As STARS continues to study the Delaware Constitution and history of Delaware, STARS took a trip to visit some of the historic areas of Delaware, dating back to before Delaware was a State, our first stop being Fort Christina.
Fort Christina was built in 1638 and was the first Swedish settlement in America located at present day downtown Wilmington. Colonists arrived by the ships the Kalmar Nyckle and Fogel Grip, the landing located at present day Old Swedes Church. The colony of New Sweden remained in constant friction with the Dutch, who had settled in present day Lewes earlier in 1629, commemorated by the Zwaanendael Museum.
In 1651 in order to menace the Swedish settlement at Fort Christina/Wilmington, the Dutch established Fort Casimir at present day New Castle, 7 miles south. In 1654 the Swedes captured For Casimir. In 1655 the Dutch laid siege to Fort Christina and the
Swedes surrendered and ended the official Swedish colonial presence in North America. Though the struggle for Fort Christian and Fort Casimir involved hundreds of mercenaries and chartered warships, it was seen as a conflict between Dutch and Swedish West India Companies, not between the Dutch Republic and the Kingdom of Sweden.
These 3 forts laid the foundation for the boundaries of Delaware.
In 1938, the State of Delaware created Fort Christina Park which contained The Rocks of the first landing and a new Swedish Tercentenary Monument to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Swedish colonization of the area.
The monument was a gift of the people of Sweden to the people of the United States, with over 250,000 Swedish citizens donating to the construction of the monument, and depicts the Swedish colonial vessel, Kalmar Nyckel, surmounting a column of Swedish black granite. It was crafted in 1938 by renowned Swedish-American sculptor Carl Milles, containing several bas relief's that provide insight into the unique history surrounding the Fort.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the park and the monument in a ceremony on June 27, 1938. A crowd of 20,000 attended the opening, despite heavy rains, and distinguished guests included U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull, Swedish Crown Princess Louise, Swedish Royal Prince Gustaf Bertil, as well as a large delegation from Finland. Unfortunately today, a large sink hole has formed directly underneath the monument without plans to repair or save the monument.
Our next stop was Old Swedes Church. Holy Trinity (Old Swedes) Church was constructed 1698-1699 to serve the Swedish community that remained in the English colony of Pennsylvania. Old Swedes Church is one of the very few surviving remnants of the New Sweden Colony in the Delaware Valley, and one of the oldest structures in Delaware. It has borne witness to many major events in U.S. history, including the American Revolution, World Wars I & II, and many more. Many individuals significant to local and national history are buried here.
Turning again south, STARS made a stop at the beautiful Brandywine River near the old Dupont Gun Powder Mill near the Hagley Museum where we stretched our legs, threw some skipping stones and searched for treasures in the picturesque fieldstone lined river.
We returned safely to present day and Sussex County, wiser for the effort and with tales we will share at our next meeting in September. If you are interested in joining STARS or forming your own Delaware State Teenage Republican Group, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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