Printz, Johan Björnsson

Printz, Johan Björnsson

(yo͞o`hän byörn`sōn prĭnts), 1592–1663, colonial governor of New SwedenNew Sweden,
Swedish colony (1638–55), on the Delaware River; included parts of what are now Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. With the support of Swedish statesman Axel Oxenstierna, Admiral Klas Fleming (a Finn), and Peter Minuit (a Dutchman), the New Sweden Company
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, b. Bottnaryd, Sweden. After serving as a mercenary in the armies of various European princes, he obtained a post in the Swedish army (1625) and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. After his defeat (1640) at Chemnitz in the Thirty Years War, Printz was court-martialed but exonerated; subsequently he was made governor of New Sweden, for which he sailed in 1643. He landed near the present city of Wilmington, Del., explored the territory, built forts, assigned land to settlers for farming, established trade relations with the Native Americans, the English, and the Dutch, and upheld Swedish claims to the land. However, continued Swedish disinterest in the colony and the alleged harshness of his rule brought Printz's resignation and return to Sweden (1653).


See biography by A. Johnson (1930, repr. 1969).

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Printz, Johan Bjornsson

(1592–1663) Swedish colonial governor; born in Bottnaryd, Sweden. After a successful career in the Swedish army, he was appointed the governor of New Sweden (in the Delaware River Valley) from 1642 to 1653. A giant of a man (some accounts say he weighed 400 lbs.), he was a talented and energetic leader, but his forceful manner caused a group of settlers to try to petition to Sweden regarding their grievances. He viewed this as rebellion, and hanged the leader of the movement, Anders Johnsson (1653). Soon afterward, he gave the government to his deputy and returned to Sweden.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.