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able and inoffensive behaviour. The little village of huts, which they occupied, was surrounded in the night by fifty-seven armed men, who came on horseback from two of the frontier townships, and every individual then present was massacred in cold blood. The old chief was murdered in his bed. It happened, that six persons only were at home, the other fourteen being absent among the surrounding whites. These Indians were collected by the magistrates of Lancaster, brought to the town, and put into the workhouse as the place of greatest safety.
When the news of this atrocious act came to Philadelphia, the Governor issued a proclamation, calling on all justices, sheriffs, and other public officers civil and military, to make diligent search for the perpetrators of the crime, and cause them to be apprehended and confined in the jails, till they could be tried by the laws. In defiance of this proclamation, fifty of these barbarians, armed as before, marched into the town of Lancaster, broke open the door of the workhouse, and deliberately murdered every Indian it contained; and, strange as it may seem, the magistrates and other inhabitants were mute spectators of this scene of horror, without attempting to rescue the unhappy victims from their fate. Not one of the murderers was apprehended, the laws and the Governor's authority being alike disregarded.
Such an outrage upon humanity, and so daring a violation of all laws human and divine, could not but kindle the indignation of every benevolent mind, and fill with alarm every friend of social order. To exhibit the transaction in its proper colors before the public, Franklin wrote a Narrative of the late Massacres in Lancaster County; usually called the Paxton Murders, because many of the rioters belonged to a
frontier town of that name. After a brief and impressive relation of the facts, he cites examples from history to show, that even heathens, in the rudest stages of civilization, had never tolerated such crimes as had here been perpetrated in the heart of a Christian community.
Appealing to the inhabitants, he says; "Let us rouse ourselves, for shame, and redeem the honor of our province from the contempt of its neighbours; let all good men join heartily and unanimously in support of the laws, and in strengthening the hands of government; that justice may be done, the wicked punished, and the innocent protected; otherwise we can, as a people, expect no blessing from Heaven; there will be no security for our persons or properties; anarchy and confusion will prevail over all; and violence without judgment dispose of every thing." The style. of this pamphlet is more vehement and rhetorical, than is common in the author's writings, but it is characterized by the peculiar clearness and vigor which mark all his compositions.
But neither the able exposure of the wickedness of the act, nor the eloquent and passionate appeal to the sensibilities of the people, contained in this performance, could stifle the spirit that was abroad, or check the fury with which it raged. The friendly Indians throughout the province, some of whom had been converted to Christianity by the Moravians, were alarmed at this war of extermination waged against their race. One hundred and forty of them fled for protection to Philadelphia. For a time they were kept in safety on Province Island, near the city. When the insurgents threatened to march down and put them all to death, the Assembly resolved to repel them by force. The fugitives were taken into the city, and secured in the barracks.
There being no regular militia, Franklin, at the request of the Governor, formed a military Association, as he had done on another occasion in a time of public danger. Nine companies were organized, and nearly a thousand citizens embodied themselves under arms. The insurgents advanced as far as Germantown, within six miles of Philadelphia, where, hearing of the preparation that had been made to protect the Indians, they thought it prudent to pause. Taking advantage of this crisis, the Governor and Council appointed Franklin and three other gentlemen to go out and meet them, and endeavour to turn them from their purpose. This mission was successful. Finding it impossible to carry their design into execution, they were at last prevailed upon to return peaceably to their homes.
Two persons were deputed by the rioters, before they separated, to be the bearers of their complaints to the Governor and the Assembly. This was done by a memorial to the Governor in behalf of the inhabitants of the frontier settlements. Divers grievances were enumerated, particularly the distresses they suffered from the savages, who had murdered defenceless families, and been guilty in numerous instances of the most barbarous cruelties. Much sophistry was used to extenuate, or rather to defend, the conduct of those, who, driven to desperation, had determined to make an indiscriminate slaughter of the Indians. It was alleged, that the friendship of these Indians was only a pretence; that they harboured traitors among them, who sent intelligence to the war parties and abetted their atrocities; that retaliation was justifiable, the war being against the Indians as a nation, of which every tribe and individual constituted a part.
With such reasoning as this the multitude was sat
isfied. Religious frenzy suggested another argument. Joshua had been commanded to destroy the heathen. The Indians were heathens; hence there was a divine command to exterminate them. Another memorial, with fifteen hundred signatures, was sent to the Assembly. They were both referred to a committee, but, the Governor declining to support the measures recommended, no further steps were taken.
The character and result of these extraordinary proceedings show, in the first place, that the criminal outrages were approved by a large party in the province; and next, that the government, either from want of intelligence and firmness in the head, or of union in the parts, was too feeble to execute justice and preserve public order. Great credit is due to the agency of Franklin, in stopping the tide of insurrection and quieting the commotions. By his personal exertions and influence, as well as by his pen, he labored to strengthen the arm of government, diffuse correct sentiments among the people, and maintain the supremacy of the laws.
His duties, as a member of the board of commissioners for the disposal of the public money, in carrying on the war against the Indians, were arduous and faithfully performed. Colonel Bouquet commanded the army in Pennsylvania, consisting of regular troops and provincial levies. He applied to the Governor and commissioners for liberty to enlist more men, his ranks having been thinned by desertions. On this subject he wrote a letter to Franklin, containing a recital of his public services, which justly claims the reader's notice. It is dated at Fort Loudoun, August 22d, 1764.
"My dependence was, as usual, upon you; and, indeed, had you not supported my request in the warm
est manner, it must have miscarried, and left me exposed to many inconveniences. Your conduct on this occasion does not surprise me, as I have not alone experienced the favorable effects of your readiness to promote the service. I know that General Shirley owed to you the considerable supply of provisions this government voted for his troops, besides warm clothing; that you alone could and did procure for General Braddock the carriages, without which he could not have proceeded on his expedition; that you had a road opened through this province to supply more easily his army with provisions, and spent a summer in those different services without any other reward, than the satisfaction of serving the public. And I am not unacquainted with the share you had in carrying safely through the House, at a very difficult time, the bill for sixty thousand pounds during Lord Loudoun's command. But, without recapitulating instances in which I was not directly concerned, I remember gratefully, that as early as 1756, when I was sent by Lord Loudoun to obtain quarters in Philadelphia for the first battalion of the Royal American Regiment, I could not have surmounted the difficulties made by your people, who, at that time unacquainted with the quartering of troops, expressed the greatest reluctance to comply with my request, till you were so good as to take the affair in hand, and obtain all that was desired.
"I have not been less obliged to you in the execution of the present act, having been an eyewitness of your forwardness to carry at the board, as a commissioner, every measure I proposed for the success of this expedition. This acknowledgment being the only return I can make, for the repeated services I have received from you in my public station, I beg you will