Gateway to the Classics: Stephen of Philadelphia by James Otis
Stephen of Philadelphia by  James Otis

News of William Penn's Arrival

It was known to the people that our governor counted to be with us during the first summer after we arrived; but we could not know just when he would sail from England, and while we looked for him each day, it was somewhat of a surprise when an Indian runner came up from a place down the river called New Castle, where had settled a few Swedes and some Dutchmen, with the news that William Penn had come in the ship Welcome.

As we learned later, our William had bought from the Duke of York a very large tract of land on which was this town of New Castle, and when his ship anchored there, the agent of the duke came down to the shore with the key of the fort, thus proving he was willing to admit that Governor Penn was the lawful ruler.

Then, to show that he had the right to the land, our William went up to the fort, unlocked the door, stepped inside, and locked the door after him. In a few minutes he came out again and walked around the fort, in token that everything outside, as well as in, was his.

After this the Duke of York's agent brought to him a sod of earth in which was growing a small tree-sprout, and a dish filled with water, which was the same as saying that all the land, with everything growing on it, together with the streams and springs, belonged to William Penn.


The Indian runner had seen this ceremony before he came to warn us of the visitor whom we burned to welcome to his own, and the savage said that he left our William sitting at table; but that it was the latter's purpose to come up the river to where we were, on the morrow, if the wind served.

We were not only to see him; but doubtless he had brought with him many Friends whom we knew, and there was no thought of work from that moment until we had sobered down somewhat from our rejoicings.

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