Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you. — Pericles

Stephen of Philadelphia - James Otis

What the Savages Wore

So to set down what they wore that whosoever reads may picture it in his mind is far beyond me, and yet they had little of clothing, even though there was a chill of frost in the air.

At first glance it seemed as if they were decked out with nothing save feathers. Some had many bright-colored plumes in their hair; others wore a hind of headdress in which the feathers stood up straight, like unto a crown, while not a few had, in addition to the crown, a long train of feathers sweeping downward from their heads.

[Illustration] from Stephen of Philadelphia by James Otis

All wore soft, odd-looking shoes, much ornamented with what appeared to be beads and straws, which last I afterward learned were quills of the porcupine stained in gay colors. Not a few of them had on half-breeches of tanned deer hide, my father said, and these also were decked fancifully with beads and quills.

One would have said they were a party of merry- makers, who had put on all these feathers as a sort of disguise, save that there were no signs of mirth on their faces.

Some had bows in their hands, with arrows in a quiver slung over the left shoulder; but I was surprised to see three who carried guns which had much the look of English make.

My father afterward explained this by saying that these savages had, most like, traded with the people of New York and the English in Connecticut, or with the Swedes who were settled round about us, and in such way been able to buy firearms. He declared, however, that it was more the behavior of madmen, than of people who counted to live in this land, to put into the hands of the Indians weapons with which they could easily kill those who had thus supplied them.

Before the winter was passed I came to be so accustomed to the sight of these brown, feather-decked men as to give little or no heed when they came among us.

It was much as if they counted on being friendly, for scores and scores came with furs, wild fowl, or deer meat to sell, and I never saw any of them give way to anger, even when the women and girls gathered about them, through idle curiosity, in such numbers that the savages could do no more than stand still until the press gave way.


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