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

Bound for America

It was my misfortune that I failed then to see William Penn, most like because of my father's thinking it unseemly to take with him a small lad when he talked about matters of business; but before the day was come to an end, I learned that already were there three ships fitted out for the voyage to America, one to sail from our city of Bristol, and the other two from the port of London.

That which my father heard from the lips of William Penn decided him to have a share in the enterprise, and because of our not having time to travel back to Bristol before the ship due to sail from there would have left port, he had agreed to take passage in the John and Sarah, a fine vessel even then ready for sea.


At that time my mother was in Greenwich, on a visit, but before another day had come she was with us, busied with her preparations for the voyage.

It caused me great sorrow because I was not to journey with the people of Bristol, whom I knew, and who were to sail in the ship Factor. For the time being it seemed as if my misfortune was very great, simply because of my being among strangers; but I soon came to understand that the Lord's hand is in all things, and, although I had no claim upon His mercy and goodness, it was bestowed upon me even at that time.

The Amity, which was the other ship to leave London at the same time as did the John and Sarah, and the Factor of Bristol, did not arrive in America, owing to tempests, until many months after we had landed, and the passengers on both the ships suffered much of discomfort, if not absolute misery, all of which was spared to us.

My father declared that this was a lesson to us who were about to make our homes in a new country. It showed that we should ever depend upon a strength greater than ours and not of this world, with never a word of repining when matters do not go the way we would choose since we little know what is best.

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