The Year: 1638
New Sweden was a small Swedish settlement along the Delaware River on the Mid-Atlantic coast of North America. It was centered at Fort Christina, now in Wilmington, Delaware, and included parts of Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The settlement was founded March 29, 1638, and was incorporated into Dutch New Netherland on September 15, 1655. Along with Swedes, a large number of the settlers were Dutch.
By the middle of the 17th century, Sweden was one of the great powers in Europe. Sweden then included Finland and Estonia and parts of modern Russia, Poland, Germany and Latvia. Inspired by the other European powers, the Swedes wanted to expand their territory into the New World. America was seen as the standard-bearer of enlightenment and freedom, and became the ideal of liberal Swedes.
In 1637, Swedish, Dutch and German stockholders formed the New Sweden Company to trade for furs and tobacco in North America. Under the command of Peter Minuit, the company’s first expedition sailed from the port of Gothenburg in late in 1637 in two ships. Minuit had been the governor of the Dutch colony, New Netherland, from 1626 to 1631.
In late March 1638, the members of the expedition, aboard the ships Fogel Grip and Kalmar Nyckel, sailed into Delaware Bay and anchored at a rocky point that is known today as Swedes’ Landing.