New Sweden Texas: Swedish Settlers and Slavery in Nineteenth-Century Texas

LNUC Concurrences Guest Researcher Lucia Hodgson has been awarded a three-year project grant by the Swedish Research Council to produce a cultural history of nineteenth-century Swedish-Texans that understands their inhabitation of Texas land as a form of settler colonialism intimately intertwined with the enslavement of African-descended peoples.

Lucia Hodgson

The project, titled New Sweden Texas: Swedish Settlers and Slavery in Nineteenth-Century Texas, will: 1) broaden the history of Swedish-American immigration to include a new geographic and temporal dimension: the U. S. South and Southwest from 1830-1880; 2) revise the narrative of Nordic colonialism that has not accounted for Swedish engagement with the policies, practices, and legacy of U.S. chattel slavery; and 3) provide an analysis of Texas exceptionalism that allows for a more robust critique of the state’s stance toward the significance of African-American enslavement to the state’s development from a Spanish colony to a Mexican region to an independent republic to an American state. New Sweden Texas will complicate the traditional history of Swedish-American immigration as that of yeoman farmers settling in the Midwest in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-centuries, contribute to the emerging history of Swedish engagement with American chattel slavery, and enrich the history of Texas’s establishment of white hegemony. The project argues that Texan and Swedish exceptionalism with regard to slavery have reinforced each other and together contributed to the enduring myth that slavery played an insignificant role in Swedish-American immigration and Texas state development.