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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 IX. The Delaware Settlements under the Swedish Administration.

Although the Finnish colonists' letters to their families and friends in Sweden were full of praise of the country where they were settled and where they could make their living with the utmost ease, everything in the colony was not ideal. But in comparison of massacres and hiding in the woods for their lives in cold and hunger in Sweden, they were ready to forget their hardships here when they wrote to their people. When Johan Printz was sent to the Delaware Colony as governor, he was invested with practically unlimited power to rule the colony in the name of the Queen of Sweden. Besides being a governor, his instructions of August 15, 1642, appointed him to be the judge and prosecutor, and was empowered to impose punishment in fines, imprisonment and death according to Swedish usages. A harsh man invested with such power could not resist of becoming a tyrant. Printz came to the colony with the fourth expedition, arriving at the end of January 1643, and already in the spring of the same year' several colonists deserted the Delaware settlement and went to New Netherland. Printz sent his agents however there to bring them back, as there was an understanding between the governors of New Sweden and New Netherland that deserters should be returned. The runaways were captured with the aid of Dutch soldiers about twenty-four miles from New Amsterdam, where they had settled and had been discovered by the Indians, who against reward informed the Swedish agents about their whereabouts. The prisoners were put in irons and taken in a bark back to New Sweden.

The colonists were prohibited to trade with the Dutch and with the Indians, the New Sweden Company having the sole right for trade. Thus the colonists had to sell their products to the company at the company's price and buy their necessities from the company likewise. Although in few cases some merchantmen who came to trade with the company obtained, against duty, permission to sell to the colonists. The sale of fire arms and ammunition to the Indians were strictly prohibited, but nevertheless governor Printz himself sold these things to the Indians. Besides he transacted business privately in a large scale for his own profit and to the company's loss, with the Dutch and English merchants, in skins, tobacco and provisions. A list made after a fire at his place on the Tinicum Island in December 1645, shows that his stock in provisions was larger than that of the company's, besides a wealth in precious stones, pearls, gold, silver and other valuables, after having been less than two years in the colony and having not raised his salary as it was paid on his return to Sweden. According to the records in the account books Printz had used also 11,288 riks dalers from his own means to the company's need 'on May 25, 1648, and according to his report had fifty heads of cattle at his estate on the Tinicum Island in 1653.

But if a colonist made a sale to other party than the company, he was severly punished by the governor. A colonist Knut Persson was sick and in distress and to get money for necessities he lef t his gun with Peter Cock, requesting him to sell it to the Indians. Cock was afraid to do it and said to Persson that he did not dare to sell the gun. But Persson answered "when the governor sells so many guns to the Indians, why should I not dare to sell mine." Later on the gun was stolen from Cock's house by the Indians and the news reached to governor, who summoned Peter Cock to answer at court, since Persson had died in the meantime. The jurors in the, court desired Cock freed, but Printz told them that he would do not what seems right to them but what he wished and Peter Cock was condemned to work for the company :for three months on his own board. Another Finn, Peter Gunnarsson Rambo was summoned to the court, being accused of having sold grain to the Dutch and was similarly sentenced without regard to the opinion of the jury or hearing of witnesses.

Governor Printz was enriching himself at the expense of the colonists' labor. The Tinicum Island had been granted to him as a gift from Queen Christina of Sweden. On the island he built a palace for himself, called Printz Hall, but the building materials had to be brought in and the work performed by the colonists, without pay. Likewise when the colonists had prepared planks and building materials or farming implements for their own use, the governor confiscated them for the use of his plantations. In 1645, the Printz Hall burned and the colonists had to build it over again and more sumptuous.The colonists also had to do the farm work on the governor's plantations, before their own work, as a tax to the governor.

Governor Printz also confiscated a farm from a colonist. A freeman, called Lasse the Finn, and his wife had been industrious and had put a farm under cultivation in Finland, at the present Chester Creek. The governor accused them of witchery and as they were in arrears with their payment of some merchandise bought from Printz, he confiscated their farm for the debt. The value of the farm, according to the governor's statement did not counterbalance with the debt, but he professed to be kind enough to call it even. However in his report at the autumn of 1653, he places the value of the farm, which he calls Printz Torp, 2,000 riks dalers.

Of a letter written by Governor Printz to Sweden in 1644, one can judge his inhumanity towards the Indians. In the letter he proposes to the Swedish government to send 200 soldiers to the colony, with which he would be able to exterminate the Delaware Indians. "It would be no loss to the beaver trade" he says, as the skins come from the territory of the Black and the White Minquas.

In 1653, the conditions in the colony were becoming unbearable and many colonists deserted to the English colonies of Maryland and Virginia, where they were heartily welcomed and protected. In the summer the situation reached a crisis and a mutiny arose against Governor Printz. On July 27, 1653, a written supplication signed by twenty-two colonists was presented to the governor. In it they say that they were at no hour or time secure as to life and property. They complained that they were all prohibited from trading with either Indians or Christians, although the governor never failed to grasp an opportunity to trade with these parties. They accused the governor of brutality and avarice and of passing judgment in his own favor against the opinions of the jury. They further accused the governor of forbidding the colonists from grinding the flour, at the mill and forbidding them the use of the fish waters, the trees in the woods, the grass on the ground and the land to plant on, from which they had their nourishment. They then prayed that Anders the Finn might be released from his fine, in order that his wife and children should not starve to death. (The rye crop of a freeman called Anders the Finn had. been confiscated by Printz and other fines imposed, unjustly, as was the opinion of the colonists.) On account of these and other troubles, they said, they were compelled to send two men to her royal majesty and the New Sweden Company in Sweden, to ascertain what they should do, since they were not allowed to seek their subsistence in America.

The petition turned the governor into a rage and Anders Jonsson, who presented it, was arrested and became executed on August 1, 1653. The Rev. Lokenius, the Finnish minister, was also involved in the opposition, but for some reasons his freedom was not interfered with, as Printz was a religiously bent man.

Governor Printz however in his turn started to feel bis position unsecure and without waiting for a ship from Sweden to arrive he left his position to his son-in-law Johan Papegoia and in the beginning of October he went to New Amsterdam with his wife and four daughters, followed by the commissioner and twenty-five servants and soldiers of the company. From there they sailed on a Dutch ship back to the old country, but in the colony for many generations traditions lived about Printz as the Tyrant of the Delaware.

During the time of Governor Printz some colonists had been able to escape to the English colonies of Maryland and Virginia, but entry to New Netherland had been discouraged in accordance to agreement with Printz. On November 4, 1653, the directors of the Dutch West India Company in Holland however informed Stuyvesant that there were no objections of receiving such settlers but on the contrary they would be valuable to the colony. After Printz had left the colony, some deserted colonists returned, but fifteen again went to Maryland. When Papegoja, whom Printz had left in charge of the colony, became aware of their going, he hired a bunch of Indians to bring them back, but the colonists resisted and in the battle that ensued two colonists were struck down and their heads brought to Papegoja.

With the ninth expedition, arriving in May 1654, came from Sweden a new director, Johan Rising to the colony. As Printz had left the country, Rising assumed the command, afterwards receiving appointment as governor of the colony. Director Rising's first acts were to get the deserters back from the English colonies. Two commissaries were sent to Maryland in May 1654, they were instructed to demand from the officials the return of the deserters. But the efforts did not materialize, the deserters were brought before the council in Severn which found that they were not under obligation or contract to go back to New Sweden, since they had committed no crime and had been refused a passport. In the following month two agents were again sent to the same mission and an open letter dated June 8, 1654 was also sent to the deserters, in which it was promised that "if they came and explained their affairs, however they were, they could then go wherever they pleased." But no colonist returned. Several new attempts to desert were made from time to time during the governorship of Rising, giving rise to trials, law suits and punishments. Some were put in irons, and others had to secure bonds against desertion.

At this period the Swedish crown had made donations of land to the men who came to the colony in some official capacity. This was done without consideration of the colonists who had settled on the lands, built their houses and put the land under cultivation. Thus Marcus Hook and Finland were given away to Captain Besk, who however died in Porto Rico on his way to the colony and Rising refused to ratify the donation to his heirs. Just the same the colonists did not profit much of it as Rising in his report of 1654 says that he was acquiring to the company all' land of Marcus Hook and Finland, where five or six freemen were living, "the improvement only being compensated for."

On June 26, 1654, a council convened at Tinicum to examine into the charges against the Rev. Lokenius and Olof Stille for inciting a mutiny against Governor Printz. No evidences could be established against the minister, but in a letter sent to Sweden on July 13, 1654, Rising says that he was going to send the Rev. Lokenius to Sweden to answer to the authorities there the charges, but as Lokenius had contracted the epidemic that came to the colony in the Orn, he could not be sent. Olof Stille waa required to secure bondsmen. The great majority of the people had complaints against Printz and Rising requested them to present their complaints in writing, which they did and grave charges were made. The colonists were forbidden, they say, on pain of death to trade with the Dutch freemen, but the governor sold them himself provisions, flour, beer, pork and other things and sold large quantities of beavers to the English for gold and sent heaps of beaver skins to Holland. Governor Printz was accused of ill treating several of the colonists, among which is the following case. A freeman called Clement the Finn had a hand-mill together with Anders, Johan and Mans the Finn. Later Clement bought the mill from the other Finns, and when he then got the mill he went after it and fetched it to himself and his house. As this had happened he immediately made it known to the governor. Then when Clement came to the church on a common day of prayer, the governor called Clement to himself before the sermon and asked him why he had taken the mill. Clement answer that "the mill is mine." Then said the governor, "you rascal, shall you take the mill without asking me." With this he seized Clement, struck him firstly in the hall and followed him with blows and strikes until he fell down and yet further he struck him on the ground, so that he lost his health through it. In addition he threw him into the church and the day after he let him be brought to Christina into the prison, where he lay for eight days. When he recovered somewhat, the governor took him out and let him do work for some weeks.

The written complaint against governor Printz was sent to Sweden but together with it Rising in his report of July 13, 1654, writes: "I would desire that full authority might as soon as possible be given here in judicial matters, in higher and lower trials and that for this purpose an executioner (with sword) be sent here. Through this, much disorder would be prevented, which otherwise might hereafter break out through ) secret plots." The documents were taken to Sweden by Papegoja who was sent to "explain" the affairs, that his father-in-law might not get in trouble.

On January 11, 1655 a constitution for the colony was issued by Rising. In the fourth article of the document the fare for the voyage from Sweden to the colony was fixed to be sixteen riks dalers ($144 in present money value) per head over three years of age. In the article six it is said that "Whoever desires to take into his service a laborer or a freeman, his children, his male servant or maid servant, he must pay the above transportation money after the lapse of a year and these engaged servants shall serve him for three years for board and necessary clothes." In the article eight he says: "Whoever hires from the company an intended servant over fourteen years of age, shall give beside the said transportation money, additional twenty-four riks dalers and then the servant shall serve him in six consecutive years. The servant shall annually be given board, shoes and shirts. After six years of service an indentured servant shall be entirely free. The tenth article says: "Whatever a servant may gain through work, handicraft or manual labor, hunting or fishing, commerce or trade or with anything else, that shall all belong to his employer, unless the latter grants it to him." In article thirteen it is said: "If anyone's servant or a hired man runs away from his master out of spite, then no one shall knowingly conceal the same in his house over twenty-four hours on penalty of twentyfour riks daler's fine, but shall make it known at once to the master."

The above quoted constitution which aimed to establish slavery however did not endure long. The Swedish rule on the Delaware was soon drawing to a close and better days were dawning upon the pioneer colonists.

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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