(The FRENCH, DUTCH and ENGLISH to AMERICA – continued)
In 1638, less than a hundred subjects of the Swedish king settled near the Delaware River. Sweden laid claim to the area but had few willing to migrate there. It sent convicts to work out their sentences as servants to the company sponsoring the colony, but by 1653 there were no more than 250 in the colony, most of them Finns, at Fort Christina. That year, Sweden sent 350 more colonists, most of them soldiers. Sweden's colony came into conflict with the Dutch just to their north, the Swedes capturing a Dutch fort – Fort Casimir. The Dutch sent a fleet of ships up the Delaware River, and Fort Christina surrendered, ending what had been called New Sweden.
By the 1680s, a couple of thousand Europeans were settled around the Delaware River – Dutch as well as Swedes and Finns. And into this region came Quakers, a migration organized largely in England by William Penn, who gathered around him forty wealthy Quakers and founded a new colony on the west bank of the Delaware. Penn declared that his colony would have religious freedom – except that none could vote who did not believe that Christ was the son of God. With colonists now difficult to recruit in England amid the new prosperity there, Penn included among his migrants people from Ireland, Holland, France, Germany and Switzerland.
Motivated by Quaker principles, Penn's colony established harmony with local Indians – built upon the good relations with the Indians by the European migrants before them, who had treated Indians fairly including paying for the land that they occupied. In 1683, Penn's representative, William Markham, signed a treaty with the Indians – which the French intellectual, Voltaire (1694-1778), was to describe as the only treaty with the Indians that Europeans never broke.
More than 1400 Quakers were among those who joined Penn's colony. They were responding to their experience with hostility and discrimination and with their principles and belief in democracy. And they were adding to the tolerance that had begun with Roger Williams at Maryland. Penn's colony promised land and the freest and most democratic of governments. The people of Penn's colony were guaranteed protection from arbitrary imprisonment, guaranteed the right to a trial by jury, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, a legislature created by universal manhood suffrage, and no capital punishment,
Copyright © 2001-2015 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.