We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Contest for the Delaware Valley

Allegiance, Identity, and Empire in the Seventeenth Century

Mark L. Thompson

Publication Year: 2013

In the first major examination of the diverse European efforts to colonize the Delaware Valley, Mark L. Thompson offers a bold new interpretation of ethnic and national identities in colonial America. For most of the seventeenth century, the lower Delaware Valley remained a marginal area under no state’s complete control. English, Dutch, and Swedish colonizers all staked claims to the territory, but none could exclude their rivals for long—in part because Native Americans in the region encouraged the competition. Officials and settlers alike struggled to determine which European nation would possess the territory and what liberties settlers would keep after their own colonies had surrendered. The resulting struggle for power resonated on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. While the rivalry promoted patriots who trumpeted loyalties to their sovereigns and nations, it also rewarded cosmopolitans who struck deals across imperial, colonial, and ethnic boundaries. Just as often it produced men—such as Henry Hudson, Willem Usselincx, Peter Minuit, and William Penn—who did both. Ultimately, The Contest for the Delaware Valley shows how colonists, officials, and Native Americans acted and reacted in inventive, surprising ways. Thompson demonstrates that even as colonial spokesmen debated claims and asserted fixed national identities, their allegiances—along with the settlers’—often shifted and changed. Yet colonial competition imposed limits on this fluidity, forcing officials and settlers to choose a side. Offering their allegiances in return for security and freedom, colonial subjects turned loyalty into liberty.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. i-vi


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. vii-viii


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. ix-xiv

read more

Introduction: From Hudson to Penn

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-13

We begin with two voyagers to the Delaware Bay, one at the start of the seventeenth century, the other at its finish.
The first was Henry Hudson, “an Englishman late of London,” who cruised into the bay on a warm, clear day late in August 1609.1 Over the two previous summers he had sailed in “the company of our troublesome neighbours, Ice with fogge,” searching for a way through the Arctic to China. First the...

read more

1. Claiming Hudson and His Discoveries

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 14-34

In his 1612 account of Henry Hudson’s two voyages to North America, Hessel Gerritsz remarked that the English navigator’s first voyage in 1609 had achieved “nothing memorable.”1 Not all of Gerritsz’s own contemporaries were so dismissive, but the Dutch chronicler had a point. Giovanni Verrazzano and doubtless several other European explorers had already visited...

read more

2. Cosmopolitan Patriotism and the Founding of New Sweden

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 35-63

Since the 1590s Willem Usselincx had tried, and failed, to win a charter for a trading company that would turn the wealth of the Atlantic basin to patriotic purposes. In pamphlets and memorials he wrote by the dozen, he claimed his company would produce profits for its investors, promote industry and employment, bring Protestant Christianity to the Americas, and...

read more

3. Good Friends and Doubtful Neighbors

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 64-109

At the end of April 1623 the tulips were blooming, and Willem Usselincx was at The Hague trying to take credit, and receive payment, for his contributions to the Dutch West India Company. Holland’s bloemisten had reason to be excited—a bulb called “Semper Augustus” had just sold for one thousand guilders. “No tulip was ever more esteemed,” Nicolaes van Wassenaer wrote...

read more

4. Rebels and Good Swedish Men

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 110-147

On March 11, 1644, the Fama reached New Sweden after ten weeks at sea. Rumbling in its hold was the colony’s future, packed and crated: 6,000 bricks, a ton of lime, 3 saws, 2 millstones, 8 grindstones, 2 stones for a hand mill, 5 anchors, 6 pumps, 20 augers, 4 compasses, 250 copper kettles, 200 barrels of flour, 20 barrels of salt, 10 casks of wine, a cask of brandy, several hundred ...

read more

5. The Swedish Nation on the South River

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 148-177

Jean Paul Jacquet arrived in New Netherland in early 1655. He was new to the colony but not to the West India Company, which he had served “in Brazil for many years.” Now, since becoming a freeman, the former soldier hoped to “devote himself . . . to farming.” WIC officials in Amsterdam urged New Netherland’s governor to assist Jacquet “as much as possible” and to assign...

read more

6. From Conquest to Consent

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 178-200

The father has the look of a man who was a “Master of his Art, both as a Seaman, and as a General.”1 At his hip he wears a sword; in his right hand he cradles a baton. His left hand gestures toward a ship edging its way out of the frame. For twenty-five years he has served in the English navy. His service has brought him plaudits and punishment; the careworn expression reveals the ...

read more

Epilogue: From Logan to Franklin

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 201-216

Pehr Kalm had traveled the road to Germantown once before. His guide then, in September 1748, had been Peter Cock, a Swedish-born merchant who lived in Philadelphia. During their autumn ride, Kalm had marveled at the farms that lined the wooded road, each boasting an orchard thick with fruit and cornstalks “six to ten feet high . . . covered with fine green ...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 217-254


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 255-265

E-ISBN-13: 9780807150597
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807150580

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 841229169
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Contest for the Delaware Valley

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Delaware River Valley (N.Y.-Del. and N.J.) -- History -- 17th century.
  • Delaware River Valley (N.Y.-Del. and N.J.) -- Ethnic relations -- History -- 17th century.
  • Delaware River Valley (N.Y.-Del. and N.J.) -- Social conditions -- 17th century.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access