Chapter II. Penn Sails For The Delaware

The framing of the constitution and other preparations consumed
the year following Penn's receipt of his charter in 1681. But at
last, on August 30, 1682, he set sail in the ship Welcome, with
about a hundred colonists. After a voyage of about six weeks, and
the loss of thirty of their number by smallpox, they arrived in
the Delaware. June would have been a somewhat better month in
which to see the rich luxuriance of the green meadows and forests
of this beautiful river. But the autumn foliage and bracing air
of October must have been inspiring enough. The ship slowly beat
her way for three days up the bay and river in the silence and
romantic loneliness of its shores. Everything indicated richness
and fertility. At some points the lofty trees of the primeval
forest grew down to the water's edge. The river at every high
tide overflowed great meadows grown up in reeds and grasses and
red and yellow flowers, stretching back to the borders of the
forest and full of water birds and wild fowl of every variety.
Penn, now in the prime of life, must surely have been aroused by
this scene and by the reflection that the noble river was his and
the vast stretches of forests and mountains for three hundred
miles to the westward.

He was soon ashore, exploring the edge of his mighty domain,
settling his government, and passing his laws. He was much
pleased with the Swedes whom he found on his land. He changed the
name of the little Swedish village of Upland, fifteen miles below
Philadelphia, to Chester. He superintended laying out the streets
of Philadelphia and they remain to this day substantially as he
planned them, though unfortunately too narrow and monotonously
regular. He met the Indians at Philadelphia, sat with them at
their fires, ate their roasted corn, and when to amuse him they
showed him some of their sports and games he renewed his college
days by joining them in a jumping match.

Then he started on journeys. He traveled through the woods to
New York, which then belonged to the Duke of York, who had given
him Delaware; he visited the Long Island Quakers; and on his
return he went to Maryland to meet with much pomp and ceremony
Lord Baltimore and there discuss with him the disputed boundary.
He even crossed to the eastern shore of the Chesapeake to visit a
Quaker meeting on the Choptank before winter set in, and he
describes the immense migration of wild pigeons at that season,
and the ducks which flew so low and were so tame that the
colonists knocked them down with sticks.

Most of the winter he spent at Chester and wrote to England in
high spirits of his journeys, the wonders of the country, the
abundance of game and provisions, and the twenty-three ships
which had arrived so swiftly that few had taken longer than six
weeks, and only three had been infected with the smallpox. "Oh
how sweet," he says, "is the quiet of these parts, freed from the
anxious and troublesome solicitations, hurries and perplexities
of woful Europe."

As the weeks and months passed, ships kept arriving with more
Quakers, far exceeding the migration to the Jerseys. By summer,
Penn reported that 50 sail had arrived within the past year, 80
houses had been built in Philadelphia, and about 300 farms had
been laid out round the town. It is supposed that about 8000
immigrants had arrived. This was a more rapid development than
was usual in the colonies of America. Massachusetts and Virginia
had been established slowly and with much privation and
suffering. But the settlement of Philadelphia was like a summer
outing. There were no dangers, the hardships were trifling, and
there was no sickness or famine. There was such an abundance of
game close at hand that hunger and famine were in nowise to be
feared. The climate was good and the Indians, kindly treated,
remained friendly for seventy years.

It is interesting to note that in that same year, 1682, in which
Penn and his friends with such ease and comfort founded their
great colony on the Delaware, the French explorers and voyageurs
from Canada, after years of incredible hardships, had traversed
the northern region of the Great Lakes with their canoes and had
passed down the Mississippi to its mouth, giving to the whole of
the Great West the name of Louisiana, and claiming it for France.
Already La Salle had taken his fleet of canoes down the
Mississippi River and had placed the arms of France on a post at
its mouth in April, 1682, only a few months before Penn reached
his newly acquired colony. Thus in the same year in which the
Quakers established in Pennsylvania their reign of liberty and of
peace with the red men, La Salle was laying the foundation of the
western empire of despotic France, which seventy years afterwards
was to hurl the savages upon the English colonies, to wreck the
Quaker policy of peace, but to fail in the end to maintain itself
against the free colonies of England.

While they were building houses in Philadelphia, the settlers
lived in bark huts or in caves dug in the river bank, as the
early settlers in New Jersey across the river had lived.
Pastorius, a learned German Quaker, who had come out with the,
English, placed over the door of his cave the motto, "Parva
domus, sed amica bonis, procul este profani," which much amused
Penn when he saw it. A certain Mrs. Morris was much exercised one
day as to how she could provide supper in the cave for her
husband who was working on the construction of their house. But
on returning to her cave she found that her cat had just brought
in a fine rabbit. In their later prosperous years they had a
picture of the cat and the rabbit made on a box which has
descended as a family heirloom. Doubtless there were preserved
many other interesting reminiscences of the brief camp life.
These Quakers were all of the thrifty, industrious type which had
gone to West Jersey a few years before. Men of means, indeed,
among the Quakers were the first to seek refuge from the fines
and confiscations imposed upon them in England. They brought with
them excellent supplies of everything. Many of the ships carried
the frames of houses ready to put together. But substantial
people of this sort demanded for the most part houses of brick,
with stone cellars. Fortunately both brick clay and stone were
readily obtainable in the neighborhood, and whatever may have
been the case in other colonies, ships loaded with brick from
England would have found it little to their profit to touch at
Philadelphia. An early description says that the brick houses in
Philadelphia were modeled on those of London, and this type
prevailed for nearly two hundred years.

It was probably in June, 1683, that Penn made his famous treaty
with the Indians. No documentary proof of the existence of such a
treaty has reached us. He made, indeed, a number of so-called
treaties, which were really only purchases of land involving oral
promises between the principals to treat each other fairly.
Hundreds of such treaties have been made. The remarkable part
about Penn's dealings with the Indians was that such promises as
he made he kept. The other Quakers, too, were as careful as Penn
in their honorable treatment of the red men. Quaker families of
farmers and settlers lived unarmed among them for generations
and, when absent from home, left children in their care. The
Indians, on their part, were known to have helped white families
with food in winter time. Penn, on his first visit to the colony,
made a long journey unarmed among the Indians as far as the
Susquehanna, saw the great herds of elk on that river, lived in
Indian wigwams, and learned much of the language and customs of
the natives. There need never be any trouble with them, he said.
They were the easiest people in the world to get on with if the
white men would simply be just. Penn's fair treatment of the
Indians kept Pennsylvania at peace with them for about seventy
years--in fact, from 1682 until the outbreak of the French and
Indian Wars, in 1755. In its critical period of growth,
Pennsylvania was therefore not at all harassed or checked by
those Indian hostilities which were such a serious impediment in
other colonies.

The two years of Penn's first visit were probably the happiest of
his life. Always fond of the country, he built himself a fine
seat on the Delaware near Bristol, and it would have been better
for him, and probably also for the colony, if he had remained
there. But he thought he had duties in England: his family needed
him; he must defend his people from the religious oppression
still prevailing; and Lord Baltimore had gone to England to
resist him in the boundary dispute. One of the more narrow-minded
of his faith wrote to Penn from England that he was enjoying
himself too much in his colony and seeking his own selfish
interest. Influenced by all these considerations, he returned in
August, 1684, and it was long before he saw Pennsylvania
again--not, indeed, until October, 1699, and then for only two