| This Country of Ours|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Stories from the history of the United States beginning with a full account of exploration and settlement and ending with the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. The 99 chapters are grouped under 7 headings: Stories of Explorers and Pioneers, Stories of Virginia, Stories of New England, Stories of the Middle and Southern Colonies, Stories of the French in America, Stories of the Struggle for Liberty, and Stories of the United States under the Constitution. Ages 10-14 |
THE FOUNDING OF PENNSYLVANIA
 LIKE other persecuted people, the Quakers sought a refuge in America.
But even there they were not welcomed. The Puritans of Massachusetts
who had fled from persecution, themselves turned persecutors as we
have seen. The Quakers discovered that for them there was no Paradise
of Peace in the lands beyond the sea. But when George Carteret
sold his part of New Jersey Quakers bought it, a young man named
William Penn being one of these Quakers.
This William Penn was the son of Sir William Penn, an admiral in
the British Navy, and a friend of King Charles I. He was a Royalist
and a Churchman, and when his handsome young son turned Quaker he
was greatly grieved. At first indeed he was so angry that he turned
young William out of the house. Later, however, seeing that his
son was quite determined to be a Quaker, the Admiral forgave him,
and before he died he asked the Duke of York to be kind to him.
The Duke of York promised he would. And then there began a strange
friendship between the Catholic Prince and the Quaker.
After the Quakers bought New Jersey a great many went there. They
found not only a large amount of freedom, but a kindly government,
for William Penn framed the laws.
The Quaker colony of New Jersey was to a certain extent a success,
but there were troubles with neighbouring states, and troubles with
other claimants of the land. So
 at length (exactly when we do not
know), the idea of founding a real Quaker colony came into Penn's
When Admiral Penn died the King owed him £16,000 and William Penn
inherited that claim. So he asked the King to pay the debt not
in money but in land in America. The extent of the land asked for
was exceedingly vague, but it was at least as big as the whole of
England. Charles however was always in want of money. So
he was pleased enough to give away this great tract of land, which
after all was his more by imagination than anything else, and get
rid of his debt; and acquire also the possibility of getting some
gold as well. For in return for his land Penn agreed to pay two
beaver skins a year, and a fifth of all the gold or silver which
might be mined within his territory.
Charles not only gave Penn the land, but named it too. Penn meant
to call his new country New Wales, but a Welshman who hated the
Quakers objected to the name of his land being given to a Quaker
colony, so Penn changed it to Sylvania, meaning Woodland, because
of the magnificent forests which were there. But the King added
Penn to Sylvania thus calling it Penn's Woodlands.
William Penn, however, was afraid that people would think that this
was vanity on his part, and that he had called his province after
himself; so he tried to have the name changed. He even bribed the
King's secretary to do it, but in vain. As some one has said, if
he had bribed the King himself he might have succeeded better. As
it was he did not succeed, for King Charles was very pleased with
"No," laughed the merry monarch, when Penn asked him to change it,
"we will keep the name, but you need not flatter yourself that it
is called after you. It is so called after your gallant father."
So as the King insisted Penn had to submit, and he
con-  soled himself
by thinking that as Penn means "hill" the name might be taken to
mean Wooded Hills.
The tract of land of which Penn now became possessed was smiling
and fertile and altogether desirable. It had only one fault, and
that was that it had no sea coast.
In a new country where there were no roads, and where communication
inland was difficult that was a great drawback. So Penn persuaded
the Duke of York to give him that part of his province on which the
Swedes had settled and which the Dutch had taken from the Swedes,
on the west shores of Delaware Bay. Later this formed the State
of Delaware, but in the meantime it was governed as a part of
Everything thus being settled, and the charter being granted, Penn
drew up a form of government for his colony, chose his cousin,
William Markham, as Governor, and sent him off in the autumn of
1681 with three shiploads of settlers.
With Markham Penn sent a kindly letter to the Swedes of Delaware,
telling them that he was now their Governor. "I hope you will not
be troubled at the change," he said, "for you are now fixed at the
mercy of no Governor who comes to make his fortune. You shall be
governed by laws of your own making, and live a free and, if you
will, a sober and industrious people. I shall not usurp the right
of any, or oppress his person."
Penn also sent a letter to the Indians.
"There is a great God," he said, "that hath made the world and
all things therein, to Whom you, and I, and all people, owe their
being. This great God hath written His law in our hearts, by which
we are taught and commanded to love and help, and do good to one
another. Now this great God hath been pleased to make me concerned
in your part of the world, and the King of the country where I live
hath given me a great province therein.
 But I desire to enjoy it
with your love and consent, that we may always live together as
neighbours, and friends, else what would the great God do to us?"
With this letter Penn sent presents to the Indian chiefs and told
them that he would soon come to see them himself, and make arrangements
about the land.
But it was not till the following year that Penn set out for his
colony. When he landed the Dutch and Swedes greeted him with joy.
And to show that they acknowledged him as their Governor they
presented him, as in old feudal times, with a sod of earth, a bowl
of water, and a branch of a tree. Penn then passed on to the spot
which he had chosen for his capital. And as showing forth the spirit
in which his colony was founded, he called his city Philadelphia
or the city of brotherly love.
WILLIAM PENN'S TREATY WITH THE INDIANS
It was near this town that Penn met the Indian chiefs and made a
treaty with them as he had promised to do. In the Indian language
the spot was called the Place of Kings, and had been used as a
meeting place by the surrounding tribes for long ages. Here there
grew a splendid elm, a hoary giant of the forest which for a hundred
years and more had withstood the tempests.
Beneath the spreading branches of this tree Penn took his stand.
He was young and handsome, and although he wore the simple garb
of the Quakers he had not yet perhaps quite forgotten the "modish"
ways of his younger days, for about his waist he had knotted a pale
blue scarf. Beside him stood his cousin, the deputy governor, and
a few more soberly clad Quakers. In front of them, in a great half
circle were ranged the Indians, the old men in front, the middle-aged
behind, and last of all the young men. They were gorgeous in paint
and feathers, and armed with hatchets, bows and arrows, but the
Quakers carried no weapons of any kind.
Greetings being over, an ancient warrior advanced, and
 amid deep
silence, tied a horn upon his forehead. This was the sign of his
greatness, and also a sign that the spot was sacred. Immediately
all the braves threw down their weapons, and seated themselves upon
the grass. Then the old warrior announced that they were ready to
hear the words of the White Chief.
Then Penn spoke to the gathered Indians reminding them that the
Great Spirit wished all men to live in love and brotherhood, and
as the Redman listened his heart went out in love to this White
Chief who had friendship in his eyes, and kindliness in his voice.
And there under the spreading branches of the great elm tree they
swore to live in peace and brotherly love "as long as the rivers
shall run, and while the sun, moon and stars endure."
WILLIAM PENN'S TREATY WITH THE INDIANS
These Indians never broke their word and for the next seventy years
there was peace in Pennsylvania between the Redman and the White.
The Indians gave Penn the name of Onas which is the Algonquin
word for Feather. Ever afterwards too they called the Governor of
Pennsylvania Onas, and whoever and whatever he was, for them he
was great and good.
But Penn was not only the great Chief Onas, he was also Father
Penn. For he roamed the woods with the Indians, talking with them,
and sharing their simple food like one of themselves. This greatly
delighted the Indians, and to show their pleasure they would perform
some of their wild dances. Then up Penn would spring and dance with
the best of them. So he won their hearts. They loved him so much
that the highest praise they could give any man was to say "he is
like the great Onas," and it was said that any one dressed like a
Quaker was far safer among the Indians than one who carried a gun.
Life seemed so easy in Pennsylvania that in the first years thousands
of colonists came flocking to the new colony. It grew faster than
any other colony, so fast indeed
 that houses could not be built
quickly enough. So for a time many of the new settlers had to live
in caves dug out of the banks of the Delaware River. It was in one
of these caves that the first baby citizen of the city of brotherly
love was born.
Pennsylvania prospered and grew fast, but there were constant troubles
with Lord Baltimore about the border line between his province and
Penn's. The British Kings in those days gave land charters in the
most reckless fashion and over and over again the boundaries of
one province overlapped those of the others. Then of course there
was trouble. This had happened with Virginia and Maryland. Now it
happened with Maryland and Pennsylvania.
The quarrel at length became so bad that Penn went home to England
to have the matter settled; after that for a time things were
better, but the quarrel was not really settled. It was not settled
until many years after both Penn and Lord Baltimore were dead.
Then two English astronomers, Charles Mason and Jeremiah
Dixon, surveyed and fixed the boundary which ever since has been
known as the Mason and Dixon Line. Every mile a small stone was
placed with B on one side and P on the other. Along the eastern
part, too, every five miles a larger stone was placed with the
arms of Penn on one side and those of Baltimore on the other. But
further west these were discontinued. For in those days when there
were few roads it was difficult to get these heavy stones carried
to the proper places.
When Penn went back to England he had meant to return to his colony
very soon. But fifteen years passed before he was able to do so.
During this time King Charles II, who had given him the charter for
his great Possessions, died, and his brother James, who as Duke of
York had been Penn's friend, was driven from the throne. Then for
a time Penn's great province was taken from him,
 because he was
suspected of helping his old friend, the dethroned king. The colony
was then placed under the control of the Governor of New York.
Two years later, however, Penn was cleared from the charge of
treason and his right to Pennsylvania was again recognised. Then
once more he crossed the seas to visit his possessions in the New
He found that in fifteen years great changes had been wrought.
The two or three thousand inhabitants had now increased to twenty
thousand. Many of the new settlers were not Quakers but Protestants
from Germany, Holland and Sweden, and Presbyterians from Scotland
and Ireland. Penn welcomed them all, but they on their side had
grown apart from him. They were no longer his children. He was no
longer Father Penn, but the Governor and proprietor.
From this Governor the settlers demanded greater liberties than they
had. Penn was grieved, but he met the clamour in the most generous
spirit. "Friends," he said, "if in the constitution there be
anything that jars, alter it." So it was altered until practically
the colonists became a self-governing people.
Now for a second time Penn felt himself obliged to return to England.
He did not want to go, but longed to live out the rest of his life
in his colony which, in spite of all troubles and difficulties, he
"I cannot think of such a voyage without great reluctance," he
said. "For I promised myself that I might stay so long, at least,
with you, as to render everybody entirely easy and safe. For my
heart is among you, as well as my body, whatever some people may
please to think. And no unkindness or disappointment shall ever be
able to alter my love to the country."
So with just a little soreness in his heart Penn sailed away never
to return. At home trouble and misfortune
 awaited him. And in
the midst of his troubles sickness fell upon him. For six years a
helpless invalid with failing mind, he lingered on. Then in 1718
he died. He was seventy-four. Only four years of his long life had
been spent in America. Yet he left his stamp upon the continent
far more than any other man of his time. He was the greatest, most
broad-minded of all the colony builders. As he said himself he had
sailed against wind and tide all his life. But the buffetings of
fortune left him sweet and true to the end.
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