Description

    Pennsylvania Governor John Penn orders the Paxton Boys off Indian land

    John Penn (1729-1795) Grandson of William Penn and Governor of Pennsylvania, fine content Autograph Letter Signed "John Penn" one page, 7.25" x 9", Philadelphia, January 30, 1766. An important letter dealing with the continuing problem of the "Paxton Boys", a group of Scots-Irish settlers in central Pennsylvania who were responsible for the murders of over twenty Conestoga Indians in 1763 and 1764. Penn forcefully writes: "Jacob Whisler with whom the Care of the Consestgo Lands is entrusted informs me that a number of the people called Paxton men have presumed without the least authority to come upon that tract where the Indians formerly lived under pretence that they have the best claim there to by right of Conquest, as having murdered the late Inhabitants. I enclose you his affidavit concerning this matter and in order to prevent any ill consequences form the further progress of those wrongheaded people in their unlawful designs, I must beg you will immediately send them notice, that it is my Express orders that they forthwith remove from those lands otherwise they will be prosecuted without delay. Let this warning be given if possible before the setting of the Court. Mr. Shippen who sets off for Lancaster on Sunday next will have further Directions how to proceed, in case they refuse to comply." The Paxton Boys, unhappy that the Quaker-dominated government wasn't doing more to guard the frontier in the wake of Pontiac's rebellion, decided to take matters into their own hands: they attacked a village of the local, friendly (many Christian converts) Consetoga (or Susquehannock) Indians, killing six. Governor Penn subsequently placed the survivors in protective custody in the Lancaster workhouse. On December 27, 1763, the Paxton men broke into the workhouse where they brutally killed all fourteen inside. The Governor issued bounties for their arrest. The Paxton men, outraged that the government in Pennsylvania would do more to protect Indians than White settlers, marched on Philadelphia in January 1764 seeking to kill more Indians. It was the presence of regular British troops and militia that prevented them from doing much damage. Benjamin Franklin negotiated a settlement that averted the immediate crisis. However, as this letter clearly demonstrates, the Paxton men continued to be a threat to the peace in Western Pennsylvania. Provenance: Walter Benjamin, 1955. Extremely light toning, a few minor marginal chips else fine condition. Interesting and quite rare history in this missive. From the Henry E. Luhrs Collection. Accompanied by LOA from PSA/DNA.


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    Auction Dates
    February, 2006
    20th-21st Monday-Tuesday
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