Abbildungen der Seite

or bought from them could not be disregarded by the Assemblymen chosen by the whole body of propertyowning freemen. In 1700, during Penn's second visit, it was enacted that all lands seated by virtue of letters patent or warrants under the Crown of England before the grant to William Penn except where obtained by fraud or deceit should be quietly enjoyed by the actual possessors and their heirs and assigns.

In 1709, the Swedish view was set forth in a petition to the Assembly, complaining moreover that those who had handed in their old patents never got them back. The Land Commissioners met the petitioners, and agreed to examine into any particular case of injury by taking away land, and insisted on the obligation to pay quit rent. Logan said that he, Secretary since Penn's departure, had never had any of the old patents, nor had ever asked greater quit rent than a bushel of wheat for every hundred acres. Penn, receiving notice of the complaints, represented the case, says Acrelius, to the Swedish Minister Resident in London, after transmission by whom the matter was taken up by the Royal Council of Sweden. It is possible that the malcontents were the first to approach the Minister. The Royal Council under date of June 23, 1711, warned the members of the Swedish congregations on the Delaware, if they wished further help in church matters, to conduct themselves in obedience to the laws of the country where they were living and also to Penn. Protesting that they had always been quiet and loyal subjects, the Swedes in 1713 asked a certificate to that effect from the Assembly of Pennsylvania to the British and Swedish governments, and made a long representation of grievances to the Swedish Minister. To a petition in 1721 by Swedes for an act to confirm titles, the Land Commissioners made answer that the titles of the petitioners under the Duke of York had never been called in question, as far as the Commissioners knew. At the time of the Charter to Penn, the Indians had abandoned very few contiguous square miles within the present limits of the state, and, besides believing themselves entitled to the spaces between some isolated plantations, occupied the whole country from the Conshohocken range of hills to Lake Erie, receiving white visitors occasionally in the southeast, on either side of that range of hills, and French missionaries, French traders, and perhaps French soldiers in the northwest. During the whole period of this history, the Penns can not be said to have obtained possession to a greater distance in any direction than ninety miles from Philadelphia.

The general question of Indian title and Penn's attitude in relation thereto and his plan for the red man and the white man to live as good neighbours may be discussed here, leaving to the next chapter the account of particular tribes and the dealings with them before the end of Penn's second visit to Pennsylvania, and to other chapters the various episodes in Indian affairs connected with the time or subject touched upon in those chapters.

The principle being once established that discovery or occupation or cession by the discoverer or occupier gave to one Christian prince or nation the ownership as far as all Christian princes and nations were concerned, it follows that he or that nation alone of all of them could enter into relations with the barbarians inhabiting the region covered by such ownership. If another civilized power attempted to avail itself of any consent obtained from the native barbarians to a foothold in that region, it was an invasion. Moralists early doubted the right of any nation whatever to intrude where other human beings were dwelling, or even were accustomed to hunt and fish, unless those human beings gave consent, either freely or after a lawful war. Some persons had gone so far as to assert title by purchase from the natives, independent of or in opposition to title by discovery or occupation; but the general recognition by commercial and colonizing nations of title by discovery or occupation practically curtailed the rights of the aborigines of the New World by restricting the market for those rights, like some modern agreements restraining trade by apportioning territory. If wild men had any property in the soil, they could not seek in the family of Christian nations “the highest and best bidder.” There was only one nation which could buy, and, under the best approved system, there was only one individual, viz: the sovereign, or his representative, either official or by license. Therefore, in discussing in the first chapter the claim of one Englishman against another, and tracing the title of one European power as against another, little has been said about any grant by the aborigines of North America. Yet it is clear that, except by absolute subjugation of these, no land within their reach could be actually and permanently acquired without license or transfer from them. In Good Speed to Virginia, printed in 1609, quoted in Alexander Brown's Genesis of the United States, there was mentioned as probably correct an opinion that the savages had no particular property in any part of the country, but only a general residence therein, as wild beasts in a forest; but, nevertheless, there was a disclaimer of any intention to take the natives' rightful inheritance by force, for, it was stated, they were willing to entertain the settlers, and had offered to yield on reasonable conditions more land than could in a long time be planted. The customs of the savages lent some support to the theory of their right being merely that of residence, and of taking sustenance. Among such nomads, no individual could exclude another from a particular piece of ground, unless covered by his hut or his hill of corn, and proprietorship even by the tribe meant nothing much beyond the villages but the right to hunt or fish within certain limits. Moreover, government was loose, the “kings” or sachems presiding over a democracy in which affairs were settled by “the sense of the meeting.” The freedom, however, of these democracies to withhold their communal possessions from Europeans was quite early pretty generally accepted as a fact, and even recognized more than is supposed as a right.

The Swedes and the Dutch, too few to be conquerors, and looking for the furs to those experienced in hunting, endeavored to be friends with the natives, and, condoning occasional murders by them, succeeded. Before attempting to take possession of land, these Swedes and Dutch purchased it from those savages who claimed the right to sell, and, in the course of time, from successive and conflicting claimants. There was only one safe course to pursue: to buy from every Indian in sight, and if any who had sold had forgotten or doubted the scope of the transaction, then to buy over again. Whatever land acquired for the Swedish or Dutch colonies was not recognized as the property of individuals, passed to the King of England by the treaty of Westminster. The officers under Charles II or the Duke of York in dealing with the red men strove to avoid all cause of complaint through unfair trading or unjust bodily hurt. The laws published on March 1, 1664–5, at Hemsted by Col. Richard Nicolls provided that no purchase of land from Indians after that date should be a good title without leave from the Governor having been first obtained for such purchase; and that, afterwards, before a grant by the government could be issued, the sachem and right owner must acknowledge receipt of payment; and that all injuries done to Indians should, upon their complaint and proof in court, be speedily redressed gratis. Some purchases of land west of the Delaware were afterwards made by private individuals or public officers, so that by the time Penn received the charter from the King, a considerable part of the southeastern corner of the present state was covered by deeds from some Indian, much of the acreage being the private property of settlers, and much being undisposed of by the King or Duke, and so transferred to Penn. The quantity of vacant land, however, was as nothing compared to the needs of any large immigration.

We do not know how early and how clearly William Penn adopted the view, scarcely yet universally accepted, that a civilized man is morally bound to bargain and pay for land over which nomads have been merely roaming. In a letter from Philadelphia, dated Aug. 14, 1683, to the Lords of the Committee for Trade and Plantations, Penn says: “I have exactly followed the Bishop of London's council (sic) by buying and not taking the Natives' land, with whom I have settled a very kind correspondence.” The Bishop of London from 1679 to 1713, except during a short suspension in 1686, was Dr. Henry Compton, who will be mentioned in another chapter. It would seem that this counsel, or advice, was given on June 14, 1680, when Penn, being called in, appeared before the Committee, and the Bishop, a member of the Committee, was present, that meeting being the only one attended by him when Penn's charter was considered. Although the minutes do not mention it, we must conclude that the Bishop, always very outspoken, then expressed the hope that no land would be occupied without the consent and compensation of the natives, and that Penn gave assurance that he would be extremely careful in this respect. This may not have been a new thought to Penn.

While we would not detract from the glory due to Penn and his earliest representatives for carrying out this plan faithfully in letter and spirit, and the glory due to the genuine or earnest Quakers for their whole treatment of the red man, we are quite sure, that, even

« ZurückWeiter »