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Fort Christina

Fort Christina

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Fort Christina was the first Swedish
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 settlement in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 and the principal settlement of the New Sweden
New Sweden
New Sweden 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....

 colony. Built in 1638 and named after Queen Christina of Sweden
Christina of Sweden
Christina , later adopted the name Christina Alexandra, was Queen regnant of Swedes, Goths and Vandals, Grand Princess of Finland, and Duchess of Ingria, Estonia, Livonia and Karelia, from 1633 to 1654. She was the only surviving legitimate child of King Gustav II Adolph and his wife Maria Eleonora...

, it was located approximately 1 mi (1.6 km) east of the present downtown Wilmington, Delaware
Wilmington, Delaware
Wilmington is the largest city in the state of Delaware, United States, and is located at the confluence of the Christina River and Brandywine Creek, near where the Christina flows into the Delaware River. It is the county seat of New Castle County and one of the major cities in the Delaware Valley...

, at the confluence of the Brandywine Creek and the Christina River
Christina River
The Christina River is a tributary of the Delaware River, approximately 35 miles long, in northern Delaware in the United States, also flowing through small areas of southeastern Pennsylvania and northeastern Maryland. Near its mouth the river flows past downtown Wilmington, Delaware,...

, approximately 2 mi (3 km) upstream from the mouth of the Christina on the Delaware River
Delaware River
The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States.A Dutch expedition led by Henry Hudson in 1609 first mapped the river. The river was christened the South River in the New Netherland colony that followed, in contrast to the North River, as the Hudson River was then...

.

History


The Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, as part of the New Netherland
New Netherland
New Netherland, or Nieuw-Nederland in Dutch, was the 17th-century colonial province of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands on the East Coast of North America. The claimed territories were the lands from the Delmarva Peninsula to extreme southwestern Cape Cod...

 colony, maintained a factorij at Fort Nassau
Fort Nassau (South River)
Fort Nassau was a factorij in the colonial province of New Netherland from 1623-1651.The name Fort Nassau was used by the Dutch in the 17th century for several fortifications, mostly trading stations, named for the House of Orange-Nassau....

. A settlement along south side of Delaware Bay
Delaware Bay
Delaware Bay is a major estuary outlet of the Delaware River on the Northeast seaboard of the United States whose fresh water mixes for many miles with the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. It is in area. The bay is bordered by the State of New Jersey and the State of Delaware...

 at Zwaanendael (near present-day Lewes
Lewes, Delaware
Lewes is an incorporated city in Sussex County, Delaware, USA, on the Delmarva Peninsula. According to the 2010 census, the population is 2,747, a decrease of 6.3% from 2000....

) was attempted in 1631, but the colony was massacred the following year by Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

. Following plans by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 to establish a Swedish colony in North America, the Swedes arrived in Delaware Bay on March 29, 1638 aboard the ships Kalmar Nyckel
Kalmar Nyckel
The Kalmar Nyckel was a Dutch-built armed merchant ship famed for carrying Finnish and Swedish settlers to North America in 1638 to establish the colony of New Sweden. A replica of the ship was launched at Wilmington, Delaware, in 1997.-History:The Kalmar Nyckel was constructed in about 1625 and...

and Fogel Grip
Fogel Grip
The Fogel Grip was a Swedish sailing ship originally built in the Netherlands in the early 1600s. She was used on the first Swedish expedition in 1638 together with the Kalmar Nyckel to establish the colony of New Sweden.-The ship:Little is known about the vessel. Fogel Grip was a Full rigged...

under the command of Peter Minuit
Peter Minuit
Peter Minuit, Pieter Minuit, Pierre Minuit or Peter Minnewit was a Walloon from Wesel, in present-day North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, then part of the Duchy of Cleves. He was the Director-General of the Dutch colony of New Netherland from 1626 until 1633, and he founded the Swedish colony of...

, the former director general of the New Netherland
New Netherland
New Netherland, or Nieuw-Nederland in Dutch, was the 17th-century colonial province of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands on the East Coast of North America. The claimed territories were the lands from the Delmarva Peninsula to extreme southwestern Cape Cod...

 colony. They landed at a spot along the Christina River
Christina River
The Christina River is a tributary of the Delaware River, approximately 35 miles long, in northern Delaware in the United States, also flowing through small areas of southeastern Pennsylvania and northeastern Maryland. Near its mouth the river flows past downtown Wilmington, Delaware,...

 at the present site of Old Swedes Church
Holy Trinity Church (Old Swedes)
Holy Trinity Church, also known as Old Swedes is a church in Wilmington, Delaware that is a National Historic Landmark. It was dedicated on July 4, 1699.-History:...

 in Wilmington. Minuit selected the site on the Christina River near the Delaware as being optimal for trade in beaver
American Beaver
The North American Beaver is the only species of beaver in the Americas, native to North America and introduced to South America. In the United States and Canada, where no other species of beaver occurs, it is usually simply referred to as "beaver"...

 pelts with the local Lenape
Lenape
The Lenape are an Algonquian group of Native Americans of the Northeastern Woodlands. They are also called Delaware Indians. As a result of the American Revolutionary War and later Indian removals from the eastern United States, today the main groups live in Canada, where they are enrolled in the...

.

At the time, the Dutch had claimed the area south to the Delaware (then called "South River"). The Swedes claimed an area for the Realm of Sweden
Realm of Sweden
The Realm of Sweden or Svenska väldet is a term that historically was used to comprise all the territories under the control of the Swedish monarchs.-Lands of Sweden:...

 on the south side of the Delaware that encompassed much of the present-day U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of Delaware
Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

, eventually including parts of present-day southeastern Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 and southern New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 on the north side of the river.

The colony remained in constant friction with the Dutch. In 1651, the Dutch under Peter Stuyvesant
Peter Stuyvesant
Peter Stuyvesant , served as the last Dutch Director-General of the colony of New Netherland from 1647 until it was ceded provisionally to the English in 1664, after which it was renamed New York...

 established Fort Casimir
Fort Casimir
Fort Casimir was a Dutch settlement in 17th century colonial province of New Netherland. It was located on a no-longer existing barrier island at the end of Chestnut Street in what is now New Castle, Delaware...

 at present-day New Castle
New Castle, Delaware
New Castle is a city in New Castle County, Delaware, six miles south of Wilmington, situated on the Delaware River. In 1900, 3,380 people lived here; in 1910, 3,351...

, only 7 mi (12 km) south of Fort Christina, in order to menace the Swedish settlement. In 1654, the Swedes captured Fort Casimir, but the following year in 1655, the Dutch took control of New Sweden, ending the official Swedish colonial presence in North America and renaming the fort 'Fort Altena'. The land remained as part of New Netherland until it became part of the English possessions
English colonial empire
The English colonial empire consisted of a variety of overseas territories colonized, conquered, or otherwise acquired by the former Kingdom of England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries....

 when an English fleet invaded the area in 1664.

The site was designated a National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

 in 1961. It is now preserved as Fort Christina State Park on E. 7th Street in Wilmington, along with a replica of the Kalmar Nyckel
Kalmar Nyckel
The Kalmar Nyckel was a Dutch-built armed merchant ship famed for carrying Finnish and Swedish settlers to North America in 1638 to establish the colony of New Sweden. A replica of the ship was launched at Wilmington, Delaware, in 1997.-History:The Kalmar Nyckel was constructed in about 1625 and...

. The Fort Christina monument, designed by Swedish sculptor Carl Milles
Carl Milles
Carl Milles was a Swedish sculptor, best known for his fountains. He was married to artist Olga Milles and brother to Ruth Milles and half brother to the architect Evert Milles...

, stands on the site.

See also


  • Swedish colonization of the Americas
    Swedish colonization of the Americas
    The Swedish colonization of the Americas included a 17th-century colony on the Delaware River in what is now Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, as well as two possessions in the Caribbean during the 18th and 19th century....

  • Fort Nya Elfsborg
    Fort Nya Elfsborg
    Fort Nya Elfsborg was a fortification and settlement established as a part of New Sweden. Built in 1643 and named after the Älvsborg Fortress off Gothenburg, Fort Nya Elfsborg was located on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River, between present day Salem and Alloway Creek.-History:Fort Nya...

  • Lenapehoking
    Lenapehoking
    Lenapehoking is a term for the lands historically inhabited by the Native American people known as the Lenape in what is now the Northeastern United States...

  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Wilmington, Delaware
    National Register of Historic Places listings in Wilmington, Delaware
    This is a list of properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Wilmington, Delaware:This page was transferred for reasons of size from National Register of Historic Places listings in New Castle County, Delaware, of which it is an integral part...


Additional reading

  • Johnson, Amandus
    Amandus Johnson
    Amandus Johnson was an American historian, author and founding curator of the American Swedish Historical Museum...

    . The Swedish Settlements on the Delaware 1638-1664 Volume I (1911)
  • Johnson, Amandus
    Amandus Johnson
    Amandus Johnson was an American historian, author and founding curator of the American Swedish Historical Museum...

    . The Swedish Settlements on the Delaware 1638-1664, Volume II (1927)

External links