Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to fit the vision, instead we are always changing the vision. — G. K. Chesterton

Stephen of Philadelphia - James Otis

Why We Went to London

I was just turned twelve, in the year of grace 1681, when my father took me to London. It may be that I cannot set it down exactly as my father would, why we made the long, wearisome journey; but yet I shall be able to put forth all the facts, even though they are not given in due order.

First, it was known in Bristol that William Penn had been given a large tract of land in America by King Charles II, in settlement of a debt owed by the king to his father, the admiral, with the agreement that two beaver skins should be paid each year for the same, which, of course, was a most ridiculous price; but, as I understood it, this served simply to show that the king claimed, even after using it with which to pay a debt, the right to rule over the country.

All this would have concerned my father but little had it not been for the fact that William Penn had become a Friend, or Quaker, and my father was also of the same faith.

It had been made known by Penn that those Englishmen who wanted to make homes for themselves in America, where no man should be able to wrong them because of being Friends, could have land at the rate of forty shillings for an hundred acres, or five thousand acres for the sum of one hundred pounds.

[Illustration] from Stephen of Philadelphia by James Otis

There were many of our neighbors in Bristol who counted to journey overseas to where a man might believe or preach whatsoever seemed to him right in the sight of God, and many parcels of land had already been taken up by them in the new town, wheresoever it might be located.

My father was a cautious man, however, unwilling to embark in any enterprise, however trifling, until he had first a clear idea of what would be expected, and to that end he went up to London that he might have speech with William Penn.


Front Matter

The Name of My City
My Own Name
Why We Went to London
Bound for America
On Board Ship
Unknown Country
The End of the Voyage
Going Ashore
Our First Shelter
A Tedious Task
Our Cave Home Completed
How We Kept House
Savages Come to Town
What the Savages Wore
Game in Plenty
Sea Food
News of the Factor
Arrival of the Amity
Going to Meet the Factor
A Tiresome Journey
Meeting Old Friends
Roasting Turkeys
Turning an Honest Penny
A Place for the City
Building the City
A Bear Hunt
The New Home
Penn's Care for Colonists
The First Baby
How the Indians Live
Indian Utensils and Tools
Canoes of Bark
Making Wampum
The Beehive Huts
Finishing the Cure
Starting a Fire
Cooking Indian Corn
News of Penn's Arrival
Our Humble Preparations
The Welcome to Penn
A Day of Festivities
Penn Joins in the Sports
More Serious Business
What a Bake Oven Is
Baking in the New Oven
Penn Plans to Buy Land
Penn and the Indians
The Price Paid for Land
Gratitude of the Indians
Trapping Wild Turkeys
New Arrivals
Government by the People
The Promise of a School
Dock Creek Bridge
The Nail Business
Buying Iron in New York
No Merrymaking after Dark
Busy Days
Enoch Flower's School
End of Our School Days
Settlement of Germantown
New Laws in Our Own Town
A Division of Opinion
A Matter of History
Boundary Lines
The Governor's Following
A Proud Departure
The Settlement of Chester
Dining in State
Anchored off New Castle
An Uncomfortable Night
A Dull Journey
In Lord Baltimore's City
A Splendid Home
A Question of Duty
Amy of Maryland
The Shops of Maryland
The Result of the Visit
Philadelphia Progresses
Penn Goes Back to London