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In 1638, Swedish settlers led by renegade Dutch established the colony of New Sweden at Fort Christina (present-day Wilmington, Delaware) and quickly spread out in the valley.In 1644, New Sweden supported the Susquehannocks in their military defeat of the English colony of Maryland.In the 1860s, the United States government sent most Lenape remaining in the eastern United States to the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma and surrounding territory) under the Indian removal policy.In the 21st century, most Lenape reside in Oklahoma, with some communities living also in Wisconsin, Ontario (Canada) and their traditional homelands.The Delaware Valley's population of 7.2 million ranks it as the eighth-largest combined statistical area in the United States.Philadelphia played an instrumental role in the American Revolution as a meeting place for the Founding Fathers of the United States, who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 at the Second Continental Congress, and the Constitution at the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. In the 19th century, Philadelphia became a major industrial center and a railroad hub.The English conquered the New Netherland colony in 1664, though the situation did not change substantially until 1682 when the area was included in William Penn's charter for Pennsylvania.
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Europeans came to the Delaware Valley in the early 17th century, with the first settlements founded by the Dutch, who in 1623 built Fort Nassau on the Delaware River opposite the Schuylkill River in what is now Brooklawn, New Jersey.
The Dutch considered the entire Delaware River valley to be part of their New Netherland colony.
Lenape communities were weakened by newly introduced diseases, mainly smallpox, and violent conflict with Europeans. Surviving Lenape moved west into the upper Ohio River basin.
The American Revolutionary War and United States' independence pushed them further west.