Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed]

INTRODUCTORY.

HISTORY OF PENNSYLVANIA.

First Settlers Along The Delaware—William Penn—His Early DiffiCulties—dissensions In The Colony—Penn's Second Visit To The Province—Accession Of Governor Keith—French And Indian WarFranklin's Mission To EnglandThe Boundary Line- Struggle For IndependenceConvention Of 1787—Constitution Of 1790—Whisky Insurrection—Stone Coal—Convention Of 1837—Pennsylvania In The War Of The Rebellion—Subsequent Events.

THE region which is now known as Pennsylvania was, prior to the coming of Europeans, a vast forest, inhabited by its native Indians. The uncertain traditions which these people have preserved of themselves have often been recorded, and their sad history since the advent of the white man is well known.

Early in the seventeenth century the region watered by the Delaware river was visited by Dutch traders. Such was their success that posts were established and trade was kept up during some years. They did not seek to establish colonies for the cultivation of the soil, but limited themselves to the profitable exchange of commodities with the natives. 'They were followed by the Swedes, who established settlements along the river and brought hither the habits of industry and thrift in which they had been reared at home. Between the Swedes and the Dutch arose conflicts of authority and hostilities which finally resulted in the subjugation of the former. The Dutch were iu turn dispossessed by the diplomacy and arms of the aggressive English, who became masters of the territory along the Delaware in 1664.

William Penn became a trustee and finally a part owner of West New Jersey, which was colonized by Quakers in 1675. To his- father, Admiral Penn, was due, at his death, the sum of £16,000 for services rendered the English government. The son petitioned to Charles II to grant him, in liquidation of this debt, a tract of land in America lying north of Maryland, bounded east by the Delaware river, on the west limited as Maryland, and northward to extend as far as plantable.

The charter of King Charles II was dated April 2, 1681, and other grants to lands south from the territory originally conveyed were procured in 1682. Not being in readiness to go to his province during the first year, he dispatched three ship-loads of settlers, and with them sent his cousin, William Markham, to take formal possession of the country and act as deputy-governor. It is hardly necessary to say that these settlers were of the then proscribed sect of Quakers. Having made the necessary preparations and settled his affairs in England, Penn embarked on the ship "Welcome," in August, 1682, in company with a hundred planters, and set his prow toward the new world. He arrived at New Castle in October, and on the site of Philadelphia in November of that year. The arrival of Markham and Penn, with their colonists, on the west bank of the Delaware was the inauguration of a new regime there; that of the people who had never before enjoyed such a measure of self government

By reason of ignorance of the geography of this country the language of royal grants was often ambiguous, and sometimes the descriptions covered territory that had been previously granted. Conflicts of claims then arose that were sometimes difficult of settlement. Soon after his arrival Penn learned of such a conflict in the claims of himself and Lord Baltimore, and he visited the latter to adjust the matter, if possible. In this he was not successful. Subsequent attempts to negotiate also failed, and finally Penn proposed to pay Lord Baltimore for territory which he had already purchased from the crown. This Lord Baltimore refused, and soon afterward made forcible entry on the lands claimed, and drove off those who had purchased from Penn. The latter also learned that secret and ex-parte representations of the case had been made to the lords of the committee of plantations in England, and he decided to return and defend his imperiled interests.

He accordingly empowered the provincial council, of which Thomas Lloyd was president, to act in his stead; commissioned Nicholas Moore, William Welch, William Wood, Robert Turner and John Eckley provincial judges for two years; appointed Thomas Lloyd, James Claypole and Robert Turner to sign land patents and warrants; and William Clark as justice of the peace for all the counties, and on the 6th of June, 1084, sailed for England, where his efforts were successful, though the boundary line was not definitely fixed till 1700. In his absence the affairs of his province exhibited the great need of his strong guiding hand to check abuse, and direct the course of legislation in proper channels.

He had labored to place the government in the hands of the people, an idea most attractive in the abstract, and one which, were the entire population wise and just, would result fortunately; yet, in practice, he found to his sorrow the results most vexatious. The proprietor had not long been gone before troubles arose between the two houses of the legislature relative to promulgating the laws as not being in accordance with the requirements of the charter. Nicholas Moore, the chief justice, was impeached for irregularities in imposing fines and in other ways abusing his high trust. But though formally arraigned and directed to desist from exercising his functions, he successfully resisted the proceedings, and a final judgment was never obtained. Patrick Robinson, clerk of the court, for refusing to produce the records in the trial of Moore, was voted a public enemy. These troubles in the govern _ iuent were the occasion of much grief to Penn, who wrote naming a number of the most influential men in the colony, and beseeching them to unite in an endeavor to check further irregularities, declaring that they disgraced the province, '' that their conduct had struck back hundreds, and was ten thousand pounds out of his way, and one hundred thousand pounds out of the country.'' In the latter part of the year 1080, seeing that the whole council was too unwieldy a body to exercise executive power, Penn determined to contract the number, and accordingly appointed Thomas Lloyd, Nicholas Moore, James Claypole, Robert Turner and John Eckley, any three of whom should constitute a quorum, to be commissioners of State to act for the proprietor. In place of Moore and Claypole, Arthur Cook and John Simcock were appointed. They were to compel the attendance of the council; see that the two houses admit of no parley; to abrogate all laws except the fundamentals; to dismiss the assembly and call a new one; and finally he solemnly admonishes them: "Be most just, as in the sight of the all-seeing, all-searching God." In a letter to these commissioners he says: "Three things occur to me eminently: First, that you be watchful that none abuse the king, etc.; secondly, that you get the custom act revived as being the equalest and least offensive way to

« ZurückWeiter »