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James Otis

The Price Paid for the Land

Then some of our people opened the boxes, and you may be certain that Jethro and I stretched our necks even longer than the Indians did theirs, as a famous lot of stuff was brought forth.


We saw roll after roll of brown cloth, of the kind we call duffel, guns, cloth shirts, leather belts, shoes and stockings, combs for the hair, axes, knives, red paint, beads, and many other things which I need not here set down.

Verily there was a huge pile of goods when the boxes had been emptied; but, while I could not guess at the value of it all, I knew full well that we were not paying any very great price for our portion of America.

I believe the Indians were more than satisfied to sell their share of Pennsylvania for that which was before them. The older men were seemingly striving not to give any token of pleasure, although I could see their eyes sparkle when they looked at the axes and guns; but the younger men made no effort to hide their joy.

The goods were handled over and over by our people, in order that the savages might see exactly what there was in the lot, and after half an hour of thus showing the wares, William Penn bade the Indian who could speak English, to ask his people if they were willing to sell their land at the price offered, at the same time saying they were at liberty to live wheresoever they chose outside the bounds of the new city.

It was not needed that the chief of the Indians should make reply to this question, for the answer could be read on the faces of all; but yet he had a good deal to say about being glad we had come into his country, and promised that he and all his people would treat us as brothers. He wound up by giving to our William a grand belt of wampum, which must have been of much value in their eyes.