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The Delaware Finns

E. A. Louhi

Chapter I. The Finnish emigration to Sweden, from where their path led to the American shores.
Chapter II.  Motives and inducements that led Sweden to establish a colony on the Delaware River.
Chapter III.  A colony established on the Delaware River.
Chapter IV.  The second expedition. The Dutch withdraw from the company. Dutch colonists coming to the Delaware.
Chapter V.  The third expedition. Finnish colonists brought to the Delaware River.
Chapter VI.  The fourth and the fifth expeditions. More Finnish colonists brought to America.
Chapter VII.  The sixth, seventh and eighth expeditions. The Finns beseeching the queen to be permitted to go to America.
Chapter VIII.  The ninth and tenth expeditions. The Finns flocking to get passage for America.
Chapter IX.  The Delaware settlements under the Swedish administration.
Chapter X.  The Delaware colony conquered by the Dutch.
Chapter XI.  New expeditions of Finns arriving at the Delaware River.
Chapter XII.  The first period of the Finnish settlements under the Dutch rule.
Chapter XIII.  England replacing Holland as the ruler of the South River.
Chapter XIV.  The first period of the Finnish settlement under the English rule.
Chapter XV.  The second period of the Finnish settlements under the Dutch rule.
Chapter XVI.  The second period of the Finnish settlements under the English rule.
Chapter XVII.  The third period of the Finnish settlements under the English rule.
Chapter XVIII.  The last stages of the Finnish settlements on the Delaware.

Chapter I. The Finnish Emigration to Sweden, from Where Their Path Led to the American Shores.

At the beginning of the second millennium of our era, Christianity had won much following in Europe and the people were enthusiastically spreading the idea among the infidels and pagans. The Scandinavian sea rovers, after hard opposition, had adopted this new religion and as newly converted always, became the most enthusiastic supporters and propagators of the "true religion." In this high spirit of enthusiasm, and also for the reason that some of the Finns .had acquired the habits of the Vikings and were beating them in their own game by robbing the very homes of the Vikings, Erick Jedwardson, king of Svea, made in 1157 a crusade to the city of Turku, in the southwestern Finland and at the point of sword Bishop Henry, a Scotchman, baptized the inhabitants into Christianity. With the aid of these newly converted Christians, new crusades were made in Finland and during the following couple of centuries all the Finns became baptized and at the same time subjects to Sweden.

At the first half of the sixteenth century, Sweden and Finland became the supporters of the Lutheran doctrines, as students from these countries had become acquainted with them in the University of Wittenberg in Germany. This change went on without opposition from the people, as Christianity in its Catholic form had remained rather external among them. The Catholic church domains in Sweden and Finland were confiscated by the state. Also king Gustaf Vasa of Sweden acquired some 2000 land estates for his own benefit. As Gustaf Vasa was a man who appreciated wealth, he endeavored to have these lands cultivated for his benefit, therefore the Finns were welcomed for this, which caused a migration of people from Finland to Sweden.

After the death of Gustaf Vasa, a Catholic reaction set in. Prince Juhana, his youngest son, had been given a part of Finland as his dukedom. Juhana married a Catholic princess Katherine of Poland and became influenced by her. Juhana's son Sigismund, who had been raised as Catholic, inherited the crown of Poland and Sweden and had his abode in the Polish capital Vilna. Another son of Gustaf Vasa, Carl, who had his dukedom in Sweden, became the opponent of Sigismund and endeavoring to increase the man power of his own domain, influenced many Finns to settle as pioneers in the uninhabited forest lands of his territory. This again caused more migration of Finns to Sweden. Most of the Finnish nobility sided with Sigismund in his controversy with Prince Carl and one of them, Klaus Fleming, who held the highest office after the king in Sweden, that of State Marsk, besides being the Governor-General of Finland and Esthonia and the commander-in-chief of the Swedish-Finnish armies and the navy, halted the army and the navy in Finland as they were returning from a war with Russia. During the time preparations were made of an expedition against Prince Carl in behalf of Sigismund and while negotiations were going on to separate Finland from Sweden and make her a principality under Poland, Admiral Fleming as the prince, the soldiers were billeted with the peasants, who were required to house and feed them without compensation, as was the custom in those days. A part of the army was mercenaries of all nations, who did not sympathize with the peasants and even the own men were brutalized by continuous warfare. The soldiers assumed mastery in the peasant houses and committed atrocities, becoming a pestilence to the country. The peasants were complaining that, "We have no peace in our homes, some of us have been killed, other so badly beaten that they never will recover." The peasants of Northern Finland were especially dissatisfied against the billeting as they had been exempted of it by Juhana, in return of guarding the northern borders of Finland against Russian invasions. As petitions directed to Flem-ing, by the peasants, did not bring release, the peasants sent their delegation to Prince Carl in Sweden, who, while expressing his sympathy, could not do anything else but advised the peasants to take the law into-their own hands. This the peasants did and at the end of 1596 two armies of the peasants of Northern Finland started a movement toward the south, clearing the country of the billeted soldiers. Simultaneously there were peasant uprisings in the Central Finland. However, as the peasants were poorly armed and untrained the peasant movement was crushed by Fleming's trained and well armed troops, in the course of fourteen months. Retaliations followed and the position became worse than ever for the peasants. Many of the peasants were forced to escape for their lives to Sweden, where they were welcomed by Prince Carl, were given land and enjoyed his special favors when Carl soon became the king of Sweden.

By the Finnish migrations and colonlzations in Sweden, purely Finnish communities were born, called by the Swedes as "Finnmarker," or Finlands. Between 1600 and 1650, Finnish pioneer settlements were found all over in the state forest lands, in the provinces of Angermanland, Medelpad, Helsingland, Gestrikland, Dalarna, Westmanland and Vermland, in the south-central Sweden. The Finnish colonists in these provinces amounted to 13,000 souls. Also in other provinces, as in Sodermanland, Nerike and Upland were found a number of Finnmarker, and in the East Gothland and West Gothland were found likewise few Finnish settlers.

The Finns retained their own language and in the larger settlements built their own churches. For sometime everything went well with the Finns in Sweden. They had got their farms cultivated and became the envy of the Swedish peasants, who did not look favorably on these foreigners. Then there was going on the Thirty Years' War in the Central Europe at the first half of the seventeenth century, Sweden taking the leading part in the war. This war required much copper and iron in the armaments, and by exporting copper king Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden endeavored to realize money to conduct the war. And it so happened that these metals were found in the mountainous forest lands where the Finnish pioneers had settled. As the mining industry was in the hands of the nobility, government officials and men of influence in the kingdom, whose habit it was not to buy land that they might have use of, but to apply means to get it vacated for them. A strong weapon in their hands to force the Finns to vacate their lands was the pioneers' method of putting land under cultivation by burnbeating. By this method the forest is cut down in the autumn, the timber, suitable for building and for firewood, is taken away and in the spring the branches were burned and grain sown into the ashes, which gave a good crop for three years. After that the land was left for reforestation or put under cultivation permanently. This method of cultivation was considered destructive to the forest and had been prohibited by law, but the Finns in the mountain lands and marshes hardly suitable for cultivation, used this method as their privilege for pioneering and which had been so understood and even granted to them.

As the metal industries consumed much charcoal, for Sweden has no coal, much forest was used for the production of charcoal. The wartime shipbuilding industry also figured in the consumption of forests. The forests in the central Sweden became fast consumed and this was all more or less credited to the Finns and their method of cultivation by burnbeating. It is logical that the Finns could not open their farm plots in the forests where they were assigned to pioneer and to let the forest grow over the plot too. This the mine owners used for their own benefit with the government. The Finns therefore fell in disfavor with the government and the Swedish peasants took advantage of it by setting up to drive away the Finns, burning their homes and massacring the peoples. In the province of Vermland where was a great Finnish population, the Finns endeavored to protect their homes and a regular war was fought between the Finnish pioneers and the Swedes. There were suggestions among the Swedes to kill the Finns off entirely and in some instances this was carried to the letter. As the homes and fields of the Finnish pioneers were destroyed, many of these families were hiding in the forests and mountains, seeking their living by hunting. But the hunting being subject to restrictions, these refugees became chased for game pouching. Others in their destitute were seeking employment at the mines and farms and became branded as vagrants. On September 4, 1636 an order was issued commanding all Finnish vagrants to leave Sweden and to return to Finland before the Walpurgis night of 1637, on pain of being put in irons and kept to work on the government's castles and estates.

These persecutions and massacres of the Finns in Sweden were going on while their more fortunate brethren were shedding their blood in the Central Europe for the glory of Sweden. In exchange of their blood the Swedish flag had been raised over almost all territories around the Baltic Sea. In the Thirty Years' War they won to Sweden the eternally glorious name of the Liberator of Religions. The Finnish cavalrymen swam their ponies over the Vistula the Danube and the Rhine like to a fiest, in going to meet their opponents. And under the heavy sabres of these brawny, broad shouldered bears of the North, nothing could stand. "Hakkaa päälle," (strike on), was the Finnish command for a charge and in the churches of their opponents were prayed "God deliver us from Hakkaa päälles." The Finnish infantry troops considered themselves favored by the Swedish kings, when they were drawn up to stand for the greatest burden of the battles. The incomparable soldiery of the Finns had just then made Sweden one of the great powers of Europe.

Sweden as a great power was then planning. a colony on the Delaware River, and when colonists were needed it was found a good way to get rid of the Finns in Sweden by prevailing upon them to go to America, or by sending them forcefully to the colony.

Publication: E. A. Louhi: The Delaware Finns or The First Permanent Settlements in Pennsylvania, Delaware, West New Jersey, and Eastern Part of Maryland. New York, The Humanity Press Publishers. 1925, 331 pages.

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