Truth is uniform and narrow, but error is endlessly diversified . . . In this field the soul has room enough to expand herself, to display all her boundless faculties . . . — Benjamin Franklin

Stephen of Philadelphia - James Otis

The Settlement of Germantown

It was near about this time that a company of German people bought from William Penn many thousand acres of land, and began to build a town beyond us a few miles, as if it was in their minds to rival our city of Philadelphia.

Germantown was the name of the settlement, and Jethro and I were fair wild with envy when straightway these people built a grist mill, for we had no such luxury, and, in my mind, I cast reproach upon our people for having thus allowed men who had but just come into the country to outstrip us.

[Illustration] from Stephen of Philadelphia by James Otis

What made the matter worse, from my point of view, was that our people were forced to carry their grain to the Germantown mill, unless they were minded to grind it by hand, and thus did it seem as if we of Philadelphia were already willing to confess that these Germans could force us to go to them, when it should have been in other way around, because of our having been longer in the country.

The name of the chief man in this settlement of Germantown, was Pastorius, and he was said to be very learned, speaking no fewer than seven languages, without counting the Indian tongue, which he may have picked up after coming to this country.

He, meaning this Francis Pastorius, was not a Friend, neither did he worship God according to the religion of Germany or England; but was, as father said, a seeker after strange gods, calling himself a Pietist, which, as nearly as I can make out, is the same as if he had said he was more inclined to piety, or religion, than were others.

However odd these settlers of Germantown may have been in their religion, father insists that they were good neighbors, and it was well we should have such as they come among us. There were thirteen families in this new village, and each had a house built in the middle of a three-acre lot of land, on which they straightway set about planting flax, for these people were said to be remarkably good weavers. If it had not been that they had a grist mill in their settlement, thereby outstripping us of Philadelphia, I should have been more kindly disposed toward them; but there was some little satisfaction in the fact that it was a Friend who had built the mill, and one who went regularly to our meeting; therefore these Pietists could not take to themselves so very much in the way of credit.


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