Category Archives: Pennsylvania

Item of the Day: Historical Review of the Consitution and Government of Pensylvania [sic] (1759)

Full Title: An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pensylvania [sic], From its Origin; So far as regards the several Points of Controversy, which have, from Time to Time, arisen between The several Governors of the Province, and Their several Assemblies. Founded on authentic Documents. London: Printed for R. Griffiths, in Paternoster-Row, MDCCLIX [1759].

The Constitution of Pensylvania [sic] is deriv’d, first, from the Birthright of every British Subject; secondly, from the Royal charter granted to William Penn by King Charles II. and thirdly, from the Charter of Privileges granted by the said William Penn as Proprietary and Governor, in Virtue of the former, to the Freemen of the said Province and Territories; being the last of four at several Periods issued by the same Authority.

The Birthright of every British Subject is, to have a Property of his own, in his Estate, Person and Reputation; subject only to Laws enacted by his own Concurrence, either in Person or by his Representatives: And which Birthright accompanies him wheresoever he wanders or rests; so long as he is within the Pale of the British Dominions, and is true to his Allegience.

The Royal Charter was granted to William Penn in the Beginning of the Year 1681. A most alarming Period! The Nation being in a strong Ferment; and the Court forming an arbitrary Plan; which, under the Countenance of a small standing Army, there began the same Year to carry into Execution, by cajolling some Corporations, and forcing others by Quo Warrantos to surrender their Charters: So that by the Abuse of Law, the disuse of Parliaments, and the Terror of Power, the Kingdom became in Effect the Prey of Will and Pleasure.

The Charter Governments of America had, before this, afforded a Place of Refuge to the persecuted and miserable: And as if to enlarge the Field of Liberty abroad, which had been so sacrilegiously contracted at home, Pensylvania [sic] even then was made a new Asylum, where all who wish’d or desir’d to be free might be so for ever.

The Basis of the Grant express’d in the Preamble was, the Merits and Services of Admiral Penn, and the commendable Desire of his Son to enlarge the British Empire, to promote such useful Commodities as might be of Benefit to it, and to civilize the savage inhabitants. . . .

(See also blog posting of An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pensylvania for October 11, 2005)

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Filed under 1750's, Colonial America, Franklin, Government, History, Pennsylvania, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Letters to a Nobleman (1779)

Full Title: Letters to a Nobleman, on the Conduct of the War in the Middle Colonies. The Second Edition. London: Printed for J. Wilkie, No. 71, St. Paul’s Church-Yard, MDCCLXXIX. [1779]

LETTER I.

MY LORD,

THE pleasure I take in complying with your wishes, will not suffer me to postpone the performance of a promise I made, when I last had the honour of conversing with your Lordship.  If I remember right, it was to communicate my sentiments of the strength and practicability of the Middle Colonies where the late military operations have been carried on, — of the disposition of the people, in general, in the revolted Colonies, — and of the conduct of the late war in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. These are matters which intimately concern the public welfare, and with which your Lordship, as a senator, and the whole nation, who have expended many millions in that war, ought to be perfectly acquainted. Of these I shall therefore treat, in the order pointed out by your Lordship, without any other restraint than that which is imposed by condor and truth.

That part of the Middle Colonies which has been the scene of the late military operations, cannot, with the least propriety, in the military sense of the words, be called uncommonly strong, and much less impracticable. These operations have been chiefly confined between the mountains and the sea-coast southward of New York. In that part of America, the hills, when compared with those in this country, are by no means high or difficult of access. And there are few of them which do not afford an easy ascent either on one side or the other. Very unlike this country, where numerous hedges and high dykes form many bulwarks, for a time, proof even against cannon; there, neither hedges nor dykes are to be found. The fences are made of posts fixed in the ground, at ten feet distance, and in general with four or five cross rails, from nine to fifteen inches asunder. The country, which is thick settled and populous, every farmer living on his own plantation, not in villages, is interspersed with intermediate woods, and large plantations, or open fields. The wood consists of large tall trees, growing at different and considerable distances, without any underwood, and are easily scoured with cannon or musquetry [sic]. This is a true and exact state of that part of the country of New Jersey and Pennsylvania where the war has been carried on; and from this description, it may be easily determined how far it can be deemed strong or impracticable in respect to military operations.

But, my Lord, experience is the best instructor; and if we attend to it, we shall certainly obtain every necessary information. In this country, we have lately seen two armies, one meditating its conquest, the other its defence. We have seen the British army penetrating into its heart, in a circuit of near two hundred miles, from Long Island, by the White Plains, to Trenton, and from the Elk Ferry to Philadelphia, in defiance of the utmost efforts of an enemy perfectly acquainted with every advantageous spot of ground; and we have seen that army taking, with ease and little loss, every strong post possessed by the enemy, who have always fled at its approach. Surely a country where such operations have been performed with so little difficulty, cannot be deemed very strong or impracticable.

But the strength or impracticability of this country is lost in idea, when we compare it with the  sense of action in the last American war. That was in a country of thick woods, — full of vast mountains, high precipices, and strong defiles; yet an Amherst and a Wolfe led the British troops through it to conquest and to glory, against the utmost efforts of the French veterans. Though in strength it was equal to any of the countries in Europe, yet was it not so impracticable as to baffle the zeal of British Generals, who, unconnected with party, prized their own honour, and devoted their lives to the interest of their country and the glory of their Sovereign.

For my own part, I have no idea of any country being impracticable in respect to military operations. Nor, I believe, has any other person, who is acquainted with the history of war, or the conduct of great commanders. Did not an Hannibal and a Caesar cross the high mountains and strong defiles of the Alps? Have not Britons more than once victoriously traversed the strongest fortified countries of Germany, France, and Flanders? Is there a country in Europe which has not been pervaded by military skill and valour? No, my Lord, there is not. And I am confident I may adopt this proposition as true,  that every country, however strong, will afford mutual and alternate advantages to contending armies, while superior skill, force, and exertion alone, can ensure victory and success. Should an inferior enemy in his retreat take possession of a strong post, which it would be too great a risque to attack, military policy and experience will tell us, that his provsions my be cut off, — his army besieged or starved into a surrender, — or the other parts of the country be reduced, while he remains inactive in his post; and after that, he can no longer subsist. How then can a country in any military sense be deemed impracticable? To the Ancients, or to Britons till lately, such a sentiment was unknown. It is not to be found in the annals of military history. A British soldier should blush at finding a room for the thought in his heart, and much more at pronouncing it with his tongue. As the sentiment is as dangerous to military gallantry as it is novel, I trust that it has not made a deep impression on the minds of Britons. If it has, their honour will surely teach them to eradicate it. And were I to be arbitrary on the occasion, I would, for the sake of my country, erase the words strong and impracticable from every dictionary, lest it should be renewed to apologize for the military indolence and misconduct of men, who have sacrificed to party and faction their own honour, the glory of their Sovereign, and the dignity of the nation.

I have the honour to be,

My Lord,

Your Lordship’s most faithful

and obedient servant.

 

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Filed under 1770's, American Revolution, Great Britain, History, Letters, Military, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: History of Pennsylvania Vol. I. (1797)

Full Title: The History of Pennsylvania, in North America, from the Original Institution and Settlement of that Province, under the first Proprietor and governor William Penn, in 1681, till after the Year 1742; with an Introduction, Respecting, the Life of W. Penn, prior to the grant of the Province, and the religious Society of the People called Quakers:; —with the first rise of the neighbouring Colonies, more particularly of West-New-Jersey, and the Settlement of the Dutch and Swedes in Delaware. To which is added, A brief Description of the said Province, and of the General State, in which it flourished, principally between the Years 1760 and 1770. The whole including a Variety of Things, Useful and interesting to be known, respecting that Country in early Time, &c. With an Appendix. Written principally between the Years 1776 and 1780, By Robert Proud. Vol. I. Philadelphia: Printed and sold by Zachariah Poulson, Junior, Number Eighty, Chesnut-Street, 1797.

INTRODUCTION.PART THE FIRST.

CONTAINING,

MEMOIRS

OF THE

LIFE

OF

WILLIAM PENN,

Prior to his founding the Province of Pennsylvania;

and including

A general and comprehensive view of the rise, principles, religious system and practice, or manners, of the people called QUAKERS, who first settled the province, under his government.

THE wisdom of former ages, when transmitted, in writing, to posterity, is an inestimable treasure; but the actions of illustrious and viruous persons, in the same manner exhibited, is still more beneficial: by the former our judgments are rightly informed, and our minds brought into a proper way of thinking; by the latter we are animated to an imitation; and while the excellency of noble examples is displayed before our understandings, our minds are inspired with a love of virtue. This appears to be the office of history; by which every succeeding age may avail itself of the wisdom, and, even, of the folly, of the preceding, and become wiser and happier by a proper application. Through this medium when we view the conduct of those great men of antiquity, who have benefited mankind, in their most essential interests, they appear frequently to have been actuated by motives, the most disinterested, and attended with a satisfaction more than human! —Adversity, which refines men, and renders them more fit to benefit the human race, is a frequent concomitant of worthy minds; and apparent success doth not always immediately attend noble and just designs: —When a Socrates is put to death, wisdom and truth seem to suffer; and when an Aristides is exiled, justice appears to be in disgrace. But virtue is its own reward, and depends not on the fluctuating opinions of mortals, nor on the breath of popular applause; which is often on the side of error, and entirely opposite to the real interests of its votaries.

An example of true wisdom and fortitude, is no less conspicuous in the venerable founder of the province of Pennsylvania, the truly great and worthy William Penn, than in many of the celebrated sages and legislators of former ages; who, in opposition to the vulgar notions of the times in which they lived, have seemingly suffered in their own particular, in order to benefit mankind: this will appear in the following sketch of his life, both with respect to his religion in joining the people called Quakers, and likewise in settling the province itself. In both of which his engagement for the happiness of men was not unattended with a large share of that difficulty and opposition, to which the most excellent undertakings are generally exposed: but minds of such exalted virtue are actuated by motives above mortality, and indisputably are influenced by something divine; without which, as Cicero says, “there never was a really good and great man.” . . .

 

Of the rise, religious principles and practices, &c. of the people called Quakers.

Before I proceed to be more particular respecting William Penn, I shall here intermit the further  account of his life; and, that the reader might have some just idea of the people, with whom he joined in religious society, and who first settled the province of Pennsylvania, under him, I shall next exhibit a short summary of the rise, religious principles, general system and practice or manners, of the people called Quakers, sufficient for the purpose, principally extracted from their own accounts, and in their own words, referring the more inquisitive enquirer to their particular writings, for further information.

Nothing can be a more signal evidence of an over-ruling Providence, superintending the works of the creation, and directing the end of things, than the rise of good out of evil; and the conversion of the wicked machinations of perverse mankind to good purposes: that out of persecution and hatred should spring charity, and mutual benevolence; that from tyranny and ignorance should flow rational liberty, and true knowledge, is as manifest a demonstration of an all preserving cause, as the creation itself is evident of its own existence: this appears, im part from the rise of the religious people called Quakers, and the settling of the flourishing province of Pennsylvania.

Near the middle of the 17th. century, during the civil war, in England, when men were tearing each other in pieces, and when confusion and bloodshed  had overspread the nation, many sober and thinking persons of the different religious societies, weighing the uncertainty of human affairs, and beholding the various vicissitudes in the political system, after having examined the many vain and futile opinions, and absurd customs, in religion, which were either imposed, practised or insisted on, by the various professors of Christianity, under the denominations, in that country, withdrew themselves from their assemblies for divine worship; and, having their minds turned to what appeared to them more rational, and consistent with a rightly informed understanding, and a life more congruous, or agreeable, to the mind of that Deity which is spiritual, and communicates his goodness and knowledge more nearly through a medium of his own nature; and places the human mind above the reach of terrestrial influence; they thence fell into the practical belief, and christian conduct, which gave rise to this religious society.

It was not till the year 1650, that the name of Quakers was imposed on them; who before had generally gone under the denomination of professors, or children, of the light; but the most common appellation, by which they distinguished themselves from others, and even to this day, is by the name of Friends . . .

 

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Filed under 1700's, Colonial America, Eighteenth century, History, Pennsylvania, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Quakers