Page images
PDF
EPUB

York, was not of a temper to permit an injury, thus committed, to pass unavenged. Accompanied by an armament, a part of which was furnished for the occasion by, the city of Amsterdam, in Holland, he, in 1655, returned the visit of the Swedes. He first reduced the fort at New Castle; then that at Christina creek, where Risingh commanded; and afterwards the others. Some of the Swedes, on taking the oath of allegiance to Holland, were permitted to remain; the rest were sent to Europe.

The settlements on the Delaware continued under the controul of the Dutch, until 1664, when the New Netherlands were conquered by the English. They were then considered as a part of New York. In 1682, William Penn purchased of the Duke of York, the town of New Castle, and the country twelve miles around it; and, by a subsequent purchase, obtained the land lying upon the Delaware, and between New Castle and Cape Henlopen. These tracts, which constitute the present state of Delaware, were called the

Territories,” and were, for twenty years, governed as a part of Pennsylvania.

They were divided into three counties, New Castle, Kent, and Sussex, each of which sent six delegates to the general assembly. In 1703, these delegates, dissatisfied with the last charter which Penn had prepared, and a majority of the assembly had adopted, seceded, and, liberty being given, formed a separate and distinct assembly. The two portions of the province were never afterwards united, but the proprietor continued to possess the same jurisdiction, and the same person uniformly acted as governor over both.

Sheltered by the surrounding provinces, Delaware enjoyed an entire exemption from wars, except those in which, as a part of the British empire, she was obliged to participate. In the war with France, which terminated in 1763, she was second to none in active zeal to assist the parent state. In the revolutionary war, the Delaware regiment was considered the most efficient in the continental army.

CHAPTER IX.

PENNSYLVANIA.

WILLIAM Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, was the Son of Sir William Penn, an admiral in the British navy. In his youth, he joined the quakers, then an obscure and persecuted sect. While superintending the settlement of New Jersey, he became acquainted with an extensive tract of fertile, unoccupied land lying between the territories of the Duke of York and Lord Baltimore. At his solicitation, and in recompense for unrequited services which his father had rendered the nation, this tract was, in 1681, granted to him in full property, and by the king called Pennsylvania. Desirous of selling his lands and founding a

colony, he, in a public advertisement, described the country, and set forth the advantages which it. offered to emigrants. Many persons, chiefly quakers, were induced to purchase. The fee simple of the soil was sold at the rate of twenty pounds for every thousand acres; and they who rented lands, agreed to pay one penny yearly per acre. Before the emigrants embarked, certain “conditions and concessions” were by them and the

proprietor agreed upon and subscribed.

In the fall, three ships, carrying settlers, sailed for Pennsylvania. The pious and philanthropic proprietor sent a letter to the Indians, informing them that “the great God had been pleased to make him concerned in their part of the world, and that the king of the country where he lived, had given him a great province therein; but that he did not desire to enjoy it without their consent; that he was a man of peace; and that the people whom he sent were of the same disposition; and if any difference should happen between them, it might be adjusted by an equal number of men chosen on both sides.' The position selected by these emigrants for a settlement was above the confluence of the Delaware and the Schuylkill.

In April, 1682, Penn published a Frame of Go-· vernment, the chief object of which was declared to be “ to support power in reverence with the people, and to secure the people from the abuse of power.” He published also a Body of Laws, which had been examined and approved by the emigrants in England; and which, says an eminent historian, “does great honour to their wisdom as statesmen,

to their morals as men, and to their spirit as colonists." From the Duke of York, he obtained the relinquishment of a tract of land, lying on the south side of the Delaware, a part of which was already settled, and in August, accompanied by about two thousand emigrants, set sail for America.

He landed first at New Castle, which was a part of the “ Territories," as the land conveyed to him by the Duke was called. Upon this tract he found about three thousand Dutch, Swedes, and Finns. He proceeded to Chester, where he called an assembly on the fourth of December. This assembly annexed the Territories to the province, adopted the Frame of Government, and enacted in form the Body of Laws. Penn also made a treaty with the Indians, from whom he

purchased as much land as the circumstances of the colony required. He selected the site, and marked out the plan, of an extensive city, to which he gave the name of Philadelphia, or the city of love. Before the end of the year, it contained eighty houses and cottages.

The settlement of none of the colonies commenced under such favourable auspices as that of Pennsylvania. The experience of half a century had disclosed the evils to be avoided, and pointed out the course to be pursued. The Indians, having been already taught to fear the power of the whites, were the more easily conciliated by their kindness. The soil being fertile, the climate temperate, and the game abundant, the first emigrants escaped most of the calamities which afflicted the more northern and southern provinces. The increase of population exceeded, of course, all former example. In the new city, a second assembly was held in March 1683. At the request of the freemen and delegates, Penn granted them a second charter, which diminished the number of the council and assembly, and was, in other respects, different from the first. Some of the regulations, at that time adopted, bear the impress of the proprietor's singular genius, and benevolent disposition.

It was ordained “that, to prevent lawsuits, three arbitrators, to be called peace makers, should be chosen by the country courts, to hear and determine small differences between man and man: That children should be taught some useful trade, to the end that none might be idle, that the poor might work to live, and the rich if they should become poor: That factors, wronging their employers, should make satisfaction and one third over: That every thing, which excites the people to rudeness, cruelty, and irreligion, should be discouraged aud severely punished : That no one, acknowledging one God and living peaceably in society, should be molested for his opinions or his practice, or compelled to frequent or maintain any ministry whatever."

These judicions regulations attracted numerous emigrants; and to their salutary influence must be attributed the qualities of diligence, order and economy for which the Pennsylvanians are so justly celebrated. Within four years from the date of the grant to Penn, the province contained twenty settlements, and Philadelphia two thousand inhabitants.

In 1684, the proprietor returned to England.

« PreviousContinue »