New Sweden: Governor Johan Printz 1643

Johan Björnsson Printz was Governor of New Sweden from 1643 to 1653. He was the son of a Lutheran Pastor, and received his early education in Sweden, and his theological education in German Universities. In 1620, he was pressed into military service, and went on to serve as a mercenary in for the Austrians, Germans and Danes. Eventually, he did join the Swedish Army, and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel.  In this capacity, he  surrendered Chemnitz (Saxony) during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648).

In 1641, Printz was reinstated, ennobled and appointed third Governor of New Sweden. As noted in other posts in this timeline, under his leadership, New Sweden expanded its influence in the Delaware Bay by erecting Fort Nya Elfsborg near present-day Salem, NJ, and fort Nya Gothenborg on present day Tinicum Island. He also built a residence on that Island called The Printzhof, and he built Printz’ Mill on Cobbs Creek. Also during this time, New Sweden expended with an influx of 300 emigrants, mostly farmers, from Sweden.

But also during his tenure, there was a lot of internal controversy due to Printz’ autocratic and overbearing administration. And as previously noted, there was continued conflict with the Dutch, who came to monopolize the fur trade in the area. Due to these factors, Printz’ position became untenable, so in 1654 he returned to Sweden, and was replaced by Johan Risingh.

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