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LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
By the "Great Law" it was provided:
1. That all colonists should be protected in their worship of God, but that no one should be compelled to support or attend any form of worship against his will.1
2. That all resident taxpayers should have the right to vote, and that every member of any Christian church might hold office and become a member of the legislative assembly.2
3. That every child, after reaching the age of twelve, should be brought up to some trade or useful occupation.
4. That the death penalty should be inflicted for two crimes only, instead of for two hundred, as in England; those two were murder and treason.
5. Furthermore, it was ordered -- perhaps for the first time in the history of the world -- that every prison should be made a workshop and a place of reformation.3
122. The Great Treaty; Growth and Importance of Philadelphia. Penn's next act (1682)4 was a treaty with the Indians. According to tradition he met the Red Men under the branches of a wide-spreading elm in what was then the vicinity of Philadelphia.5 There solemn promises of mutual friendship were made. In accordance, however, with the principles of the Quaker faith, no oaths were taken (§ 83). Each trusted to the other's simple word.
That treaty was "never broken," 6 and for sixty years, or as long as the Quakers held control, the people of Pennsylvania
1 No person believing in God and living peaceably and justly "shall in any wise be molested." -- The "Great Law," Section I, Hazard's "Annals of Pennsylvania.
2 This is according to Section 65 of The "Great Law"; but Section 2 of the same would appear to limit the right to elect members to the assembly to "such as profess and declare they believe in Jesus Christ."
3 The prisons of Europe at that time were dens of idleness and disorder, and the criminal usually came out actually worse than he went in.
4 See Hazard's "Annals of Pennsylvania," p. 635; but some authorities fix the date at 1683 and consider the treaty to have covered the purchase of lands.
5 The treaty was made at Kensington, in the northeastern part of the city. The Treaty Elm was blown down in 1810. So great was the regard for the old tree that during the Revolution, when the British forces occupied Philadelphia, General Simcoe, their commander, stationed a sentinel under it to prevent his soldiers from cutting it down for firewood. The monument marking the spot where it stood is on the west side of Beach Street, north of Columbia Street, Kensington.
6 Voltaire, the French historian, said that it was "the only treaty which was never sworn to and never broken"; if he had heard of Carver's treaty (§ 74), he would have mentioned that too.
lived at peace with the natives. The site of the tree under which that memorable transaction took place is now marked by a monument. The Indian record of the treaty -- a belt of wampum representing Penn1 and the chief clasping hands -- is still preserved.2
Philadelphia grew rapidly, and at the beginning of the Revolution it was the largest and the most important city in the American colonies.
There the first Continental Congress met (1774), there independence was declared (1776), there too the present Constitution of the United States was framed (1787), and there the seat of government remained (1790-1800) until it was removed to Washington, then "a backwoods settlement in the wilderness."
123. Summary. William Penn founded the colony of Pennsylvania, or "Penn's Woods." He gave the people the right to take part in making the laws, and all persons believing in God were protected in their religion, He made a treaty of peace with the Indians which was sacredly kept. At the opening of the Revolution Philadelphia was the chief city of the country and long the seat of government.
1 William Penn set sail for England, August 12, 1684, having spent not quite two years in Pennsylvania. He visited the colony again in 1699, and returned to England in 1701, where he spent the remaining seventeen years of his life. His outlay in Pennsylvania had involved him heavily in debt, and in 1709 he was obliged to mortgage his province for £6600. Other misfortunes fell upon him, and at one time he was a prisoner for debt in London. He was negotiating a sale of his right in Pennsylvania to the English government at the time of his death. His successors were unlike him, and their greedy and unjust policy created constant irritation. In 1779 the state of Pennsylvania purchased their rights for $650,000.
2 For cut showing this belt see § 35. Penn is the right-hand figure. The belt is in the possession of the Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia. See their "Memoirs," Vol. VI.
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
XIII. GEORGIA (1733)
124. Oglethorpe's Project for the Settlement of Georgia; his Three Objects. Many years after Penn founded his colony the English general James Oglethorpe, with others, obtained from George II a charter for colonizing the unoccupied part of South Carolina.
In honor of the King the new colony was named Georgia. It extended along the coast from the Savannah River to the Altamaha River. Westward, as in the case of Virginia (§ 43), Massachusetts (§ 77), the Carolinas (§ 114), and Connecticut (§ 98), the tract extended to the Pacific. (Map, p. 51.)
In this undertaking Oglethorpe and his associates had three great objects in view.
1. They wished to help the poor debtors in prison in England to go to America. Many of these men had been thrown into jail in London because they could not pay some trifling debt which they had contracted through sickness or misfortune. They were often honest, hardworking people, and Oglethorpe believed that in Georgia they would have an opportunity to make a new start in life.
2. Oglethorpe also wished to open a refuge in America for Protestants who were being driven out of southern Germany on account of their religion.
3. He wanted to establish Georgia as a frontier colony which would protect Charleston, South Carolina (§ 115), from attacks by the Spaniards of Florida (§ 23).
125. The Settlement at Savannah; Silk Culture. Oglethorpe went out with the first emigrants and built the town of Savannah on the Savannah River (1733).
Mulberry trees grew wild in Georgia, and as their leaves are the best food for silkworms, the colonists hoped to produce silk in large quantities. The silk culture, however, never went very far, and in the end cotton was found to be much more profitable.
126. Restrictions on the Colony. Oglethorpe and his associates were determined to make Georgia a model colony where every
GOVERNMENT OF GEORGIA
man should work with his hands and where none should indulge in strong drink. In every one of the other twelve colonies in America the people held slaves and made use of West India rum, which was then a common beverage everywhere.
But the people of Georgia were forbidden to buy either negroes or rum. This regulation produced great discontent, since without slaves the colonists could not raise rice, like the South Carolinians (§ 117), and unless they could import rum from the West Indies, as the other colonists did, they could not open a trade with those islands.
Furthermore, Oglethorpe and his associates established a government which provided that for twenty-one years the colonists should have no voice in making the laws. This regulation kept the great body of the people like children and made that best of all education -- the education which comes from self-government -- impossible. Liberty of worship was granted, but not to Catholics. Finally, a fourth regulation confined the ownership of land to those who could do military service in its defense. This cut off women from inheriting real estate, and all colonists who did not have sons protested against it.
127. The Wesleys; Whitefield; Restrictions removed; the Spaniards; Natural Resources of Georgia. John and Charles Wesley, the founders of the Methodist church in England, went out to Georgia as missionaries to the Indians. Later, another noted preacher of one branch of that denomination, the Rev. George Whitefield, established an orphan asylum near Savannah, which he partly supported by slave labor. John Wesley hated slavery
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
and believed that it was a sin against God and man; but Whitefield believed that the negro was not then fit to be free, and that slavery was just the sort of schoolmaster he needed.
Whitefield, with others, succeeded in getting the proprietors of the colony to permit the planters to purchase slaves to work in their rice swamps (1750); next, the prohibition on the importation of rum from the West Indies was removed, and the land laws were changed for the better. The result was that Georgia built up a flourishing commerce and became able to hold her own with the Carolinas.
The colony was successful in checking the attacks of the Spaniards. Oglethorpe defeated an expedition which they sent to conquer and drive out the settlers, and he did the work so thoroughly that the enemy had no desire to make his further acquaintance.1
Soon afterward Georgia became a royal province (1752) and was governed by the crown until the Revolution. No colony planted by the English possesses greater natural resources or natural wealth -- in cotton, coal, and iron- -- than the territory that was first settled by the philanthropist Oglethorpe, who sought the prosperity of all. If he could see what Georgia has become, and, better still, see its probable future, he would feel that he could not have chosen more wisely.
128. Summary. Georgia, the last of the thirteen colonies, and one of the richest in its natural advantages, was settled by English emigrants brought over by General Oglethorpe, as a work of charity. One chief object of the colony was the raising of silk. That, however, was unsuccessful. In the outset the settlers had no power of self-government, and the land laws caused much discontent. Slavery and the importation of rum from the West Indies were forbidden, but later both were allowed, the people got the management of the colony, in considerable measure and Georgia opened a profitable trade with the West Indies.
1 The defeat of the Spaniards had the effect of extending the southern boundary of Georgia to the St. Johns River, Florida. In 1763 it was fixed at the present line.
THE FRENCH EXPLORATION OF THE WEST
129. French Exploration of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi Valley; the Catholic Missionaries. While the English colonists had been getting firm possession of the coast from Maine to Georgia, the French in Canada (§ 48) had not been sitting still. In fact, it was they, and not the English, who were the explorers of the West. Among the first Europeans who dared to push their way into that vast wilderness were Catholic missionaries, who had come here to convert the Indians. In their zeal for this work they braved all dangers -- enduring hunger, cold, and torture without a murmur. Long before William Penn's emigrants had felled the first tree for the first log cabin in Philadelphia, these missionaries had reached the western shore of Lake Michigan (1669) and had planted missions among the Indians at Mackinaw, Sault Ste. Marie, and Green Bay. (Map, p. 111.)
130. Joliet and Marquette on the Mississippi. A few years later (1673) Joliet, a famous French explorer and fur trader, and Father Marquette, a Catholic priest, set out from Mackinaw to find a great river which the Indians told them lay west of Lake Michigan. Making their way in birch-bark canoes (§ 34) to the head of Green Bay, they paddled up the Fox River to a place which they called Portage1; then carrying their canoes across a short distance, they embarked on the Wisconsin River. (Map, p. 111.) Borne by the current, they dropped down the Wisconsin until, on a beautiful day in June, they floated out on the broad, shining bosom of the upper Mississippi. The sight of it was enough: they knew that they had found that mighty stream which the Indians called the "Father of Waters."
Turning their canoes southward, they let the river bear them where it would. Day after day they kept on their silent journey. They glided by castle-shaped cliffs, open prairies, and hundreds of miles of unbroken forest. Thus they drifted on, past the
1 Portage: a French word, meaning a carrying place, because at such points canoes or goods were carried across from one stream to another. (See Map, p. 111.)