The Contest for the Delaware Valley Offers Bold New Interpretation of Ethnic and National Identities in Colonial America

“Based on thorough research in Swedish, Dutch, and English language, Mark L. Thompson has written the best history of the Delaware Valley in the seventeenth century.”—William Pencak, editor of Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies

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.

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.

Born in Philadelphia and raised in New Orleans, Mark L. Thompson has taught in Bangkok, Baton Rouge, and Groningen. He currently teaches at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, where he lives with his family.

June 3, 2013
288 pages, 6 x 9, 1 map
Cloth $48.00, ebook available