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Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania vol. II

Historical Society of Pennsylvania 1827

Pennsylvania settled in 1681 by William Penn (1644-1718). Motto: By Deeds of Peace [to the Indians (Native Americans)]

“The first outline of a constitution [,] for those who intended to accompany the patriarchal chief to the wilderness [North America], was prepared and adopted at London in 1681. I was modestly denominated “certain conditions or concessions,” but exhibits some striking proofs of intellectual power, and the original determinations of his judgment concerning the mode of treatment, which was to be pursued toward the Indians. It thus provided in the 13th, 14th, and 15th sections. “No man shall, by any ways of means, in word or deed affront or wrong any Indian, but shall incur the same penalty of the law as if he had committed it against his fellow planter, and if any Indian shall abuse, in word or deed, any planter of the province, he shall not be his own judge upon the Indian, but shall make his complaint to the governor or some inferior magistrate near him, who shall to the utmost of his power take care with the king of the said Indian, that all reasonable satisfaction be made to the injured planter. All differences between the planters and the natives shall also be ended by twelve men; that is, by six planters and six natives; that so we may live friendly together as much as in us lieth, preventing all occasions of hear-burnings and mischiefs,” and that “ the Indians shall have liberty to do all things relating to improvement of their ground, and providing sustenance for their families, that any of the planters shall enjoy.”[1]

What did common - wealth mean? “The great principles of religious and civil freedom which he [Penn] promulgated, and established in the frame of government, and the various other distinguished acts which unquestionably place him on the loftiest eminence as a lawgiver, and benefactor of mankind, are familiar to you all.”[2] As description, the precept taught and shown by example were people’s apostleship to Christian moralities.

The number one early setback to smooth relations between the Europeans the Native Americans existed as the proliferation of “ardent spirits.”[3] The English, Dutch, Swedes,  &c. want to sell Indians rum and brandy and all types of distilled spirits. The empirical observation according to a 1682 document by Penn’s authority which described the Indians not able to control their desire for spirits, and that antecedent to Penn the Indians had already became aware of their liking to distilled spirits. “[…] Indians are not able to govern themselves in use thereof, but do commonly drink of it to such excess as makes them sometimes to destroy one another, and grievously annoy and disquiet the people of this province, and peradventure those of neighboring governments

“An ancient fable has been realized – the lions have no painters—no apologists have arisen to celebrate and exalt their great actions, or to narrate and exemplify those co-operating circumstances, which led to and partly justified their follies and their crimes. Members of the favoured race, which was destined by Providence to increase, while the house of their predecessors has continued to “wax weaker and weaker,” many individuals amount white Americans have felt a desire that justice should be done at least to the fame of the aborigines, and that those who have been deprived,  for our sakes, of country and of existence, should not also experience that common lot of unfortunate, the partial frown of history.”[4] – Hendrick Aupaumut.

A narrative of An Embassy To The Western Indians, from the original manuscript of Hendrick Aupaumut, with prefactory remarks by Dr. B. H. Caotes, communicated to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, April 19th, 1826. in “Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania,” vol.2 (Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Carey—Chesnut Street, 1827), pp. 63-64. “The following narrative was found among the paper of a late eminent and philanthropic citizen of this community;” p. 63, Isaac Zane, Esq.

William Penn made it a priority to establish peaceful relations with the natives of N. America. He imparted advice to the Indians from his offices in Philadelphia, as well as personal local visits that characterized Christianity.[5] He sought, according to the memories of the society, to establish human right relations with the native Indians on relative terms to the first settlers of Pennsylvania. Penn sent emissary, the “pious and amiable Thomas Chalkley,” in 1705, to the Seneca and Shawanese Indians, who then occupied the boarders of the river Susquehanna.[6]

“In 1711, when a requisition was made by queen Anne for aid from the northern colonies in reference t the expedition against Canada, an objection to a grant of money for such purposes necessarily arose in the minds of that part of the assembly of Pennsylvania who were conscientiously opposed to war, and they asserted as a reason why they should be excused from the tax, that the province had contributed, preservation of the friendship of the Indians, which they declared to be of the greatest importance, not only to Pennsylvania, but to the neighboring governments. This fact is in proof of the untiring labours of at least a portion of those in authority at that period, to maintain amicable relations with the natives.”[7]

War needs financing, and financing is capital, and creating capital either relates in economic imperialism (profit at the hands of another group), or conquest. Peen’s personal oversight of the province “was unexpectedly terminated in 1701, when circumstances demanded the presence of William Penn in England.” Yet, the government upheld Penn’s judicious improvements in the province’s affairs with the Indians. “To conciliate the confidence and respect of the Indians, and meliorate their condition, remained to be prominent objects of their attention.”[8] A peace conference was held in Philadelphia in 1715, where Indians reiterated Penn’s promise continual peace between the colonists and generations of Indians. Penn had promised “justice,”  “mercy,” and “equity” for all Indians. Unfortunately, after Penn’s death changes in relations enacted bitter memories of betrayal of trade agreements, the imposition of spirits, the falsification of land documents and deeds, and protection from other imposing tribes. At the conference, a chief named Sassoonan said, […] I will now speak of the trade between you and us. It has been like a house with two doors, one for us, and one for the English, but the goods were placed in the dark, so that we did not know who we were dealt with. We want the terms of trade settled, so that we may no longer be in danger of being cheated. We are often imposed upon by the lightness of your money. You certainly know the value of ours. I wish this evil put out of the way.”[9] Sassoonan spoke of paper money, the devaluation of it. Robert Vaux, Esq., one of the vice presidents of the historical society who authored the chapter on the Anniversary Discourse of 1826 wrote “It is a remarkable fact, that none of the children, or other descendants of the Founder of Pennsylvania who had an interest in the province after his death, were members of the Religious Society [Christian sect] of which their great progenitor was so distinguished an ornament. This circumstance is not related to convey the least unfavorable opinion of any other Christian Denomination, as the writer humbly trusts, that his mind is uninfluenced by bigotry.”[10] One must remember that after the initial conquest of Middle and South America, the Portuguese and Spanish rapidly transformed their relationship with the natives which plays out today in respect of their conditions as prime settlers. The United States of America still treats the Native Americans with distainment, as a general observation. Vaux is trying to relate an observation of such a regard during his day. After the influx of emigrants in the 1720s, disregard for natives rights reached new lows. While many emigrants claimed Protestant Christian principles, their actions spoke otherwise. The early settlers, the Christians spoke of the Ten Commandments. The covetousness conveyed by the early setters took an opposite disposition with the arrival of the emigrants. “Ambition and sordid interest” formed the emotions of the new wave of settlers in their desire of Indian gold.[11] “at every conference  with the Indians, from 1744, down to 1754, they avowed their opinions on this point, and fearlessly contended for preservation of their departing rights.

“The Moravian brethren, led by Count Zinzindorf, for the more perfect enjoyment of civil and religious privileges, found an asylum in Pennsylvania, and commenced their well known settlements at Nazareth and Bethlehem, a part of the country then only inhabited by tribes of Indians. They devoted themselves in a remarkable manner, for the improvement of the condition of the aborigines, by incalculating the indestructible truths of the Gospel, to the consolations of which they were instrumental to bring the minds of many of the natives; they also succeeded in giving some of that race a relish for the comforts of civilized life, and a proper estimate of the benefits of agriculture pursuits.”[12]

“The Indians uniformly found them to be judicious advisors, and firm friends, and they co-operated with that part of the Europeans who preceded them here, in anxious and assiduous efforts, to protect the natives from injustice.”[13]

Justice, Mercy, & Peace: The original consecration of the province. The second wave of emigrants ignored the religious benevolence of the first wave of setttlers.

Peace of seventy years ~1680s-1750s

1682, Penn uttered a prophet-like sentiment. The lure of the individual to the new world was “Durable riches and righteousness.”[14] As prophecy, “If my heirs do not keep to God, in the justice, mercy, equity, and fear of the Lord, they will lose all, and desolation will follow […]”[15] Wharton’s admission that the Indians did not convey “ambition or sordid interest,” led to a conclusion that the Europeans were interested in the soul’s material worth while the Indians were interested in the soul’s spirit worth. This conclusion reveled the Europeans relied solely on their “emotions,” a disposition that lead them to “overrun the possessions, and to compass gain at any sacrifice.”[16] Conferences with the Indians from 1744 to 1754[17] reveled these sentiments.

In a letter to Earle of Sunderland, Penn emoted he had forbid his constituents from selling spirits to Indians: “[…] for 6 penny worth of Rum, one may buy yt fur from them, yt five shillings, in any Commodity shall not purchase.” Yet many of the old men, & some of ye young people will not touch wth such spirits; & Because in those fitts they mischief both themselves & and our folk too, I have forbid to sell them any.”[18] Penn blames the drinking tradition of the “Dutch, Sweeds and English.”[19] While Penn does not talk about this, a curious fact of the New World contained in the lifespan of the early settlers. Life expectancy was much lower than today’s standards. Alcohol was a substitute-method for cleaning impure water or water contaminants. Distilling spirits in the New World was considered necessary. Colonists were fond of liquor, as it was not as dangerous as drinking water and thought to cure sickness and disease that came from tainted water from various natural and man induced bacteria. Here Penn is addressing the negative affects, that is to say, the abuse of alcohol upon Native Americans.

“In 1664 the English conquest [from the Dutch] brought new government forms to Newton. Under the Duke’s Laws,” which regulated local government, townsmen elected eight overseers. Later this number would be reduced to four. The chores of the men chosen to “order” town affairs would be done specifically by adhoc committees. Most of the routine affairs of the village were administered in Middleburgh. At their town meetings the inhabitants voted to build and maintain a town house which, as an undifferentiated structure, would serve as a meeting house, church or school. In deference to the wilderness around them they volunteered to raise money for the wolf bounty. They tried to keep the village pleasant, voting in 1662, “that whosoever has cats or dogs or hogs lying dead in any place to offend their neighbors they must either bury them or throw them into the creek.”[20]


General Observations


1815-1860 U.S. Looks inwardly

Focus on movement west, settlements

Expansion farming

Industrial revolution

Obsession of Supreme Court

Congressional Fights

Food: wheat in North and Cotton in the south. Cotton becomes the cash – crop taking over tobacco.

1750-1840s tragic for Native Americans

Overtime, Congress says move them west of the Mississippi river; Land less fertile than its eastern section. Americans

Indian unity, but none after Tecumxa died.


1820 Christian convert some Indians to farming and western ways, to give up the warrior life.

Five Civilized Tribes set an example for others and called civilized: Cherokee, Creek, Chicagoan, Choctaw and (Florida) Seminole.

Cherokee create their own alphabet and begin teaching the young, literature.

Cherokee owned slaves, mostly black.

Some ran tribal representative governments which were successful.




1790 first census, 4,000,000 total population.

Maryland and Delaware were centers of population

Philadelphia, pop. appx. 4,400 had the most population density

Second was New York, with appx. 3,300.


1840 U.S. population 17,000,000

1st New York, 300,000 people

6th Cincinnati, a new city with 46,000 people.

 Early Poetry of Pennsylvania

(Before Benjamin Franklin)

Jacob Taylor, supposed to have originally been a printer.  In 1712,” he was sent for by the House of Representatives, and cultured about the printing laws. He afterward kept a mathematical school in this city; and, it is said, was at the same time Surveyor General of the province—but appears to have soon retired from office, and during the latter part of his life was a resident in Chester county.” [21] His chief reputation was an almanac maker, and before the publication of Franklin’s well known production, his almanac was the best and most popular of several issued by the Philadelphia press. In his Ephemeris for 1736, when he was extremely old age, he says, “it is now forty years sense I published astronomical calculations, which I have frequently continued, but not without several intermissions.”

Taylor attacked Kiemer viciously in print, the war of the Ephemeredes market trumpet all publication competition.

Printing, what was its first purpose?

It appears it was for attacking the intelligence of another person in print, making that attack assessable through a new media.


[1] Thomas I. Wharton’s Annual address before the Penn Historical Society, Anniversary Discourse, 1826, ed., Robert Vaux, Esq,  in “Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania,” vol.2 (Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Carey—Chesnut Street, 1827), pp. 11-12..

[2] Ibid., p. 12.

[3] Ibid.

[4] A narrative of An Embassy To The Western Indians, from the original manuscript of Hendrick Aupaumut, with prefactory remarks by Dr. Benjamin. H. Coates [council member, 1830], communicated to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, April 19th, 1826. in “Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania,” vol.2 (Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Carey—Chesnut Street, 1827), pp. 63-64. “The following narrative was found among the paper of a late eminent and philanthropic citizen of this community;” p. 63, Isaac Zane, Esq.

[5] Anniversary Discourse, Wharton, p. 18.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid., p. 20.

[8] Ibid., p. 18.

[9] Ibid., p. 21.

[10] Ibid., p. 31.

[11] Ibid., p. 33.

[12] Ibid., p. 34.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid., p. 32.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid., 33.

[17] Ibid.

[18] William Penn to Earle of Sunderland, reproduced letter, pp. 243-247, Philadelphia 28th 3mo* or 5mo, July 1683 in “Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania,” vol.2 (Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Carey—Chesnut Street, 1827), p. 274.

[19] Ibid., 246.

[20] Kross, Jessica, The Evolution of an American Town: Newton, New York, 1642-1775 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1983), p.25.

[21] Some Account of the Early Pets and Poetry of Pennsylvania in “Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania,” vol.2 (Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Carey—Chesnut Street, 1827), p. 66.



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