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

Penn Plans To Buy Land from the Savages

As I have already said, he counted to buy from them the land which had been paid to him by the king, and the savages were not only ready, but willing, to sell, as could be seen when they were come together. There were no scowls on the brown faces, and from the chiefs to the youngest squaw, every one appeared to be pleased at thus having opportunity to bargain away a small portion of the country when they could, without much labor, find equally as good places for their villages but a short distance off.

That which puzzled me was, whether William Penn counted to pay them in wampum, or if he believed they would take gold and silver money; but I soon came to understand that neither metal nor beads would play any very great part in this bargaining.

Early in the morning on the day appointed for the meeting, huge boxes, which had been brought on shore from the Welcome, were carried with much labor to a big elm tree that stood in a cleared space nearby where Thomas Fairman's house had already been built, and where others were being put together.

Here it was that the Indians assembled, according to the word which had been sent to their villages the night before, and when Jethro and I arrived the whole feathered crowd was seated in a half circle on the ground, the men in the front rows, the older boys next, and beyond, the children and the squaws.

The big boxes stood near at hand in readiness to be opened when the proper time should come, and I noted that every brown man, woman, and boy had his or her eyes fixed intently upon them, most like wondering, as did Jethro and I, what could be inside.

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