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 WAR - FRANKLIN'S MISSION TO ENGLAND - THE BOUNDARY LINE - STRUGGLE FOR INDEPENDENCE - CONVENTION 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 in 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 pounds 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 shiploads 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, 1684, sailed for England, where his efforts were successful, though the boundary line was not definitely fixed till 1766. 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 government 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 1686, 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 support the government; thirdly, that you retrieve the dignity of courts and sessions."
Thomas Lloyd acted as president of the council after the departure of Penn. At his own request he was relieved, and Samuel Carpenter was appointed in his place, with Thomas Ellis as alternate. July 27, 1688, Penn commissioned John Blackwell, who was at that time in New England, and who possessed his esteem and confidence, to be lieutenant- governor. With the commission the proprietor sent full instructions, chiefly by way of caution, the last one being: "Rule the meek meekly; and those that will not be ruled, rule with authority." Though Lloyd had been relieved of power, he still remained in the council, probably because neither of the persons designated was willing to serve. Having seen the evils of a many-headed executive, he had recommended the appointment of one person to exercise executive authority. It was in conformity with this advice that Blackwell was appointed. He met the assembly in March, 1689; but either his conceptions of business were arbitrary and imperious, or the assembly had become accustomed to great latitude and lax discipline, for the business had not proceeded far before the several branches of the government were at variance. Lloyd refused to give up the great seal, alleging that it had been given him for life. The governor, arbitrarily and without warrant of law, imprisoned officers of high rank, denied the validity of all laws passed by the assembly previous to his administration, and set on foot a project for organizing and equipping the militia under the plea of threatened hostility of France. The assembly attempted to arrest his proceedings, but he shrewdly evaded their intents by organizing a party among the members, who persistently absented themselves. His reign was short, for in January, 1690, he left the colony and sailed away for England; whereupon the government again devolved upon the council, Thomas Lloyd, president. Penn had a high estimation of the talents and integrity of Blackwell, and adds: "He is in England and Ireland of great repute for ability, integrity and virtue."
Penn's favor at court during the reign of James II caused him to be suspected of disloyalty to the government when William and Mary had come to the throne. He was three times arraigned before the lords of the council, but was each time acquitted. He organized a large party of settlers for his colony, but a great accusation compelled him to abandon the voyage, and induced him to go into retirement for two or three years. His personal grievances, in England were the least which he suffered. For lack of guiding influence, bitter dissensions had sprung up in his colony, which threatened the loss of all. Desiring to secure peace, he had commissioned Thomas Lloyd deputy- governor of the province, and William Markham deputy- governor of the lower counties, Penn's grief on account of this division is disclosed in a letter to a friend in the province: "I left it to them to choose either the government of the council, five commissioners, or a deputy. What could be tenderer? Now I perceive Thomas Lloyd is chosen by the three upper, but not the three lower, counties, and sits down with this broken choice. This has grieved and wounded me and mine, I fear, to the hazard of all!, for else the governor of- New York is like to have all, if he has it not already."
But the troubles of Penn in America were not confined to civil affairs. His religious society was torn with dissension. George Keith, a man of considerable power in argumentation, but of over- weaning self- conceit, attacked the Friends for the laxity of their discipline, and drew off some followers. So venomous did he become that on the 20th of April, 1692, a testimony of denial was drawn up against him at a meeting of ministers, wherein he and his conduct were publicly disowned. This was confirmed at the next yearly meeting. He drew off large numbers and set up an independent society, who termed themselves Christian Quakers. Keith appealed from this action of the American church to the yearly meeting in London, but was so intemperate in speech that the action of the American church was confirmed. Penn was silenced, and thrown into retirement in England. It can be readily seen what an excellent opportunity these troubles in America, the separation in the government and the schism in the church, gave his enemies to attack him. They represented that he had neglected his colony by remaining in England and meddling with matters in which he had no business; that the colony in consequence had fallen into great disorder, and that he should be deprived of his proprietary rights. These complaints had so much weight with William and Mary that on the 21st of October, 1692, they commissioned Benjamin Fletcher, governor of New York, to take the province and territories under his government. There was another motive operating at this time, more potent than those mentioned above, to induce the king and queen to put the government of Pennsylvania under the governor of New York. The French and Indians from the north were threatening the English. Already the expense for defense had become burdensome to New York. It was believed that to ask aid for the common defense from Penn, with his peace principles, would be fruitless, but that through the influence of Gov. Fletcher, as executive, an appropriation might be secured.
Through the kind offices of Lords Rochester, Ranelagh, Sidney and Somers, the Duke of Buckingham and Sir John Trenchard, the king was asked to hear the case of William Penn, against whom no charge was proven, and who would two years before have gone to his colony had he not supposed that he would have been thought to go in defiance of the government. King William answered that William. Penn was his old acquaintance as well as theirs, that he might follow his business as freely as ever, and that he had nothing to say to him. Penn was accordingly reinstated in his government by letters patent dated on the 20th of August, 1694, whereupon he commissioned William Markham lieutenant- governor.
Free from harassing persecutions at last, and in favor at court, Penn determined to remove with his family to Pennsylvania, and now with the expectation of living and dying here. Accordingly in July, 1699, he set sail, and, on account of adverse winds, was three months tossed about upon the ocean. Great joy was everywhere manifested throughout the province at the arrival of the proprietor and his family, fondly believing that he had now tome to stay. He met the assembly soon after landing, but, it being an inclement season, he only detained them long enough to pass two measures aimed against piracy and illicit trade, exaggerated reports of which having been spread broadcast through the kingdom had caused him great uneasiness and vexation. In February, 1701, he met the most renowned and powerful of the Indian chieftains from the Potomac to the Onondagas of the Five Nations, and entered into a formal treaty of active friendship with them.
Several sessions of the Legislature were held in which great harmony prevailed, and much attention was given to revising and recomposing the constitution. But in the midst of their labors for the improvement of the organic law, intelligence was brought to Penn that a bill had been introduced in the house of lords for reducing all the proprietary governments in America to regal ones, under pretense of advancing the prerogative of the crown, and the national advantage. Such of the owners of land in Pennsylvania as happened to be in England remonstrated against action upon the bill until Penn could return and be heard, and wrote to him urging his immediate coming hither. Though much to his disappointment and sorrow, he determined to go immediately thither. He promptly called a session of the assembly, and in his message to the two houses said: "review again your laws, propose new ones, and you will find me ready to comply with whatsoever may render us happy, by a nearer union of our interests." The assembly returned a suitable response, and then proceeded to draw up twenty-one articles. The first related to the appointment of a lieutenant- governor. Penn proposed that the assembly should choose one. But this they declined, preferring that he should appoint one. Little trouble was experienced in settling everything broached, except the union of the province and lower counties. Penn used his best endeavors to reconcile them to the union, but without avail. The new constitution was adopted on the 28th of October, 1701. The instrument provided for the union, but in a supplementary article, evidently granted with great reluctance, it was provided that the province and the territories might be separated at any time within three years. As his last act before leaving, he presented the city of Philadelphia, now grown to be a considerable place, and always an object of his affectionate regard, with a charter of privileges. As his deputy he appointed Andrew Hamilton, one of the proprietors of East, New Jersey, and sometime governor, of both East and West Jersey; and for secretary of the province and clerk of the council he selected James Logan, a man of singular urbanity and strength of mind, and withal a scholar. Penn set sail for Europe on the 1st of November, 1701. Soon after his arrival, on the 18th of January, 1702, King William died, and Anne of Denmark succeeded him.
Gov. Hamilton's administration continued only till December, 1702, when he died. He was earnest in his endeavors to induce the territories to unite with the province, they having as yet not accepted the new charter, alleging that they had three years in which to make their decision, but without success. He also organized a military force, of which George Lowther was commander, for the safety of the colony. The executive authority now devolved upon the council, of which Edward Shippen was president. Conflict of authority, and contention over the due interpretation of some provisions of the new charter, prevented the accomplishment of much, by way of legislation, in the assembly which convened in 1703; though in this body it was finally determined that the lower counties should thereafter act separately in a legislative capacity. The separation proved final, the two bodies never again meeting in common.
Though the bill to govern the American colonies by regal authority failed, yet the clamor of those opposed to the proprietary governors was so strong that an act was finally passed requiring the selection of deputies to have the royal assent. Hence, in choosing a successor to, Hamilton, he was obliged to consider the queen's wishes. John Evans, a man of parts, of Welsh extraction, only twenty- six years old, a member of the queen's household, and not a Quaker, nor even of exemplary morals, was appointed, who arrived in the colony in December, 1703. He was accompanied by William Penn, Jr., who was elected a member of the council, the number having been increased by authority of the governor, probably with a view to, his election. The first care of Evans was to unite the province and the lower counties; though the final separation had been agreed to. He presented the matter so well that the lower counties, from which the difficulty had always come, were willing to return to a firm union. But now the provincial assembly, having become impatient of the obstacles thrown in the way of legislation by the delegates from these counties, was unwilling to receive them. They henceforward remained separate in a legislative capacity, though still a part of Pennsylvania, under the claim of Penn, and ruled by the same governor; and thus they continued until the 20th of September, 1776, when a constitution was adopted, and they were proclaimed a separate State under the name of Delaware. During two years of the government of Evans, there was ceaseless discord between the council, headed by the governor and Secretary Logan on the one side, and the assembly led by David Lloyd, its speaker, on the other, and little legislation was effected.
In conjunction with the legislature of the lower counties, Evans was instrumental in having a law passed for the imposition of a tax on the tonnage of the river, and the erection of a fort near the town of New Castle for compelling obedience. This was in direct violation of the fundamental compact, and vexatious to commerce. It was at length forcibly resisted, and itsimposition abandoned. His administration was anything but efficient or peaceful, a series of contentions, of charges and counter- charges, having been kept up between the leaders of the two factions, Lloyd and Logan, which he was powerless to properly direct or control. He was relieved in 1709.
The experience with Gov. Evans led the proprietor to select a more sedate character in his successor. After considering the candidature of his son for a time, the founder finally selected Charles Gookin, who was reputed to be a man of wisdom and prudence, though, as was afterward learned to the sorrow of the colony, he was subject to fits of derangement, which toward the close of his term were exhibited in the most extravagant acts. He had scarcely arrived in the colony before charges were prepared against the late governor, and he was asked to institute criminal proceedings, which he declined. This was the occasion of a renewal of contentions between the governor and his council and the assembly, which continued during the greater part of his administration. In. the midst of them, Logan, who was at the head of the council, having demanded a trial of the charges against him, and failed to secure one, sailed for Europe, where he presented the difficulties experienced in administering the government so strongly, that Penn was seriously inclined to sell his interest in the colony. He had already greatly crippled his estate by expenses he had incurred in making costly presents to the natives and in settling his colony, for which he had received small return. In the year 1707 he had become involved in a suit in chancery with the executors of his former steward, in the course of which he was confined in the Old Bailey during this and a part of the following year, when he was obliged to mortgage his colony in the sum of 6,600 pounds to relieve himself. Foreseeing the great consequence it would be to the crown to buy the rights of the proprietors of the several English colonies in America before they would grow too powerful, negotiations had been entered into early in the reign of William and Mary for their purchase, especially the "fine province of Mr. Penn." Borne down by these troubles and by debts and litigations at home, Penn seriously entertained the proposition to sell in 1712, and offered it for 20,000 pounds. The sum of 12,000 pounds was offered on the part of the crown, which was agreed upon; but before the necessary papers were executed, he was stricken down with apoplexy, by which he was incapacitated for transacting any business, and a stay was put to further proceedings until the queen should order an act of parliament for consummating the purchase.
A year before the death of Penn, the lunacy of Gov. Gookin having become troublesome, he was succeeded in the government by Sir William Keith, a Scotchman, who had served as surveyor of customs to the English government, in which capacity he had visited Pennsylvania previously, and knew something of its condition. He was a man of dignified and commanding bearing, endowed with cunning, of an accommodating policy, full of faithful promises, and usually found upon the stronger side. Hence, upon his arrival in the colony, he did not summon the assembly immediately, assigning as a reason in his first message that he did not wish to inconvenience the country members by calling them in harvest time. The disposition thus manifested to favor the people, and his advocacy of popular rights on several occasions in opposition to the claims of the proprietor, gave great satisfaction to the popular branch of the legislature, which manifested its appreciation of his conduct by voting him liberal salaries, which had often been withheld from his less accommodating predecessors. By his artful and insinuating policy, he induced the assembly to pass two acts which had previously met with uncompromising opposition- one to establish a court of equity, with himself as chancellor (the want of which had been seriously felt), and another for organizing the militia. Though the soil was fruitful and produce was plentiful, yet, for lack of good markets, and on account of the meagerness of the circulating medium, prices were very low, the toil and sweat of the husbandman being little rewarded, and the taxes and payments on land were met with great difficulty. Accordingly, arrangements were made for the appointment of inspectors of provisions, who from a conscientious discharge of duty soon caused the Pennsylvania brands of best products to be much sought for, and to command ready sale at highest prices in the West Indies, whither most of the surplus produce was exported. A provision was also made for the issue of a limited amount of paper money, on the establishment of ample securities, which tended to raise the value of the products of the soil and of manufactures, and encourage industry.
Though Gov. Keith, during the early part of his term, pursued a pacific policy, yet the interminable quarrels which had been kept up between the assembly and council during previous administrations at length broke out with more virulence than ever, and he who in the first flush of power had declared that "he should pass no laws, nor transact anything of moment relating to the public affairs, without the advice and approbation of the council," took it upon himself finally to act independently of the council, and even went so far as to dismiss the able and trusted representative of the proprietary interests, James Logan, president of the council and secretary of the province, from the duties of his high office, and even refused the request of Hannah Penn, the real governor of the province, to reinstate him. This unwarrantable conduct cost him his dismissal from office in July, 1726.
Upon the recommendation of Springett Penn, who was now the prospective heir to Pennsylvania, Patrick Gordon was appointed and confirmed, lieutenant- governor in- place of Keith, and arrived in the colony and assumed authority in July, 1726. He had served in the army, and in his first address to the assembly, which he met in August, he said that as he had been a soldier he knew nothing of the crooked ways of professed politicians, and must rely on a straightforward manner of transacting the duties devolving upon him. George I died in June, 1727, and the assembly at its meeting in October prepared and forwarded a congratulatory address to his successor, George II. By the decision of the court in chancery in 1727, Hannah Penn's authority over the colony was at an end, the proprietary interest having descended to John, Richard and Thomas Penn, the only surviving sons of William Penn, Sr. This period, from the death of Penn in 1718 to 1727, one of the most prosperous in the history of the colony, was familiarly known as the "Reign of Hannah and the Boys."
In 1732 Thomas Penn, the youngest son, and two years later John Penn, the eldest, and the only American born, arrived in the province, and were received with every mark of respect and satisfaction. Soon, after the arrival of the latter, news was brought that Lord Baltimore had made application to have the provinces transferred to his colony. A vigorous protest was made against this by Quakers in England, headed by Richard Penn; but lest this protest might prove ineffectual, John Penn very soon went to England to defend the proprietary rights at court, and never again returned, he having died a bachelor in 1746. In August, 1736, Gov. Gordon died, deeply lamented as an honest, upright and straightforward executive, a character which he expressed the hope he would be able to maintain when he assumed authority. His term had been one of prosperity, and the colony had grown rapidly in numbers, trade, commerce and manufactures, ship- building especially having assumed extensive proportions.
James Logan was president of the council, and in effect governor during the two years which elapsed between the death, of Gordon and the arrival of his successor. During this period troubles broke out on the Maryland border, west of the Susquehanna. The question of boundary was involved in these difficulties, but the troubles were quelled by an order of the king and council.
George Thomas, a planter from the West Indies, was appointed governor in 1737, but did not arrive in the colony till the following year. His intercourse with the assembly was not at first harmonious, but became more so on his relinquishment of the coercive policy which he at first adopted. After the death of John Penn, the eldest of the proprietors, he retired from the duties of his office because of declining health.
Anthony Palmer was president of the council at the time of the withdrawal of Thomas, and became acting governor. He continued at the head of the government about two years. He was a wealthy retired merchant from the West Indies, and had come into the colony in 1708.
On the 23d of November, 1748, James Hamilton arrived in the colony from England, bearing the commission of lieutenant- governor. He was born in America, a son of Andrew Hamilton, who had for many years been speaker of the assembly. The Indians west of the Susquehanna had complained that settlers had come upon their best lands, and were acquiring titles to them, whereas the proprietors had never purchased these lands of them and had no claim to them. The first care of Hamilton was to settle these disputes, and allay the rising excitement of the natives. Richard Peters, secretary of the colony, a man of great prudence and ability, was sent in company with the Indian interpreter, Conrad Weiser, to remove the intruders. It was firmly and fearlessly done, the settlers giving up their tracts and the cabins which they had built, and accepting lands on the east side of the river. The hardship was, in many cases, great, but when they were in actual need the secretary gave money and placed them on lands of his own, having secured a tract of two millions of acres.
But these troubles were of small consequence compared with those that were threatening from the West. The French were determined to occupy the whole territory drained by the Mississippi, including that on the Ohio, by force of arms, and a body of one hundred and fifty men, of which Washington was second in command, was sent to the support of the settlers there; but the French having the Allegheny river at flood-tide on which to move, and Washington, without means of transportation, having a rugged and mountainous country to overcome, the former first reached the point of destination. Contracoeur, the French commander, with 1,000 men and field pieces on a fleet of sixty boats and 300 canoes, dropped down the Allegheny and easily seized the fort then being constructed by the Ohio Company at its mouth, and proceeded to erect there an elaborate work which he called. Fort Du Quesne, after the governor- general. Informed of this proceeding, Washington pushed forward, and finding that a detachment of the French was in his immediate neighborhood he made a forced march by night, and coming upon them unawares killed and captured the entire party save one. Ten of the French, including their commander, Jumonville, were killed, and twenty- one made prisoners. Col. Fry, the commander of the Americans, died at Will's creek, where the command devolved on Washington. Though reinforcements had been dispatched from the several colonies in response to the urgent appeals of Washington, none reached him but one company of 100 men under Capt. Mackay, from South Carolina. Knowing that he was confronting a vastly superior force of the French, well supplied with artillery, he threw up works at a point called the Great Meadows, which he characterizes as a "charming field for an encounter," naming his hastily built fortification Fort Necessity. Stung by the loss of their leader, the French came out in strong force and soon invested the place. Unfortunately one part of Washington's position was easily commanded by the artillery of the French, which they were not slow in taking advantage of. The action opened on the 3d of July, and was continued until late at night. A capitulation was proposed by the French commander, which Washington reluctantly accepted, seeing all hopes of reinforcements reaching him cut off, and on the 4th of July marched out with the honors of war and fell back to Fort Cumberland. Gov. Hamilton had strongly recommended, before hostilities opened, that the assembly should provide for defense and establish a line of block- houses along the frontier. But the assembly, while willing to vote money for buying peace from the Indians, and contributions to the British Crown, from which protection was claimed, was unwilling to contribute directly for even defensive warfare. In a single year 8,000 pounds were voted to Indian gratuities. The proprietors, were appealed to aid in bearing this burden. But, while they were willing to contribute liberally for defense, they would give nothing for Indian gratuities. They sent to the colony cannons to the value of 400 pounds.
In February, 1753, John Penn, grandson of the founder, son of Richard, arrived in the colony, and as a mark of respect was immediately chosen a member of the council, and made its president. In consequence of the defeat of Washington at Fort Necessity, Gov. Hamilton convened the assembly in extra session on the 6th of August, at which money was freely voted; but owing to the instructions given by the proprietors to their deputy- governor not to sign any money bill that did not place the whole of the interest at their disposal, the action of the assembly was abortive.
Finding himself in a false position by the repugnant instructions of the proprietors, Gov. Hamilton had given notice in 1753, that at the end of twelve months from its reception, he would resign. Accordingly, in October, 1754, he was succeeded by Robert Hunter Morris, son of Lewis Morris, chief justice of New York and New Jersey, and governor of New Jersey. The son was bred a lawyer, and was for twenty- six years a counselor, and for twenty chief justice of New Jersey. The assembly at its first session voted a money bill for 40,000 pounds, but not having the proviso required by the proprietors it was vetoed. Determined to push military operations, the British government had called early in the year for three thousand volunteers from Pennsylvania, with subsistence, camp equipage and transportation, and had sent two regiments of the line, under Gen. Braddock, from Cork, Ireland. Landing at Alexandria, Va., he marched to Frederick, Md., where, finding no supplies of transportation, he halted. The assembly of Pennsylvania had voted to borrow 5,000 pounds, on its own account, for the use of the crown in prosecuting the campaign, and had sent Franklin, who was then postmaster- general for the colonies, to Braddock to aid in prosecuting the expedition. Finding that the army was stopped for lack of transportation, Franklin returned into Pennsylvania, and by his commanding influence soon secured the necessary wagons and beasts of burden.
Braddock had formed extravagant plans for his campaign. He would march forward and reduce Fort Du Quesne, thence proceed against Fort Niagara, having conquered which he would close a season of triumphs by the capture of Fort Frontignac. But this is not the first time in warfare that the result of a campaign has failed to realize the promises of the manifesto. Accustomed to the discipline of military establishments in old, long settled countries, Braddock had little conception of making war in a wilderness with only Indian trails to move upon, and against wily savages. Washington had advised to push forward with pack- horses, and by rapidity of movement forestall ample preparation. But Braddock had but one way of soldiering, and where roads did not exist for wagons he stopped to fell the forest and construct bridges over streams. The French, who were kept advised of every movement, made ample preparations to receive him. In the meantime Washington fell sick; but intent on being up for the battle, he hastened forward as soon as sufficiently recovered, and only joined the army on the day before the fatal engagement. He had never seen much of the pomp and circumstance of war, and when on the morning of the 9th of July the army of Braddock marched on across the Monongahela, with gay colors flying and martial music awakening the echoes of the forest, he was accustomed in after years to speak of it as the "most magnificent spectacle" that he had ever beheld. But the gay pageant was destined to be of short duration; for the army had only marched a little distance before it fell into an ambuscade skillfully laid by the French and Indians, and the forest resounded with the unearthly whoop of the Indians and the continuous roar of musketry. The advance was checked and thrown into confusion by the French from their well- chosen position, and every tree upon the flanks of the long drawn outline concealed a murderous foe, who with unerring aim picked off the officers. A resolute defense was made and the battle raged with great fury for three hours; but the fire of the English was ineffectual because directed against an invisible foe. Finally, the mounted officers having all fallen, killed or wounded, except Washington, the survivors being left without leaders were seized with a panic, and "they ran," says Washington, "before the French and Indians like sheep before dogs."
Gov. Morris made an earnest appeal to the assembly for money to ward off the impending enemy and protect the settlers, in response to which the assembly voted 50,000 pounds; but having no exemption of the proprietor's estates it was rejected by the governor, in accordance with his original instructions. Expeditions undertaken against Nova Scotia and at Crown Point were more fortunate than that before Du Quesne, and the assembly voted 15,000 pounds in bills of credit to aid in defraying the expense. The proprietors sent 5,000 pounds as a gratuity, not as any part of expense that could of right be claimed of them. In this pressing emergency, while the governor and assembly were waging a fruitless war of words over money bills, the pen of Franklin was busy in infusing a wholesome sentiment in the minds of the people. In a pamphlet that he issued, which he put in the familiar form of a dialogue, he answered the objections which had been urged to a legalized militia, and willing to show his devotion by deeds as well as words, he accepted the command upon the frontier. By his exertions a respectable force was raised, and, though in the dead of winter, he commenced the erection of a line of forts and block- houses among the whole range of the Kittatinny hills, from the Delaware to the Potomac, and had them completed and garrisoned with a body sufficient to withstand any force not provided with artillery. In the spring he turned over the command to Col. Clapham, and returning to Philadelphia took his seat in the assembly. The governor now declared war against the Indians, who had established their headquarters thirty miles above Harris' Ferry, on the Susquehanna, and were busy in their work of robbery and devastation, having secured the greater portion of the crops of the previous season of the settlers whom they had killed or driven out. The peace party strongly objected to the course of the governor, and voluntarily going among the Indians induced them to bury the hatchet. The assembly which met in May, 1756, prepared a bill with the old clause for taxing the proprietors, as any other citizens, which the governor was forbidden to approve by his instructions, "and the two parties were sharpening their wits for another wrangle over it," when Gov. Morris was superseded by William Denny, who arrived in the colony and assumed authority on the 20th of August, 1756. He was joyfully and cordially received, escorted through the streets by the regiments of Franklin and Duche, and royally feasted at the State House.
But the promise of efficient legislation was broken by an exhibition of the new governor's instructions, which provided that every bill for the emission of money must place the proceeds at the joint disposal of the governor and assembly; paper currency could not be issued in excess of 40,000 pounds, nor could existing issues be confirmed unless proprietary rents were paid in sterling money; proprietary lands were permitted to be taxed which had been actually leased, provided that the taxes were paid out of the rents, but the tax could not become a lien upon the land. In the first assembly the contention became as acrimonious as ever.
The finances of the colony, on account of the repeated failures of the money bills, were in a deplorable condition. Military operations could not be carried on, and vigorous campaigns prosecuted, without ready money. Accordingly, in the first meeting of the assembly after the arrival of the new governor, a bill was passed levying 100,000 pounds on all property alike, real and personal, private and proprietary. This Gov. Denny vetoed. Seeing that money must be had the assembly finally passed a bill exempting the proprietary estates, but determined to lay their grievances before the crown. To this end two commissioners, Isaac Norris and Benjamin Franklin, were appointed to proceed to England and beg the interference of the royal government in their behalf. Failing health and business engagements of Norris prevented his acceptance, and Franklin proceeded alone. He had so often defended the assembly in public, and in drawing remonstrances, that the whole subject was at his fingers ends. Franklin, upon his arrival in England, presented the grievances before the proprietors, and that he might get his case before the royal advisers and the British public, wrote frequent articles for the press, and issued a pamphlet entitled. "Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania." The dispute was adroitly managed by Franklin before the privy council, and was finally decided substantially in the interest of the assembly. It was provided that the proprietors' estates should be taxed, but that their located uncultivated lands should be assessed as low as the lowest uncultivated lands of the settlers; that bills issued by the assembly should be receivable in payment of quit-rents, and that the deputy- governor should have a voice in disposing of the revenues. Thus was a vexed question of long standing finally put to rest. So successfully had Franklin managed this controversy that the colonies of Massachusetts, Maryland and Georgia, appointed him their agent in England.
In October, 1759, James Hamilton was again appointed governor, in place of Gov. Denny, who had by stress of circumstances transcended his instructions. The British government, considering that the colonies had borne more than their proportionate expense in carrying on the war against the French and Indians, voted 200,000 pounds for five years, to be divided among the colonies, the share falling to Pennsylvania being 26,000 pounds.
The boundary line between Maryland and Pennsylvania had long been in dispute, and had occasioned serious disturbances among the settlers in the lifetime of Penn, and repeatedly since. It was not definitely settled until 1760, when a beginning was made of a final adjustment, though so intricate were the conditions that the work was prosecuted for seven years by a large force of surveyors, as men and pioneers. Finally, the proprietors, Thomas .and Richard Penn, and Frederick, Lord Baltimore, entered into an agreement for the executing of the survey, and John Lukens and Archibald McLean on the part of the Penns, and Thomas Garnett and Jonathan Hall on the part of Lord Baltimore, were appointed with a suitable corps of assistants to lay off the lines. After these surveyors had been three years at work, the proprietors in England, thinking that there was not enough energy and practical and scientific knowledge manifested by these surveyors, appointed Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, two mathematicians and surveyors, to proceed to America to take charge of the work. They brought with them the most perfect and best constructed instruments known to science, arriving in Philadelphia on the 15th of November, 1763, and, assisted by some of the old surveyors, entered upon their work. By the 4th of June, 1766, they had reached the summit of the Little Allegheny, when the Indians began to be troublesome. They looked with an evil eye on the mathematical and astronomical instruments, and felt a secret dread and fear of the consequences of the frequent and long continued peering into the heavens. The Six Nations were understood to be inimical to the further progress of the survey. But through the influence of Sir William Johnson a treaty was concluded, providing for the prosecution of the work unmolested, and a number of chieftains was sent to accompany the surveying party. Mason and Dixon now had with them thirty surveyors, fifteen axmen, and fifteen Indians of consequence. Again the attitude of the Indians gave cause of fear, and, on the 29th of September, twenty- six of the surveyors abandoned the expedition and returned to Philadelphia. Having reached a point two, hundred and twenty- four miles from the Delaware, and within thirty- six miles of the western limit of the State, in the bottom of a deep, dark valley they came upon a well- worn Indian path, and here the Indians gave notice that it was the will of the Six Nations that this survey proceed no further. There was no questioning this authority, and no means at command for resisting, and accordingly the party broke up and returned to Philadelphia. And this was the end of the labors of Mason and Dixon upon this boundary. The line was marked by stones which were quarried and engraved in England, on one side having the arms of Penn, and on the opposite those of Lord Baltimore. These stones were firmly set every five miles. At the end of each intermediate mile a smaller stone was placed, having on one side engraved the letter P, and on the opposite the letter M. The remainder of the line was finished and marked in 1782- 84 by other surveyors. A vista was cut through the forest eight yards in width the whole distance. In 1849 the stone at the northeast corner of Maryland having been removed, a re-survey of the line was ordered, and surveyors were appointed by the three States of Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, who called to their aid James D. Graham. Some few errors were discovered in the old survey, but in the main ft was found to be accurate.
John Penn, one son of Richard, and grandson of the founder, had come to the colony in 1753, and having acted as president of the council, was in 1763 commissioned governor in place of Hamilton.
A difference having arisen between the governor and assembly on the vexed question of levying money, the assembly passed a series of resolutions advocating that the "powers of government ought to be separated from the power attending the immense proprietary property, and lodged in the hands of the king." After an interval of fifty days- that time for reflection and discussion might be given- the assembly again convened, and adopted a petition praying the king to assume the direct government of the province, though this policy was strongly opposed by some of the ablest members, as Isaac Norris and John Dickinson. The Quaker element was generally in favor of the change.
The great struggle for the independence of the colonies of the British crown was now close at hand, and the first sounds of the controversy were beginning to be heard. Sir William Keith, that enterprising governor whose head seemed to have been full of new projects, as early as 1739 had proposed to lay a uniform tax on stamped paper in all the colonies, to realize funds for the common defense. Acting upon this hint, Grenville, the British minister, notified the colonists in 1763 of his purpose to impose such a tax. Against this they remonstrated. Instead of this, a tax on imports to be paid in coin was adopted. This was even more distasteful. The assembly of Rhode Island, in October, 1765, submitted a paper to all the colonial assemblies with a view to uniting in a common petition to the king against parliamentary taxation. This was favorably acted on by the assembly of Pennsylvania, and Franklin was appointed agent to represent their cause before the British parliament. The stamp act had been passed on the 22d of March, 1765. Its passage excited bitter opposition, and a resolution asserting that the colonial assemblies had the exclusive right to levy taxes was passed by the Virginia assembly, and concurred in by all the others. The Massachusetts assembly proposed a meeting of delegates in New York on the second Tuesday of October, 1765, to confer upon the subject. The Pennsylvania assembly adopted the suggestion, and appointed Messrs. Fox, Morton, Bryan and Dickinson as delegates. This congress met according to the call and adopted a respectful petition to the king, and a memorial to parliament, which were signed by all the members and forwarded for presentation by the colonial agents in England. The stamp act was to go into effect on the 1st of November. On the last day of October, the newspapers were dressed in mourning, and suspended publication. The publishers agreed not to use the stamped paper. The people, as with one mind, determined to dress in homespun, resolved not to use imported goods, and to stimulate the production of wool the colonists covenanted not to eat lamb for the space of one year. The result of this policy was soon felt by British manufacturers, who became clamorous for repeal of the obnoxious measure, and it was accordingly repealed on the 18th of March, 1766.
Determined in some form to draw a revenue from the colonies, an act was passed in 1767 to impose a duty on tea, paper, printers colors and glass. The assembly of Pennsylvania passed a resolution on the 20th of February, 1768, instructing its agent in London to urge its repeal, and at the session in May received and entered upon its minutes a circular letter from the Massachusetts assembly, setting forth the grounds on which objection to the act should be urged. This circular occasioned hostile feeling among the ministry, and the secretary for foreign affairs wrote to Gov. Penn to urge the assembly to take no notice of it; but if they approved its sentiments, to prorogue their sittings. This letter was transmitted to the assembly, and soon after one from the Virginia assembly was presented, urging union of all the colonies in opposing the several schemes of taxation. This recommendation was adopted, and committees appointed to draw a petition to the king and to each of the houses of parliament. To lead public sentiment, and have it well grounded in the arguments used against taxation, John Dickinson, one of the ablest of the Pennsylvania legislators, at this time published a number of articles purporting to come from a plain farmer, under the title of "Farmer's Letters," which became popular, the idea that they were the work of one in humble life helping to swell the tide of popularity. They were republished in all the colonies, and exerted a commanding influence. Alarmed at the unanimity of feelings against the proposed schemes, and supposing that it was the amount of the tax that gave offense, parliament reduced the rate of 1769 to one- sixth of the original sum, and in 1770 abolished it altogether, except three pence a pound on tea. But it was the principle and not the amount that was objected to, and at the next session of the assembly in Pennsylvania their agent in London was directed to urge its repeal altogether.
Richard Penn, son of the founder, died in 1771, whereupon Gov. John Penn returned to England, leaving the president of the council, James Hamilton, at the head of the government. John Penn, eldest son of Richard, succeeded to the proprietary interests of his father, which he held in conjunction with his uncle, Thomas, and in October of the same year, Richard, the second son, was commissioned governor. He held the office but about two years, and in that time won the confidence and esteem of the people; and so much attached was he to the popular cause that upon his return to England, in 1775, he was intrusted by congress with the last petition of the colonies ever presented to the king. In August, 1773, John Penn returned with the commission of governor, superseding his brother Richard.
To encourage the sale of tea in the colonies and establish the principle of taxation the export duty was removed. The colonies took the alarm. At a public meeting called in Philadelphia to consider the subject, on the 18th of October, 1773, resolutions were adopted in which it was declared: "That the disposal of their own property is the inherent right of freemen; that there can be no property in that which another can, of right, take from us without our consent; that the claim of parliament to tax America is, in other words, a claim of right to levy contributions on us at pleasure." The East India Company now made preparations for sending large importations of tea into the colonies. The ships destined for Philadelphia and New York, on approaching port and being advised of the exasperated state of public feeling, returned to England with their cargoes. Those sent to Boston came into the harbor; but at night a party disguised as Mohawk Indians boarded the vessels, and breaking open the packages emptied three hundred chests into the sea. The ministry, on being apprised of this act, closed the port of Boston, and subverted the colonial charter. Early in the year committees of correspondence had been established in all the Colonies by means of which the temper and feeling in each were well understood by the others, and concert of action was secured. The hard conditions imposed on the town of Boston and the colony of Massachusetts Bay aroused the sympathy of all; "for," they argued, "we know not how soon the heavy hand of oppression may be felt by any of us." At a meeting held in Philadelphia on the 18th of June, 1774, at which nearly eight thousand people were convened, it was decided that a continental congress ought to be held, and appointed a committee of correspondence to communicate with similar committees in the several counties of Pennsylvania and in the several colonies. On the 15th of July, 1774, delegates from all the counties, summoned by this committee, assembled in Philadelphia, and declared that there existed an absolute necessity for a colonial congress. They accordingly recommended that the assembly appoint delegates to such a congress to represent Pennsylvania, and Joseph Galloway, Samuel Rhoads, George Ross, Edward Biddle, John Dickinson, Charles Humphries and Thomas Mifflin were appointed.
On the 4th of September, 1774, the first continental congress assembled in Philadelphia. Peyton Randolph, of Virginia, was called to preside, and Charles Thomson, of Pennsylvania, was appointed secretary. It was resolved that no more goods be imported from England, and that unless a pacification was effected previously no more colonial produce of the soil be exported thither after September 10, 1775. A declaration of rights was adopted, and addresses to the king, the people of Great Britain and of British America were agreed to, after which the congress adjourned to meet again on the 10th of May, 1775. In January, same year, another meeting of the county delegates was held in Philadelphia, at which the action of the colonial congress was approved, and while a restoration of harmony with the mother country was desired, yet, if the arbitrary acts of parliament were persisted in, they would at every hazard defend the "rights and liberties of America." The delegates appointed to represent the colony in the second congress were Mifflin, Humphries, Biddle, Dickinson, Morton, Franklin, Wilson and Willing.
The government of Great Britain had determined with a strong hand to compel obedience to its behests. On the 19th of April, 1775, was fought the battle of Lexington, a blow that was felt alike through all the colonies. The cause of one was the cause of all. A public meeting was held in Philadelphia, at which it was resolved to organize military companies in all the counties. The assembly heartily seconded these views, and engaged to provide for the pay of the militia while in service. The second congress, which met in May, provided for organizing a Continental army, fixing the quota for Pennsylvania at 4,300 men. The assembly adopted the recommendation of congress, provided for arming, disciplining and paying the militia, recommended the organizing of minutemen for service in an emergency, made appropriations for the defense of the city, and offered a premium on the production of saltpeter. Complications hourly thickened. Ticonderoga was captured on the 10th of May, and the battle of Bunker Hill was fought on the 17th of June. On the 15th of June George Washington was appointed commander- in- chief of the continental army, supported by four major- generals and eight brigadiers.
The royal governors were now an incumbrance greatly in the way of the popular movement, as were also the assemblies where they refused to represent the popular will. Accordingly, congress recommended that the several colonies should adopt such government as should "best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular and America in general." This meant that each colony should set up a government for itself, independent of the crown. Accordingly, a public meeting was held in Philadelphia, at which it was resolved that the present assembly is "not competent to the present exigencies of affairs," and that a new form of government ought to be adopted as recommended by congress. The city committee of correspondence called on the county committee to secure the election of delegates to a colonial meeting for the purpose of considering this subject. On the 18th of June the meeting was held in Philadelphia, and was organized by electing Thomas McKean president. It resolved to call a convention to frame a new constitution, provided the legal forms to be observed, and issued an address to the people. The convention for framing a new constitution for the colony met on the 15th of July, and was organized by electing Franklin president, and on the 23th of September completed its labors, having framed a new organic law and made all necessary provisions for putting it into operation. In the meantime the old proprietary assembly adjourned on the 14th of June to the 26th of August. But a quorum failed to appear, and an adjournment was had to the 23d of September, when some routine business was attended to, chiefly providing for the payment of salaries and necessary bills, and on the 28th of September, after a stormy existence of nearly a century, this assembly the creature of Penn, adjourned, never to meet again. With the ending of the assembly ended the power of Gov. Penn.
The titles of the proprietors to landed estates were suspended by the action of the convention, and on the 27th of November, 1779, the legislature passed an act vesting these estates in the commonwealth, but paying the proprietors a gratuity of 130,000 pounds, "in remembrance of the enterprising spirit of the founder." This act did not touch the private estates of the proprietors, nor the tenths of manors. The British government in 1790, in consideration of the fact that it had been unable to vindicate its authority over the colony and afford protection to the proprietors in the enjoyment of their chartered rights, voted an annuity of 4,000 pounds to the heirs and descendants of Penn. This annuity was regularly paid until within a few years, when, on the payment of a round sum to the heirs by the British government, the annuity was discontinued.
The convention which framed the constitution appointed a committee of safety, consisting of twenty- five members, to whom was intrusted the government of the colony until the proposed constitution should be framed and put in operation. Thomas Rittenhouse was chosen president of this body, who was consequently in effect governor. The new constitution, which was unanimously adopted on the 28th of September, was to take effect from its passage. It provided for an assembly to be elected annually; a supreme executive council of twelve members to be elected for a term of three years; assemblymen to be eligible but four- years out of seven, and councilmen but one term in seven years. Members of congress were chosen by the assembly. The constitution could not be changed for seven years. It provided for the election of censors every seven years, who were to decide whether there was a demand for its revision. If so, they were to call a convention for the purpose. On the 6th of August, 1776, Thomas Wharton, Jr., was chosen president of the council of safety.
The struggle of the parent country was now fully inaugurated. Parliament had resolved upon a vigorous campaign, to strike heavy and rapid blows, and quickly end the war.The first campaign had been conducted in Massachusetts and, by the efficient conduct of Washington, Gen. Howe, the leader of the British, was compelled to capitulate and withdraw to Halifax in March, 1776. On the 28th of June Sir Henry Clinton, with a strong detachment in conjunction with Sir Peter Parker of the navy, made a combined land and naval attack upon the defenses of Charleston harbor, where he was met by Gen. William Moultrie, with the Carolina militia, and after a severe battle, in which the British fleet was roughly handled, Clinton withdrew and returned to New York, whither the main body of the British army, under Gen. Howe, had come, and where Admiral Howe, with a large fleet directly from England, joined them. This formidable power, led by the best talent in the British army. Washington could muster no adequate force to oppose, and he was obliged to withdraw from Long Island, from New York, from Harlem, from White Plains, to cross into New Jersey, and abandon position after position until he had reached the right bank of the Delaware on Pennsylvania soil. A heavy detachment under Cornwallis followed, and would have crossed the Delaware in pursuit, but, advised to a cautious policy by Howe, he waited for ice to form on the waters of the Delaware before passing over. The fall of Philadelphia now seemed imminent. Washington had not sufficient force to face the whole power of the British army. On the 2d of December the supreme council ordered all places of business in the city to be closed, the schools dismissed, and advised preparation for removing the women and children and valuables. On the 12th the congress, which was in session here, adjourned to meet in Baltimore, taking with them all papers and public records, and leaving a committee, of which Robert Morris was chairman, to act in conjunction with Washington for the safety of the place. Gen. Putnam was dispatched on the same day with a detachment of soldiers to take command in the city.
Washington, who had from the opening of the campaign before New York been obliged for the most part to act upon the defensive, formed the plan to suddenly turn upon his pursuers and offer battle. Accordingly, on the night of the 25th of December, taking a picked body of men, he moved up several miles to Taylorsville, where he crossed the river, though at flood tide and filled with floating ice, and moving down to Trenton, where a detachment of the British army was posted, made a bold and, vigorous attack. Taken by surprise, though now after sunrise, the battle was soon decided in favor of the Americans. The victory had a great strategic value. The British had intended to push forward and occupy Philadelphia at once, which, being now virtually the capital Of the new nation, had it been captured at this juncture, would have given them the occasion for claiming a triumphal ending of the war. But this advantage, though gained by a detachment small in numbers yet great in courage, caused the commander of a powerful and well- appointed army to give up all intention of attempting to capture the Pennsylvania metropolis in this campaign, and retiring into winter cantonments upon the Raritan to await the settled weather of the spring for an entirely new cast of operations. Washington, emboldened by his success, led all his forces into New Jersey, and pushing past Trenton, where Cornwallis, the royal leader, had brought his main body by a forced march under cover of darkness, attacked the British reserves at Princeton. But now the enemy had become wary and vigilant, and, summoned by the booming of cannon, Cornwallis hastened back to the relief of his hard- pressed columns. Washington, finding that the enemy's whole army was within easy call, and knowing that he had no hope of success with his weak army, withdrew. He now went into winter quarters at Morristown, and by constant vigilance was able to gather marauding parties of the British who ventured far away from their works.
Putnam commenced fortifications at a point below Philadelphia upon the Delaware and at commanding positions upon the outskirts, and on being summoned to the army was succeeded by Gen. Irvine, and he by Gen. Gates. On the 4th of March, 1777, the two houses of the legislature, elected under the new constitution, assembled, and in. joint convention chose Thomas Wharton, Jr., president, and George Bryan, vice- president. Penn had expressed the idea that power was preserved the better by due formality and ceremony, and, accordingly, this event was celebrated with much pomp, the result being declared in a loud voice from the courthouse, amid the shouts of the gathered throngs and the booming of the captured cannon brought from the field of Trenton. The title bestowed upon the new chief officer of the State was fitted by its length and high sounding epithets to inspire the multitude with awe and reverence: "His Excellency, Thomas Wharton, Junior, Esquire, President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, Captain- General and Commander- in- Chief in and over the same."
Early in April great activity was observed among the shipping in New York harbor, and Washington communicated to congress his opinion that Philadelphia was the object against which the blow would be aimed. This announcement of probable peril induced the council to issue a proclamation urging enlistments, and congress ordered the opening of a camp for drilling recruits in Pennsylvania, and Benedict Arnold, who was at this time a trusted general, was appointed to the command of it. So many new vessels and transports of all classes had been discovered to have come into New York harbor, probably forwarded from England, that Washington sent Gen. Mifflin, on the 10th of June, to congress, bearing a letter in which he expressed the settled conviction that the enemy meditated an immediate descent upon some part of Pennsylvania. Gen. Mifflin proceeded to examine the defensive works of the city which had been begun on the previous advance of the British, and recommended such changes and new works as seemed best adapted for its protection. The preparations for defense were vigorously prosecuted. The militia were called out and placed in two camps, one at Chester and the other at Downington. Fire- ships were held in readiness to be used against vessels attempting the ascent of the river.
Lord Howe, being determined not to move until ample preparations were completed, allowed the greater part of the summer to wear away before he advanced. Finally, having embarked his force on a fleet of transports, he sailed southward. Washington promptly made a corresponding march overland, passing through Philadelphia on the 24th of August. Howe, suspecting that preparations would be made for impeding the passage of the Delaware, sailed past its mouth, and moving up the Chesapeake instead debarked fifty- four miles from Philadelphia, and commenced the march northward. Great activity was now manifested in the city. The water- spouts were melted to furnish bullets, fair hands were busied in rolling cartridges, powerful chevaux- de- frise were planted to impede the navigation of the river, and the last division of the militia of the city, which had been divided into three classes, was called out. Washington, who had crossed the Brandywine, soon confronted the advance of Howe, and brisk skirmishing at once opened. Seeing that he was likely to have the right of his position at Red Clay creek, where he had intended to give battle, turned by the largely superior force of the enemy, under cover of darkness on the night of the 8th of September, he withdrew across the Brandywine at Chad's Ford, and posting Armstrong with the militia upon the left, at Pyle's Ford, where the banks were rugged and precipitous, and Sullivan, who was second in command, upon the right at Brinton's Ford, under cover of forest, he himself took post with three divisions, Sterling's, Stephen's and his own, in front of the main avenue of approach at Chad's. Discovering the strong position which the American army occupied the British general began a maneuver to turn it by a flank movement. Washington, always on the alert, promptly divined the enemy's intentions, and ordered Gen. Sullivan to counteract the movement by flanking the flankers, while he held his immediate command ready to attack the main force while in confusion. The plan was ruined, however, by Sullivan's failure to obey orders, and Washington had no alternative but to remain in position and make the best disposition that time would permit. His main body with the force of Sullivan took position along the brow of the hill on which stands the Birmingham meetinghouse, and the battle opened and was pushed with vigor the whole day. Overborne by numbers, and weakened by losses, Washington was obliged to retire, leaving the enemy in possession of the field.
Congress remained in Philadelphia while these military operations were going on at its very doors, but on the 18th of September adjourned to meet at Lancaster, though subsequently, on the 30th, it removed across the Susquehanna to York, where it remained in session till after the evacuation in the following summer. The council remained until two days before the fall of the city, when, having dispatched the records of the loan office and the more valuable papers to Easton, it adjourned to Lancaster. On the 26th the British army entered the city. Deborah Logan in her memoir says: "The army marched in and took possession of the city in the morning. We were upstairs and saw them pass the State House. They looked well, clean and well clad, and the contrast between them and our own poor, bare- footed, ragged troops was very great, and caused a feeling of despair. Early in the afternoon Lord Cornwallis' suite arrived and took possession of my mother's house."
The army of Washington, after being recruited and put in light marching order, was led to Germantown, where on the morning of the 3d of October the enemy was met. A heavy fog that morning had obscured friend and foe alike, occasioning confusion in the ranks and, though the opening promised well and some progress was made, yet the enemy was too strong to be moved, and the American leader was forced to retire to his camp at White Marsh. Though the river had now been opened and the city was thoroughly fortified for resisting attack, yet Howe felt not quite easy in having the American army quart1ered in so close striking distance, and accordingly on the 4th of December, with nearly his entire army, moved out, intending to take Washington at White Marsh, sixteen miles away, by surprise, and by rapidity of action gain an easy victory. But by the heroism and fidelity of Lydia Darrah, who as she had often done before passed the guards to go to the mill for flour, the news of the coming of Howe was communicated to Washington who was prepared to receive him. Finding that he could effect nothing, Howe returned to the city, having had the wearisome march at this wintry season without effect. Washington now crossed the Schuylkill, and went into winter quarters at Valley Forge. The cold of that winter was intense; the troops, half- clad and indifferently fed, suffered severely, the prints of their naked feet in frost and snow being often tinted with patriot blood. Grown impatient of the small results from the immensely expensive campaigns carried on across the ocean, the ministry relieved Lord Howe and appointed Sir Henry Clinton to the chief command.
The commissioners whom congress had sent to France early in the fall of 1776- Franklin, Dean and Lee- had been busy in making interest for the united colonies at the French court, and so successful were they that arms and ammunition and loans of money were procured from time to time. Finally, a convention was concluded by which France agreed to use the royal army and navy as faithful allies of the Americans against the English. Accordingly, a fleet of four powerful frigates and twelve ships wore dispatched under command of the Count D'Estaing to shut up the British fleet in the Delaware. The plan was ingenious, particularly worthy of the long head of Franklin. But intelligence of the sailing of the French fleet reaching the English cabinet, they immediately ordered the evacuation of the Delaware, whereupon the admiral weighed anchor and sailed away with his entire fleet to New York, and D'Estaing, upon his arrival at the mouth of the Delaware, found that the bird had flown.
Clinton evacuated Philadelphia, and moved across New Jersey in the direction of New York. Washington closely followed, and came up with the enemy on the plains of Monmouth, on the 28th of June, 1778, where a sanguinary battle was fought which lasted the whole day, resulting in the triumph of the American arms, and Pennsylvania was rid of British troops. The enemy was no sooner well away from the city than congress returned from New York and resumed its sittings in its former quarters, June 24, 1778, and on the following day the colonial legislature returned from Lancaster. Gen. Arnold, who was disabled from field duty by a wound received at Saratoga, was given command in the city, and marched in with a regiment on the day following the evacuation. On the 23d of May, 1778, President Wharton died suddenly of quinsy, while in attendance upon the council at Lancaster, when George Bryan, the vice- president, became the acting president. Bryan was a philanthropist in deed as well as in word. Up to this time African slavery had been tolerated in the colony. In his message of the 9th of November, he said: "This or some better scheme would tend to abrogate slavery, the opprobrium of America, from among us. In divesting the State of slaves, you will equally serve the cause of humanity and policy, and offer to God one of the most proper and best returns of gratitude for His great deliverance of us and our posterity from thralldom; you will also set your character for justice and benevolence in. the true point of view to Europe, who are astonished to see a people eager for liberty holding negroes in bondage." He perfected a bill for the extinguishment of claims to slaves, which was passed by the assembly, March 1, 1780, by a vote of thirty- four to eighteen, providing that no child of slave parents born after that date should be a slave, but a servant till the age of twenty- eight years, when all claim for service should end. Thus by simple enactment, resolutely pressed by Bryan, was slavery forever rooted out of Pennsylvania.
At the election held for president, the choice fell upon Joseph Reed, with George Bryan, vice- president, subsequently Matthew Smith, and finally William Moore. Reed was an erudite lawyer, and had held the position of private secretary to Washington, and subsequently that of adjutant- general in the army. He was inaugurated on the 1st of December, 1778. William Moore was elected president to succeed Joseph Reed, from November 14, 1781, but held the office less than one year, the term of three years for which he had been a councilman having expired, which was the limit of service. James Potter was chosen vice- president. In the State election of 1782, contested with great violence, John Dickinson was chosen president, and James Ewing, vice- president. On the 12th of March, 1783, intelligence was first received of the signing of the preliminary treaty in which independence was acknowledged, and on the 11th of April congress sent forth the joyful proclamation ordering a cessation of hostilities. The soldiers of Burgoyne, who had been confined in the prison camp at Lancaster, were put upon the march for New York, passing through Philadelphia on the way. Everywhere was joy unspeakable. The obstructions were removed from the Delaware, and the white wings of commerce again came fluttering on every breeze.
In September, 1785, after a long absence in the service of his country abroad, perfecting treaties and otherwise establishing just relations with other nations, the venerable Benjamin. Franklin, then nearly eighty years old, feeling the infirmities of age coming upon him, asked to be relieved of the duties of minister at the court of France, and returned to Philadelphia. Soon after his arrival he was elected president of the council. Charles Biddle was elected vice- president. In May, 1787, a convention to frame a constitution for the United States met at Philadelphia. The delegates from Pennsylvania were Benjamin Franklin, Robert Morris, Thomas Mifflin, George Clymer, Thomas Fitzsimons, Jared Ingersoll, James Wilson and Gouverneur Morris. Upon the completion of their work, the instrument was submitted to the several States for adoption. A convention was called in Pennsylvania, which met on the 21st of November, and though encountering resolute opposition it was finally adopted on the 12th of December. On the following day the convention, the supreme council and officers of the State and city government, moved in procession to the old courthouse, where the adoption of the constitution was formally proclaimed amidst the booming of cannon and the ringing of bells.
On the 5th of November, 1788, Thomas Mifflin was elected president, and George Ross, vice- president. The constitution of the State framed in and adapted to the exigencies of an emergency, was ill- suited to the needs of the state in its relations to the new nation. Accordingly a convention assembled for the purpose of preparing a new constitution in November, 1789, which was finally adopted on September 2, 1790. By the provisions of this instrument, the executive council was abolished, and the executive duties were vested in. the hands of a governor. Legislation was intrusted to an assembly and a senate. The judicial system was continued, and the terms of the judges extended through good behavior.
The whisky insurrection in some of the western counties of the State which occurred in 1794, excited by its lawlessness and wide extent general interest. An act of congress of March 3, 1791, laid a tax on distilled spirits of four pence per gallon. The then counties of Washington, Westmoreland, Allegheny and Fayette, comprising the southwestern quarter of the State, were almost exclusively engaged in the production of grain. Being far removed from any market, the 'product' of their farms brought them scarcely any returns. The consequence was that a large proportion of the surplus grain was turned into distilled spirits, and nearly every other farmer was a. distiller. This tax was seen to bear heavily upon them, from which a nonproducer of spirits was relieved. Arash determination was formed to resist its collection, and a belief entertained that, if all were united in resisting, it would be taken off. Frequent altercations occurred between the persons appointed United States collectors and these resisting citizens. As an example, on the 5th of September, 1791, a party in disguise set upon Robert Johnson, a collector for Allegheny and Washington, tarred and feathered him, cut off his hair, took away his horse, and left him in this plight to proceed. Writs for the arrest of the perpetrators were issued, but none dared to venture into the territory to serve them. On May 8, 1792, the law was modified, and the tax reduced. In September, 1792, President Washington issued his proclamation commanding all persons to submit to the law, and to forbear from further opposition. But these measures had no effect, and the insurgents began to organize for forcible resistance. Maj. Macfarlane, while in command of a party of insurrectionists, was killed in an encounter with United States soldiers at the house of Gen. Neville. The feeling now ran very high, and it was hardly safe for any person to breathe a whisper against the insurgents throughout all this district. One Bradford had, of his own notion, issued a circular letter to the colonels of regiments to assemble with their commands at Braddock's field on the 1st of August, where they appointed officers and moved on to Pittsburgh. After having burned a barn, and made some noisy demonstrations, they were induced by some cool heads to return. These turbulent proceedings coming to the ears of the State and national authorities at Philadelphia, measures were concerted to promptly and effectually check them. Gov. Mifflin appointed Chief Justice McKean and Gen. William Irvine to proceed to the disaffected district, ascertain the facts, and try to bring the leaders to justice. President Washington issued a proclamation commanding all persons in arms to disperse to their homes "on or before the 1st of September, proximo," and called out the militia of four States- Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia- to the number of 13,000 men, to enforce his commands. The quota of Pennsylvania was 4,500 infantry, 500 cavalry, and 200 artillery, and Gov. Mifflin took command in person. Gov. Richard Howell, of New Jersey, Gov. Thomas S. Lee, of Maryland, and Gen. Daniel Morgan, of Virginia, commanded the forces from their States, and Gov. Henry Lee, of Virginia; was placed in chief command. President Washington, accompanied by Gen. Knox, secretary of war, Alexander Hamilton, secretary of the treasury, and Richard Peters, of the United States District Court, set out on the 1st of October for the seat of the disturbance. On Friday the President reached Harrisburg and on Saturday, Carlisle, whither the army had preceded him. In the meantime a committee, consisting of James Ross, Jasper Yeates and William Bradford, was appointed by President Washington to proceed to the disaffected district, and endeavor to persuade misguided citizens to return to their allegiance.
A meeting of 260 delegates from the four counties was held at Parkinson's Ferry on the 14th of August, at which the state of their cause was considered, resolutions adopted, and a committee of sixty, one from each county, was appointed, and a sub- committee of twelve was named to confer with the United States commissioners, McKean and Irvine. These conferences with the State and national committees were successful in arranging preliminary conditions of settlement. On the 2d of October the committee of safety of the insurgents met at Parkinson's Ferry, and having learned that a well- organized army, with Washington at its head, was marching westward to enforce obedience to the laws, appointed a committee of two, William Findley and David Reddick, to meet the President, and assure him that the disaffected were disposed to return to their duties. They met Washington at Carlisle, and several conferences were held, and assurances given of implicit obedience; but the President said that as the troops had been called out, the orders for the march would not be countermanded. The President proceeded forward on the 11th of October to Chambersburg, reached Williamsport on the 13th and Fort Cumberland on the 14th, where he reviewed the Virginia and Maryland forces, and arrived at Bedford on the 19th. Remaining a few days, and being satisfied that the sentiment of the people had changed, he returned to Philadelphia, arriving on the 28th, leaving Gen. Lee to meet the commissioners and make such conditions of pacification as should seem just. Another meeting of the committee of safety was held at Parkinson's Ferry on the 24th, at which assurances of abandonment of opposition to the laws were received, and the same committee, with the addition of Thomas Morton and Ephraim Douglass, was directed to return to headquarters and give assurance of this disposition. They did not reach Bedford until after the departure of Washington. But at Uniontown they met Gen. Lee, with whom it was agreed that the citizens of these four counties should subscribe to an oath to support the constitution and obey the laws. Justices of the peace issued notices that books were opened for subscribing to the oath, and Gen. Lee issued a judicious address urging ready obedience. Seeing that all requirements were being faithfully carried out, an order was issued the 17th of November for the return of the army and its disbandment. A number of arrests were made and trials and convictions were had, but all were ultimately pardoned.
With the exception of a slight ebullition at the prospect of a war with France in 1797, and a resistance to the operation of the "homestead tax" in Lehigh, Berks and Northampton counties, when the militia was called out, the remainder of the term of Gov. Mifflin passed in comparative quiet. By an act of the legislature of the 3d of April, 1799, the capital of the State was removed to Lancaster, and soon after the capital of the United States to Washington, the house on Ninth street, which had been built for the residence of the President of the United States, passing to the use of the University of Pennsylvania.
During the administrations of Thomas McKean, who was elected governor in 1799, and Simon Snyder, in 1808, little beyond heated political contests marked the even tenor of the government, until the breaking out of the troubles which eventuated in the war of 1812. Pennsylvania promptly seconded the national government, the message of Gov. Snyder on the occasion ringing like a silver clarion. The national call for 100,000 men required 14,000 from this State, but so great was the enthusiasm that several times this number tendered their services. The State force was organized in two divisions, to the command of the first of which Maj.- Gen. Isaac Morrell was appointed, and to the second Maj.- Gen. Adamson Tannehill. Gunboats and privateers were built in the harbor of Erie and on the Delaware, and the defenses upon the latter were put in order and suitable armaments provided. The act which created most alarm to Pennsylvania was one of vandalism scarcely matched in the annals of warfare. In August, 1814, Gen. Ross, with 6,000 men in a flotilla of sixty sail, moved up Chesapeake Bay, fired the capitol, the President's house and the various offices of cabinet ministers, and these costly and substantial buildings, the national library and all the records of the government from its foundation were utterly destroyed. Shortly afterward, Ross appeared before Baltimore with the design of multiplying his barbarisms, but he was met by a force hastily collected under Gen. Samuel Smith, a Pennsylvania veteran of the Revolution, and in the brief engagement which ensued Ross was killed. In the severe battle with the corps of Gen. Stricker, the British lost some 300 men. The fleet in the meantime commenced a fierce bombardment of Fort McHenry, and during the day and ensuing night 1,500 bombshells were thrown, but all to no purpose, the gallant defense of Maj. Armistead proving successful. It was during this awful night that Maj. Key, who was a prisoner on board the fleet, wrote the song of the Star Spangled Banner, which became the national lyric. It was in the administration of Gov. Snyder in February, 1810, that an act was passed making Harrisburg the seat of government, and a commission raised for erecting public buildings, the sessions of the legislature being held in the court-house at Harrisburg from 1812 to 1821.
The administrations of William Findley, elected in 1817, Joseph Heister, in 1820, and John Andrew Schulz, in 1823, followed, without marked events. Parties became very warm in their, discussions and in their management of political campaigns. The charters for the forty banks which had been passed in a fit of frenzy over the veto of Gov. Snyder set a flood of paper money afloat. The public improvements, principally in opening lines of, canal, were prosecuted, and vast debts incurred. These lines of conveyances were vitally needful to move the immense products and vast resources of the State.
Previous to the year 1820, little use was made of stone coal. Judge Obediah Gore, a blacksmith, used it upon his forge as early as 1769, and found the heats stronger and more enduring than that produced by charcoal. In 1791 Philip Ginter, of Carbon county, a hunter by profession, having on one occasion been out all day without discovering any game, was returning at night discouraged and worn out, across the Mauch Chunk mountain when, in the gathering shades he stumbled upon something which seemed to have a glistening appearance, that he was induced, to pick up and carry home. This specimen was taken to Philadelphia, where an analysis showed it to be a good quality of anthracite coal. But, though coal was known to exist, no one knew how to use it. In 1812 Col. George Shoemaker, of Schuylkill county, took nine wagon loads to Philadelphia. But he was looked upon as an imposter for attempting to sell worthless stone for coal. He finally sold two loads for the cost of transportation, the remaining seven proving a complete loss. In 1812 White & Hazard, manufacturers of wire at the Falls of Schuylkill, induced an application to be made to the legislature to incorporate a company f or the improvement of the Schuylkill, urging as an inducement the importance it would have for transporting coal; whereupon, the senator from that district, in his place, with an air of knowledge, asserted that "there was no coal there, that there was a kind of black stone which was called coal, but that it would not burn." White & Hazard procured a cart- load of Lehigh coal that cost them $1 a bushel, which was all wasted in a vain attempt to make it ignite. Another cart- load was obtained, and a whole night spent in endeavoring to make a fire in the furnace, when the hands shut the furnace door and left the mill in despair. "Fortunately one of them left his jacket in the mill, and returning for it in about half an hour, noticed that the door was red hot, and upon opening it, was surprised at finding the whole furnace at a glowing white heat. The other hands were summoned, and four separate parcels of iron were heated and rolled by the same fire before it required renewing. The furnace was replenished, and as letting it alone had succeeded so well, it was concluded to try it again, and the experiment was repeated with the same result. The Lehigh Navigation Company and the Lehigh Coal Company were incorporated in 1818, which companies became the basis of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, incorporated in 1822. In 1820 coal was sent to Philadelphia by artificial navigation, but 365 tons glutted the market." In 1825 there were brought by the Schuylkill 5,378 tons. In 1826 by the Schuylkill 16,205 tons, and by the Lehigh 31,280 tons. The stage of water being insufficient, dams and sluices were constructed near Mauch Chunk, in 1819, by which the navigation was improved. The coal boats used were great square arks, sixteen to eighteen feet wide, and twenty to twenty- five feet long. At first, two of these were joined together by hinges, to allow them to yield up and down in passing over the dams. Finally as the boatman became skilled in the navigation, several were joined, attaining a length of 180 feet. After reaching Philadelphia, these boats were taken to pieces, the plank sold and the hinges sent back for constructing others. Such were the crude methods adopted in the early days for bringing coal to a market. In 1827 a railroad was commenced, which was completed in three months, nine miles in length. This, with the exception of one at Quincy, Mass., of four miles, built in 1826, was the first constructed in the United States. The descent was one hundred feet per mile, the coal descending by gravity in a half hour, and the cars were drawn back by mules, which rode down with the coal. Bituminous coal was discovered and its qualities utilized not much earlier than the anthracite. A tract of coal land was taken up in Clearfield county in 1785, by Mr. S. Boyd, and in 1804 he sent an ark down the Susquehanna to Columbia.
During the administrations of George Wolf, elected in 1829, and Joseph Ritner, elected in 1835, a measure of great beneficence to the State was passed, and brought into a good degree of successful operation- nothing less than a broad system of public education. Schools had been early established in Philadelphia, and parochial schools in the more populous portions of the State from the time of early settlement. In 1749, through the influence of Dr. Franklin, a charter was obtained for a "college, academy, and charity school of Pennsylvania," and, from this time to the beginning of the present century, the friends of education were earnest in establishing colleges, the colonial government, and afterward the legislature, making liberal grants from the revenues accruing from the sale of lands for their support, the University of Pennsylvania being chartered in 1752, Dickinson College in 1783, Franklin and Marshall College in 1787, and Jefferson College in 1802. Commencing near the beginning of this century, and continuing for over a period of thirty years, vigorous exertions were put forth to establish county academies. Charters were granted for these institutions at the county seats of forty- one counties, and appropriations were made of money, varying from two thousand to six thousand dollars, and in several instances of quite extensive land grants. In 1809 an act was passed for the education of the "poor gratis." The assessors in their annual rounds were to make a record of all such as were indigent, and pay for their education in the most convenient schools. But few were found among the spirited inhabitants of the commonwealth willing to admit that they were so poor as to be objects of charity.
By the act of April 1, 1834, a general system of education by common schools was established. Unfortunately it was complex and unwieldy. At the next session an attempt was made to repeal the act, and substitute the old law of 1809 for educating the "poor gratis," the repeal having been carried in. the senate. But through the appeals of Thaddeus Stevens, a man always in the van in every movement for the elevation of mankind, this was defeated. At the next session, 1836, an entirely new bill, discarding the objectionable features of the old one, was prepared by Dr. George Smith, of Delaware county, and adopted, and from this time forward it has been in efficient operation. In 1854 the system was improved by engrafting upon it the feature of the county superintendency, and in 1859 by providing for the establishment of twelve normal schools in as many districts into which the State was divided for the professional training of teachers.
In 1837 a convention assembled in Harrisburg, and subsequently in Philadelphia, for revising the constitution, which revision was adopted by a vote of the people. One of the chief objects of the change was the breaking up of what was known as "omnibus legislation," each bill being required to have but one distinct subject, to be definitely stated in. the title. Much of the patronage of the governor was taken from him, and he was allowed but two terms of three years in any nine years. The senator's term was fixed at three years. The terms of supreme court judges were limited to fifteen years, common pleas judges to ten, and associate judges to five. A step backward was taken in limiting suffrage to white male citizens twenty- one years old, it having previously been extended to citizens irrespective of color. Amendments could be proposed once in five years, and if adopted by two successive legislatures, and approved by a vote of the people, they became a part of the organic law.
At the opening of the gubernatorial term of David R. Porter, who was chosen in October, 1838, a civil commotion occurred known as the "Buckshot War," which at one time threatened a sanguinary result. Fraud in the election returns was alleged, and finally the opposing factions armed for the maintenance of their claims. Some of them were supplied with buckshot cartridges, hence the name which was given to the contest. It ended without bloodshed.
Francis R. Shunk was chosen governor in 1845, and during his term of office the war with Mexico occurred. Two volunteer regiments, one under command of Col. Wynkoop, and the other under Col. Roberts, subsequently under Col. J.W. Geary, were sent to the field, while the services of a much larger number were offered, but could not be received. Toward the close of his first term, having been reduced by sickness, and feeling his end approaching, Gov. Shunk resigned, and was succeeded by the speaker of the senate, William F. Johnston, who was duly chosen at the next annual election. During the administrations of William Bigler, elected in 1851, James Pollock, in 11854, and William F. Packer, in 1857, little beyond the ordinary course of events marked the history of the State. The lines of public works undertaken at the expense of the State were completed. Their cost had been enormous, and a debt was piled up against it of over forty million dollars. These works, vastly expensive, were still to operate and keep in repair, and the revenues there from failing to meet expectations, it was determined in the administration of Gov. Pollock to sell them to the highest bidder, the Pennsylvania Railroad Company purchasing them for the sum of seven million five hundred thousand dollars.
In the administration of Gov. Packer petroleum was first discovered in quantities in this country by boring into the bowels of the earth. From the earliest settlement of the country it was known to exist, and it had been gathered in small quantities and utilized for various purposes. In 1859 Mr. E.L. Drake, at first representing a company in New York, commenced drilling near a spot where there were surface indications. When the company would give him no more money he strained his own resources and his credit with his friends almost to the breaking point, and when about to give up in despair finally struck a powerful current of pure oil. From this time forward the territory down the valley of Oil creek and up all its tributaries was rapidly acquired and developed for oil land. In some places the oil was sent up with immense force at the rate of thousands of barrels each day, and great trouble was experienced in bringing it under control and storing it. In some cases the force of the gas was so powerful on being accidentally fired as to defy all approach for many days; and lighted up the forests at night with billows of light. The oil has been found in paying quantities in McKean, Warren, Forest, Crawford, Venango, Clarion, Butler and Armstrong counties, chiefly along the upper waters of the Allegheny river and its tributary, the Oil creek. Its transportation has come to be effected by forcing it through great pipe lines, which extend to the great lakes and the seaboard. Its production has grown to be enormous. Since 1859 a grand total of more than three hundred millions of barrels have been produced in the Pennsylvania oil fields.
In the fall of 1860, Andrew G. Curtin was elected governor of Pennsylvania, and Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States. The war of the great rebellion followed, and in the spring of 1861 Pennsylvania was called on for sixteen regiments, her quota of the 75,000 volunteers that were summoned by proclamation of the President. Instead of sixteen, twenty- five regiments were organized for the three months' service from Pennsylvania. Judging from the threatening attitude assumed by the rebels across the Potomac that the southern frontier would be constantly menaced, Gov. Curtin sought permission to organize a select corps, to consist of thirteen regiments of infantry, one of cavalry, and one of artillery, and to be known as the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, which the legislature, in special session, granted. This corps of, 15,000 men was speedily raised, and the intention of the State authorities was to keep this body permanently within the limits of the commonwealth for defense. But at the time of the first Bull Run disaster in July, 1861, the national government found itself without troops to even defend the capital, the time of the three months' men being now about to expire, and at its urgent call this fine body was sent forward and never again returned for the execution of the duty for which it was formed, having borne the brunt of the fighting on many a hard-fought field during the three years of its service.
In addition to the volunteer troops furnished in response to the several calls of the President, upon the occasion of the rebel invasion of Maryland in September, 1862, Gov. Curtin called 50,000 men for the emergency, and, though the time was very brief, 25,000 came, were organized under command of Gen. John F. Reynolds, and were marched to the border. But the battle of Antietam, fought on the 17th of September, caused the enemy to beat a hasty retreat, and the border was relieved, when the emergency troops were disbanded and returned to their homes. On the 19th of October Gen. J.E.B. Stewart, of the rebel army, with 1,800 horsemen under command of Hampton, Lee and Jones, crossed the Potomac and made directly for Chambersburg, arriving after dark. Not waiting for morning to attack, he sent in a flag of truce demanding the surrender of the town. There were 275 Union soldiers in hospital, whom he paroled. During the night the troopers were busy picking up horses- swapping horses perhaps it should be called- and the morning saw them early on the move. The rear guard gave notice before leaving to remove all families from the neighborhood of the public buildings, as they intended to fire them. There was a large amount of fixed ammunition in them, which had been captured from Longstreet's train, besides government stores of shoes, clothing and muskets. At 11 o'clock the station- house, round- house, railroad machine shops and warehouses were fired and consigned to destruction. The fire department was promptly out; but it was dangerous to approach the burning buildings on account of the ammunition, and all perished.
The year 1862 was one of intense excitement and activity. From about the 1st of May, 1861, to the end of 1862, there were recruited in the State of Pennsylvania 111 regiments, including eleven of cavalry and three of artillery, for three years service; twenty- five regiments for three months; seventeen for nine months; fifteen of drafted militia, and twenty- five called out for the emergency; an aggregate of 193 regiments- a grand total of over 200,000 men- a great army in itself.
In June, 1863, Gen. Robert, E. Lee, with his entire army of Northern Virginia, invaded Pennsylvania. The army of the Potomac, under Gen. Joseph Hooker, followed. The latter was superseded on the 28th of June by Gen. George G. Meade. The vanguards of the army met a mile or so out of Gettysburg on the Chambersburg pike on the morning of the 1st of July. Hill's corps of the rebel army was held in check by the sturdy fighting of a small division of cavalry under Gen. Buford until 10 o'clock, when Gen. Reynolds came to his relief with the first corps. While bringing his forces into action, Reynolds was killed, and the command devolved on Gen. Abner Doubleday, and the fighting became terrible, the Union forces being greatly outnumbered. At 2 o'clock in the afternoon the eleventh corps, Gen. O.O. Howard, came to the support of the first. But now the corps of Ewell had joined hands with Hill, and a full two- thirds of the entire rebel army was on the field, opposed by only the two weak Union corps, in an inferior: position. A sturdy fight was however maintained until 5 o'clock, when the Union forces withdrew through the town, and took position upon rising ground covering the Baltimore pike. During the night the entire Union army came up, with the exception of the sixth corps, and took position; and at 2 o'clock in the morning Gen. Meade and staff came on the field. During the morning hours, and until 4 o'clock in the afternoon, the two armies were getting into position for the desperate struggle. The third corps, Gen. Sickles, occupied the extreme left, his corps abutting on the Little Round Top at the Devil's Den, and reaching, en echelon, through the rugged ground to the Peach Orchard, and thence along the Emmittsbarg pike, where it joined the second corps, Gen. Hancock, reaching over Cemetery Hill, the eleventh corps, Gen. Howard, the first, Gen. Doubleday, and the twelfth, Gen. Slocum, reaching across Culp's Hill- the whole being crescent shaped. To this formation the rebel army conformed, Longstreet opposite the Union left, Hill opposite the center, and Ewell opposite the Union right. At 4 P.M. the battle was opened by Longstreet, on the extreme left of Sickles, and the fighting became terrific, the rebels making strenuous efforts to gain Little Round Top. But at the opportune moment a part of the fifth corps, Gen. Sykes, was brought upon that key position, and it was saved to the Union side. The slaughter in front of Round Top at the wheat field and the Peach Orchard was fearful. The third corps was driven back from its advanced position, and its commander, Gen. Sickles, was wounded, losing a leg. In a more contracted position, the Union line was made secure, where it rested for the night. Just at dusk the Louisiana Tigers, some 1,800 men, made a desperate charge on Cemetery Hill, emerging suddenly from a hillock just back of the town. The struggle was desperate, but the Tigers being weakened by the fire of the artillery, and by the infantry crouching behind the stone wall, the onset was checked, and Carroll's brigade, of the second corps, coming to the rescue, they were finally beaten back, terribly decimated. At about the same time a portion of Ewell's corps made an advance on the extreme Union right, at a point where the troops had been withdrawn to send to the support of Sickles, and unopposed gained the extremity of Culp's Hill, pushing through nearly to the Baltimore pike, in dangerous proximity to the reserve artillery and trains, and even the headquarters of the Union commander. But in their attempt to roll up the Union right they were met by Green's brigade of the twelfth corps, and by desperate fighting their further progress was stayed. Thus ended the battle of the second day. The Union left and right had been sorely jammed and pushed back.
At 4 o'clock on the morning of the 3d of July, Gen. Geary, who had been ordered away to the support of Sickles, having returned during the night and taken a position on the right of Green, opened the battle for the recovery of his lost breastworks on the right of Culp's Hill. Until 10 o'clock the battle raged with unabated fury. The heat was intolerable, and the sulphurous vapor hung like a pall over the combatants, shutting out the light of day. The fighting was in the midst of the forest, and the echoes resounded with fearful distinctness. The twelfth corps was supported by portions of the sixth, which had now come up. At length the enemy, weakened and finding themselves overborne on all sides, gave way, the Union breastworks were reoccupied and the Union right made entirely secure. Comparative quiet now reigned on either side until 2 o'clock in the afternoon, in the meantime both sides bringing up fresh troops and repairing damages. The rebel leader having brought his best available artillery in upon his right center, suddenly opened with 150 pieces a concentric fire upon the devoted Union left center, where stood the troops of Hancock, Doubleday and Sickles. The shock was terrible. Rarely had such a cannonade been known on any field. For nearly two hours it was continued. Thinking that the Union line had been broken and demoralized by this fire, Longstreet brought out a fresh corps of some 14,000 men, under Pickett, and charged full upon the point which had been the mark for the cannonade. As soon as this charging column came into view, the Union artillery opened upon it from right and left and center, and rent it with fearful effect. When arrived within musket range, the Union troops, who had been crouching behind slight pits and a low stone wall, poured in a most murderous fire. Still the rebels pushed forward with a bold face, and actually crossed the Union lines and had their hands on the Union guns. But the slaughter was too terrible to withstand. The killed and wounded lay scattered over all the plain. Many were gathered in as prisoners. Finally the remnant staggered back, and the battle of Gettysburg was at an end.
So soon as indications pointed to a possible invasion of the North by the rebel army under Gen. Lee, the State of Pennsylvania was organized into two military departments, that of the Susquehanna, to the command of which Darius N. Couch was assigned, with headquarters at Harrisburg, and that of the Monongahela, under W.T.H. Brooks, with headquarters at Pittsburgh. Urgent calls for the militia were made, and large numbers in regiments, in companies and in squadrons, came promptly at the call to the number of over 36,000 men, who were organized for a period of ninety days. Fortifications were thrown up to cover Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, and the troops were moved to threatened points. But before they could be brought into action, the great decisive conflict had been fought, and the enemy driven from northern soil. Four regiments under Gen. Brooks were moved into Ohio to aid in arresting a raid undertaken by John Morgan, who with 2,000 horse and four guns had crossed the Ohio river for a diversion in favor of Lee.
In the beginning of July, 1864, Gen. Early invaded Maryland, and made his way to the threshold of Washington. Fearing another invasion of the State, Gov. Curtin called for volunteers to serve for 100 days. Gen. Couch was still at the head of the department of the Susquehanna, and six regiments and six companies were organized, but as fast as organized they were called to the front, the last regiment leaving the State on the 29th of July. On the evening of this day, Gens. McCausland, Bradley Johnson and Harry Gilmore, with 3,000 mounted men and six guns, crossed the Potomac, and made their way to Chambersburg. Another column of 3,000 under Vaughn and Jackson advanced to Hagerstown, and a third to Leitersburg. Averell, with a small force, was at Hagerstown, but finding himself over-matched, withdrew through Greencastle to Mount Hope. Lieut. McLean, with fifty men in front of McCausland, gallantly kept his face to the foe, and checked the advance at every favorable point. On being apprised of their coming, the public stores at Chambersburg were moved northward. At 6 A.M. McCausland opened his batteries upon the town, but, finding it unprotected, took possession. Ringing the court-house bell to call the people together, Capt. Fitzhugh read an order to the assembly, signed by Gen. Jubal Early, directing the command to proceed to Chambersburg and demand one hundred thousand dollars in gold, or five hundred thousand dollars in greenbacks, and if not paid to burn the town. While this parley was in progress, hats, caps, boots, watches, clothing and valuables were unceremoniously appropriated, and purses demanded at the point of the bayonet. As money was not in hand to meet so unexpected a draft, the torch was lighted. In less than a quarter of an hour from the time the first match was applied, the whole business part of the town was in flames. Burning parties were sent into each quarter of the town, which made thorough work. With the exception of a few, houses upon the outskirts, the whole was laid in ruins. Retiring rapidly, the entire rebel army recrossed the Potomac.
The whole number of soldiers recruited under the various calls for troops from the State of Pennsylvania was 366,000. In May, 1861, the Society of the Cincinnati of Pennsylvania, an organization of the officers of the Revolutionary war and their descendants, donated $500 toward arming and equipping troops. By order of the legislature the sum was devoted to procuring flags for the regiments, and each organization that went forth was provided with one emblazoned with the arms of the commonwealth. These flags, seamed and battle- stained, were returned at the close of the war, and are now preserved in a room devoted to the purpose in the State Capitol. When the war was over, the State undertook the charge of providing for all soldiers' orphans in schools located in different parts of the territory, furnished food, clothing, instruction and care, until they should be grown to manhood and womanhood. The number thus gathered and cared for has been some 7,500 annually, at an average annual expense of some six hundred thousand dollars.
At the election in 1866, John W. Geary, a veteran general of the war, was chosen governor. During his administration, settlements were made with the general government, extraordinary debts incurred during the war were paid, and a large reduction of the old debt of forty million dollars inherited from the construction of the canals was made. A convention for a revision of the constitution was ordered by the act of April 11, 1872. This convention assembled in Harrisburg November 13, and adjourned to meet in. Philadelphia, where it convened on the 7th of January, 1873, and the instrument framed was adopted on the 18th of December, 1873. By its provisions the number of senators was increased from thirty-three to fifty, and representatives from 100 to 201, subject to further increase in proportion to increase of population; biennial in place of annual sessions, making the term of supreme court judges twenty- one in place of fifteen years, remanding a large class of legislation to the action of the courts, making the term of governor four years in place of three, and prohibiting special legislation, were some of the changes provided for.
In January, 1873, John F. Hartranft became governor, and at the election in 1878, Henry F. Hoyt was chosen governor, both soldiers of the war of the Rebellion. In the summer of 1877, by concert of action of the employees on the several lines of railway in the State, trains were stopped and travel and traffic were interrupted for several days together. At Pittsburgh conflicts occurred between the railroad men and the militia, and a vast amount of property was destroyed. The opposition to the local military was too powerful to be controlled, and the national government was appealed to for aid. A force of regulars was promptly ordered out, and the rioters finally quelled. Unfortunately, Gov. Hartranft was absent from the State at the time of the troubles.
At the election in 1882 Robert E. Pattison was chosen governor. The legislature which met at the opening of 1883, having adjourned after a session of 156 days, without passing a congressional apportionment bill, as was required, was immediately reconvened in extra session, by the governor, and remained in session until near the close of the year, from June 1 to December 5, without coming to an agreement upon, a bill, and finally adjourned without having passed one,
James A. Beaver was elected governor of Pennsylvania in November, 1886, and is the present incumbent. He is a native of Perry county, Penn., and a. graduate of Jefferson College. He read law, and was admitted to practice in. 1859. In April, 1861, he went into the army as a first lieutenant, and served with distinction, being mustered out in December, 1864, with the rank of brigadier- general. The most prominent law enacted during his administration is the Brooks license law, passed in 1887. The proposed amendment to the constitution, prohibiting the manufacture or sale of intoxicants within the State, was voted on in the spring of 1889, and was defeated by a large majority.
Source: Page(s) 17-47, History of Counties of McKean, Elk and Forest, Pennsylvania. Chicago, J.H. Beers & Co., 1890.
Transcribed June 2007 by Nathan Zipfel, Published 2007 by PA-Roots