Fort Christina

From Academic Kids

Fort Christina was the first Swedish settlement in North America and the principal settlement of the New Sweden colony. Built in 1638 and named after Queen Christina of Sweden, it was located approximately 1 mi (1.6 km) east of downtown Wilmington, Delaware, at the confluence of the Brandywine Creek and the Christina River, approximately 2 mi (3 km) upstream from the mouth of the Christina on the Delaware River. It was the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley.

History

The Dutch, as part of the New Netherland colony, had previously attempted a settlement along Delaware Bay at Zwaanendael (near present-day Lewes) in 1631, but the colony had been massacred the following year by Native Americans. Following plans by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden to establish a Swedish colony in North America, the Swedes arrived in Delaware Bay on March 29, 1638 aboard the ships Kalmar Nyckel and Fogel Grip under the command of Peter Minuit, the former director general of the New Netherland colony. They landed at a spot along the Christina River at the present site of Old Swedes Church in Wilmington. Minuit selected the site on the Christina River near the Delaware as being optimal for trade in beaver pelts with the local Lenape.

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 on south side of the Delaware that encompassed much of the present-day U.S. state of Delaware, eventually including parts of present-day southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey on the north side of the river.

The colony remained in constant friction with the Dutch. In 1651, the Dutch under Peter Stuyvesant established Fort Casimir at present-day New Castle, 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. The land remained as part of New Netherland until it became part of the British Empire when and English fleet invaded the area in 1664.

The site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966. It is now preserved as Fort Christina State Park on E. 7th Street in Wilmington, along with a replica of the Kalmar Nyckel.

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