New Sweden Source Documents

Notes about the Documents:
The following pages contain primary source documents relating to New Sweden. Each document selected was chosen because of its importance to understanding the colony’s history. Collectively the documents communicate the Swedish government’s desire to see their colony become both powerful and profitable, reveal what the colonists observed and experienced while living in present-day Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey, and describe the problems the Swedes experienced with the Dutch and English, which eventually led to the colony’s downfall. Below, is a list of the digitized documents and a brief explanation of what information they hold.

The Instructions for Governor Johan Printz:This document comprises the Swedish government’s list of the twenty-eight items they requested of Printz. Beginning with his orders to depart for the colony, the list of instructions covers all aspects of governing the colony; from what to do with the English who have settled within their borders, to how to conduct trade with the Indians and teach them about Christianity. The document provides a hopeful outlook for the colony and wishes for its success. This document contains both the original Swedish text and its English translation.

View the document The Instructions for Governor Johan Printz

Segments from Acrelius’s New Sweden: In 1759, Reverend Israel Acrelius prepared a history of New Sweden using the journal entries and observations of New Sweden’s clergy.  Documents relating the strained relations between the Dutch and Swedes were selected from this work. From Governor Printz’s search all Dutch ships that entered the Delaware River, in the name of the Swedish Crown, through his uniting with the Dutch to expel the English, the documents provided by Acrelius’s History nicely depict the Swede’s relations with their European colonial neighbors.

View the document Segments from Acrelius’s New Sweden

Report of Governor Johan Rising 1654: Upon arriving in New Sweden, Governor Johan Rising prepared a report for the Swedish Commercial College, which handled all of New Sweden’s affairs for the Swedish government.  In his report, Rising described the condition in which he found the colony and the direction in which he hoped to take it.  Issues addressed in his report include: the colonists’ anger over Governor Printz’s usurpation of power, an update concerning the colony’s population, the hope for the colony’s profitability to be realized with more Swedish investment, plans for mill construction, trade with both the colony’s English and Native neighbors, plans for the exploitation of the colony’s natural resources, the need for more skilled craftsmen, the prospects of establishing a tobacco trade, status of both the Dutch and English land holdings, and a plan for the raising of revenue thorough an excise tax.

View the document Report of Governor Johan Rising 1654

Documents from Peter Lindstrom’s Geographia Americae: During his 1654-1655 residence in New Sweden as its military engineer, Peter Lindstrom kept a journal filled with his observations and experiences. Among his observations are those about the weather and climate of the colony, the local Indian tribes, the state of the colony’s agriculture, and his eye-witness account of New Sweden’s fall to the Dutch.

1. Concerning the Weather in All 4 Seasons of the Year, Autumn and Spring, Winter and Summer, With Snow, Rain, Lighting, and Thunder; How They Appear in New Sweden.

2. Concerning the Agriculture And the Plantations; Also the Kind of Grain, Trees, Fruit, Herbs and Roots Which Principally Grow There Now.

3. Concerning the Paahra, Idolatry, Faith and Religion and Sacrifices to Manitto: the Devil Also Whether the Indians Have a Knowledge of Christ.

4. Concerning the Dwellings of the American Savage Peoples.

5. Concerning the Commerce, Trade, and Dealings of the American Savages and How Their Goods Are Sold to the Christians, Also How the Merchandise of the Christians is Disposed for Them to the Savages.

6. Concerning the Liberality, Confidence, and Conversation and Intercourse with the Christians, and How the Christians are Received When they Visit the Savages.

7. Concerning the Siege of New Sweden by the Hollanders

8. An Ordinance Concerning People, Land And Agriculture, Forestry, and Cattle, Given New Sweden in the year 1654

View Documents from Peter Lindstrom’s Geographia Americae