence and commerce thus begun with the English, to the use and benefit of Her Royal Majesty’s subjects aforesaid.


“8. Those Hollanders who have emigrated to New Sweden, and settled there under the protection of Her Royal Majesty and the Swedish crown, over whom Jost von deco Boyandh has command, the Governor shall treat, according to the contents of the charter and privileges conferred by Her Royal Majesty, of the principles whereof the Governor has been advised; but in other respects he shall show them all good-will and kindness, yet so that he shall hold them also to the same, that they, also, upon their side, comply with the requisitions of their charter which they have received. And inasmuch as notice has already been given them that they have settled too near to Fort Christina, and as houses are said to be built at the distance of almost three miles from that place, they should therefore leave that place, and betake themselves to a somewhat greater distance from the said fort. So also does Her Royal Majesty leave it to the good pleasure and prudence of the Governor, when on the ground, duly to consider the deportment of said Hollanders and the situation of the place of which they have taken possession ; and, according to his judgment, either let them remain there quietly or make such a disposition and settlement of the matter as lie shall find most suitable and advantageous to Her Royal Majesty and the participants in said Company of navigation.


“9. The wild nations, bordering upon all other sides, the Governor shall understand how to treat with all humanity and respect, that no violence or wrong be done to them by Her Royal 112ajesty or her subjects aforesaid; but he shall rather, at every opportunity, exert himself that the same wild people may gradually be instructed in the truths and worship of the Christian religion and in other Ways brought to civilization and good government, and in this manner properly guided. Especially shall he seek to gain their confidence, and impress upon their minds that neither he, the Governor, nor his people and subordinates are come into those parts to do them any wrong or injury, but much more for the purpose of furnishing them with such things as they may need for the ordinary wants of life ; and so, also, for such things as are found among them which they themselves cannot make for their own use, or buy, or exchange. Therefore shall the Governor also see thereto that the people of Her Royal Majesty, or of the Company who are engaged in trading in those parts, allow the wild people to obtain such things as they need, at a price somewhat more moderate than they are getting them of the Hollanders at Fort Nassau, or the adjacent English; so that said wild people may be withdrawn from them, and be so much the more won to our people.


“10. In regard to the Governor’s place of residence, Her Royal Majesty leaves it to him to provide and choose the same according as he finds the case to be in the place, or it can be continued where it now is, and the residence arranged and ordered in the most convenient manner possible; in like manner shall the Governor also provide a suitable place for a fortress, either at Cape Henlopen or the island called ” James’ Island,” or wherever else a good site for the same may be found: wherein he has especially to keep in view these considerations above all others, namely, that by such a fortification it should be possible to close up the South River, having it commanded by the same fortress, and that there should also be found there, without great difficulty, a suitable harbor wherein the ships of Her Royal Majesty and her subjects could be in security, and, if need so were, continue to lie there over winter.


“11. And if the Governor does not find it necessary at once and hastily to fortify another new place, but can for the present properly defend himself by Fort Christina, then shall he so much the more zealously at once arrange and urge forward agriculture and the improvement of the land, setting and urging the people thereto with zeal and energy, exerting him the ground that the people may derive from it their necessary food.


“12. Next to this, he shall pay the necessary attention to the culture of tobacco, and appoint thereto a certain number of laborers, so arranging that the produce may be large, more and more being set out and cultivated from time to time, so that he can send over a good quantity of tobacco on all ships coming hither.


“13. That better arrangements may be made for the production of cattle, both great and small, the Governor shall at once exert himself to obtain a good breed of cattle of all kinds, and especially of that which is sent out from this country, and also seek to obtain a supply from the neighboring English, dividing everything with those who will use and employ it in agriculture in exchange for seed, and with such prudence as he shall find most serviceable to the members of the Company.


“14. Among and above other things, he shall direct his attention to sheep, to obtain them of good kinds, and, as soon as may be, seek to arrange as many sheep-folds as he conveniently can, so that presently a considerable supply of wool of good quality may be sent over to this country.


“15. The peltry-trade with the natives he shall, also, so far as possible, seek to sustain in a good state, exercise a careful inspection of all engaged in it, prevent all frauds in established commissions, and take care that Her Royal Majesty and her subjects, and the members of the Company, may have reason to expect good returns for their cargoes. In like manner, he shall provide that no other persons whatever be permitted to traffic with the natives in peltries; but this trade shall be carried on only by persons thereto appointed in the name of the whole Company, and in its ways.

“16. Whatever else it may at present be necessary to do in that country will be best committed to the hands of the Governor in the country, according to the circumstances of the time and lace; more especially as the same land of New Sweden is situated in the same climate with Portugal; so, apparently, it is to be expected that salt-works might be arranged on the sea coasts. But, if the salt could not be perfectly evaporated by the heat of the sun, yet, at the least, the salt water might be brought to such a grade that it might afterwards be perfectly condensed by means of fire, without great labor or expense which the Governor must consider, and make such experiment, and, if possible, put it into operation and make it effective.


“17. And, as almost everywhere in the forests wild grapevines and grapes are found, and the climate seems to be favorable to the production of wine, so shall the Governor also direct his thoughts to the timely introduction of this culture, and what might herein be devised and effected.


” 18. He can also have careful search made everywhere as to whether any metals or minerals are to be found in the country, and, if any are discovered, send hither correct information, and then await further orders from this place.


“19. Out of the abundant forests, the Governor shall examine and consider how and in what manner profit may be derived from the country; especially what kind of advantages may be expected from oak-trees and walnut-trees, and whether a good quality of them might be sent over here as ballast. So also it might be examined whether oil might not be advantageously pressed out o# the walnuts.


“20. The Governor shall likewise take into consideration and correctly inform himself how and where fisheries might be most profitably established ; especially as it is said that at a certain season of the year the whale fishery can be advantageously prosecuted in the aforesaid Godin’s Bay, and adjacently; lie shall therefore have an eye upon this and send over hither all needed information as to what can be done in this and other matters connected with the country, and what further hopes may be entertained in reference thereto.


“21. The Governor shall also carefully inquire and inform himself in regard to the food and convenience for keeping great number of silkworms, wherewith a manufacture might be established; and, if he discovers that something useful might thus be accomplished, he shall take measures for the same.


“22. Whatever else could be done in connection with the successful cultivation of the land, but cannot be introduced just for the present, this Her Royal Majesty will graciously have entrusted to the fidelity, foresight, and zeal of the Governor, with the earnest command and admonition that he seek in all matters to uphold the service and dignity of Her Royal Majesty and the crown of Sweden, as also to promote the advantage and interest of the members of the Company, in the conservation of the same land of New Sweden, its culture in every way possible, and the increase of its profitable commerce.


“23. But, far above all this, as to what belongs to the political government and administration of justice, everything of this kind must be conducted under the name of Her Royal Majesty and the crown of Sweden, for no less reason than that the country enjoys the protection of Her Royal Majesty and of the crown, and that the interest of the crown is in the highest degree involved in the protection of that country, its cultivation, and active trade and commerce. To give the Governor specific information herein cannot so well and effectually be done at so great a distance; it must therefore be left to his own discretion and good sense that lie upon the ground provide, arrange, and execute whatever conduces to bring matters into good order and a proper constitution, according as he finds the necessities of the time and place to require. At first, and until matters can be brought into a better form, the Governor may use his own seal, but in a somewhat larger form, in briefs, contracts, correspondence, and other written documents of a public character.


“24. He shall decide all matters of controversy which may arise, according to Swedish law and right, custom and usage; but in all other matters, also, so far as possible, he shall adopt and employ the laudable customs, habits, and usages of this most praiseworthy realm.


“25. He shall also have power, through the necessary and proper means of compulsion, to bring to obedience and a quiet life the turbulent and disorderly, “-ho will not live quietly and peacefully, and especially gross offenders, who may possibly be found; he may punish, not only with imprisonment and the like duly proportioned means of correction, but, also, according to their misdeeds or crimes, with the loss of life itself, yet not in any other than the usual manner, and after the proper hearing and consideration of the case, with the most respectable people and the most prudent associate judges who can be found in th country as his counsellors.


“26. Above all things, shall the Governor consider and see to it that a true and due worship, becoming honor, laud, and praise ba paid to the Most High God in all things, and to that end all proper care shall be taken that divine service be zealously performed, according to the unaltered Augsburg Confession, the Council of Upsala, and the ceremonies of the Swedish Church; and all persons, but especially the young, shall be duly instructed in the articles of their Christian faith; and all good church discipline shall, in like manner, be duly exercised and received. But so far as relates to the Holland colonists that live and settle under the government of Her Royal Majesty and the Swedish crown, the Governor shall not disturb them in the indulgence granted them as to the exercise of the Reformed religion according to the aforesaid Royal Charter.


” 27. In all else which cannot here be set down in writing, the Governor shall conduct himself as is suitable and becoming to a faithful patriot, and take into due consideration whatever is correspondent to his office, according to the best of his understanding and with the greatest zeal and care, also regulating himself in accordance with that which may be here communicated to him by word of mouth; and there is herewith given him a special list of the people who accompany him, and of the means and equipment of his office.


“28. Finally, Her Royal Majesty is also well satisfied that the said office of his government shall continue and exist for three years, after the lapse of which he, the said John Printz, shall be free to return hither again, after the necessary arrangements have been made in regard to his successor, or some substitute in the said service. Should he, the said John Printz, have a desire to continue longer in this charge, he shall have the preference over others therefor, provided that the advantage and service of Her Majesty and the crown, and of the Company, so demand. Given as above.


The voyage to New Sweden was at that time quite long. The watery way to the West was not yet well discovered, and, therefore, for fear of the sand-banks off Newfoundland, they kept their course to the east and south as far as to what were then called the Brazates. The ships which went under the command of Governor Printz sailed along the coast of Portugal, and down the coast of Africa, until they found the eastern passage, then directly over to America, leaving the Canaries high up to the north. They landed at Antigua,, then continued their voyage northward, past Virginia and Maryland, to Cape Hinlopen. Yet, in view of the astonishingly long route which they took, the voyage was quick enough in sis m is’ time,-from Stockholm on August 16, 1642, to the new fort of Christina, in New Sweden, on February 15, 1643.

The Swedes who emigrated to America belonged partly to a trading company, provided with a charter, who, for their services, according to their condition or agreement, were to receive pay and monthly wages ; a part of them also went at their own impulse to try their fortune. For these it was free to settle and live in the country as long as they pleased or to leave it, and they were therefore, by way of distinction from the others, called freemen. At first, also, malefactors and vicious people were sent over, who were used as slaves to labor upon the fortifications. They were kept in chains and not ale intercourse With the other settlers; moreover, a separate place of abode was assigned to them. The neighboring people and country were dissatisfied that such wretches should come into the colony It was also, in fact, very objectionable in regard to the. heathen, who might be greatly offended by it. Whence it happened that, when such persons came over in Governor Printz’s time, it was not permitted that one of them should set foot upon the shore, but they had all to he carried back again, whereupon a great part of them died during the voyage or perished in some other way. Afterwards it inas forbidden at home in Sweden, under a penalty, to take for the American voyage any persons of bad fame; nor was there ever any lack of good people for the colony.

Governor Printz was now in a position to put the government upon a safe footing to maintain the rights of the Swedes, and to put -down the attempts of the Hollanders. They had lately, before his arrival, pitched their little Fort Nassau. On this account he selected the island of Tenackong as his residence, which is sometimes also called Tutaeaenung and Tenicko, about
three Swedish miles from Fort Christina. The convenient situation of the place suggested its selection, as also the location of Fort Nassau, which lay some miles over against it, to which he could thus command the passage by water. The new fort, which was erected and provided with considerable armament, was called New Götheborg. His place of residence, which he adorned with orchards, gardens, a pleasure-house, etc., he named Printz Hall. A handsome wooden church was also built at the same place, which Alagister Campanius consecrated, on the last great prayer-day which was celebrated in New Sweden, on the 4th of September, 1646. Upon that place also all the most prominent freemen had their residences and plantations.

Full Colophon Information

Genre: Prose
Subjects: Colonial Society and Life
Period: 1700-1750
Location: New Sweden
Format: Account/Relation

This text is an excerpt from Rev. Israel Acrelius's History of New Sweden and was first published in 1759 and translated into English by Rev. William M. Reynolds and published in the "Memoirs of te Historical Society of Pennsylvania," vol. xi (1874).

The text of the present edition was prepared from and proofed against "The Founding of New Sweden." In Old South Leaflets Volume IV. Boston: Directors of the Old South work. Old South Meeting House. All preliminaries have been omitted except those for which the author is responsible. All editorial notes have been omitted except those that indicate significant textual variations. Line and paragraph numbers contained in the source text have been retained. In cases where the source text displays no numbers, numbers are automatically generated. In the header, personal names have been regularized according to the Library of Congress authority files as "Last Name, First Name" for the REG attribute and "First Name Last Name" for the element value. Names have not been regularized in the body of the text.