Chapter 1 - Pennsylvania From First Settlement to the Revolution

Created: Wednesday, 24 March 2010 Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 February 2014 Written by Nathan Zipfel Print Email

CHAPTER I


PENNSYLVANIA FROM FIRST SETTLEMENT TO THE REVOLUTION


Introductory - The Natives - Hudson - Dutch Settlements - Settlement by the Swedes Conquest of the Swedish Colony by the Dutch - Conquest of the New Netherlands by the British - Re-conquest by the Dutch - Final Cession to England- New Jersey - William Penn- Charter of Charles II- Settlers sent to Pennsylvania - Philadelphia - Penn in America -Disputes with Lord Baltimore- Treaty with the Indians - Rapid Immigration - Division into Counties- Troubles with Maryland - Penn Returns to England - Death of Charles II- Dissensions in the Colony - Public Schools in Philadelphia - Penn Arrested in England- Governor Fletcher - Penn Returns to America - Sails for Europe - Death of King William -Discord in the Colony- Death of Penn - Hannah Penn - French and Indians Trouble with Maryland - Logan - Whitefield - War with France - Peace of Aix - French Encroachments in the West - Celeron - Ohio Company - Washington Fort Necessity - First Congress - Braddock’s Defeat - Battle at Kittanning - Capture of Fort Du Quesne - Death of George II - Pontiac’s War.

THE surface of what is now known as Pennsylvania was, at the time of the coming of the white men, one vast forest of hemlock, and pine, and beech, and oak, unbroken except by an occasional rocky barren upon the precipitous mountain side, or by a few patches of prairie, which had been reclaimed by annual burnings, and was used by the indolent and simple-minded natives for the culture of a little maize and a few vegetables. The soil, by the annual accumulations of leaves and abundant growths of forest vegetation, was luxurious, and the trees stood close and were of gigantic size. The streams swarmed with fish, and the forest abounded with game. Where now are cities and hamlets filled with busy populations intent upon the accumulation of wealth, the mastery of knowledge, and the pursuits of pleasure, the deer browsed and sipped at the water’s edge, and the pheasant drummed his monotonous note. Where now is the glowing furnace, from which day and night tongues of flame are bursting, and the busy water-wheel sends the shuttle flashing through the loom, half-naked, dusky warriors fashioned their spears with rude implements of stone, and made themselves hooks out of the bones of animals, for alluring the finny tribe. Where now are fertile fields, upon which the thrifty farmer turns his furrow, which his neighbor takes up and runs on until it reaches from one end of the broad State to the other, and where are flocks and herds rejoicing in rich meadows, gladdened by abundant fountains, or reposing at the heated noontide beneath ample shade, not a blow had been struck against the giants of the forest, the soil rested in virgin purity, the streams glided on in majesty, unvexed by wheel and unchoked by device of man.

Where now the long train rushes on with the speed of the wind over plain and mead, across streams and under mountains, awakening the echoes of the hills the long day through, and at the midnight hour screaming out its shrill whistle in fiery defiance, the wild native, with a fox skin wrapped about his loins and a few feathers stuck in his hair, issuing from his rude hut, trotted on in his forest path followed by his squaw with her infant peering forth from the rough sling at her back, pointed his canoe, fashioned from the barks of the trees, across the deep river, knowing the progress of time only by the rising and setting sun, troubled by no meridian for its index, starting on his way when his nap was ended, and stopping for rest when a spot was reached that pleased his fancy. Where now a swarthy population toils ceaselessly deep down in the bowels of the earth, shut out from the light of day in cutting out the material that feeds the fire upon the forge, and gives genial warmth to the lovers as they chat merrily in the luxurious drawing-room, not a mine had been opened, and the vast beds of the black diamond rested unsunned beneath the superincumbent mountains, where they had been fashioned by the Creator’s hand. Rivers of oil seethed through the impatient and uneasy gases, and vast pools and lakes of this pungent,

parti-colored fluid, hidden away from the coveting eye of man, guarded well their own secrets. Not a derrick protruded its well-balanced form in air. Not a drill with its eager, eating tooth descended into the flinty rock. No pipe line diverted the oily tide in a silent, ceaseless current to the ocean’s brink. The cities of iron tanks, filled to bursting; had no place amidst the forest solitudes. Oil exchanges, with their vexing puts and calls, shorts and longs, bulls and bears, had not yet come to disturb the equanimity of the red man as he smoked the pipe of peace at the council fire.

When the Europeans came this territory was occupied by some of the most bloody and revengeful of the savage tribes. They were known as the Lenni Lenapes, and held sway from the Hudson to the Potomac. They came to be known to the Europeans as the Delawares, after the name of the river along the numerous branches of which they principally dwelt. The Monseys, or Wolves, another tribe of the Lenapes, dwelt upon the Susquehanna and its tributaries, and, by their warlike disposition, won the credit of being the fiercest of their nation.

The "Five Nations"- the Senecas, Mohawks, Oneidas, Cayugas, and the Onondagas- occupied the greater part of the territory now known as New York, and from their hearty union came to exercise a commanding influence. The Tuscaroras, a tribe which had been expelled from their homes in North Carolina, were adopted by the Five Nations, and from this time forward were known by the English as the Six Nations; by the Lenapes they were called Mingoes, and by the French Iroquois.

In 1609 Henry Hudson, an English navigator then in the employ of the Dutch East India Company, discovered and partially explored the Delaware Bay and the Hudson River. The adjacent country was subsequently claimed by Holland, and the States General designated it as New Netherlands. A permanent settlement was made on the Hudson, and in 1623 a settlement was made by a party of Walloons, Protestant fugitives from Belgium, under Conelis Jacobson Mey, on the eastern shore of the "South," or Delaware River, about fifty miles above the mouth. A fort was built which was called Nassau, but after a few months it was abandoned and the settlers returned to their friends on the Hudson. Nassau afterward became a trading-post between the Dutch and the Indians.

Seven or eight years later a little settlement (consisting of about thirty persons) was made by the Dutch near the mouth of the Delaware River on the western shore, but in a short time every one of the settlers was massacred by the Indians, and their skulls and bones were found bestrewing the ground by their countrymen who came in a vessel to succor them in 1632.

The first permanent settlement in Pennsylvania was made by a company of Swedes and Fins in 1638, and was called by them Christina, after the name of the youthful queen of Sweden. The Dutch still held Nassau when the Swedes arrived, and their government at Manhattan looked with envious eyes upon the new colony. In a few years the Dutch secured a grant of land on the west bank of the Delaware, and a conflict of authority arose between the settlers of the two nationalities.

In 1654 the Swedes took forcible possession of one of the Dutch forts. The next year Governor Stuyvesant conducted a band of troops from Manhattan and not only retook the fort but forced the capitulation of the entire Swedish colony, which thus came to an end after an existence of a little more than seventeen years.

The English had always claimed the entire Atlantic seaboard. On March 22, 1664, Charles II, of England, made a grant of the whole country, at the time in possession of the Dutch, to his brother James, the duke of York. James sent four men-of-war, which he borrowed from the king, under command of Colonel Richard Nicholls, to wrest the New Netherlands from the Hollanders. The settlements along the Hudson surrendered without firing a gun, but those on the Delaware made a gallant but fruitless resistance, and their fort was taken by assault. Nicholls was succeeded by Colonel Francis Lovelace, who was appointed governor in 1667.

In 1673 war broke out anew between the French and English on one side and the Dutch on the other. The Hollanders repelled the French army of 200,000 men by cutting the dikes which held back the sea and inundating the land. The Dutch fleet, in three great naval battles, repulsed the English fleet that was acting in concert with the French army, and drove it from the coast of Holland. Deeming this a favorable opportunity to regain their possessions wrenched from them in the New World, the Dutch sent a small fleet to New York and compelled the surrender of the country. The possessions along the Delaware also fell into the hands of the Dutch; but when peace was concluded between England and Holland, in 1674, the whole country was restored to England, and Sir Edmund Andros was sent to govern the ceded territory.

The Friends, or Quakers, settled in New Jersey, and, through the financial embarrassment of one of the proprietors (named Byllinge), William Penn became trustee about 1675-76, and finally part owner of the territory, calling his share, which lay along the Delaware, New West Jersey, that on the ocean shore being called New East Jersey. Thus we see how Penn first became involved in the affairs of the New World. He instituted a liberal form of government for his people, and in every way disclosed a noble disposition toward the settlers.

William Penn became more and more interested in the subject of colonization in America. His father had risen to distinction in the British navy, having served under the Commonwealth and also after the Restoration. Under James, duke of York, Admiral Penn commanded the English fleet which descended upon the Dutch coast, and gained a great victory over the naval forces led by Van Opdam. For this service to his country Penn was knighted, and became a favorite at court. At his death there was due him from the crown about $80,000, a portion of which he himself had advanced for sea service. The son, William Penn, petitioned King 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 government granted to Penn a larger tract than he had asked for, and the charter was drawn up with unexampled liberality. He was invested with almost dictatorial power over a country as large as England itself, destined to become a populous empire. Penn wanted to name the land New Wales, but the king insisted on "Pennsylvania," in honor of the admiral, William Penn’s father.

The charter of King Charles II was dated April 2, 1681, and next year Penn obtained a deed for the territory embraced in the charter. He also obtained in 1682 two grants of a tract of land extending to Cape Henlopen, on Delaware Bay, embracing the three counties of New Castle, Kent, and Sussex, which were for many years a part of Pennsylvania, but subsequently constituted the State of Delaware.

Penn now relinquished his share in West New Jersey and gave himself to reclaiming and settling his new province. The publication of the royal charter and his description of the country attracted attention, and many purchases of land were made of Penn before he left England. That these purchasers might have something binding to rely upon, Penn drew up what he termed "conditions or concessions" between himself, as proprietor, and purchasers in the province. These related to the settling of the country, laying out towns, and especially to the treatment of the Indians, who were to have the same rights and privileges, and careful regard as the Europeans. And, what is perhaps a remarkable instance of provident forethought, the eighteenth article provides "That in clearing the ground, care be taken to leave one acre of trees for every five acres cleared." It might have been well if such a provision had remained operative in the State for all time.

The articles and laws which Penn drew up for the government of his colony were unexampled for fairness and liberality, and gave impress to the character of the early government. They implanted in the breasts of the people a deep sense of duty, of right, and of obligation in all public affairs, and the relations of man with man, and formed a framework for the future constitution. Religious freedom was guaranteed to every one, and thus an asylum was afforded to all who were oppressed for conscience’s sake.

Not being in readiness to go to his province during the first year, Penn dispatched three ship loads of settlers, and sent his cousin, William Markham, to take formal possession of the country and act as deputy governor. With him he sent commissioners who, in conjunction with the governor, were to preserve friendly relations with the Indians and acquire lands by actual purchase, and to select the site of a great city. Penn’s instructions as to the treatment of the Indians will be handed down the ages as a model of justice, humanity, and wisdom. Purchases of lands from the Indians were made on the west bank of the Delaware, and above the mouth of the Schuylkill, and after considerable trouble in searching for an eligible site for a city, the present site of Philadelphia was finally adopted, at the junction of the Schuylkill and the Delaware.

Having settled his affairs in England, Penn embarked on board the ship Welcome, August, 1682, in company with about a hundred planters, for the New World. The voyage lasted nearly six weeks, and they had not been on the ocean long before the small-pox broke out, and thirty of the company died.

His arrival was hailed with demonstrations of joy by all classes- English, Dutch, and Swedes. On his arrival at Upland, now Chester, he called an assembly of the people, in which an equal number of votes was allowed to the province and the three lower counties, now constituting Delaware. The assembly was in session only three days, but over sixty subjects were treated in the laws they enacted.

Penn also visited New York, and, as the boundaries between his province and Maryland were in dispute, he paid a visit to Lord Baltimore to adjust the difficulties arising from the disputes, but his mission proved fruitless. Penn’s charter limits were "all that tract of land, or part of land, in America, with the islands therein contained as the same is bounded, on the east by Delaware River, from twelve miles distance northwards of New Castle town, unto the three and fortieth degree of northern latitude. . . . . The said land to extend westward five degrees in longitude, to be computed from the said eastern bounds; and the said lands to be bounded on the north by the beginning of the three and fortieth degree of northern latitude, and, on the south, by a circle drawn at twelve miles distance from New Castle northward and westward unto the beginning of the fortieth degree of northern latitude; and then by a straight line westward to the limits of the longitude above mentioned." As we have seen, Penn afterward obtained a grant of the three counties of Delaware called the "territories" or "lower counties." By reference to a map it will be seen that the southern boundary of Penn’s lands cuts the District of Columbia, and includes Baltimore and the greater part of Maryland, together with a good slice of Virginia. Lord Baltimore claimed the country as far north as Philadelphia, or to the fortieth parallel of latitude. These conflicting claims gave cause for grave disputes.

Penn next made his celebrated treaty with the Indians, in which the Lenni Lenape, the Shawnees, and the Mingoes are said to have participated, and which, we are told, the Indians kept sacred for one hundred years.

The fame of the colony and the desirableness of settlement therein spread rapidly, and the numbers coming hither were unparalleled in the history of colonization. People came from England, Ireland, Wales, Holland, and Germany. Their first care on landing was to bring their household goods to a place of safety, often to the simple protection of a tree. Some made for themselves caves in the earth until better habitations could be secured.

Penn divided the colony into counties, three for the province (Bucks, Philadelphia, and Chester) and three for the territories (New Castle, Kent, and Sussex). A General Assembly was elected, eighteen for the Council, or Upper House, and fifty-four for the Assembly, or Lower House. This Assembly convened January 10, 1683. The first grand jury in Pennsylvania was summoned for the 2d of February, 1683. In less than a year the number of houses in Philadelphia numbered about eighty.

Early in the year 1684 a party from Maryland made forcible entry upon the plantations in the lower counties and drove off the owners. Indications arising that a struggle was likely soon to be precipitated before the crown for possession of the disputed territory, Penn decided early in the summer to return to England to defend his interests. He accordingly arranged his affairs in the colony, issued an affectionate address to his people, and sailed for Europe on the 6th of June.

Charles II died this year and was succeeded by his brother James, duke of York, under title of James II. Penn enjoyed the friendship of the new king and soon obtained a temporary settlement of his disagreement with Lord Baltimore touching the boundaries of their provinces, which was effected by a compromise. The matter was finally determined in 1732.

July 27, 1688, John Blackwell was appointed lieutenant-governor, but owing to dissensions his term was short, and in January, 1690, he left the colony for England.

Three forms of administering the executive department of the government had now been tried, by a council consisting of eighteen members, a commission of five members, and a lieutenant-governor. A disagreement as to the form of government caused a secession of the lower counties, which eventuated in the formation of Delaware as a separate commonwealth.

In 1689 the Friends’ Public School in Philadelphia was first incorporated, confirmed by a patent from Penn in 1701, and another in 1708, and finally, with greatly enlarged powers from Penn personally, November 29, 1711. The preamble to the charter recites that as "the prosperity and welfare of any people depend, in great measure, upon the good education of youth, and their early introduction in the principles of true religion and virtue, and qualifying them to serve their country and themselves, by breeding them in reading, writing, and learning of languages and useful arts and sciences suitable to their sex, age and degree, which cannot be effected in any manner so well as by erecting public schools," etc. George Keith was employed as first master, and served one year. A school of a primary grade had been established as early as 1683 in Philadelphia, and was taught by Enoch Flower.

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. Accordingly from 1688 to 1690 he was arrested four times on suspicion of adhering to the Stuarts, and his fourth arrest prevented him from prosecuting a voyage with a large party of settlers to Pennsylvania. Political and religious troubles vexed the colony, which, coupled with the disfavor into which Penn had fallen in England, served as a pretext to wrest his province from him. The French and Indians from the north were threatening the English. Already the expense for the defense had become burdensome to New York. It was believed that Penn, with his peace principles, would refuse aid for the common defense. Accordingly, on the 21st of October, 1692, Benjamin Fletcher, governor of New York, was commissioned by William and Mary to take the province and territories under his government. The following April he came with great pomp to assume authority. He summoned the Assembly, and soon differences arose between the members and the governor. William Markham was appointed lieutenant-governor, and Governor Fletcher departed to New York.

The following year Governor Fletcher again met the Assembly, and again attempted to persuade that body to vote money to provide for the common defense; but the Assembly persistently refused, and September, 1694, closed Fletcher’s governorship of Pennsylvania. Penn was reinstated in his government the same year.

In July, 1699, Penn set sail for America, and was tossed about on the ocean by adverse winds for three months. Great joy was everywhere manifested throughout the province at his arrival. He at once set about the affairs of his people. The following February he met the Indians in formal treaty of friendship. Several sessions of the Legislature were held, in which great harmony prevailed, and attention was given to revising the constitution.

In the midst of these labors intelligence came that a bill had been introduced in Parliament for reducing all proprietary governments in America to regal ones. The case was urgent, and Penn reluctantly resolved to return to England in order to protect his interests. He appointed Andrew Hamilton as his deputy, and on the 1st of November, 1701, set sail for Europe.

Soon after Penn’s arrival in England King William died, and Anne of Denmark succeeded him.

Penn now found himself in favor at court, and the bill which had been pending before Parliament, that had given him so much uneasiness, was at the succeeding session dropped entirely, and was never again called up.

Governor Hamilton, died December, 1702, and was succeeded by Edward Shippen, president of the Council. John Evans was appointed deputy governor, and assumed his duties December, 1703. He attempted to reunite the province and lower counties, but insurmountable difficulties arose, and the territories, or lower counties, remained separate in a legislative capacity, though still a part of Pennsylvania under the claim of Penn, and ruled by the same governor, until September 20, 1776, when a constitution was adopted, and they were proclaimed a separate State under the name of Delaware.

Discord between Council and the Assembly marked the two years of the government of Evans, and little legislation was effected. The governor issued a proclamation calling for the organization of the militia, but no one enlisted. Next he attempted to frighten the Quakers into taking up arms by causing a false alarm of approaching enemies to be circulated, but without avail; few of these people showed any disposition to falsify their faith. Failing in other measures, he was relieved in 1709, and Colonel Charles Gookin was appointed to succeed him.

Contentions arose between the new governor and his Council and Assembly, which continued during the greater part of his administration. These troubles, and debts and litigations at home, caused Penn to think seriously of selling his interest in the colony, and in 1712 he offered it for £20,000. The sum of £12,000 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. After a lingering illness for six years he died on May 30, 1718, in the seventy-fourth year of his age.

With great power of intellect, and a religious devotion scarcely matched in all Christendom, he gave himself to the welfare of mankind, by securing civil and religious liberty through the operations of the organic law. Though not a lawyer by profession, he drew frames of government and bodies of laws which have been the admiration of succeeding generations, and are destined to exert a benign influence in all future time, and by his discussions with Lord Baltimore and before the Lords in Council, he showed himself familiar with the abstruse principles of law. He sought to know no philosophy but that promulgated by Christ and his disciples, and this he had sounded to its depths, and in it were anchored his ideas of public law and private and social living. The untamed savage of the forest bowed in meek and loving simplicity to his mild and resistless sway, and the members of the Society of Friends all over Europe flocked to his city of Brotherly Love. His prayers for the welfare of his people are the beginning and ending of all his public and private correspondence, and who, will say that they have not been answered in the blessings which have attended the commonwealth of his founding? And will not the day of his greatness be when the inhabitants throughout all its borders shall, return to the peaceful and loving spirit of Penn? In the midst of a licentious court, and with every prospect of advancement in its sunshine and favor, inheriting a great name and an independent patrimony, he turned aside from this brilliant track to make common lot with a poor sect under the ban of government; endured stripes and imprisonment and loss of property; banished himself to the wilds of the American continent that he might secure to his people those devotions which seemed to them required by their Maker, and has won for himself a name by the simple deeds of love and humble obedience to Christian mandates which shall never perish. Many have won renown by deeds of blood, but fadeless glory has come to William Penn by charity.

After his death his wife Hannah assumed proprietary powers, issued instructions to her lieutenant-governors, heard complaints and settled difficulties with the skill of a veteran diplomatist. A suit in chancery, after litigation for nine years, resulted in declaring the sale of the province to the crown void, and Penn’s three surviving sons, John, Thomas, and Richard, became the joint proprietors.

Governor Gookin becoming insane, was succeeded a year before the death of Penn by Sir William Keith, who was possessed of many good traits, and administered the executive power with skill. He made a treaty with the Five Nations and evinced a disposition to treat the Indians with fairness. However, factional troubles arose in the colony, and, having refused the request of Hannah Penn to reinstate James Logan, president of the Council and secretary of the province, whom he had dismissed from office, he was himself removed in July, 1726, after an eminently successful administration of nine years.

Patrick Gordon was appointed lieutenant-governor in place of Keith. By the decision of the Court of Chancery in 1727, alluded to in a foregoing paragraph, Hannah Penn’s authority over the colony was at an end, the proprietary interests having descended to her sons. The 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."

‘The Indians now began to grow more troublesome. As early as 1732 the French, who were claiming all the territory drained by the Mississippi and its affluents, on the ground of priority of discovery of its mouth and exploration of its channel, commenced erecting trading-posts in Pennsylvania, along the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers, and invited the Indians living on these streams to a council for concluding treaties with them at Montreal, Canada. To neutralize the influence of the French, these Indians were summoned to meet in council at Philadelphia, to renew treaties of friendship. A treaty was also concluded with the Six Nations, in which they pledged lasting friendship for the English.

Hannah Penn died in 1733. King George II had been on the British throne since June, 1727. He now reserved to himself the government of the lower counties, which act of the king was the beginning of those series of encroachments which finally culminated in the independence of the States of America.

Thomas Penn arrived in the province in 1732, and John Penn came over in 1734. Soon after the arrival of the latter news was brought that Lord Baltimore had made application to have the provinces transferred to his colony, and John Penn returned to England to defend the proprietary rights. In August, 1736, Governor Gordon died. His term had been one of prosperity, and the colony had grown rapidly in numbers and in the industries. James Logan, president of the council, was, in effect, governor during the two years following the death of Gordon. During this period serious trouble broke out near the Maryland border, west of the Susquehanna, in which several skirmishes took place between parties of Marylanders and Pennsylvanians, resulting in the death of some of the participants. Learning of these troubles, the king in Council issued an order restraining both parties from further acts of violence, and afterwards adopted a plan of settlement of the vexed boundary question.

Logan had been an active participant in the affairs of the colony for nearly fifty years, and had now been acting governor for two years. At his death he bequeathed his large library of standard works to the people of Pennsylvania, which is known as the Loganian Library. George Thomas assumed the office of governor in 1738, having been appointed the preceding year. War between Great Britain and Spain was declared in 1739, and eight companies of volunteers were furnished for coast defense. Whitefield, the great evangelist, visited the colony the next year and created a deep religious interest among all denominations.

In March, 1744, war was declared between Great Britain and France. Volunteers were called for, and 10,000 men were soon enlisted and armed at their own expense. Benjamin Franklin was elected colonel of one of the regiments, but soon resigned. John Penn died in 1747, and Governor Thomas retired from the duties of his office on account of declining health. Anthony Palmer became acting governor.

The French were now deeply intent on securing firm possession of the Mississippi valley, even to the summits of the Alleghenies in Pennsylvania, and used every artful means to win the simple natives to their interests. By making large presents of most serviceable goods, the friendship of the Indians was retained by the Pennsylvanians. The treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, concluded in 1748, between Great Britain and France, brought about a temporary cessation of hostilities between their representatives in America.

Palmer retired, and James Hamilton arrived from England in 1748, bearing the commission of lieutenant-governor. Though the treaty of Aix was supposed to have settled all difficulties, yet the French were determined to occupy the whole territory drained by the Mississippi. Marquis de la Galissoniere, governor-general of Canada, dispatched Captain Bienville de Celeron, with a party of two hundred and fifteen French and fifty-five Indians, to publicly proclaim possession, and bury at prominent points plates of lead bearing inscriptions declaring occupation in the name of the French king. Céleron started from La Chine in 1749, and, having arrived at Warren, near the confluence of Conewango Creek with the Allegheny River, he caused a leaden plate, eleven inches long, seven and a half wide, and one-eighth of an inch thick, to be buried, bearing an inscription in French, claiming all the lands on both sides of the river to its source. A plate, on which was inscribed the arms of France, was affixed to the nearest tree. A second plate was planted a few miles below Franklin, at the rock known as the "Indian God," on which are ancient and unknown inscriptions; a third at the mouth of Wheeling Creek, a fourth at the mouth of Muskingum, a fifth at the mouth of the Great Kanawha, and the sixth and last at the mouth, of the Great Miami. They returned to Canada by the Miami, the Maumee and Lakes Erie and Ontario. The Indians viewed the planting of these plates with great suspicion, and by some means got possession of one of them. They immediately dispatched some Cayuga chiefs to Governor George Clinton, at New York, with it, and he sent the plate to the Lords of Trade in London about the last of December, 1750. When the inscription was explained to the Indians they were greatly alarmed.

The French laid out a line of military posts on nearly the same line as that pursued by the Celeron expedition. A fort was established at Presque Isle (now Erie), another at Le Boeuf (now Waterford), a third at Venango (Franklin), and a fourth at Pittsburgh, which was called Fort Du Quesne, and so on down the Ohio.

To counteract this activity of the French, the Ohio Company was chartered and a half million acres was granted by the crown, to be selected mainly on the south side of the Ohio, between the Monongalia and Kanawha Rivers. The company consisted of a number of Virginia and Maryland gentlemen, of whom Lawrence Washington was one. Securing the right of occupancy from the Indians, Captain Gist led twelve families and settled on the Monongalia and subsequently began the erection of a fort where the French afterward constructed Fort Du Quesne.

These proceedings hastened the erection of the forts by the French at Venango and Le Boeuf. Governor Dinwiddie, of Virginia, determined to send an official communication- protesting against the encroachments of the French- to the commandant of the French at Fort Le Boeuf. George Washington, then. a youth twenty-one years of age, accepted the appointment to bear the message. He set out on the last day of November, 1753, and pushed on through. the forests to the settlements on the Monongalia, where he was joined by Captain Gist, and followed up the Allegheny to Fort Venango, thence up French Creek to Fort Le Boeuf, where he held a formal conference with the French commandant, St. Pierre. On his return Washington was twice fired at by hostile Indians, and came near losing his life by being thrown into the freezing waters of the Allegheny. His report of the embassage had the effect to excite the English to action, and Colonel Fry was sent with a body of 150 men to the support of the settlers. The French, having the Allegheny River on which to move, dropped down that river with 1,000 men supplied with artillery, and easily seized the fort then being constructed by the Ohio Company, greatly strengthened it, and called it Fort Du Quesne. The small band of Virginians pushed on and encountered a body of the French under Jumonville, routed them, killing ten men including the commander, and capturing twenty-one prisoners. Only one of the French party escaped. Colonel Fry, the commander of the Americans, having died at Will’s Creek, the command devolved on Washington. A company of 100 men from South Carolina came to the support of Washington. Knowing that he was confronted by a vastly superior force, well supplied with artillery, he threw up works at a point called Great Meadows, and named the hastily built post Fort Necessity.

The French soon invested the place. The action opened July 3, 1754, and lasted till late at night. The artillery of’ the French commanded a part of the fort and Washington was forced to capitulate. On the 4th of July he marched out with honors of war and fell back to Fort Cumberland. The Pennsylvania Assembly was slow to vote money for even defensive warfare, while large amounts were voted to buy peace from the Indians.

The English government recommended a congress of all the colonies, together with the Six Nations, for the purpose of concerting plans for defense. This congress met at Albany on the 19th of June, 1754, the first ever convened in America. Franklin, who was a representative from Pennsylvania, offered a scheme for union among the colonies, which was adopted substantially as it came from his hands. The plan was rejected, however, by both the king and the colonies when it was referred to them for ratification.

Governor Hamilton resigned, and was succeeded in 1754 by Robert H. Morris. The British government called for 3,000 volunteers from Pennsylvania, with subsistence, camp equipage, and transportation, and sent two regiments of the line under General Braddock, who landed at Alexandria, Va., and marched to Frederick, Md., where, finding no supplies, he halted. Franklin, by strenuous exertion, secured the necessary wagons and beasts of burden.

Braddock had little conception of making war in the wilderness against wily savages. His progress through the forests as he moved toward Fort Du Quesne was so slow that the French were kept advised of every movement. Washington, who had accepted a position offered him by Braddock as aide-decamp, advised rapid movement to forestall preparation, but the advice was not heeded. On the morning of the 9th of July the army of Braddock marched across the Monongahela, and, having gone only a short distance, fell into an ambuscade skillfully laid by the French and Indians. The advance was checked and thrown into confusion. Every tree on the front and flanks of the line concealed a murderous foe who, with unerring aim, picked off the officers. Braddock fell mortally wounded. All the mounted officers having fallen, the command devolved on Washington, who, though sick, was in the midst of the hottest fighting. Of 1,460 in Braddock’s army, 456 were killed and 421 wounded. Panic seized the survivors, which carried them back upon the reserve, commanded by General Dunbar, and the flight was continued until Fort Cumberland was reached.

This defeat left the frontier exposed to the merciless savage from the Hudson to the Potomac. The unprotected settler in his wilderness home was the easy prey of the torch and scalping-knife, the burning cabin lit up the somber forests by their continuous blaze, and the shrieks of women and children resounded along the entire frontier. Franklin accepted the command upon the Pennsylvania frontier, and by his exertions stayed the hand of the treacherous savage.

Governor Morris was superseded by William Denny, who assumed authority in August, 1756. Twenty-five companies of militia were recruited, and Colonel Armstrong was dispatched with a force of three hundred men, in August of the same year, to disperse the Indians at Kittanning, on the Allegheny River, where Chief Jacobs had one of the largest towns in the State. At dawn on the morning of the 7th of September Colonel Armstrong surprised the Indians, killed Jacobs and most of his followers, and captured arms, powder, and valuable goods which had been distributed to them only the day a before by the French.

The campaign of 1757 was disastrous to the English, but in 1758 General Abercrombie was given chief command. Wolf and Amherst were directed to operate against Louisburg and the posts on the lakes, and General Forbes was sent against Fort Du Quesne. With a detachment of royal troops and militia from Pennsylvania and Virginia, under command of Colonels Bouquet and Washington, he set out in July, 1758. Arriving in front of the fort a sharp battle was fought, in which the French were routed and the fort was surrendered to the victors. All the expeditions against the French being successful this year, the war was brought to a close, and the French possessions in America were ceded to Great Britain by the peace declared in 1762.

In October, 1759, James Hamilton was again appointed governor. George II died the same month of the following year, and was succeeded by his grandson, George III.

Pontiac’s War occurred in 1763, when the Indians of the West entered into a secret league, and in the month of May fell upon the forts held by the colonists. Nine posts, including Presque Isle,

Le Boeuf, and Venango, fell into their hands, and their garrisons put to the slaughter. Only three, Fort Pitt (Du Quesne), Niagara, and Detroit, were able to hold out. The last named post was besieged by Pontiac in person from May until October. The Pennsylvania settlers were driven back to the line of the Susquehanna. Colonel Armstrong led a force into the Indian country to punish them, and relieved Fort Pitt, routing the Indians with slaughter.

 
* Chapters I and II are compiled and condensed from Bates’s "History of Pennsylvania," and from the State Archives.

SOURCE:  Page(s) 13-26, History of Clarion County, A.J. Davis, A.J.; Syracuse, N.Y.: D. Mason & Co. 1887