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* ManyWinds-Arthur Wilson Finch- a yo sdi hia tsu wa(gu) ta nv*

Updated September 8, 2005

Historical Perspective

New Sweden 1638-1655

Swedes were the first European settlers in the area that was to become Pennsylvania. Peter Minuit (also spelled Minnewit), born about 1580, Wesel, Kleve [Germany], was the Dutch colonial governor of New Amsterdam. In 1631 Governor Minuit was recalled to Holland. A few years later he entered Swedish service and was given command of two vessels of mainly Swedish colonists (New Sweden Company), who established, in March 1638, New Sweden, the first European settlement on the Delaware River. New Sweden was the only Swedish colony in America. In 1643 Johan Printz became governor of the colony of New Sweden, established his capital on Tinicum Island, and attempted to deal with the Dutch. The Dutch considered the Swedes competitors and interlopers. Printz was succeeded in 1654 by Johan Claesson Rising, who arrived with more colonists and forced the Dutch to surrender Fort Casimir. Other Europeans, principally the Dutch, established trading posts within Pennsylvania as early as 1647, although the Swedes remained at Tinicum until 1655. In that year, rivalry and fighting between the Dutch and the Swedes led Peter Stuyvesant, governor of New Netherland, to seize New Sweden.

New Netherland 1655-1664

In 1655 a Dutch force under Peter Stuyvesant laid siege to Fort Christina and compelled the surrender of New Sweden. The Swedish colonists were allowed to keep their lands and possessions and continue their customs.

English Colony 1664-1681

Dutch control of the region ended in 1664, when the English seized all of New Netherland in the name of the Duke of York. Victory in the French and Indian War assured continued possession for England.

William Penn’s Colony 1681-1776

In March 1681 King Charles II of England signed a charter giving the region to William Penn in payment of a debt owed by the king to Penn's father, Admiral Sir William Penn. The charter, which was officially proclaimed on April 2, 1681, named the territory for Admiral Penn and included also the term sylvania ("woodlands"), as the younger Penn requested. Penn's colony was primarily made up of English Society of Friends (Quakers), but later included German, Dutch, Welsh, Scottish, and Irish. Over the next century, Penn's "Holy Experiment" attracted huge groups of immigrants to Pennsylvania. William Penn left the province in 1701, never to see it again. The Quaker influence in Pennsylvania politics remained paramount until 1756. Since 1756 the Quakers have been a minority voice in Pennsylvania government.

Society of Friends 1650 - Present

There were meetings of the kind later associated with the Quakers before there was a group by that name. Small groups of Seekers gathered during the Puritan Revolution against Charles I to wait upon the Lord because they despaired of spiritual help from the established Anglican Church or the existing Puritan bodies--Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Baptists --through which most of them had already passed. To these Seekers came a band of preachers proclaiming the powers of direct contact with God.

English Friends were active in the campaign to end the slave trade, and American Friends, urged on by John Woolman and others, voluntarily emancipated all their own slaves
between 1758 and 1800.

Insofar as George Fox was the founder of Quakerism, he was so chiefly because of the system of meetings for church business that he established in the years immediately after 1667, which essentially stands today. Most important is the monthly meeting, which considers all applications for membership, in some localities manages Friends' properties, and acts on members' concerns. Generally, in the United States each congregation has a monthly meeting. Several monthly meetings form quarterly meetings which are combined in yearly meetings.


World Book Encyclopedia

William Wade Hinshaw; The Encyclopedia of America


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