Chapter VI. The French And Indian War

There was no great change in political conditions in Pennsylvania
until about the year 1755. The French in Canada had been
gradually developing their plans of spreading down the Ohio and
Mississippi valleys behind the English colonies. They were at the
same time securing alliances with the Indians and inciting them
to hostilities against the English. But so rapidly were the
settlers advancing that often the land could not be purchased
fast enough to prevent irritation and ill feeling. The
Scotch-Irish and Germans, it has already been noted, settled on
lands without the formality of purchase from the Indians. The
Government, when the Indians complained, sometimes ejected the
settlers but more often hastened to purchase from the Indians the
land which had been occupied. "The Importance of the British
Plantations in America," published in 1731, describes the Indians
as peaceful and contented in Pennsylvania but irritated and
unsettled in those other colonies where they had usually been
ill-treated and defrauded. This, with other evidence, goes to
show that up to that time Penn's policy of fairness and good
treatment still prevailed. But those conditions soon changed, as
the famous Walking Purchase of 1737 clearly indicated.

The Walking Purchase had provided for the sale of some lands
along the Delaware below the Lehigh on a line starting at
Wrightstown, a few miles back from the Delaware not far above
Trenton, and running northwest, parallel with the river, as far
as a man could walk in a day and a half. The Indians understood
that this tract would extend northward only to the Lehigh, which
was the ordinary journey of a day and a half. The proprietors,
however, surveyed the line beforehand, marked the trees, engaged
the fastest walkers and, with horses to carry provisions, started
their men at sunrise. By running a large part of the way, at the
end of a day and a half these men had reached a point thirty
miles beyond the Lehigh.

The Delaware Indians regarded this measurement as a pure fraud
and refused to abandon the Minisink region north of the Lehigh.
The proprietors then called in the assistance of the Six Nations
of New York, who ordered the Delawares off the Minisink lands.
Though they obeyed, the Delawares became the relentless enemies
of the white man and in the coming years revenged themselves by
massacres and murder. They also broke the control which the Six
Nations had over them, became an independent nation, and in the
French Wars revenged themselves on the Six Nations as well as on
the white men. The congress which convened at Albany in 1754
was an attempt on the part of the British Government to settle
all Indian affairs in a general agreement and to prevent separate
treaties by the different colonies; but the Pennsylvania
delegates, by various devices of compass courses which the
Indians did not understand and by failing to notify and secure
the consent of certain tribes, obtained a grant of pretty much
the whole of Pennsylvania west of the Susquehanna. The Indians
considered this procedure to be another gross fraud. It is to be
noticed that in their dealings with Penn they had always been
satisfied, and that he had always been careful that they should
be duly consulted and if necessary be paid twice over for the
land. But his sons were more economical, and as a result of the
shrewd practices of the Albany purchase the Pennsylvania Indians
almost immediately went over in a body to the French and were
soon scalping men, women, and children among the Pennsylvania
colonists. It is a striking fact, however, that in all the
after years of war and rapine and for generations afterwards the
Indians retained the most distinct and positive tradition of
Penn's good faith and of the honesty of all Quakers. So
persistent, indeed, was this tradition among the tribes of the
West that more than a century later President Grant proposed to
put the whole charge of the nation's Indian affairs in the hands
of the Quakers. The first efforts to avert the catastrophe
threatened by the alliance of the red man with the French were
made by the provincial assemblies, which voted presents of money
or goods to the Indians to offset similar presents from the
French. The result was, of course, the utter demoralization of
the savages. Bribed by both sides, the Indians used all their
native cunning to encourage the bribers to bid against each
other. So far as Pennsylvania was concerned, feeling themselves
cheated in the first instance and now bribed with gifts, they
developed a contempt for the people who could stoop to such
practices. As a result this contempt manifested itself in deeds
hitherto unknown in the province. One tribe on a visit to
Philadelphia killed cattle and robbed orchards as they passed.
The delegates of another tribe, having visited Philadelphia and
received 500 pounds as a present, returned to the frontier and on
their way back for another present destroyed the property of the
interpreter and Indian agent, Conrad Weiser. They felt that they
could do as they pleased. To make matters worse, the Assembly
paid for all the damage done; and having started on this foolish
business, they found that the list of tribes demanding presents
rapidly increased. The Shawanoes and the Six Nations, as well as
the Delawares, were now swarming to this new and convenient
source of wealth.

Whether the proprietors or the Assembly should meet this
increasing expense or divide it between them, became a subject of
increasing controversy. It was in these discussions that Thomas
Penn, in trying to keep his family's share of the expense as
small as possible, first got the reputation for closeness which
followed him for the rest of his life and which started a party
in the province desirous of having Parliament abolish the
proprietorship and put the province under a governor appointed by
the Crown.

The war with the French of Canada and their Indian allies is of
interest here only in so far as it affected the government of
Pennsylvania. From this point of view it involved a series of
contests between the proprietors and the Crown on the one side
and the Assembly on the other. The proprietors and the Crown took
advantage of every military necessity to force the Assembly into
a surrender of popular rights. But the Assembly resisted,
maintaining that they had the same right as the British Commons
of having their money bills received or rejected by the Governor
without amendment. Whatever they should give must be given on
their own terms or not at all; and they would not yield this
point to any necessities of the war.

When Governor Morris asked the Assembly for a war contribution in
1754, they promptly voted 20,000 pounds. This was the same amount
that Virginia, the most active of the colonies in the war, was
giving. Other colonies gave much less; New York, only 5000
pounds, and Maryland 6000 pounds. Morris, however, would not
assent to the Assembly's bill unless it contained a clause
suspending its effect until the King's pleasure was known. This
was an attempt to establish a precedent for giving up the
Assembly's charter right of passing laws which need not be
submitted to the King for five years and which in the meantime
were valid. The members of the Assembly very naturally refused to
be forced by the necessities of the war into surrendering one of
the most important privileges the province possessed. It was,
they said, as much their duty to resist this invasion of their
rights as to resist the French.

Governor Morris, besides demanding that the supply of 20,000
pounds should not go into force until the King's pleasure was
known, insisted that the paper money representing it should be
redeemable in five years. This period the Assembly considered too
short; the usual time was ten years. Five years would ruin too
many people by foreclosures. Moreover, the Governor was
attempting to dictate the way in which the people should raise a
money supply. He and the King had a right to ask for aid in war;
but it was the right of the colony to use its own methods of
furnishing this assistance. The Governor also refused to let the
Assembly see the instructions from the proprietors under which he
was acting. This was another attack upon their liberties and
involved nothing less than an attempt to change their charter
rights by secret instructions to a deputy governor which he must
obey at his peril. Several bills had recently been introduced in
the English Parliament for the purpose of making royal
instructions to governors binding on all the colonial assemblies
without regard to their charters. This innovation, the colonists
felt, would wreck all their liberties and turn colonial
government into a mere despotism.

The assemblies of all the colonies have been a good deal abused
for delay in supporting the war and meanness in withholding
money. But in many instances the delay and lack of money were
occasioned by the grasping schemes of governors who saw a chance
to gain new privileges for the Crown or a proprietor or to weaken
popular government by crippling the powers of the legislatures.
The usual statement that the Pennsylvania Assembly was slow in
assisting the war because it was composed of Quakers is not
supported by the facts. The Pennsylvania Assembly was not behind
the rest. On this particular occasion, when their large money
supply bill could not be passed without sacrificing their
constitutional rights, they raised money for the war by
appointing a committee which was authorized to borrow 5000 pounds
on the credit of the Assembly.

Other contests arose over the claim of the proprietors that their
estates in the province were exempt from taxation for the war or
any purpose. One bill taxing the proprietary estates along with
others was met by Thomas Penn offering to subscribe 5000 pounds,
as a free gift to the colony's war measures. The Assembly
accepted this, and passed the bill without taxing the proprietary
estates. It turned out, however, to be a shrewd business move on
the part of Thomas Penn; for the 5000 pounds was to be collected
out of the quitrents that were in arrears, and the payment of it
was in consequence long delayed. The thrifty Thomas had thus
saddled his bad debts on the province and gained a reputation for
generosity at the same time.

Pennsylvania, though governed by Quakers assisted by noncombatant
Germans, had a better protected frontier than Maryland or
Virginia; no colony, indeed, was at that time better protected.
The Quaker Assembly did more than take care of the frontier
during the war; it preserved at the same time constitutional
rights in defense of which twenty-five years afterwards the whole
continent fought the Revolution. The Quaker Assembly even passed
two militia bills, one of which became law, and sent rather more
than the province's full share of troops to protect the frontiers
of New York and New England and to carry the invasion into

General Braddock warmly praised the assistance which Pennsylvania
gave him because, he said, she had done more for him than any of
the other colonies. Virginia and Maryland promised everything and
performed nothing, while Pennsylvania promised nothing and
performed everything. Commodore Spy thanked the Assembly for the
large number of sailors sent his fleet at the expense of the
province. General Shirley, in charge of the New England and New
York campaigns, thanked the Assembly for the numerous recruits;
and it was the common opinion at the time that Pennsylvania had
sent more troops to the war than any other colony. In the first
four years of the war the province spent for military purposes
210,567 pounds sterling, which was a very considerable sum at
that time for a community of less than 200,000 people. Quakers,
though they hate war, will accept it when there is no escape. The
old story of the Quaker who tossed a pirate overboard, saying,
"Friend, thee has no business here," gives their point of view
better than pages of explanation. Quaker opinion has not always
been entirely uniform. In Revolutionary times in Philadelphia
there was a division of the Quakers known as the Fighting
Quakers, and their meeting house is still pointed out at the
corner of Fourth Street and Arch. They even produced able
military leaders: Colonel John Dickinson, General Greene, and
General Mifflin in the Continental Army, and, in the War of 1812,
General Jacob Brown, who reorganized the army and restored its
failing fortunes after many officers had been tried and found

There was always among the Quakers a rationalistic party and a
party of mysticism. The rationalistic party prevailed in
Pennsylvania all through the colonial period. In the midst of the
worst horrors of the French and Indian wars, however, the
conscientious objectors roused themselves and began preaching and
exhorting what has been called the mystical side of the faith.
Many extreme Quaker members of the Assembly resigned their seats
in consequence. After the Revolution the spiritual party began
gaining ground, partly perhaps because then the responsibilities
of government and care of the great political and religious
experiment in Pennsylvania were removed. The spiritual party
increased so rapidly in power that in 1827 a split occurred which
involved not a little bitterness, ill feeling, and litigation
over property. This division into two opposing camps, known as
the Hicksites and the Orthodox, continues and is likely to

Quaker government in Pennsylvania was put to still severer tests
by the difficulties and disasters that followed Braddock's
defeat. That unfortunate general had something over two thousand
men and was hampered with a train of artillery and a splendid
equipment of arms, tools, and supplies, as if he were to march
over the smooth highways of Europe. When he came to drag all
these munitions through the depths of the Pennsylvania forests
and up and down the mountains, he found that he made only about
three miles a day and that his horses had nothing to eat but the
leaves of the trees. Washington, who was of the party, finally
persuaded him to abandon his artillery and press forward with
about fifteen hundred picked men. These troops, when a few miles
from Fort Duquesne (now Pittsburgh), met about six hundred
Indians and three hundred French coming from the fort. The
English maintained a close formation where they were, but the
French and Indians immediately spread out on their flanks, lying
behind trees and logs which provided rests for their rifles and
security for their bodies. This strategy decided the day. The
English were shot down like cattle in a pen, and out of about
fifteen hundred only four hundred and fifty escaped. The French
and Indian loss was not much over fifty.

This defeat of Braddock's force has become one of the most famous
reverses in history; and it was made worse by the conduct of
Dunbar who had been left in command of the artillery, baggage,
and men in the rear. He could have remained where he was as some
sort of protection to the frontier. But he took fright, burned
his wagons, emptied his barrels of powder into the streams,
destroyed his provisions, and fled back to Fort Cumberland in
Maryland. Here the governors of Pennsylvania and Virginia as well
as the Pennsylvania Assembly urged him to stay. But, determined
make the British rout complete, he soon retreated to the peace
and quiet of Philadelphia, and nothing would induce him to enter
again the terrible forests of Pennsylvania.

The natural result of the blunder soon followed. The French,
finding the whole frontier of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and
Virginia abandoned, organized the Indians under French officers
and swept the whole region with a devastation of massacre,
scalping, and burning that has never been equaled. Hurons,
Potawatomies, Ojibways, Ottawas, Mingoes, renegades from the Six
Nations, together with the old treaty friends of Penn, the
Delawares and Shawanoes, began swarming eastward and soon had
killed more people than had been lost at Braddock's defeat. The
onslaught reached its height in September and October. By that
time all the outlying frontier settlers and their families had
been killed or sent flying eastward to seek refuge in the
settlements. The Indians even followed them to the settlements,
reached the Susquehanna, and crossed it. They massacred the
people of the village of Gnadenhutten, near Bethlehem on the
Lehigh, and established near by a headquarters for prisoners and
plunder. Families were scalped within fifty miles of
Philadelphia, and in one instance the bodies of a murdered family
were brought into the town and exhibited in the streets to show
the inhabitants how near the danger was approaching. Nothing
could be done to stem the savage tide. Virginia was suffering in
the same way: the settlers on her border were slaughtered or were
driven back in herds upon the more settled districts, and
Washington, with a nominal strength of fifteen hundred who would
not obey orders, was forced to stand a helpless spectator of the
general flight and misery. There was no adequate force or army
anywhere within reach. The British had been put to flight and had
gone to the defense of New England and New York. Neither
Pennsylvania nor Virginia had a militia that could withstand the
French and their red allies. They could only wait till the panic
had subsided and then see what could be done.

One thing was accomplished, however, when the Pennsylvania
Assembly passed a Quaker militia law which is one of the most
curious legal documents of its kind in history. It was most aptly
worded, drafted by the master hand of Franklin. It recited the
fact that the province had always been ruled by Quakers who were
opposed to war, but that now it had become necessary to allow men
to become soldiers and to give them every facility for the
profession of arms, because the Assembly though containing a
Quaker majority nevertheless represented all the people of the
province. To prevent those who believed in war from taking part
in it would be as much a violation of liberty of conscience as to
force enlistments among those who had conscientious scruples
against it. Nor would the Quaker majority have any right to
compel others to bear arms and at the same time exempt
themselves. Therefore a voluntary militia system was established
under which a fighting Quaker, a Presbyterian, an Episcopalian,
or anybody, could enlist and have all the military glory he could

It was altogether a volunteer system. Two years afterwards, as
the necessities of war increased, the Quaker Assembly passed a
rather stringent compulsory militia bill; but the governor vetoed
it, and the first law with its volunteer system remained in
force. Franklin busied himself to encourage enlistments under it
and was very successful. Though a philosopher and a man of
science, almost as much opposed to war as the Quakers and not
even owning a shotgun, he was elected commander and led a force
of about five hundred men to protect the Lehigh Valley. His
common sense seems to have supplied his lack of military
training. He did no worse than some professional soldiers who
might be named. The valley was supposed to be in great danger
since its village of Gnadenhutten had been burned and its people
massacred. The Moravians, like the Quakers, had suddenly found
that they were not as much opposed to war as they had supposed.
They had obtained arms and ammunition from New York and had built
stockades, and Franklin was glad to find them so well prepared
when he arrived. He built small forts in different parts of the
valley, acted entirely on the defensive, and no doubt checked the
raids of the Indians at that point. They seem to have been
watching him from the hilltops all the time, and any rashness on
his part would probably have brought disaster upon him. After his
force had been withdrawn, the Indians again attacked and burned

The chain of forts, at first seventeen, afterwards increased to
fifty, built by the Assembly on the Pennsylvania frontier was a
good plan so far as it went, but it was merely defensive and by
no means completely defensive, since Indian raiding parties could
pass between the forts. They served chiefly as refuges for
neighboring settlers. The colonial troops or militia, after
manning the fifty forts and sending their quota to the operations
against Canada by way of New England and New York, were not
numerous enough to attack the Indians. They could only act on the
defensive as Franklin's command had done. As for the rangers, as
the small bands of frontiersmen acting without any authority of
either governor or legislature were called, they were very
efficient as individuals but they accomplished very little
because they acted at widely isolated spots. What was needed was
a well organized force which could pursue the Indians on their
own ground so far westward that the settlers on the frontier
would be safe. The only troops which could do this were the
British regulars with the assistance of the colonial militia.

Two energetic efforts to end the war without aid from abroad were
made, however, one by the pacific Quakers and the other by the
combatant portion of the people. Both of these were successful so
far as they went, but had little effect on the general situation.
In the summer of 1756, the Quakers made a very earnest effort to
persuade the two principal Pennsylvania tribes, the Delawares and
Shawanoes, to withdraw from the French alliance and return to
their old friends. These two tribes possessed a knowledge of the
country which enabled them greatly to assist the French designs
on Pennsylvania. Chiefs of these tribes were brought under safe
conducts to Philadelphia, where they were entertained as equals
in the Quaker homes. Such progress, indeed, was made that by the
end of July a treaty of peace was concluded at Easton eliminating
those two tribes from the war. This has sometimes been sneered at
as mere Quaker pacifism; but it was certainly successful in
lessening the numbers and effectiveness of the enemy.

The other undertaking was a military one, the famous attack upon
Kittanning conducted by Colonel John Armstrong, an Ulsterman from
Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and the first really aggressive officer
the province had produced. The Indians had two headquarters for
their raids into the province, one at Logstown on the Ohio a few
miles below Fort Duquesne, and the other at Kittanning or, as the
French called it, Attique, about forty miles northeast. At these
two points they assembled their forces, received ammunition and
supplies from the French, and organized their expeditions. As
Kittanning was the nearer, Armstrong in a masterly maneuver took
three hundred men through the mountains without being discovered
and, by falling upon the village early in the morning, he
effected a complete surprise. The town was set on fire, the
Indians were put to flight, and large quantities of their
ammunition were destroyed. But Armstrong could not follow up his
success. Threatened by overwhelming numbers, he hastened to
withdraw. The effect which the fighting and the Quaker treaty had
on the frontier was good. Incursions of the savages were, at
least for the present, checked. But the root of the evil had not
yet been reached, and the Indians remained massed along the Ohio,
ready to break in upon the people again at the first opportunity.

The following year, 1757, was the most depressing period of the
war. The proprietors of Pennsylvania took the opportunity to
exempt their own estate from taxation and throw the burden of
furnishing money for the war upon the colonists. Under pressure
of the increasing success of the French and Indians and because
the dreadful massacres were coming nearer and nearer to
Philadelphia, the Quaker Assembly yielded, voted the largest sum
they had ever voted to the war, and exempted the proprietary
estates. The colony was soon boiling with excitement. The
Churchmen, as friends of the proprietors, were delighted to have
the estates exempted, thought it a good opportunity to have the
Quaker Assembly abolished, and sent petitions and letters and
proofs of alleged Quaker incompetence to the British Government.
The Quakers and a large majority of the colonists, on the other
hand, instead of consenting to their own destruction, struck at
the root of the Churchmen's power by proposing to abolish the
proprietors. And in a letter to Isaac Norris, Benjamin Franklin,
who had been sent to England to present the grievances of the
colonists, even suggested that "tumults and insurrections that
might prove the proprietary government unable to preserve order,
or show the people to be ungovernable, would do the business

Turmoil and party strife rose to the most exciting heights, and
the details of it might, under certain circumstances, be
interesting to describe. But the next year, 1758, the British
Government, by sending a powerful force of regulars to
Pennsylvania, at last adopted the only method for ending the war.
Confidence was at once restored. The Pennsylvania Assembly now
voted the sufficient and, indeed, immense sum of one hundred
thousand pounds, and offered a bounty of five pounds to every
recruit. It was no longer a war of defense but now a war of
aggression and conquest. Fort Duquesne on the Ohio was taken; and
the next autumn Fort Pitt was built on its ruins. Then Canada
fell, and the French empire in America came to an end. Canada and
the Great West passed into the possession of the Anglo-Saxon