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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 II. Motives and Inducements that Led Sweden to Establish a Colony on the Delaware River.

Before the advent of the seventeenth century, Swedish foreign commerce and navigation had been during several centuries entirely in the hands of the Hanseatic League. This commercial power had now collapsed, but during the first half of the seventeenth century two-thirds of the Swedish foreign commerce was carried on Dutch vessels. Sweden had made good in the fields of war and her national pride and self respect had been awakened by the growing political importance. She was now endeavoring to develop everything in her own nationalistic lines. The Swedish language had displaced Latin as the language of religion and learning and now many Swedish commercial enterprises, to take the foreign commerce and navigation into their own hands, were established under the government's patronage and endowment.

In the autumn of 1624, a Dutchman, William Usselinx, founder of the Dutch West India Company, went to Sweden as king Gustavus Adolphus was then visiting home from the battle fields. Usselinx had an audience with the king, in which he interested Gustavus Adolphus for colonial trade. The king was a willing supporter to the ideas of Usselinx and offered him freedom to establish a company in Sweden to carry out these plans. A few days later Usselinx had his draft of the charter for "The South Company" ready and issued a prospect in which he had encouraging words of praise to the Swedes and hints to the fabulous riches to be had in the lands behind the oceans. The governors, mayors and counsellors of the cities and other officials were commanded to aid and assist the founder in raising subscriptions for the company's capital stock. A charter of privileges was also issued to the company. In the name of the king the charter says: "We have maturely considered it, and as far as is in our power we have sought to bring about that the advantages, profits and welfare of our kingdom and our faithful subjects, as well as the propagation of the Holy Gospel, might be in the highest improved and increased by the discovery of additional commercial relations and navigation."

Usselinx was very successful in receiving subscriptions for the company's capital, the king himself subscribed 450,000 dalers. He sold the stock to bishops, to the members of the council of state, generals, admirals, to the nobility and to the cities. He made a trip to Finland and to the Baltic provinces and was everywhere well received on account of his royal recommendations. But to collect the money from the subscribers proved to be a difficult task. The field had been badly exploited by enterprises that ended in failure, besides there was a great stringency of money on account of the heavy expenses of the war that was then going on, and furthermore, most of the subscriptions were from the aristocracy to whom to apply law would not have been advisable. Even old man Gustavus Adolphus never paid a penny on his subscription. Usselinx collected money enough for his salary and expenses and did not get discouraged, but, while years passed by, he enlarged the scope of the company, drafted new charters and gave from time to time to the company a bigger name. In one of his prospects, issued in 1626, he says that: "His Majesty's dominions would be enlarged, his treasury enriched, and the people's burdens at home diminished, if every good subject would contribute to put this plan into execution, without waiting to see what others would do. Then there would be no want of money to carry it into effect, and the kingdom, through the Lord's mercy, would have another eye, and its prosperity and riches would increase beyond what it had never done before. The public taxes would be lessened, and would be afterwards very light; and in process of time, every industrious man would thrive. And lastly it would greatly tend to the honor of God, to man's eternal welfare, to his majesty's service, and the good of the kingdom; in short, it would be highly beneficial to the whole nation."

In the beginning of 1629, Usselinx left Sweden and traveled in France, Spain, Portugal and Holland interesting the crowned heads and governments to his commercial schemes. But in 1632 we meet him again in the headquarters of the Swedish armies in Germany where an extension to the old charter was drawn up with the sanction and approval of Gustavus Adolphus. The territorial restrictions of the old charter were removed and the entire world was to be its field of activity. The king took interest in the prospect, but on November 6, 1632, he fell in the battle of Lutzen. The chancellor of state, Axel Oxentierna, who became the head of the government of Sweden during the minority of the king's daughter Christina, endeavored to carry out the wishes of the king and on May 1, 1633, signed a commission for William Usselinx as general director of the "General Commercial Company." In the following month Usselinx published at Frankfort-on-the-Main a general summary of his prospects in two books, the "Argonautica Gustaviana" and "Mercurius Germanica." In the Argonautica he says that the company would increase the prosperity of all Europe and the participants especially, it would spread the gospel among heathen peoples, redound to the honor of God and it was sure to become a noble jewel of Sweden and the German land.

During a convention of the Protestant League at Heilbronn, Germany, in the spring of 1633, Usselinx's projects were laid before the assembled nobles of Protestant Germany. And in each convention of the league Usselinx was busy in distributing his prospects and in interesting the members of the conventions to his scheme. In the convention at Frankfort in 1634 it seemed that his great idea was going to be carried into operation, but on the next day bad news arrived from the battle field. The Swedish-Finnish and Protestant German armies, under the Finnish field marshal Kustaa Horn and Prince Bernhard of Weimar, for the latter's engaging into a decisive battle contrary to previous decisions, had suffered a defeat and the war was thereafter continued with varying fortunes for a time. All attentions were now drawn strictly to the war and Usselinx was left to oblivion, but he had paved the way for others to carry their plans in the same line into operation.

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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