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The Winning Of The Prize


Chapter 03
Page 24

After the importance of the discovery of North America came to be properly appreciated by the nations of Europe, the ownership was looked upon as a great national prize, and there were several nations who were anxious to play for it. This country, so readily approached by the Delaware, became attractive not only to kings and sovereigns, but to settlers and immigrants. Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden granted a charter to a company called the West India Company, which was formed for the purpose of making settlements on the shores of the Delaware Bay and River, and commissioned them to take possession of this country, without the slightest regard to what the English sovereign and the Dutch sovereign had granted to their subjects.

The Swedes came to Delaware Bay. They stopped for a while at Cape Henlopen; and then, of course, they sailed up the Delaware, when things soon began to be very disagreeable between themselves and the Dutch, who were there before them.

The Swedes were a warlike set of people, and they held their ground very well. Besides making some settlements, they built a fort which they called

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Elsinburgh; and, if a Dutch ship happened to pass by that fort, it was obliged to strike its flag in token of submission to a superior power. The Indians, who were perhaps as much opposed to the Swedish settlement as they had been to those of other nations, do not appear to have been able to attack this fort with any success; and as for the Dutch, it is not certain that they even attempted it. So the Swedes at that time governed the passage up and down the Delaware, as the English now govern the passage through the Straits of Gibraltar.

It was probably winter time or cool weather when the Swedes built their proud fort on the banks of that river which they now named "New Swedeland Stream;" but when the warm and pleasant days came on, and it was easy to travel from the interior to the river shore, and when the weather was so mild that it was quite possible to spend the nights in the woods without injury, there came an enemy to Fort Elsinburgh which proved far more formidable than the Indians or Dutch.

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The fort was surrounded; and frequent and violent attacks were made upon it, especially in the night, when it was almost impossible for the garrison to defend themselves. Many bloody single combats took place in which the enemy generally fell, for in bodily prowess a Swede was always superior to any one of the attacking force. But no matter how many assailants were killed, the main body seemed as powerful and determined as ever. In course of time the valiant Swedes were obliged to give way before their enemy. They struck their flag, evacuated the fort, and departed entirely from the place where they had hoped a flourishing settlement would spring up under the protection of their fort.

The enemy which attacked and routed the Swedes was a large and invincible army of mosquitoes, against whom their guns, their pistols, their swords, their spears, and their ramparts afforded them no defense. After that, the deserted fort was known as Mygenborg, meaning Mosquito Fort.

The Dutch looked with great disfavor on the Swedes, who continued to establish themselves at various points; and although they did not make an alliance with the body of natives who had driven these northern people away from Elsinburgh, for a compact of that kind would be dangerous in many ways,-they took up the matter by themselves; and finally the Dutch,

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Page 27

under their valiant Peter Stuyvesant, completely conquered the Swedes, and sent their leaders to Holland, while the ordinary settlers submitted to the Dutch.

But this state of things did not continue very long; for the English, who, although they had not yet settled in New Jersey, had never given up their pretensions as the original discoverers, came in strong force, subdued the Dutch, occupied their principal town, New Amsterdam, and took possession of the country, including New Jersey.

But it seemed to be a good deal easier to discover New Jersey than finally to settle its ownership. Now that the Dutch and the Swedes were disposed of, there arose difficulties regarding the English claims to the State. Early in the seventeenth century, Queen Elizabeth had granted an immense tract of land to Sir Walter Raleigh, which was called Virginia, and that included the whole of New Jersey. Afterwards Charles II. granted to his brother, the Duke of York, an immense tract of land, which also included New Jersey, and which was called New York. So what is now New Jersey was then at the same time both Virginia and New York.

The Duke of York, who then owned New Jersey, leased the whole State-lands, forests, rivers, wigwams, Indians, fisheries, Dutch settlers, Swedish settlers, everything-to John Berkeley (Baron of Stratton) and Sir George Carteret for the sum of twenty nobles per year (thirty-two dollars of our money). Some authorities, indeed, state that the sum paid was much smaller.

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Page 28

After a time, however, the claims of Virginia were withdrawn; and not only did Berkeley and Carteret enjoy undisturbed possession of the State, but they gave it a name, and called it Nova Cęsaria, or New Jersey, its name being given on account of Carteret's connection with the Isle of Jersey. The Latin name was used for a time; but the settlers preferred English, and so the name now stands. New Jersey was soon afterwards divided into two provinces,-East Jersey and West Jersey. The accompanying map shows the line of division between the two provinces, which was made in 1676. It ran from the southern end of what is now Long Beach, in Little Egg Harbor, to a point on the Delaware River. Two other lines of partition were afterwards made, both starting from the same point on the seacoast; one running somewhat to the west, and the other to the east, of the original line.

After some changes in the proprietorship of the Colony, West Jersey came into the possession of twelve men, one of whom was the celebrated William Penn, whose connection with West Jersey began six years before he had anything to do with Pennsylvania.

Penn and his colleagues gave West Jersey a purely democratic government, founded upon principles of justice and charity, in which the people themselves ruled. Full freedom in regard to religious views was insured; trial by jury was granted; and punishments were made as lenient as possible, with a view to the prevention of crimes rather than the infliction of penalties. The result of this was that for a long time

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The Winning Of The Prize
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there were no serious crimes in this Province, and the country was rapidly settled by thrifty Quakers anxious to live where they would have liberty of conscience.

In the course of time, East Jersey also came into the possession of Penn and his eleven associates, and the number of proprietors was increased to twenty-four. At the end of the century the two provinces were united into one, and shortly afterwards they passed into the possession of the Crown of England, and became subject to the ordinary British laws. For a long time afterwards, however, the State was known as the "Jerseys."

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