Chapter XIII. The English Conquest

It is a curious fact that the ancestor of the numerous Beekman
family in New York, after whom Beekman Street is named, was for a
time one of the Dutch governors on the Delaware who afterwards
became the sheriff of Esopus, New York. His successor on the
Delaware had some thoughts of removing the capital down to Odessa
on the Appoquinimink, when an event long dreaded happened. In
1664, war broke out between England and Holland, long rivals in
trade and commerce, and all the Dutch possessions in the New
World fell an easy prey to English conquerors. A British fleet
took possession of New Amsterdam, which surrendered without a
struggle. But when two British men of war under Sir Robert Carr
appeared before New Amstel on the Delaware, Governor D'Hinoyossa
unwisely resisted; and his untenable fort was quickly subdued by
a few broadsides and a storming party. This opposition gave the
conquering party, according to the custom of the times, the right
to plunder; and it must be confessed that the English soldiers
made full use of their opportunity. They plundered the town and
confiscated the land of prominent citizens for the benefit of the
officers of the expedition.

After the English conquest on the Delaware, not a few of the
Dutch migrated to Maryland, where their descendants, it is said,
are still to be found. Some in later years returned to the
Delaware, where on the whole, notwithstanding the early
confiscations, English rule seemed to promise well. The very
first documents, the terms of surrender both on the Delaware and
on the Hudson, breathed an air of Anglo-Saxon freedom. Everybody
was at liberty to come and go at will. Hollanders could migrate
to the Delaware or to New York as much as before. The Dutch
soldiers in the country, if they wished to remain, were to have
fifty acres of land apiece. This generous settlement seemed in
striking contrast to the pinching, narrow interference with trade
and individual rights, the seizures and confiscations for private
gain, all under pretense of punishment, bad enough on the
Delaware but worse at New Amsterdam, which had characterized the
rule of the Dutch.

The Duke of York, to whom Delaware was given, introduced trial by
jury, settled private titles, and left undisturbed the religion
and local customs of the people. But the political rule of the
Duke was absolute as became a Stuart. He arbitrarily taxed
exports and imports. Executive, judicial, and legislative powers
were all vested in his deputy governor at New York or in
creatures appointed and controlled by him. It was the sort of
government the Duke hoped to impose upon all Great Britain when
he should come to the throne, and he was trying his 'prentice
hand in the colonies. A political rebellion against this
despotism was started on the Delaware by a man named Konigsmarke,
or the Long Finn, aided by an Englishman, Henry Coleman. They
were captured and tried for treason, their property was
confiscated, and the Long Finn branded with the letter R, and
sold as a slave in the Barbados. They might be called the first
martyrs to foreshadow the English Revolution of 1688 which ended
forever the despotic reign of the Stuarts.

The Swedes continued to form the main body of people on the
Delaware under the regime of the Duke of York, and at the time
when William Penn took possession of the country in 1682 their
settlements extended from New Castle up through Christina, Marcus
Hook, Upland (now Chester), Tinicum, Kingsessing in the modern
West Philadelphia, Passyunk, Wicaco, both in modern Philadelphia,
and as far up the river as Frankford and Pennypack. They had
their churches at Christina, Tinicum, Kingsessing, and Wicaco.
The last, when absorbed by Philadelphia, was a pretty little
hamlet on the river shore, its farms belonging to a Swedish
family called Swanson whose name is now borne by one of the
city's streets. Across the river in New Jersey, opposite Chester,
the Swedes had settlements on Raccoon Creek and round Swedesboro.
These river settlements constituted an interesting and from all
accounts a very attractive Scandinavian community. Their
strongest bond of union seems to have been their interest in
their Lutheran churches on the river. They spread very little
into the interior, made few roads, and lived almost exclusively
on the river or on its navigable tributaries. One reason they
gave for this preference was that it was easier to reach the
different churches by boat.

There were only about a thousand Swedes along the Delaware and
possibly five hundred of Dutch and mixed blood, together with a
few English, all living a life of abundance on a fine river amid
pleasing scenery, with good supplies of fish and game, a fertile
soil, and a wilderness of opportunity to the west of them. All
were well pleased to be relieved from the stagnant despotism of
the Duke of York and to take part in the free popular government
of William Penn in Pennsylvania. They became magistrates and
officials, members of the council and of the legislature. They
soon found that all their avenues of trade and life were
quickened. They passed from mere farmers supplying their own
needs to exporters of the products of their farms.

Descendants of the Swedes and Dutch still form the basis of the
population of Delaware.* There were some Finns at Marcus Hook,
which was called Finland; and it may be noted in passing that
there were not a few French among the Dutch, as among the Germans
in Pennsylvania, Huguenots who had fled from religious
persecution in France. The name Jaquette, well known in Delaware,
marks one of these families, whose immigrant ancestor was one of
the Dutch governors. In the ten or dozen generations since the
English conquest intermarriage has in many instances inextricably
mixed up Swede, Dutch, and French, as well as the English stock,
so that many persons with Dutch names are of Swedish or French
descent and vice versa, and some with English names like Oldham
are of Dutch descent. There has been apparently much more
intermarriage among the different nationalities in the province
and less standing aloof than among the alien divisions of

* Swedish names anglicized are now found everywhere. Gostafsson
has become Justison and Justis. Bond has become Boon; Hoppman,
Hoffman; Kalsberg, Colesberry; Wihler, Wheeler; Joccom, Yocum;
Dahlbo, Dalbow; Konigh, King; Kyn, Keen; and so on. Then there
are also such names as Wallraven, Hendrickson, Stedham, Peterson,
Matson, Talley, Anderson, and the omnipresent Rambo, which have
suffered little, if any, change. Dutch names are also numerous,
such as Lockermans, Vandever, Van Dyke, Vangezel, Vandegrift,
Alricks, Statts, Van Zandt, Hyatt, Cochran (originally Kolchman),
Vance, and Blackstone (originally Blackenstein).

After the English conquest some Irish Presbyterians or
Scotch-Irish entered Delaware. Finally came the Quakers,
comparatively few in colonial times but more numerous after the
Revolution, especially in Wilmington and its neighborhood. True
to their characteristics, they left descendants who have become
the most prominent and useful citizens down into our own time. At
present Wilmington has become almost as distinctive a Quaker town
as Philadelphia. "Thee" and "thou" are frequently heard in the
streets, and a surprisingly large proportion of the people of
prominence and importance are Quakers or of Quaker descent. Many
of the neat and pleasant characteristics of the town are
distinctly of Quaker origin; and these characteristics are found
wherever Quaker influence prevails.

Wilmington was founded about 1731 by Thomas Willing, an
Englishman, who had married into the Swedish family of Justison.
He laid out a few streets on his wife's land on the hill behind
the site of old Fort Christina, in close imitation of the plan of
Philadelphia, and from that small beginning the present city
grew, and was at first called Willingtown.* William Shipley, a
Pennsylvania Quaker born in England, bought land in it in 1735,
and having more capital than Willing, pushed the fortunes of the
town more rapidly. He probably had not a little to do with
bringing Quakers to Wilmington; indeed, their first meetings were
held in a house belonging to him until they could build a meeting
house of their own in 1738.

* Some years later in a borough charter granted by Penn, the name
was changed to Wilmington in honor of the Earl of Wilmington.

Both Shipley and Willing had been impressed with the natural
beauty of the situation, the wide view over the level moorland
and green marsh and across the broad river to the Jersey shore,
as well as by the natural conveniences of the place for trade and
commerce. Wilmington has ever since profited by its excellent
situation, with the level moorland for industry, the river for
traffic, and the first terraces or hills of the Piedmont for
residence; and, for scenery, the Brandywine tumbling through
rocks and bowlders in a long series of rapids.

The custom still surviving in Wilmington of punishing certain
classes of criminals by whipping appears to have originated in
the days of Willing and Shipley, about the year 1740, when a
cage, stocks, and whipping-post were erected. They were placed in
the most conspicuous part of the town, and there the culprit, in
addition to his legal punishment, was also disciplined at the
discretion of passers-by with rotten eggs and other equally
potent encouragements to reform. These gratuitous inflictions,
not mentioned in the statute, as well as the public exhibition of
the prisoner were abolished in later times and in this modified
form the method of correction was extended to the two other
counties. Sometimes a cat-o'nine-tails was used, sometimes a
rawhide whip, and sometimes a switch cut from a tree. Nowadays,
however, all the whipping for the State is done in Wilmington,
where all prisoners sentenced to whipping in the State are sent.
This punishment is found to be so efficacious that its infliction
a second time on the same person is exceedingly rare.

The most striking relic of the old Swedish days in Wilmington is
the brick and stone church of good proportions and no small
beauty, and today one of the very ancient relics of America. It
was built by the Swedes in 1698 to replace their old wooden
church, which was on the lower land, and the Swedish language was
used in the services down to the year 1800, when the building was
turned over to the Church of England. Old Peter Minuit, the first
Swedish governor, may possibly have been buried there. The Swedes
built another pretty chapel--Gloria Dei, as it was called--at the
village of Wicaco, on the shore of the Delaware where
Philadelphia afterwards was established. The original building
was taken down in 1700, and the present one was erected on its
site partly with materials from the church at Tinicum. It
remained Swedish Lutheran until 1831, when, like all the Swedish
chapels, it became the property of the Church of England, between
which and the Swedish Lutheran body there was a close affinity,
if not in doctrine, at least in episcopal organization.* The old
brick church dating from 1740, on the main street of Wilmington,
is an interesting relic of the colonial Scotch-Irish
Presbyterians in Delaware, and is now carefully preserved as the
home of the Historical Society.

* Clay's "Annals of the Swedes", pp. 143, 153-4.

After Delaware had been eighteen years under the Duke of York,
William Penn felt a need of the west side of the river all the
way down to the sea to strengthen his ownership of Pennsylvania.
He also wanted to offset the ambitions of Lord Baltimore to
extend Maryland northward. Penn accordingly persuaded his friend
James, the Duke of York, to give him a grant of Delaware, which
Penn thereupon annexed to Pennsylvania under the name of the
Territories or Three Lower Counties. The three counties, New
Castle, Kent, and Sussex,* are still the counties of Delaware,
each one extending across the State and filling its whole length
from the hills of the Brandywine on the Pennsylvania border to
the sands of Sussex at Cape Henlopen. The term "Territory" has
ever since been used in America to describe an outlying province
not yet given the privileges of a State. Instead of townships,
the three Delaware counties were divided into "hundreds," an old
Anglo-Saxon county method of division going back beyond the times
of Alfred the Great. Delaware is the only State in the Union that
retains this name for county divisions. The Three Lower Counties
were allowed to send representatives to the Pennsylvania
Assembly; and the Quakers of Delaware have always been part of
the Yearly Meeting in Philadelphia.

* The original names were New Castle, Jones's, and Hoerekill, as
it was called by the Dutch, or Deal.

In 1703, after having been a part of Pennsylvania for twenty
years, the Three Lower Counties were given home rule and a
legislature of their own; but they remained under the Governor of
Pennsylvania until the Revolution of 1776. They then became an
entirely separate community and one of the thirteen original
States. Delaware was the first State to adopt the National
Constitution, and Rhode Island, its fellow small State, the last.
Having been first to adopt the Constitution, the people of
Delaware claim that on all national occasions or ceremonies they
are entitled to the privilege of precedence. They have every
reason to be proud of the representative men they sent to the
Continental Congress, and to the Senate in later times.
Agriculture has, of course, always been the principal occupation
on the level fertile land of Delaware; and it is agriculture of a
high class, for the soil, especially in certain localities, is
particularly adapted to wheat, corn, and timothy grass, as well
as small fruits. That section of land crossing the State in the
region of Delaware City and Middleton is one of the show regions
in America, for crops of wheat and corn. Farther south, grain
growing is combined with small fruits and vegetables with a
success seldom attained elsewhere. Agriculturally there is no
division of land of similar size quite equal to Delaware in
fertility. Its sand and gravel base with vegetable mold above is
somewhat like the southern Jersey formation, but it is more
productive from having a larger deposit of decayed vegetation.

The people of Delaware have, indeed, very little land that is not
tillable. The problems of poverty, crowding, great cities, and
excessive wealth in few hands are practically unknown among them.
The foreign commerce of Wilmington began in 1740 with the
building of a brig named after the town, and was continued
successfully for a hundred years. At Wilmington there has always
been a strong manufacturing interest, beginning with the famous
colonial flour mills at the falls of the Brandywine, and the
breadstuffs industry at Newport on the Christina. With the
Brandywine so admirably suited to the water-power machinery of
those days and the Christina deep enough for the ships,
Wilmington seemed in colonial times to possess an ideal
combination of advantages for manufacturing and commerce. The
flour mills were followed in 1802 by the Du Pont Powder Works,
which are known all over the world, and which furnished powder
for all American wars since the Revolution, for the Crimean War
in Europe, and for the Allies in the Great War.

"From the hills of Brandywine to the sands of Sussex" is an
expression the people of Delaware use to indicate the whole
length of their little State. The beautiful cluster of hills at
the northern end dropping into park-like pastures along the
shores of the rippling Red Clay and White Clay creeks which form
the deep Christina with its border of green reedy marshes, is in
striking contrast to the wild waste of sands at Cape Henlopen.
Yet in one way the Brandywine Hills are closely connected with
those sands, for from these very hills have been quarried the
hard rocks for the great breakwater at the Cape, behind which the
fleets of merchant vessels take refuge in storms.

The great sand dunes behind the lighthouse at the cape have their
equal nowhere else on the coast. Blown by the ocean winds, the
dunes work inland, overwhelming a pine forest to the tree tops
and filling swamps in their course. The beach is strewn with
every type of wreckage of man's vain attempts to conquer the sea.
The Life Saving Service men have strange tales to tell and show
their collections of coins found along the sand. The old pilots
live snugly in their neat houses in Pilot Row, waiting their
turns to take the great ships up through the shoals and sands
which were so baffling to Henry Hudson and his mate one hot
day of the year 1609.

The Indians of the northern part of Delaware are said to have
been mostly Minquas who lived along the Christiana and
Brandywine, and are supposed to have had a fort on Iron Hill. The
rest of the State was inhabited by the Nanticokes, who extended
their habitations far down the peninsula, where a river is named
after them. They were a division or clan of the Delawares or Leni
Lenapes. In the early days they gave some trouble; but shortly
before the Revolution all left the peninsula in strange and
dramatic fashion. Digging up the bones of their dead chiefs in
1748, they bore them away to new abodes in the Wyoming Valley of
Pennsylvania. Some appear to have traveled by land up the
Delaware to the Lehigh, which they followed to its source not far
from the Wyoming Valley. Others went in canoes, starting far down
the peninsula at the Nanticoke River and following along the wild
shore of the Chesapeake to the Susquehanna, up which they went by
its eastern branch straight into the Wyoming Valley. It was a
grand canoe trip--a weird procession of tawny, black-haired
fellows swinging their paddles day after day, with their freight
of ancient bones, leaving the sunny fishing grounds of the
Nanticoke and the Choptank to seek a refuge from the detested
white man in the cold mountains of Pennsylvania.