Black Anthony — the True Story of Antoni Swart, Delaware’s First Free African

This historical marker in Delaware commemorates Antoni Swart. Image Source: Historical Marker Database.

10 Facts About Black Anthony and Slavery in New Sweden

This presentation provides a detailed look at the life of Antoni Swart.

  1. Antoni Swart, also known as Black Anthony, was a prominent African figure in the Swedish colony of New Sweden. New Sweden eventually became part of Delaware, one of the Middle Colonies in Colonial America, and one of the 13 Original Colonies.
  2. Slavery was outlawed in Sweden in 1335, well before other parts of Europe, but some Swedes were involved in the Transatlantic Slave Trade until around 1847.
  3. In Swedish culture, having a servant was customary and distinct from slavery.
  4. Sweden established the Swedish African Company in 1649 to carry out trade and acquire territory in Africa but struggled due to an inadequate naval force and limited experience dealing with conditions in Africa.
  5. Sweden eventually lost its African holdings and slave trade prospects to the Danish and Dutch.
  6. Sweden turned its attention to North America, leading to the establishment of the first Swedish colony in North America in 1638. New Sweden was led by Peter Minuet, a Dutchman who had once been in charge of New Netherland, the Dutch colony that eventually became the Province of New York.
  7. Black Anthony arrived in New Sweden on the ship Fogel Grip, which was under the command of Captain Adrian Jöransen. It is unclear how Black Anthony gained passage on the ship from the West Indies to New Sweden. Some accounts say he was a stowaway, while others say he was kidnapped.
  8. It is unclear whether Anthony was originally from Angola or Moorish territories, but he was familiar with sailing, making him valuable to the colony.
  9. After arriving in New Sweden he helped build Fort Christina, planted tobacco, and served as the skipper of the governor’s sloop for navigating rivers and creeks.
  10. Anthony’s fate after the end of Swedish rule in the colony remains a mystery, with questions about whether he was kidnapped, killed, sought refuge with Native American Indian tribes, or moved to other Swedish settlements.