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

A Division of Opinion

Jethro has in his head a whim that we shall embark in the business of raising tobacco now, since William Penn has agreed that rent of land may be paid in this weed, and, therefore, it has come to have a stated value when laid down at Carpenter's wharf ready for shipment to England.

The lad claims that those Englishmen who went to Jamestown under the leadership of John Smith, so many years ago, are gathering much wealth by raising the weed, and also that those of our people who planted it this year just past, have received good returns for their labor.

My father says he will not cross me if my heart be set on embarking in such traffic, although at the same time he holds that it is a filthy business at the best, even though one keeps his own mouth clean from it. To my mind, the raising of tobacco is much the same as encouraging others in the use of that which works them injury, for no man may chew the leaves, or burn them in a pipe, without doing harm to his body.


However, since no less than William Penn himself has fixed a price on tobacco, and it may be grown in this land to great profit, as has already been shown, the Friends cannot say very much against it, even though they approve not of handling the stuff.

Father believes that if Jethro and I are bent on embarking in some enterprise in which we shall continue through life, it is better we take pattern by the people of Germantown, and either set about raising flax or wool, or learn the business of spinning and weaving.

Jethro declares that he had enough of spinning under the guidance of Enoch Flower, and, as for spending his life in front of a loom, when he can work in the fields, or at a forge, he will not listen to it.

And thus it was that my comrade and I were somewhat divided in opinion at the close of this year of grace 1683, when came a wondrous change in my life, which bid fair to make of me a noted traveler.

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