The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins. — H. L. Mencken

Stephen of Philadelphia - James Otis

Going to Meet the "Factor"

It was at once decided that a certain number of our company should make the journey down the river, after having bargained with the savages to guide them, and both Jethro and I were eager to be of the party, even though hardships might be met.

We had remained idle so long, doing little else than eat, that action of any kind, however dangerous, was something greatly to be desired.

It was not an easy matter to gain permission of our parents, however, although we did succeed finally, and you may set it down in good truth that we were in high spirits on that winter morning when we started off.

The party numbered five men, we two lads, and three savages to show the way. We were all well armed, for no one could say how many wild and ferocious beasts might be encountered, and carried provisions in plenty, not being minded to live upon the stores of our friends.

You must know that there was snow upon the ground to the depth of eight or ten inches, and to plough through this would have been most exhausting work; but the savages make a kind of shoe to bear them on the surface, however deep the drifts may be, and already had my father fashioned one pair for himself and another for me.

[Illustration] from Stephen of Philadelphia by James Otis

The shoes are made by working down two pieces of wood from the ash tree, the wood having been well seasoned, until they are of no greater bigness than your smallest finger. The wood is then held in the steam from boiling water until it can be readily bent, when the ends are brought close together and the middle stretched wide apart, something after the fashion of fastening two crescent-shaped sticks at each point.

Across this frame are woven the entrails of deer, until a sort of basket-work has been formed, after which the cords are allowed to dry slowly, when they will become hard and tough, yet so far pliable as to yield somewhat to the pressure of one's foot.

It is not a simple matter to walk on these Indian snowshoes until after one has had considerable practice, and even then it is necessary to advance with the feet so wide apart, in order to allow for the width of the shoes, that the labor is very great, at least so it was to Jethro and me by the time we had traveled three or four miles.


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