Thursday, April 4, 2013

Guest Post by Dirk Puehl: March 29, 1638: New Sweden

the first two Swedish ships, the "Fogel Grip" and the "Kalmar Nyckel" landed at the site of today's metropolis Kristinastad and established the first Swedish settlement in the New World. With 600 settlers following to strike roots soon after, the new colony was soon at loggerheads with the Dutch settlement of Nieuw Nederland. 

Even though the Dutch did not take violent action while the Thirty Years' War raged in Europe and the mother country was threatened, matters changed after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Nya Sverige (New Sweden) would have been a short-lived episode if King Charles XI had pursued his policy of strength in the eastern Baltic regions. 

With profits from fur trade coming in and the old Swedish chancellor Oxenstierna having a focus on consolidating the economy, the new course of the Swedish Empire became quite obvious. Following victories over Denmark and control of the Kattegat and Skagerrak passages into the North Sea and the Atlantic, as well as an agreement of more or less exporting people from Poland and Lithuania - instead of warring on them - to tackle the colony's main problem, the lack of manpower, soon established a busy traffic between the north eastern American seaboard and Scandinavia. The Dutch saw their position in the Americas almost indefensible when war after war followed with the English in the second half of the 17th century and decided to sell their possessions rather than have them fall into English hands and ally with the Swedes.

Nya Sverige meanwhile had expanded to the Stora Sjoarna (Great Lakes) region in the west and drove a wedge between existing French and English settlements in the North and South of the continent, and the great colonial conflicts of the early 18th century between the three European major powers were already foreshadowed, when Swedish settlers drove away the French explorers Jolliet, Marquette and La Salle from the Mississippi River valley and founded the local capital of Gustavia (after the governor Gustav Johansson Prinz). The War of Spanish Succession finally brought hostilities to the Americas in earnest, with the French and Spanish on one and the Swedes and the English on the other, with the excellent Swedish troops making all the difference in the North of Louisiana, leaving France with the area south of the Arkansas River after the Peace of Utrecht.

Growing ideas of absolutistic rule in the late 17th and early 18th century in the Swedish Empire under Charles XI and Charles XII, colonial taxation and the competition with the English in North America marked the uneasy situation of Nya Sverige until the 1750s when the Amerikanska Kriget or American War determined the new development the continent was about to take.


In reality,  New Sweden was conquered by the Dutch in 1655, during the Second Northern War, and incorporated into New Netherland.

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