THE QUAKER COLONIES,
A CHRONICLE OF THE PROPRIETORS OF THE DELAWARE
Volume 8 In The Chronicles Of America Series
By Sydney G. Fisher
New Haven: Yale University Press
Toronto: Glasgow, Brook & Co.
London: Humphrey Milford
Oxford University Press
I. THE BIRTH OF PENNSYLVANIA II. PENN SAILS FOR THE DELAWARE III. LIFE IN PHILADELPHIA IV. TYPES OF THE POPULATION V. THE TROUBLES OF PENN AND HIS SONS VI. THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR VII. THE DECLINE OF QUAKER GOVERNMENT VIII. THE BEGINNINGS OF NEW JERSEY IX. PLANTERS AND TRADERS OF SOUTHERN JERSEY X. SCOTCH COVENANTERS AND OTHERS IN EAST JERSEY XI. THE UNITED JERSEYS XII. LITTLE DELAWARE XIII. THE ENGLISH CONQUEST
THE QUAKER COLONIES
Chapter I. The Birth Of Pennsylvania
In 1661, the year after Charles II was restored to the throne of England, William Penn was a seventeen-year-old student at Christ Church, Oxford. His father, a distinguished admiral in high favor at Court, had abandoned his erstwhile friends and had aided in restoring King Charlie to his own again. Young William was associating with the sons of the aristocracy and was receiving an education which would fit him to obtain preferment at Court. But there was a serious vein in him, and while at a high church Oxford College he was surreptitiously attending the meetings and listening to the preaching of the despised and outlawed Quakers. There he first began to hear of the plans of a group of Quakers to found colonies on the Delaware in America. Forty years afterwards he wrote, "I had an opening of joy as to these parts in the year 1661 at Oxford." And with America and the Quakers, in spite of a brief youthful experience as a soldier and a courtier, William Penn's life, as well as his fame, is indissolubly linked.
Quakerism was one of the many religious sects born in the seventeenth century under the influence of Puritan thought. The foundation principle of the Reformation, the right of private judgment, the Quakers carried out to its logical conclusion; but they were people whose minds had so long been suppressed and terrorized that, once free, they rushed to extremes. They shocked and horrified even the most advanced Reformation sects by rejecting Baptism, the doctrine of the Trinity, and all sacraments, forms, and ceremonies. They represented, on their best side, the most vigorous effort of the Reformation to return to the spirituality and the simplicity of the early Christians. But their intense spirituality, pathetic often in its extreme manifestations, was not wholly concerned with another world. Their humane ideas and philanthropic methods, such as the abolition of slavery, and the reform of prisons and of charitable institutions, came in time to be accepted as fundamental practical social principles.
The tendencies of which Quakerism formed only one manifestation appeared outside of England, in Italy, in France, and especially in Germany. The fundamental Quaker idea of "quietism," as it was called, or peaceful, silent contemplation as a spiritual form of worship and as a development of moral consciousness, was very widespread at the close of the Reformation and even began to be practiced in the Roman Catholic Church until it was stopped by the Jesuits. The most extreme of the English Quakers, however, gave way to such extravagances of conduct as trembling when they preached (whence their name), preaching openly in the streets and fields—a horrible thing at that time—interrupting other congregations, and appearing naked as a sign and warning. They gave offense by refusing to remove their hats in public and by applying to all alike the words "thee" and "thou," a form of address hitherto used only to servants and inferiors. Worst of all, the Quakers refused to pay tithes or taxes to support the Church of England. As a result, the loathsome jails of the day were soon filled with these objectors, and their property melted away in fines. This contumacy and their street meetings, regarded at that time as riotous breaches of the peace, gave the Government at first a legal excuse to hunt them down; but as they grew in numbers and influence, laws were enacted to suppress them. Some of them, though not the wildest extremists, escaped to the colonies in America. There, however, they were made welcome to conditions no less severe.
The first law against the Quakers in Massachusetts was passed in 1656, and between that date and 1660 four of the sect were hanged, one of them a woman, Mary Dyer. Though there were no other hangings, many Quakers were punished by whipping and banishment. In other colonies, notably New York, fines and banishment were not uncommon. Such treatment forced the Quakers, against the will of many of them, to seek a tract of land and found a colony of their own. To such a course there appeared no alternative, unless they were determined to establish their religion solely by martyrdom.
About the time when the Massachusetts laws were enforced, the principal Quaker leader and organizer, George Fox (1624-1691), began to consider the possibility of making a settlement among the great forests and mountains said to lie north of Maryland in the region drained by the Delaware and Susquehanna rivers. In this region lay practically the only good land on the Atlantic seaboard not already occupied. The Puritans and Dutch were on the north, and there were Catholic and Church of England colonies on the south in Maryland and Virginia. The middle ground was unoccupied because heretofore a difficult coast had prevented easy access by sea. Fox consulted Josiah Coale, a Quaker who had traveled in America and had seen a good deal of the Indian tribes, with the result that on his second visit to America Coale was commissioned to treat with the Susquehanna Indians, who were supposed to have rights in the desired land. In November, 1660, Coale reported to Fox the result of his inquiries: "As concerning Friends buying a piece of land of the Susquehanna Indians I have spoken of it to them and told them what thou said concerning it; but their answer was, that there is no land that is habitable or fit for situation beyond Baltimore's liberty till they come to or near the Susquehanna's Fort." * Nothing could be done immediately, the letter went on to say, because the Indians were at war with one another, and William Fuller, a Maryland Quaker, whose cooperation was deemed essential, was absent.
* James Bowden's "History of the Friends in America," vol. I, p. 389
This seems to have been the first definite movement towards a Quaker colony. Reports of it reached the ears of young Penn at Oxford and set his imagination aflame. He never forgot the project, for seventeen is an age when grand thoughts strike home. The adventurousness of the plan was irresistible—a home for the new faith in the primeval forest, far from imprisonment, tithes, and persecution, and to be won by effort worthy of a man. It was, however, a dream destined not to be realized for many a long year. More was needed than the mere consent of the Indians. In the meantime, however, a temporary refuge for the sect was found in the province of West Jersey on the Delaware, which two Quakers had bought from Lord Berkeley for the comparatively small sum of 1000 pounds. Of this grant William Penn became one of the trustees and thus gained his first experience in the business of colonizing the region of his youthful dreams. But there was never a sufficient governmental control of West Jersey to make it an ideal Quaker colony. What little control the Quakers exercised disappeared after 1702; and the land and situation were not all that could be desired. Penn, though also one of the owners of East Jersey, made no attempt to turn that region into a Quaker colony.
Besides West Jersey the Quakers found a temporary asylum in Aquidneck, now Rhode Island. * For many years the governors and magistrates were Quakers, and the affairs of this island colony were largely in their hands. Quakers were also prominent in the politics of North Carolina, and John Archdale, a Quaker, was Governor for several years. They formed a considerable element of the population in the towns of Long Island and Westchester County but they could not hope to convert these communities into real Quaker commonwealths.
* This Rhode Island colony should be distinguished from the settlement at Providence founded by Roger Williams with which it was later united. See Jones, "The Quakers in the American Colonies," p. 21, note.
The experience in the Jerseys and elsewhere very soon proved that if there was to be a real Quaker colony, the British Crown must give not only a title to the land but a strong charter guaranteeing self-government and protection of the Quaker faith from outside interference. But that the British Government would grant such valued privileges to a sect of schismatics which it was hunting down in England seemed a most unlikely event. Nothing but unusual influence at Court could bring it about, and in that quarter the Quakers had no influence.
Penn never forgot the boyhood ideal which he had developed at college. For twenty years he led a varied life—driven from home and whipped by his father for consorting with the schismatic; sometimes in deference to his father's wishes taking his place in the gay world at Court; even, for a time, becoming a soldier, and again traveling in France with some of the people of the Court. In the end, as he grew older, religious feeling completely absorbed him. He became one of the leading Quaker theologians, and his very earnest religious writings fill several volumes. He became a preacher at the meetings and went to prison for his heretical doctrines and pamphlets. At last he found himself at the age of thirty-six with his father dead, and a debt due from the Crown of 16,000 pounds for services which his distinguished father, the admiral, had rendered the Government.
Here was the accident that brought into being the great Quaker colony, by a combination of circumstances which could hardly have happened twice. Young Penn was popular at Court. He had inherited a valuable friendship with Charles II and his heir, the Duke of York. This friendship rested on the solid fact that Penn's father, the admiral, had rendered such signal assistance in restoring Charles and the whole Stuart line to the throne. But still 16,000 pounds or $80,000, the accumulation of many deferred payments, was a goodly sum in those days, and that the Crown would pay it in money, of which it had none too much, was unlikely. Why not therefore suggest paying it instead in wild land in America, of which the Crown had abundance? That was the fruitful thought which visited Penn. Lord Berkeley and Lord Carteret had been given New Jersey because they had signally helped to restore the Strait family to the throne. All the more therefore should the Stuart family give a tract of land, and even a larger tract, to Penn, whose father had not only assisted the family to the throne but had refrained so long from pressing his just claim for money due.
So the Crown, knowing little of the value of it, granted him the most magnificent domain of mountains; lakes, rivers, and forests, fertile soil, coal, petroleum, and iron that ever was given to a single proprietor. In addition to giving Penn the control of Delaware and, with certain other Quakers, that of New Jersey as well, the Crown placed at the disposal of the Quakers 55,000 square miles of most valuable, fertile territory, lacking only about three thousand square miles of being as large as England and Wales. Even when cut down to 45,000 square miles by a boundary dispute with Maryland, it was larger than Ireland. Kings themselves have possessed such dominions, but never before a private citizen who scorned all titles and belonged to a hunted sect that exalted peace and spiritual contemplation above all the wealth and power of the world. Whether the obtaining of this enormous tract of the best land in America was due to what may be called the eternal thriftiness of the Quaker mind or to the intense desire of the British Government to get rid of these people—at any cost might be hard to determine.
Penn received his charter in 1681, and in it he was very careful to avoid all the mistakes of the Jersey proprietary grants. Instead of numerous proprietors, Penn was to be the sole proprietor. Instead of giving title to the land and remaining silent about the political government, Penn's charter not only gave him title to the land but a clearly defined position as its political head, and described the principles of the government so clearly that there was little room for doubt or dispute.
It was a decidedly feudal charter, very much like the one granted to Lord Baltimore fifty years before, and yet at the same time it secured civil liberty and representative government to the people. Penn owned all the land and the colonists were to be his tenants. He was compelled, however, to give his people free government. The laws were to be made by him with the assent of the people or their delegates. In practice this of course meant that the people were to elect a legislature and Penn would have a veto, as we now call it, on such acts as the legislature should pass. He had power to appoint magistrates, judges, and some other officers, and to grant pardons. Though, by the charter, proprietor of the province, he usually remained in England and appointed a deputy governor to exercise authority in the colony. In modern phrase, he controlled the executive part of the government and his people controlled the legislative part.
Pennsylvania, besides being the largest in area of the proprietary colonies, was also the most successful, not only from the proprietor's point of view but also from the point of view of the inhabitants. The proprietorships in Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and the Carolinas were largely failures. Maryland was only partially successful; it was not particularly remunerative to its owner, and the Crown deprived him of his control of it for twenty years. Penn, too, was deprived of the control of Pennsylvania by William III but for only about two years. Except for this brief interval (1692-1694), Penn and his sons after him held their province down to the time of the American Revolution in 1776, a period of ninety-four years.
A feudal proprietorship, collecting rents from all the people, seems to modern minds grievously wrong in theory, and yet it would be very difficult to show that it proved onerous in practice. Under it the people of Pennsylvania flourished in wealth, peace, and happiness. Penn won undying fame for the liberal principles of his feudal enterprise. His expenses in England were so great and his quitrents always so much in arrears that he was seldom out of debt. But his children grew rich from the province. As in other provinces that were not feudal there were disputes between the people and the proprietors; but there was not so much general dissatisfaction as might have been expected. The proprietors were on the whole not altogether disliked. In the American Revolution, when the people could have confiscated everything in Pennsylvania belonging to the proprietary family, they not only left them in possession of a large part of their land, but paid them handsomely for the part that was taken.
After Penn had secured his charter in 1681, he obtained from the Duke of York the land now included in the State of Delaware. He advertised for colonists, and began selling land at 100 pounds for five thousand acres and annually thereafter a shilling quitrent for every hundred acres. He drew up a constitution or frame of government, as he called it, after wide and earnest consultation with many, including the famous Algernon Sydney. Among the Penn papers in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania is a collection of about twenty preliminary drafts. Beginning with one which erected a government by a landed aristocracy, they became more and more liberal, until in the end his frame was very much like the most liberal government of the other English colonies in America. He had a council and an assembly, both elected by the people. The council, however, was very large, had seventy-two members, and was more like an upper house of the Legislature than the usual colonial governor's council. The council also had the sole right of proposing legislation, and the assembly could merely accept or reject its proposals. This was a new idea, and it worked so badly in practice that in the end the province went to the opposite extreme and had no council or upper house of the Legislature at all.
Penn's frame of government contained, however, a provision for its own amendment. This was a new idea and proved to be so happy that it is now found in all American constitutions. His method of impeachment by which the lower house was to bring in the charge and the upper house was to try it has also been universally adopted. His view that an unconstitutional law is void was a step towards our modern system. The next step, giving the courts power to declare a law unconstitutional, was not taken until one hundred years after his time. With the advice and assistance of some of those who were going out to his colony he prepared a code of laws which contained many of the advanced ideas of the Quakers. Capital punishment was to be confined to murder and treason, instead of being applied as in England to a host of minor offenses. The property of murderers, instead of being forfeited to the State, was to be divided among the next of kin of the victim and of the criminal. Religious liberty was established as it had been in Rhode Island and the Jerseys. All children were to be taught a useful trade. Oaths in judicial proceedings were not required. All prisons were to be workhouses and places of reformation instead of dungeons of dirt, idleness, and disease. This attempt to improve the prisons inaugurated a movement of great importance in the modern world in which the part played by the Quakers is too often forgotten.
Penn had now started his "Holy Experiment," as he called his enterprise in Pennsylvania, by which he intended to prove that religious liberty was not only right, but that agriculture, commerce, and all arts and refinements of life would flourish under it. He would break the delusion that prosperity and morals were possible only under some one particular faith established by law. He, would prove that government could be carried on without war and without oaths, and that primitive Christianity could be maintained without a hireling ministry, without persecution, without ridiculous dogmas or ritual, sustained only by its own innate power and the inward light.
Chapter II. Penn Sails For The Delaware
The framing of the constitution and other preparations consumed the year following Penn's receipt of his charter in 1681. But at last, on August 30, 1682, he set sail in the ship Welcome, with about a hundred colonists. After a voyage of about six weeks, and the loss of thirty of their number by smallpox, they arrived in the Delaware. June would have been a somewhat better month in which to see the rich luxuriance of the green meadows and forests of this beautiful river. But the autumn foliage and bracing air of October must have been inspiring enough. The ship slowly beat her way for three days up the bay and river in the silence and romantic loneliness of its shores. Everything indicated richness and fertility. At some points the lofty trees of the primeval forest grew down to the water's edge. The river at every high tide overflowed great meadows grown up in reeds and grasses and red and yellow flowers, stretching back to the borders of the forest and full of water birds and wild fowl of every variety. Penn, now in the prime of life, must surely have been aroused by this scene and by the reflection that the noble river was his and the vast stretches of forests and mountains for three hundred miles to the westward.
He was soon ashore, exploring the edge of his mighty domain, settling his government, and passing his laws. He was much pleased with the Swedes whom he found on his land. He changed the name of the little Swedish village of Upland, fifteen miles below Philadelphia, to Chester. He superintended laying out the streets of Philadelphia and they remain to this day substantially as he planned them, though unfortunately too narrow and monotonously regular. He met the Indians at Philadelphia, sat with them at their fires, ate their roasted corn, and when to amuse him they showed him some of their sports and games he renewed his college days by joining them in a jumping match.
Then he started on journeys. He traveled through the woods to New York, which then belonged to the Duke of York, who had given him Delaware; he visited the Long Island Quakers; and on his return he went to Maryland to meet with much pomp and ceremony Lord Baltimore and there discuss with him the disputed boundary. He even crossed to the eastern shore of the Chesapeake to visit a Quaker meeting on the Choptank before winter set in, and he describes the immense migration of wild pigeons at that season, and the ducks which flew so low and were so tame that the colonists knocked them down with sticks.
Most of the winter he spent at Chester and wrote to England in high spirits of his journeys, the wonders of the country, the abundance of game and provisions, and the twenty-three ships which had arrived so swiftly that few had taken longer than six weeks, and only three had been infected with the smallpox. "Oh how sweet," he says, "is the quiet of these parts, freed from the anxious and troublesome solicitations, hurries and perplexities of woful Europe."
As the weeks and months passed, ships kept arriving with more Quakers, far exceeding the migration to the Jerseys. By summer, Penn reported that 50 sail had arrived within the past year, 80 houses had been built in Philadelphia, and about 300 farms had been laid out round the town. It is supposed that about 8000 immigrants had arrived. This was a more rapid development than was usual in the colonies of America. Massachusetts and Virginia had been established slowly and with much privation and suffering. But the settlement of Philadelphia was like a summer outing. There were no dangers, the hardships were trifling, and there was no sickness or famine. There was such an abundance of game close at hand that hunger and famine were in nowise to be feared. The climate was good and the Indians, kindly treated, remained friendly for seventy years.
It is interesting to note that in that same year, 1682, in which Penn and his friends with such ease and comfort founded their great colony on the Delaware, the French explorers and voyageurs from Canada, after years of incredible hardships, had traversed the northern region of the Great Lakes with their canoes and had passed down the Mississippi to its mouth, giving to the whole of the Great West the name of Louisiana, and claiming it for France. Already La Salle had taken his fleet of canoes down the Mississippi River and had placed the arms of France on a post at its mouth in April, 1682, only a few months before Penn reached his newly acquired colony. Thus in the same year in which the Quakers established in Pennsylvania their reign of liberty and of peace with the red men, La Salle was laying the foundation of the western empire of despotic France, which seventy years afterwards was to hurl the savages upon the English colonies, to wreck the Quaker policy of peace, but to fail in the end to maintain itself against the free colonies of England.
While they were building houses in Philadelphia, the settlers lived in bark huts or in caves dug in the river bank, as the early settlers in New Jersey across the river had lived. Pastorius, a learned German Quaker, who had come out with the English, placed over the door of his cave the motto, "Parva domus, sed amica bonis, procul este profani," which much amused Penn when he saw it. A certain Mrs. Morris was much exercised one day as to how she could provide supper in the cave for her husband who was working on the construction of their house. But on returning to her cave she found that her cat had just brought in a fine rabbit. In their later prosperous years they had a picture of the cat and the rabbit made on a box which has descended as a family heirloom. Doubtless there were preserved many other interesting reminiscences of the brief camp life. These Quakers were all of the thrifty, industrious type which had gone to West Jersey a few years before. Men of means, indeed, among the Quakers were the first to seek refuge from the fines and confiscations imposed upon them in England. They brought with them excellent supplies of everything. Many of the ships carried the frames of houses ready to put together. But substantial people of this sort demanded for the most part houses of brick, with stone cellars. Fortunately both brick clay and stone were readily obtainable in the neighborhood, and whatever may have been the case in other colonies, ships loaded with brick from England would have found it little to their profit to touch at Philadelphia. An early description says that the brick houses in Philadelphia were modeled on those of London, and this type prevailed for nearly two hundred years.
It was probably in June, 1683, that Penn made his famous treaty with the Indians. No documentary proof of the existence of such a treaty has reached us. He made, indeed, a number of so-called treaties, which were really only purchases of land involving oral promises between the principals to treat each other fairly. Hundreds of such treaties have been made. The remarkable part about Penn's dealings with the Indians was that such promises as he made he kept. The other Quakers, too, were as careful as Penn in their honorable treatment of the red men. Quaker families of farmers and settlers lived unarmed among them for generations and, when absent from home, left children in their care. The Indians, on their part, were known to have helped white families with food in winter time. Penn, on his first visit to the colony, made a long journey unarmed among the Indians as far as the Susquehanna, saw the great herds of elk on that river, lived in Indian wigwams, and learned much of the language and customs of the natives. There need never be any trouble with them, he said. They were the easiest people in the world to get on with if the white men would simply be just. Penn's fair treatment of the Indians kept Pennsylvania at peace with them for about seventy years—in fact, from 1682 until the outbreak of the French and Indian Wars, in 1755. In its critical period of growth, Pennsylvania was therefore not at all harassed or checked by those Indian hostilities which were such a serious impediment in other colonies.
The two years of Penn's first visit were probably the happiest of his life. Always fond of the country, he built himself a fine seat on the Delaware near Bristol, and it would have been better for him, and probably also for the colony, if he had remained there. But he thought he had duties in England: his family needed him; he must defend his people from the religious oppression still prevailing; and Lord Baltimore had gone to England to resist him in the boundary dispute. One of the more narrow-minded of his faith wrote to Penn from England that he was enjoying himself too much in his colony and seeking his own selfish interest. Influenced by all these considerations, he returned in August, 1684, and it was long before he saw Pennsylvania again—not, indeed, until October, 1699, and then for only two years.
Chapter III. Life In Philadelphia
The rapid increase of population and the growing prosperity in Pennsylvania during the life of its founder present a striking contrast to the slower and more troubled growth of the other British colonies in America. The settlers in Pennsylvania engaged at once in profitable agriculture. The loam, clay, and limestone soils on the Pennsylvania tide of the Delaware produced heavy crops of grain, as well as pasture for cattle and valuable lumber from its forests. The Pennsylvania settlers were of a class particularly skilled in dealing with the soil. They apparently encountered none of the difficulties, due probably to incompetent farming, which beset the settlers of Delaware, whose land was as good as that of the Pennsylvania colonists.
In a few years the port of Philadelphia was loading abundant cargoes for England and the great West India trade. After much experimenting with different places on the river, such as New Castle, Wilmington, Salem, Burlington, the Quakers had at last found the right location for a great seat of commerce and trade that could serve as a center for the export of everything from the region behind it and around it. Philadelphia thus soon became the basis of a prosperity which no other townsite on the Delaware had been able to attain. The Quakers of Philadelphia were the soundest of financiers and men of business, and in their skillful hands the natural resources of their colony were developed without setback or accident. At an early date banking institutions were established in Philadelphia, and the strongest colonial merchants and mercantile firms had their offices there. It was out of such a sound business life that were produced in Revolutionary times such characters as Robert Morris and after the Revolution men like Stephen Girard.
Pennsylvania in colonial times was ruled from Philadelphia somewhat as France has always been ruled from Paris. And yet there was a difference: Pennsylvania had free government. The Germans and the Scotch-Irish outnumbered the Quakers and could have controlled the Legislature, for in 1750 out of a population of 150,000 the Quakers were only about 50,000; and yet the Legislature down to the Revolution was always confided to the competent hands of the Quakers. No higher tribute, indeed, has ever been paid to any group of people as governors of a commonwealth and architects of its finance and trade.
It is a curious commentary on the times and on human nature that these Quaker folk, treated as outcasts and enemies of good order and religion in England and gradually losing all their property in heavy fines and confiscations, should so suddenly in the wilderness prove the capacity of their "Holy Experiment" for achieving the best sort of good order and material success. They immediately built a most charming little town by the waterside, snug and pretty with its red brick houses in the best architectural style. It was essentially a commercial town down to the time of the Revolution and long afterwards. The principal residences were on Water Street, the second street from the wharves. The town in those days extended back only as far as Fourth Street, and the State House, now Independence Hall, an admirable instance of the local brick architecture, stood on the edge of the town. The Pennsylvania Hospital, the first institution of its kind to be built in America, was situated out in the fields.
Through the town ran a stream following the line of the present Dock Street. Its mouth had been a natural landing place for the first explorers and for the Indians from time immemorial. Here stood a neat tavern, the Blue Anchor, with its dovecotes in old English style, looking out for many a year over the river with its fleet of small boats. Along the wharves lay the very solid, broad, somber, Quaker-like brick warehouses, some of which have survived into modern times. Everywhere were to be found ships and the good seafaring smell of tar and hemp. Ships were built and fitted out alongside docks where other ships were lading. A privateer would receive her equipment of guns, pistols, and cutlasses on one side of a wharf, while on the other side a ship was peacefully loading wheat or salted provisions for the West Indies.
Everybody's attention in those days was centered on the water instead of inland on railroads as it is today. Commerce was the source of wealth of the town as agriculture was the wealth of the interior of the province. Every one lived close to the river and had an interest in the rise and fall of the tide. The little town extended for a mile along the water but scarcely half a mile back from it. All communication with other places, all news from the world of Europe came from the ships, whose captains brought the letters and the few newspapers which reached the colonists. An important ship on her arrival often fired a gun and dropped anchor with some ceremony. Immediately the shore boats swarmed to her side; the captain was besieged for news and usually brought the letters ashore to be distributed at the coffeehouse. This institution took the place of the modern stock exchange, clearing house, newspaper, university, club, and theater all under one roof, with plenty to eat and drink besides. Within its rooms vessels and cargoes were sold; before its door negro slaves were auctioned off; and around it as a common center were brought together all sorts of business, valuable information, gossip, and scandal. It must have been a brilliant scene in the evening, with the candles lighting embroidered red and yellow waistcoats, blue and scarlet Coats, green and black velvet, with the rich drab and mouse color of the prosperous Quakers contrasting with the uniforms of British officers come to fight the French and Indian wars. Sound, as well as color, had its place in this busy and happy colonial life. Christ Church, a brick building which still stands the perfection of colonial architecture had been established by the Church of England people defiantly in the midst of heretical Quakerdom. It soon possessed a chime of bells sent out from England. Captain Budden, who brought them in his ship Myrtilla, would charge no freight for so charitable a deed, and in consequence of his generosity every time he and his ship appeared in the harbor the bells were rung in his honor. They were rung on market days to please the farmers who came into town with their wagons loaded with poultry and vegetables. They were rung muffled in times of public disaster and were kept busy in that way in the French and Indian wars. They were also rung muffled for Franklin when it was learned that while in London he had favored the Stamp Act—a means of expressing popular opinion which the newspapers subsequently put out of date.
The severe Quaker code of conduct and peaceful contemplation contains no prohibition against good eating and drinking. Quakers have been known to have the gout. The opportunities in Philadelphia to enjoy the pleasures of the table were soon unlimited. Farm, garden, and dairy products, vegetables, poultry, beef, and mutton were soon produced in immense quantity and variety and of excellent quality. John Adams, coming from the "plain living and high thinking" of Boston to attend the first meeting of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, was invited to dine with Stephen Collins, a typical Quaker, and was amazed at the feast set before him. From that time his diary records one after another of these "sinful feasts," as he calls them. But the sin at which he thus looks askance never seems to have withheld him from a generous indulgence. "Drank Madeira at a great rate," he says on one occasion, "and took no harm from it." Madeira obtained in the trade with Spain was the popular drink even at the taverns. Various forms of punch and rum were common, but the modern light wines and champagne were not then in vogue.
Food in great quantity and variety seems to have been placed on the table at the same time, with little regard to formal courses. Beef, poultry, and mutton would all be served at one dinner. Fruit and nuts were placed on the table in profusion, as well as puddings and desserts numerous and deadly. Dinners were served usually in the afternoon. The splendid banquet which Adams describes as given to some members of the Continental Congress by Chief Justice Chew at his country seat was held at four in the afternoon. The dinner hour was still in the afternoon long after the Revolution and down to the times of the Civil War. Other relics of this old love of good living lasted into modern times. It was not so very long ago that an occasional householder of wealth and distinction in Philadelphia could still be found who insisted on doing his own marketing in the old way, going himself the first thing in the morning on certain days to the excellent markets and purchasing all the family supplies. Philadelphia poultry is still famous the country over; and to be a good judge of poultry was in the old days as much a point of merit as to be a good judge of Madeira. A typical Philadelphian, envious New Yorkers say, will still keep a line of depositors waiting at a bank while he discourses to the receiving teller on what a splendid purchase of poultry he had made that morning. Early in the last century a wealthy leader of the bar is said to have continued the old practice of going to market followed by a negro with a wheelbarrow to bring back the supplies. Not content with feasting in their own homes, the colonial Philadelphians were continually banqueting at the numerous taverns, from the Coach and Horses, opposite the State House, down to the Penny Pot Inn close by the river. At the Coach and Horses, where the city elections were usually held, the discarded oyster shells around it had been trampled into a hard white and smooth floor over which surged the excited election crowds. In those taverns the old fashion prevailed of roasting great joints of meat on a turnspit before an open fire; and to keep the spit turning before the heat little dogs were trained to work in a sort of treadmill cage.
In nothing is this colonial prosperity better revealed than in the quality of the country seats. They were usually built of stone and sometimes of brick and stone, substantial, beautifully proportioned, admirable in taste, with a certain simplicity, yet indicating a people of wealth, leisure, and refinement, who believed in themselves and took pleasure in adorning their lives. Not a few of these homes on the outskirts of the city have come down to us unharmed, and Cliveden, Stenton, and Belmont are precious relics of such solid structure that with ordinary care they will still last for centuries. Many were destroyed during the Revolution; others, such as Landsdowne, the seat of one of the Penn family, built in the Italian style, have disappeared; others were wiped out by the city's growth. All of them, even the small ones, were most interesting and typical of the life of the times. The colonists began to build them very early. A family would have a solid, brick town house and, only a mile or so away, a country house which was equally substantial. Sometimes they built at a greater distance. Governor Keith, for example, had a country seat, still standing though built in the middle of the eighteenth century, some twenty-five miles north of the city in what was then almost a wilderness.
Penn's ideal had always been to have Philadelphia what he called "a green country town." Probably he had in mind the beautiful English towns of abundant foliage and open spaces. And Penn was successful, for many of the Philadelphia houses stood by themselves, with gardens round them. The present Walnut was first called Pool Street; Chestnut was called Winn Street; and Market was called High Street. If he could have foreseen the enormous modern growth of the city, he might not have made his streets so narrow and level. But the fault lies perhaps rather with the people for adhering so rigidly and for so long to Penn's scheme, when traffic that he could not have imagined demanded wider streets. If he could have lived into our times he would surely have sent us very positive directions in his bluff British way to break up the original rectangular, narrow plan which was becoming dismally monotonous when applied to a widely spread-out modern city. He was a theologian, but he had a very keen eye for appearances and beauty of surroundings.
Chapter IV. Types Of The Population
The arrival of colonists in Pennsylvania in greater numbers than in Delaware and the Jerseys was the more notable because, within a few years after Pennsylvania was founded, persecution of the Quakers ceased in England and one prolific cause of their migration was no more. Thirteen hundred Quakers were released from prison in 1686 by James II; and in 1689, when William of Orange took the throne, toleration was extended to the Quakers and other Protestant dissenters.
The success of the first Quakers who came to America brought others even after persecution ceased in England. The most numerous class of immigrants for the first fifteen or twenty years were Welsh, most of whom were Quakers with a few Baptists and Church of England people. They may have come not so much from a desire to flee from persecution as to build up a little Welsh community and to revive Welsh nationalism. In their new surroundings they spoke their own Welsh language and very few of them had learned English. They had been encouraged in their national aspirations by an agreement with Penn that they were to have a tract of 40,000 acres where they could live by themselves. The land assigned to them lay west of Philadelphia in that high ridge along the present main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad, now so noted for its wealthy suburban homes. All the important names of townships and places in that region, such as Wynnewood, St. Davids, Berwyn, Bryn Mawr, Merion, Haverford, Radnor, are Welsh in origin. Some of the Welsh spread round to the north of Philadelphia, where names like Gwynedd and Penllyn remain as their memorials. The Chester Valley bordering the high ridge of their first settlement they called Duffrin Mawr or Great Valley.
These Welsh, like so many of the Quakers, were of a well-to-do class. They rapidly developed their fertile land and, for pioneers, lived quite luxuriously. They had none of the usual county and township officers but ruled their Welsh Barony, as it was called, through the authority of their Quaker meetings. But this system eventually disappeared. The Welsh were absorbed into the English population, and in a couple of generations their language disappeared. Prominent people are descended from them. David Rittenhouse, the astronomer, was Welsh on his mother's side. David Lloyd, for a long time the leader of the popular party and at one time Chief Justice, was a Welshman. Since the Revolution the Welsh names of Cadwalader and Meredith have been conspicuous.
The Church of England people formed a curious and decidedly hostile element in the early population of Pennsylvania. They established themselves in Philadelphia in the beginning and rapidly grew into a political party which, while it cannot be called very strong in numbers, was important in ability and influence. After Penn's death, his sons joined the Church of England, and the Churchmen in the province became still stronger. They formed the basis of the proprietary party, filled executive offices in the Government, and waged relentless war against the Quaker majority which controlled the Legislature. During Penn's lifetime the Churchmen were naturally opposed to the whole government, both executive and legislative. They were constantly sending home to England all sorts of reports and information calculated to show that the Quakers were unfit to rule a province, that Penn should be deprived of his charter, and that Pennsylvania should be put under the direct rule of the King.
They had delightful schemes for making it a strong Church of England colony like Virginia. One of them suggested that, as the title to the Three Lower Counties, as Delaware was called, was in dispute, it should be taken by the Crown and given to the Church as a manor to support a bishop. Such an ecclesiastic certainly could have lived in princely state from the rents of its fertile farms, with a palace, retinue, chamberlains, chancellors, feudal courts, and all the appendages of earthly glory. For the sake of the picturesqueness of colonial history it is perhaps a pity that this pious plan was never carried out.
As it was, however, the Churchmen established themselves with not a little glamour and romance round two institutions, Christ Church for the first fifty years, and after that round the old College of Philadelphia. The Reverend William Smith, a pugnacious and eloquent Scotchman, led them in many a gallant onset against the "haughty tribe" of Quakers, and he even suffered imprisonment in the cause. He had a country seat on the Schuylkill and was in his way a fine character, devoted to the establishment of ecclesiasticism and higher learning as a bulwark against the menace of Quaker fanaticism; and but for the coming on of the Revolution he might have become the first colonial bishop with all the palaces, pomp, and glory appertaining thereunto.
In spite of this opposition, however, the Quakers continued their control of the colony, serenely tolerating the anathemas of the learned Churchmen and the fierce curses and brandished weapons of the Presbyterians and Scotch-Irish. Curses and anathemas were no check to the fertile soil. Grist continued to come to the mill; and the agricultural products poured into Philadelphia to be carried away in the ships. The contemplative Quaker took his profits as they passed; enacted his liberalizing laws, his prison reform, his charities, his peace with the savage Indians; allowed science, research, and all the kindly arts of life to flourish; and seemed perfectly contented with the damnation in the other world to which those who flourished under his rule consigned him.
In discussing the remarkable success of the province, the colonists always disputed whether the credit should be given to the fertile soil or to the liberal laws and constitution. It was no doubt due to both. But the obvious advantages of Penn's charter over the mixed and troublesome governmental conditions in the Jerseys, Penn's personal fame and the repute of the Quakers for liberalism then at its zenith, and the wide advertising given to their ideas and Penn's, on the continent of Europe as well as in England, seem to have been the reasons why more people, and many besides Quakers, came to take advantage of that fertile soil.
The first great increase of alien population came from Germany, which was still in a state of religious turmoil, disunion, and depression from the results of the Reformation and the Thirty Years' War. The reaction from dogma in Germany had produced a multitude of sects, all yearning for greater liberty and prosperity than they had at home. Penn and other Quakers had made missionary tours in Germany and had preached to the people. The Germans do not appear to have been asked to come to the Jerseys. But they were urged to come to Pennsylvania as soon as the charter was obtained; and many of them made an immediate response. The German mind was then at the height of its emotional unrestraint. It was as unaccustomed to liberty of thought as to political liberty and it produced a new sect or religious distinction almost every day. Many of these sects came to Pennsylvania, where new small religious bodies sprang up among them after their arrival. Schwenkfelders, Tunkers, Labadists, New Born, New Mooners, Separatists, Zion's Brueder, Ronsdorfer, Inspired, Quietists, Gichtelians, Depellians, Mountain Men, River Brethren, Brinser Brethren, and the Society of the Woman in the Wilderness, are names which occur in the annals of the province. But these are only a few. In Lancaster County alone the number has at different times been estimated at from twenty to thirty. It would probably be impossible to make a complete list; some of them, indeed, existed for only a few years. Their own writers describe them as countless and bewildering. Many of them were characterized by the strangest sort of German mysticism, and some of them were inclined to monastic and hermit life and their devotees often lived in caves or solitary huts in the woods.
It would hardly be accurate to call all the German sects Quakers, since a great deal of their mysticism would have been anything but congenial to the followers of Fox and Penn. Resemblances to Quaker doctrine can, however, be found among many of them; and there was one large sect, the Mennonites, who were often spoken of as German Quakers. The two divisions fraternized and preached in each other's meetings. The Mennonites were well educated as a class and Pastorius, their leader, was a ponderously learned German. Most of the German sects left the Quakers in undisturbed possession of Philadelphia, and spread out into the surrounding region, which was then a wilderness. They and all the other Germans who afterwards followed them settled in a half circle beginning at Easton on the Delaware, passing up the Lehigh Valley into Lancaster County, thence across the Susquehanna and down the Cumberland Valley to the Maryland border, which many of them crossed, and in time scattered far to the south in Virginia and even North Carolina, where their descendants are still found.
These German sects which came over under the influence of Penn and the Quakers, between the years 1682 and 1702, formed a class by themselves. Though they may be regarded as peculiar in their ideas and often in their manner of life, it cannot be denied that as a class they were a well-educated, thrifty, and excellent people and far superior to the rough German peasants who followed them in later years. This latter class was often spoken of in Pennsylvania as "the church people," to distinguish them from "the sects," as those of the earlier migration were called.
The church people, or peasantry of the later migration, belonged usually to one of the two dominant churches of Germany, the Lutheran or the Reformed. Those of the Reformed Church were often spoken of as Calvinists. This migration of the church people was not due to the example of the Quakers but was the result of a new policy which was adopted by the British Government when Queen Anne ascended the throne in 1702, and which aimed at keeping the English people at home and at filling the English colonies in America with foreign Protestants hostile to France and Spain.
Large numbers of these immigrants were "redemptioners," as they were called; that is to say, they were persons who had been obliged to sell themselves to the shipping agents to pay for their passage. On their arrival in Pennsylvania the captain sold them to the colonists to pay the passage, and the redemptioner had to work for his owner for a period varying from five to ten years. No stigma or disgrace clung to any of these people under this system. It was regarded as a necessary business transaction. Not a few of the very respectable families of the State and some of its prominent men are known to be descended from redemptioners.
This method of transporting colonists proved a profitable trade for the shipping people, and was soon regularly organized like the modern assisted immigration. Agents, called "newlanders" and "soul-sellers," traveled through Germany working up the transatlantic traffic by various devices, some of them not altogether creditable. Pennsylvania proved to be the most attractive region for these immigrants. Some of those who were taken to other colonies finally worked their way to Pennsylvania. Practically none went to New England, and very few, if any, to Virginia. Indeed, only certain colonies were willing to admit them.
Another important element that went to make up the Pennsylvania population consisted of the Scotch-Irish. They were descendants of Scotch and English Presbyterians who had gone to Ireland to take up the estates of the Irish rebels confiscated under Queen Elizabeth and James I. This migration of Protestants to Ireland, which began soon after 1600, was encouraged by the English Government. Towards the middle of the seventeenth century the confiscation of more Irish land under Cromwell's regime increased the migration to Ulster. Many English joined the migration, and Scotch of the Lowlands who were largely of English extraction, although there were many Gaelic or Celtic names among them.
These are the people usually known in English history as Ulstermen—the same who made such a heroic defense of Londonderry against James II, and the same who in modern times have resisted home rule in Ireland because it would bury them, they believe, under the tyranny of their old enemies, the native Irish Catholic majority. They were more thrifty and industrious than the native Irish and as a result they usually prospered on the Irish land. At first they were in a more or less constant state of war with the native Irish, who attempted to expel them. They were subsequently persecuted by the Church of England under Charles I, who attempted to force them to conform to the English established religion. Such a rugged schooling in Ireland made of them a very aggressive, hardy people, Protestants of the Protestants, so accustomed to contests and warfare that they accepted it as the natural state of man.
These Ulstermen came to Pennsylvania somewhat later than the first German sects; and not many of them arrived until some years after 1700. They were not, like the first Germans, attracted to the colony by any resemblance of their religion to that of the Quakers. On the contrary they were entirely out of sympathy with the Quakers, except in the one point of religious liberty; and the Quakers were certainly out of sympathy with them. Nearly all the colonies in America received a share of these settlers. Wherever they went they usually sought the frontier and the wilderness; and by the time of the Revolution, they could be found upon the whole colonial frontier from New Hampshire to Georgia. They were quite numerous in Virginia, and most numerous along the edge of the Pennsylvania wilderness. It was apparently the liberal laws and the fertile soil that drew them to Pennsylvania in spite of their contempt for most of the Quaker doctrines.
The dream of their life, their haven of rest, was for these Scotch-Irish a fertile soil where they would find neither Irish "papists" nor Church of England; and for this reason in America they always sought the frontier where they could be by themselves. They could not even get on well with the Germans in Pennsylvania; and when the Germans crowded into their frontier settlements, quarrels became so frequent that the proprietors asked the Ulstermen to move farther west, a suggestion which they were usually quite willing to accept. At the close of the colonial period in Pennsylvania the Quakers, the Church of England people, and the miscellaneous denominations occupied Philadelphia and the region round it in a half circle from the Delaware River. Outside of this area lay another containing the Germans, and beyond that were the Scotch-Irish. The principal stronghold of the Scotch-Irish was the Cumberland Valley in Southern Pennsylvania west of the Susquehanna, a region now containing the flourishing towns of Chambersburg, Gettysburg, Carlisle, and York, where the descendants of these early settlers are still very numerous. In modern times, however, they have spread out widely; they are now to be found all over the State, and they no longer desire so strongly to live by themselves.
The Ulstermen, owing to the circumstances of their earlier life, had no sympathy whatever with the Quaker's objection to war or with his desire to deal fairly with the Indians and pay them for their land. As Presbyterians and Calvinists, they belonged to one of the older and more conservative divisions of the Reformation. The Quaker's doctrine of the inward light, his quietism, contemplation, and advanced ideas were quite incomprehensible to them. As for the Indians, they held that the Old Testament commands the destruction of all the heathen; and as for paying the savages for their land, it seemed ridiculous to waste money on such an object when they could exterminate the natives at less cost. The Ulstermen, therefore, settled on the Indian land as they pleased, or for that matter on any land, and were continually getting into difficulty with the Pennsylvania Government no less than with the Indians. They regarded any region into which they entered as constituting a sovereign state. It was this feeling of independence which subsequently prompted them to organize what is known as the Whisky Rebellion when, after the Revolution, the Federal Government put a tax on the liquor which they so much esteemed as a product, for corn converted into whisky was more easily transported on horses over mountain trails, and in that form fetched a better price in the markets.
After the year 1755, when the Quaker method of dealing with the Indians no longer prevailed, the Scotch-Irish lived on the frontier in a continual state of savage warfare which lasted for the next forty years. War, hunting the abundant game, the deer, buffalo, and elk, and some agriculture filled the measure of their days and years. They paid little attention to the laws of the province, which were difficult to enforce on the distant frontier, and they administered a criminal code of their own with whipping or "laced jacket," as they called it, as a punishment. They were Jacks of all trades, weaving their own cloth and making nearly everything they needed. They were the first people in America to develop the use of the rifle, and they used it in the Back Country all the way down into the Carolinas at a time when it was seldom seen in the seaboard settlements. In those days, rifles were largely manufactured in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and there were several famous gunsmiths in Philadelphia. Some of the best of these old rifles have been preserved and are really beautiful weapons, with delicate hair triggers, gracefully curved stocks, and quaint brass or even gold or silver mountings. The ornamentation was often done by the hunter himself, who would melt a gold or silver coin and pour it into some design which he had carved with his knife in the stock.
The Revolution offered an opportunity after the Ulstermen's heart, and they entered it with their entire spirit, as they had every other contest which involved liberty and independence. In fact, in that period they played such a conspicuous part that they almost ruled Philadelphia, the original home of the Quakers. Since then, spread out through the State, they have always had great influence, the natural result of their energy, intelligence, and love of education.
Nearly all these diverse elements of the Pennsylvania population were decidedly sectional in character. The Welsh had a language of their own, and they attempted, though without success, to maintain it, as well as a government of their own within their barony independent of the regular government of the province. The Germans were also extremely sectional. They clung with better success to their own language, customs, and literature. The Scotch-Irish were so clannish that they had ideas of founding a separate province on the Susquehanna. Even the Church of England people were so aloof and partisan that, though they lived about Philadelphia among the Quakers, they were extremely hostile to the Quaker rule and unremittingly strove to destroy it.
All these cleavages and divisions in the population continue in their effects to this day. They prevented the development of a homogeneous population. No exact statistics were taken of the numbers of the different nationalities in colonial times; but Franklin's estimate is probably fairly accurate, and his position in practical politics gave him the means of knowing and of testing his calculations. About the year 1750 he estimated the population as one-third Quaker, one-third German, and one-third miscellaneous. This gave about 50,000 or 60,000 to each of the thirds. Provost Smith, of the newly founded college, estimated the Quakers at only about 40,000. But his estimate seems too low. He was interested in making out their numbers small because he was trying to show the absurdity of allowing such a small band of fanatics and heretics to rule a great province of the British Empire. One great source of the Quaker power lay in the sympathy of the Germans, who always voted on their side and kept them in control of the Legislature, so that it was in reality a case of two-thirds ruling one-third. The Quakers, it must be admitted, never lost their heads. Unperturbed through all the conflicts and the jarring of races and sects, they held their position unimpaired and kept the confidence and support of the Germans until the Revolution changed everything.
The varied elements of population spread out in ever widening half circles from Philadelphia as a center. There was nothing in the character of the region to stop this progress. The country all the way westward to the Susquehanna was easy hill, dale, and valley, covered by a magnificent growth of large forest trees—oaks, beeches, poplars, walnuts, hickories, and ash—which rewarded the labor of felling by exposing to cultivation a most fruitful soil.
The settlers followed the old Indian trails. The first westward pioneers seem to have been the Welsh Quakers, who pushed due west from Philadelphia and marked out the course of the famous Lancaster Road, afterwards the Lancaster Turnpike. It took the line of least resistance along the old trail, following ridges until it reached the Susquehanna at a spot where an Indian trader, named Harris, established himself and founded a post which subsequently became Harrisburg, the capital of the State.
For a hundred years the Lancaster Road was the great highway westward, at first to the mountains, then to the Ohio, and finally to the Mississippi Valley and the Great West. Immigrants and pioneers from all the New England and Middle States flocked out that way to the land of promise in wagons, or horseback, or trudging along on foot. Substantial taverns grew up along the route; and habitual freighters and stage drivers, proud of their fine teams of horses, grew into characters of the road. When the Pennsylvania Railroad was built, it followed the same line. In fact, most of the lines of railroad in the State follow Indian trails. The trails for trade and tribal intercourse led east and west. The warrior trails usually led north and south, for that had long been the line of strategy and conquest of the tribes. The northern tribes, or Six Nations, established in the lake region of New York near the headwaters of the Delaware, the Susquehanna, and the Ohio, had the advantage of these river valleys for descending into the whole Atlantic seaboard and the valley of the Mississippi. They had in consequence conquered all the tribes south of them as far even as the Carolinas and Georgia. All their trails of conquest led across Pennsylvania.
The Germans in their expansion at first seem to have followed up the Schuylkill Valley and its tributaries, and they hold this region to the present day. Gradually they crossed the watershed to the Susquehanna and broke into the region of the famous limestone soil in Lancaster County, a veritable farmer's paradise from which nothing will ever drive them. Many Quaker farmers penetrated north and northeast from Philadelphia into Bucks County, a fine rolling and hilly wheat and corn region, where their descendants are still found and whence not a few well-known Philadelphia families have come.
The Quaker government of Pennsylvania in almost a century of its existence largely fulfilled its ideals. It did not succeed in governing without war; but the war was not its fault. It did succeed in governing without oaths. An affirmation instead of an oath became the law of Pennsylvania for all who chose an affirmation; and this law was soon adopted by most American communities. It succeeded in establishing religious liberty in Pennsylvania in the fullest sense of the word. It brought Christianity nearer to its original simplicity and made it less superstitious and cruel.
The Quakers had always maintained that it was a mistake to suppose that their ideas would interfere with material prosperity and happiness; and they certainly proved their contention in Pennsylvania. To Quaker liberalism was due not merely the material prosperity, but prison reform and the notable public charities of Pennsylvania; in both of which activities, as in the abolition of slavery, the Quakers were leaders. Original research in science also flourished in a marked degree in colonial Pennsylvania. No one in those days knew the nature of thunder and lightning, and the old explanation that they were the voice of an angry God was for many a sufficient explanation. Franklin, by a long series of experiments in the free Quaker colony, finally proved in 1752 that lightning was electricity, that is to say, a manifestation of the same force that is produced when glass is rubbed with buckskin. He invented the lightning rod, discovered the phenomenon of positive and negative electricity, explained the action of the Leyden jar, and was the first American writer on the modern science of political economy. This energetic citizen of Pennsylvania spent a large part of his life in research; he studied the Gulf Stream, storms and their causes, waterspouts, whirlwinds; and he established the fact that the northeast storms of the Atlantic coast usually move against the wind.
But Franklin was not the only scientist in the colony. Besides his three friends, Kinnersley, Hopkinson, and Syng, who worked with him and helped him in his discoveries, there were David Rittenhouse, the astronomer, John Bartram, the botanist, and a host of others. Rittenhouse excelled in every undertaking which required the practical application of astronomy, He attracted attention even in Europe for his orrery which indicated the movements of the stars and which was an advance on all previous instruments of the kind. When astronomers in Europe were seeking to have the transit of Venus of 1769 observed in different parts of the world, Pennsylvania alone of the American colonies seems to have had the man and the apparatus necessary for the work. Rittenhouse conducted the observations at three points and won a world-wide reputation by the accuracy and skill of his observations. The whole community was interested in this scientific undertaking; the Legislature and public institutions raised the necessary funds; and the American Philosophical Society, the only organization of its kind in the colonies, had charge of the preparations.
The American Philosophical Society had been started in Philadelphia in 1743. It was the first scientific society to be founded in America, and throughout the colonial period it was the only society of its kind in the country. Its membership included not only prominent men throughout America, such as Thomas Jefferson, who were interested in scientific inquiry, but also representatives of foreign nations. With its library of rare and valuable collections and its annual publication of essays on almost every branch of science, the society still continues its useful scientific work.
John Bartram, who was the first botanist to describe the plants of the New World and who explored the whole country from the Great Lakes to Florida, was a Pennsylvania Quaker of colonial times, farmer born and bred. Thomas Godfrey, also a colonial Pennsylvanian, was rewarded by the Royal Society of England for an improvement which he made in the quadrant. Peter Collinson of England, a famous naturalist and antiquarian of early times, was a Quaker. In modern times John Dalton, the discoverer of the atomic theory of colorblindness, was born of Quaker parents, and Edward Cope, of a well-known Philadelphia Quaker family, became one of the most eminent naturalists and paleontologists of the nineteenth century, and unaided discovered over a third of the three thousand extinct species of vertebrates recognized by men of science. In the field of education, Lindley Murray, the grammarian of a hundred years ago, was a Quaker. Ezra Cornell, a Quaker, founded the great university in New York which bears his name; and Johns Hopkins, also a Quaker, founded the university of that name in Baltimore.
Pennsylvania deserves the credit of turning these early scientific pursuits to popular uses. The first American professorship of botany and natural history was established in Philadelphia College, now the University of Pennsylvania. The first American book on a medical subject was written in Philadelphia by Thomas Cadwalader in 1740; the first American hospital was established there in 1751; and the first systematic instruction in medicine. Since then Philadelphia has produced a long line of physicians and surgeons of national and European reputation. For half a century after the Revolution the city was the center of medical education for the country and it still retains a large part of that preeminence. The Academy of Natural Sciences founded in Philadelphia in 1812 by two inconspicuous young men, an apothecary and a dentist, soon became by the spontaneous support of the community a distinguished institution. It sent out two Arctic expeditions, that of Kane and that of Hayes, and has included among its members the most prominent men of science in America. It is now the oldest as well as the most complete institution of its kind in the country. The Franklin Institute, founded in Philadelphia in 1824, was the result of a similar scientific interest. It was the first institution of applied science and the mechanic arts in America. Descriptions of the first 2900 patents issued by the United States Government are to be found only on the pages of its Journal, which is still an authoritative annual record.
Apart from their scientific attainments, one of the most interesting facts about the Quakers is the large proportion of them who have reached eminence, often in occupations which are supposed to be somewhat inconsistent with Quaker doctrine. General Greene, the most capable American officer of the Revolution, after Washington, was a Rhode Island Quaker. General Mifflin of the Revolution was a Pennsylvania Quaker. General Jacob Brown, a Bucks County Pennsylvania Quaker, reorganized the army in the War of 1819. and restored it to its former efficiency. In the long list of Quakers eminent in all walks of life, not only in Pennsylvania but elsewhere, are to be found John Bright, a lover of peace and human liberty through a long and eminent career in British politics; John Dickinson of Philadelphia, who wrote the famous Farmer's Letters so signally useful in the American Revolution; Whittier, the American poet, a Quaker born in Massachusetts of a family converted from Puritanism when the Quakers invaded Boston in the seventeenth century; and Benjamin West, a Pennsylvania Quaker of colonial times, an artist of permanent eminence, one of the founders of the Royal Academy in England and its president in succession to Sir Joshua Reynolds.
Wherever Quakers are found they are the useful and steady citizens. Their eminence seems out of all proportion to their comparatively small numbers. It has often been asked why this height of attainment should occur among a people of such narrow religious discipline. But were the Quakers really narrow, or were they any more narrow than other rigorously self-disciplined people: Spartans, Puritans, soldiers whose discipline enables them to achieve great results? All discipline is in one sense narrow. Quaker quietude and retirement probably conserved mental energy instead of dissipating it. In an age of superstition and irrational religion, their minds were free and unhampered, and it was the dominant rational tone of their thought that enabled science to flourish in Pennsylvania.
Chapter V. The Troubles Of Penn And His Sons
The material prosperity of Penn's Holy Experiment kept on proving itself over and over again every month of the year. But meantime great events were taking place in England. The period of fifteen years from Penn's return to England in 1684, until his return to Pennsylvania at the close of the year of 1699, was an eventful time in English history. It was long for a proprietor to be away from his province, and Penn would have left a better reputation if he had passed those fifteen years in his colony, for in England during that period he took what most Americans believe to have been the wrong side in the Revolution of 1688.
Penn was closely tied by both interest and friendship to Charles II and the Stuart family. When Charles II died in 1685 and his brother, the Duke of York, ascended the throne as James II, Penn was equally bound to him, because among other things the Duke of York had obtained Penn's release in 1669 from imprisonment for his religious opinions. He became still more bound when one of the first acts of the new King's reign was the release of a great number of people who had been imprisoned for their religion, among them thirteen hundred Quakers. In addition to preaching to the Quakers and protecting them, Penn used his influence with James to secure the return of several political offenders from exile. His friendship with James raised him, indeed, to a position of no little importance at Court. He was constantly consulted by the King, in whose political policy he gradually became more and more involved.
James was a Roman Catholic and soon perfected his plans for making both Church and State a papal appendage and securing for the Crown the right to suspend acts of Parliament. Penn at first protested, but finally supported the King in the belief that he would in the end establish liberty. In his earlier years, however, Penn had written pamphlets arguing strenuously against the same sort of despotic schemes that James was now undertaking; and this contradiction of his former position seriously injured his reputation even among his own people.
Part of the policy of James was to grant many favors to the Quakers and to all other dissenting bodies in England, to release them from prison, to give them perfect freedom of worship, and to remove the test laws which prevented them from holding office. He thus hoped to unite them with the Roman Catholics in extirpating the Church of England and establishing the Papacy in its place. But the dissenters and nonconformists, though promised relief from sufferings severer than it is possible perhaps now to appreciate, refused almost to a man this tempting bait. Even the Quakers, who had suffered probably more than the others, rejected the offer with indignation and mourned the fatal mistake of their leader Penn. All Protestant England united in condemning him, accused him of being a secret Papist and a Jesuit in disguise, and believed him guilty of acts and intentions of which he was probably entirely innocent. This extreme feeling against Penn is reflected in Macaulay's "History of England," which strongly espouses the Whig side; and in those vivid pages Penn is represented, and very unfairly, as nothing less than a scoundrel.
In spite of the attempts which James made to secure his position, the dissenters, the Church of England, and Penn's own Quakers all joined heart and soul in the Revolution of 1688, which quickly dethroned the King, drove him from England, and placed the Prince of Orange on the throne as William III. Penn was now for many years in a very unfortunate, if not dangerous, position, and was continually suspected of plotting to restore James. For three years he was in hiding to escape arrest or worse, and he largely lost the good will and affection of the Quakers.
Meantime, since his departure from Pennsylvania in the summer of 1684, that province went on increasing in population and in pioneer prosperity. But Penn's quitrents and money from sales of land were far in arrears, and he had been and still was at great expense in starting the colony and in keeping up the plantation and country seat he had established on the Delaware River above Philadelphia. Troublesome political disputes also arose. The Council of eighteen members which he had authorized to act as governor in his absence neglected to send the new laws to him, slighted his letters, and published laws in their own name without mentioning him or the King. These irregularities were much exaggerated by enemies of the Quakers in England. The Council was not a popular body and was frequently at odds with the Assembly.
Penn thought he could improve the government by appointing five commissioners to act as governor instead of the whole Council. Thomas Lloyd, an excellent Quaker who had been President of the Council and who had done much to allay hard feeling, was fortunately the president of these commissioners. Penn instructed them to act as if he himself were present, and at the next meeting of the Assembly to annul all the laws and reenact only such as seemed proper. This course reminds us of the absolutism of his friend, King James, and, indeed, the date of these instructions (1686) is that when his intimacy with that bigoted monarch reached its highest point. Penn's theory of his power was that the frame or constitution of government he had given the province was a contract; that, the Council and Assembly having violated some of its provisions, it was annulled and he was free, at least for a time, to govern as he pleased. Fortunately his commissioners never attempted to carry out these instructions. There would have been a rebellion and some very unpleasant history if they had undertaken to enforce such oriental despotism in Pennsylvania. The five commissioners with Thomas Lloyd at their head seem to have governed without seriously troublesome incidents for the short term of two years during which they were in power. But in 1687 Thomas Lloyd, becoming weary of directing them, asked to be relieved and is supposed to have advised Penn to appoint a single executive instead of commissioners. Penn accordingly appointed Captain John Blackwell, formerly an officer in Cromwell's army. Blackwell was not a Quaker but a "grave, sober, wise man," as Penn wrote to a friend, who would "bear down with a visible authority vice and faction." It was hoped that he would vigorously check all irregularities and bring Penn better returns from quitrents and sales of land.
But this new governor clashed almost at once with the Assembly, tried to make them pass a militia law, suggested that the province's trade to foreign countries was illegal, persecuted and arrested members of the Assembly, refused to submit new laws to it, and irritated the people by suggesting the invalidity of their favorite laws. The Quaker Assembly withstood and resisted him until they wore him out. After a year and one month in office he resigned at Penn's request or, according to some accounts, at his own request. At any rate, he expressed himself as delighted to be relieved. As a Puritan soldier he found himself no match for a peaceable Quaker Assembly.
Penn again made the Council the executive with Thomas Lloyd as its President. But to the old causes of unrest a new one was now added. One George Keith, a Quaker, turned heretic and carried a number of Pennsylvania Quakers over to the Church of England, thereby causing great scandal. The "Lower Counties" or Territories, as the present State of Delaware was then called, became mutinous, withdrew their representatives from the Council, and made William Markham their Governor. This action together with the Keithian controversy, the disturbances over Blackwell, and the clamors of Church of England people that Penn was absent and neglecting his province, that the Quakers would make no military defense, and that the province might at any time fall into the hands of France, came to the ears of King William, who was already ill disposed toward Penn and distrusted him as a Jacobite. It seemed hardly advisable to allow a Jacobite to rule a British colony. Accordingly a royal order suspended Penn's governmental authority and placed the province under Benjamin Fletcher, Governor of New York. He undertook to rule in dictatorial fashion, threatening to annex the province to New York, and as a consequence the Assembly had plenty of trouble with him. But two years later, 1694, the province was returned to Penn, who now appointed as Governor William Markham, who had served as lieutenant-governor under Fletcher.
Markham proceeded to be high-handed with the Assembly and to administer the government in the imperialistic style of Fletcher. But the Assembly soon tamed him and in 1696 actually worried out of him a new constitution, which became known as Markham's Frame, proved much more popular than the one Penn had given, and allowed the Assembly much more power. Markham had no conceivable right to assent to it and Penn never agreed to it; but it was lived under for the next four years until Penn returned to the province. While it naturally had opponents, it was largely regarded as entirely valid, and apparently with the understanding that it was to last until Penn objected to it.
Penn had always been longing to return to Pennsylvania and live there for the rest of his life; but the terrible times of the Revolution of 1688 in England and its consequences had held him back. Those difficulties had now passed. Moreover, William III had established free government and religious liberty. No more Quakers were imprisoned and Penn's old occupation of securing their protection and release was gone.
In the autumn of 1699 he sailed for Pennsylvania with his family and, arriving after a tedious three months' voyage, was well received. His political scrapes and mistakes in England seemed to be buried in the past. He was soon at his old enjoyable life again, traveling actively about the country, preaching to the Quakers, and enlarging and beautifying his country seat, Pennsbury, on the Delaware, twenty miles above Philadelphia. As roads and trails were few and bad he usually traveled to and from the town in a barge which was rowed by six oarsmen and which seemed to give him great pride and pleasure.
Two happy years passed away in this manner, during which Penn seems to have settled, not however without difficulty, a great deal of business with his people, the Assembly, and the Indian tribes. Unfortunately he got word from England of a bill in Parliament for the revocation of colonial charters and for the establishment of royal governments in their place. He must needs return to England to fight it. Shortly before he sailed the Assembly presented him with a draft of a new constitution or frame of government which they had been discussing with him and preparing for some time. This he accepted, and it became the constitution under which Pennsylvania lived and prospered for seventy-five years, until the Revolution of 1776.
This new constitution was quite liberal. The most noticeable feature of it was the absence of any provision for the large elective council or upper house of legislation, which had been very unpopular. The Assembly thus became the one legislative body. There was incidental reference in the document to a governor's council, although there was no formal clause creating it. Penn and his heirs after his death always appointed a small council as an advisory body for the deputy governor. The Assembly was to be chosen annually by the freemen and to be composed of four representatives from each county. It could originate bills, control its own adjournments without interference from the Governor, choose its speaker and other officers, and judge of the qualifications and election of its own members. These were standard Anglo-Saxon popular parliamentary rights developed by long struggles in England and now established in Pennsylvania never to be relaxed. Finally a clause in the constitution permitted the Lower Counties, or Territories, under certain conditions to establish home rule. In 1705 the Territories took advantage of this concession and set up an assembly of their own.
Immediately after signing the constitution, in the last days of October, 1701, Penn sailed for England, expecting soon to return. But he became absorbed in affairs in England and never saw his colony again. This was unfortunate because Pennsylvania soon became a torment to him instead of a great pleasure as it always seems to have been when he lived in it. He was a happy present proprietor, but not a very happy absentee one.
The Church of England people in Pennsylvania entertained great hopes of this proposal to turn the proprietary colonies into royal provinces. Under such a change, while the Quakers might still have an influence in the Legislature, the Crown would probably give the executive offices to Churchmen. They therefore labored hard to discredit the Quakers. They kept harping on the absurdity of a set of fanatics attempting to govern a colony without a militia and without administering oaths of office or using oaths in judicial proceedings. How could any one's life be safe from foreign enemies without soldiers, and what safeguard was there for life, liberty, and property before judges, jurors, and witnesses, none of whom had been sworn? The Churchmen kept up their complaints for along time, but without effect in England. Penn was able to thwart all their plans. The bill to change the province into a royal one was never passed by Parliament. Penn returned to his court life, his preaching, and his theological writing, a rather curious combination and yet one by which he had always succeeded in protecting his people. He was a favorite with Queen Anne, who was now on the throne, and he led an expensive life which, with the cost of his deputy governor's salary in the colony, the slowness of his quitrent collections, and the dishonesty of the steward of his English estates, rapidly brought him into debt. To pay the government expense of a small colonial empire and at the same time to lead the life of a courtier and to travel as a preacher would have exhausted a stronger exchequer than Penn's.
The contests between the different deputy governors, whom Penn or his descendants sent out, and the Quaker Legislature fill the annals of the province for the next seventy years, down to the Revolution. These quarrels, when compared with the larger national political contests of history, seem petty enough and even tedious in detail. But, looked at in another aspect, they are important because they disclose how liberty, self-government, republicanism, and many of the constitutional principles by which Americans now live were gradually developed as the colonies grew towards independence. The keynote to all these early contests was what may be called the fundamental principle of colonial constitutional law or, at any rate, of constitutional practice, namely, that the Governor, whether royal or proprietary, must always be kept poor. His salary or income must never become a fixed or certain sum but must always be dependent on the annual favor and grants of a legislature controlled by the people. This belief was the foundation of American colonial liberty. The Assemblies, not only in Pennsylvania but in other colonies, would withhold the Governor's salary until he consented to their favorite laws. If he vetoed their laws, he received no salary. One of the causes of the Revolution in 1776 was the attempt of the mother country to make the governors and other colonial officials dependent for their salaries on the Government in England instead of on the legislatures in the colonies.
So the squabbles, as we of today are inclined to call them, went on in Pennsylvania—provincial and petty enough, but often very large and important so far as the principle which they involved was concerned. The Legislature of Pennsylvania in those days was a small body composed of only about twenty-five or thirty members, most of them sturdy, thrifty Quakers. They could meet very easily anywhere—at the Governor's house, if in conference with him, or at the treasurer's office or at the loan office, if investigating accounts. Beneath their broad brim hats and grave demeanor they were as Anglo-Saxon at heart as Robin Hood and his merry men, and in their ninety years of political control they built up as goodly a fabric of civil liberty as can be found in any community in the world.
The dignified, confident message from a deputy governor, full of lofty admonitions of their duty to the Crown, the province, and the proprietor, is often met by a sarcastic, stinging reply of the Assembly. David Lloyd, the Welsh leader of the anti-proprietary party, and Joseph Wilcox, another leader, became very skillful in drafting these profoundly respectful but deeply cutting replies. In after years, Benjamin Franklin attained even greater skill. In fact, it is not unlikely that he developed a large measure of his world famous aptness in the use of language in the process of drafting these replies. The composing of these official communications was important work, for a reply had to be telling and effective not only with the Governor but with the people who learned of its contents at the coffeehouse and spread the report of it among all classes. There was not a little good-fellowship in their contests; and Franklin, for instance, tells us how he used to abuse a certain deputy governor all day in the Assembly and then dine with him in jovial intercourse in the evening.
The Assembly had a very convenient way of accomplishing its purposes in legislation in spite of the opposition of the British Government. Laws when passed and approved by the deputy governor had to be sent to England for approval by the Crown within five years. But meanwhile the people would live under the law for five years, and, if at the end of that time it was disallowed, the Assembly would reenact the measure and live under it again for another period.
The ten years after Penn's return to England in 1701 were full of trouble for him. Money returns from the province were slow, partly because England was involved in war and trade depressed, and partly because the Assembly, exasperated by the deputy governors he appointed, often refused to vote the deputy a salary and left Penn to bear all the expense of government. He was being rapidly overwhelmed with debt. One of his sons was turning out badly. The manager of his estates in England and Ireland, Philip Ford, was enriching himself by the trust, charging compound interest at eight per cent every six months, and finally claiming that Penn owed him 14,000 pounds. Ford had rendered accounts from time to time, but Penn in his careless way had tossed them aside without examination. When Ford pressed for payment, Penn, still without making any investigation, foolishly gave Ford a deed in fee simple of Pennsylvania as security. Afterwards he accepted from Ford a lease of the province, which was another piece of folly, for the lease could, of course, be used as evidence to show that the deed was an absolute conveyance and not intended as a mortgage.