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

Penn Joins in the Sports

Then it was our governor did that which caused the heart of every lad present to warm toward him, for when the Indians had done their best, and the victor was pluming himself over the knowledge that he had distanced all the others, William Penn, throwing off his coat, made a straightaway leap, seemingly without exerting himself overly much.

A great shout went up from the Indians, who gathered around quickly to measure the distance covered, and then we white people yelled ourselves hoarse, for the governor had leaped a good four inches further than the best of the savage jumpers.


From that moment our William Penn had a warm place in the heart of every man and boy, white or brown. He had shown that he was not one of those high and mighty ones, who, because of being set to rule over the people, holds himself aloof, as if made of better stuff than those under him, and we loved him for it.

The sports went on, after a time, the governor remaining with us, watching eagerly all that took place; but he did not give any further proof of what he could do, much to our disappointment.

Because of his eating what had been brought by the savages, as well as that sent to the pond by our mothers, the men of the town could do no less than follow his example, and while the women of Philadelphia were straining themselves to cook that which should particularly tempt the appetite, all hands were feasting on the food of the Indians.

A merry time did we have of it on that first day after William Penn came among us, and if it so be that there is ever a festival in Philadelphia which can surpass it, I shall be much surprised.

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