A Brief History of Philadelphia

The commercial spirit, aroused in England, by Sir Walter Raleigh, resulted in the discovery of the River Delaware. The first Colony embarked, under a grant, from the English crown, restricting the settlement, on the North, to the 41st degree of latitude: A second Colony was limited, to between the 38th and 45th degrees, of North latitude, under the name of South Virginia Company. In 1610, Henry Hudson, coasted along the (then) Newfoundland, and anchored off the Delaware. In 1610 Thomas West, (Lord Delaware) Governor of the South Virginia Company, falling a little North of his destined navigation, discovered our spacious Bay, and named it after himself

The Dutch Company purchased the right of Hudson's discovery, and established a trading company, in 1621: They took possession of the Delaware, m 1623, and named it Zuydt River; at that period, they built Fort Nassau, near Gloucester Point, in New Jersey.

In 1627, the first Colony of Swedes arrived; their object was commercial, and embraced some of the first people of Sweden. In 1630, the Dutch extended their settlements on the West shore of the Delaware. In 1631, the Swedes built a Fort on Manguas Creek, and named it after their Monarch Christiana. They finally fixed their Head Quarters, at Fort Gottenburg, on Tinicum Island. A Christian Church was erected in Sept. 4th, 1646; they had several settlements at that time, on both sides of the River, above this location, and their first Governor, until 1654, was John Printz.

About 1642, disputes occurred, between the Dutch and Swedish settlers, which seem not to have been disregarded by their European friends, as a Treaty made at Stockholm, does not allude to the difficulties of the Colonists of the parties, to the Treaty.

In 1651, the Dutch erected a trading house, on the present site of New Castle. Printz, the Governor of Tinicum, formally protested against the encroachment, and his successor came before the Fortress, with a salute, landed as a friend, and seeing the weakness of the Fort, seized upon it, and compelled some of the people to swear allegiance to his Queen. In 1655, Governor Stuyvezant, with 6 or 7 vessels of war, arrived in the Delaware: Suen Scutz surrendered, without a contest, Sept. 16th: The 25th of the same month, Christiana, under the command of Risingh, the Swedish Governor, surrendered; and finally, Fort Gottenburg was given up, and razed. From this time, the Dutch were masters of the whole Western Shore of the Delaware, and many titles of property to this day, may be traced to the Deeds of the New Amsterdam Company. In 1664, Charles II gave a large tract of land, to the Duke of York, his brother, known as the New Netherlands; and having dispatched Admiral Nicholis, for the purpose, took possession of New Castle, on the first of October: This gentleman continued Governor, until 1688.

In 1672, war occurring between the Dutch and English, from treachery, an English expedition, against New Amsterdam, failed: The people on Delaware, again changed Masters, and sent Deputies to New Amsterdam, declaring their submission; but in a few months, in consequence of a Treaty between England and the States General, they were restored to the English. From this time the political condition of the Colonial settlement became established. The father of William Penn, was an Admiral, under the Duke of York, and distinguished himself, in an action, with the Dutch, for which services, and for loans to his Sovereign, his son was, on petition granted by Charles II under the great seal of England, on the 4th of March, 1681, the (at present) great State of Pennsylvania:

In the. May following, William Penn sent out Markham, to provide for a contemplated Colony.

In 1682, having obtained a grant, of the State of Delaware, from the Duke of York, he embarked for this country, and landed at New Castle on the 24th of October; all welcomed his arrival; and the Dutch and the Swedes, pronounced it to be, the best day, they had ever seen. On the 4th of December, he called an Assembly, at Upland (now Chester.) Liberty of conscience was placed first on the list of Rights. The title of William Penn, was universally considered as valid; he still, made it more firm, by actual purchases, from the Indians; a step that he was advised to pursue, by the Bishop of London; the Indians, on the occasion, agreeing to live in love, as long as the sun gave light!"

On the arrival of William Penn, the present site of this City, was in possession of the Swedes: but land, in the vicinity, being offered, it was accepted by them. The endeavors of Penn, were generally crowned with success. The natives granted him every assistance, and the Swedes lent him the aid, his necessities required.

The Colony of Penn having in view, the establishment of a settlement, where the right, peaceably, to worship the Supreme Being was to be the fundamental law, and resembling (in many particulars) the celebrated Colony, which, after a long residence, in Leyden, crossed the Atlantic, and finally settled themselves at Plymouth, man years before his time. It may be remarked that the flourishing (after) condition of these settlements, may well be supposed to indicate the ruling hand of Omnipotent Power.

Everything, in the early History of Philadelphia indicates the Religious Mind, of (its Founder) William Penn: Its Name, was derived, from a celebrated City, in Asia Minor, alluded to, in the New Testament, which, withstood a terrible siege, in the time of the Crusades, of six years, before yielding to the Turkish arms: Its plan was suggested, by the form of the celebrated Chaldean Capitol, Babylon; and in its earliest plans, was, in size, to have approached that splendid Monument of National Grandeur, so often alluded to, in Sacred History.

The early plan was however, found to be too large, and the limits of the contemplated City, were finally reduced, to about one-fourth of the original. The Charter of 1701, defining the bounds, to the River Delaware, and Schuylkill, and Vine and Cedar Streets.

The First house was erected, on the East side of Front Street, North of Dock Street, which, at that time, was an Inlet, and landing place, known as "Sandy Beach:" This house was, for a long time, occupied as a place, of public entertainment.

William Penn's country residence, was erected at Pennsbury Manor, above Bristol, the frame of which, was sent out from England; it contained a large Hall of Audience, for the reception of the Sovereigns of the soil, with whom, he made no less than 19 Treaties. The Oak armchair of (the Proprietor) William Penn, is now, in the Pennsylvania Hospital.

The Moral and Religious character of the Founder of Pennsylvania, if they were not eminently set forth, by his Moral and Theological Writings, would be sufficiently shown, by the pure spirit of Philanthropy, breathing through the following characteristic epistle:

Wm. Penn's Letter to the Indian Chiefs.

This Letter was sent to Philadelphia, from London, in 1684, which, no doubt, will be admired, by its Readers, for its (elegant) simplicity and kindness, as well as its quaintness of expression, viz;

"My Dear Friends,

There is a Great God! That hath made the World, and all things therein, to whom thee and I, and all people, owe their being, and wellbeing, and to whom, thee and I, must one day give an account, for all that we do, in this world.

This Great God, hath written His law in our hearts, by which we are commanded, and taught, to love, and help, and do good, one to another. Now, this good Being hath been pleased, to make me much concerned, and interested, in thy part of the world; and the great King of this Country, where live, hath given me a Province, among thy people, and I desire to enjoy it, with thy love, and that we may always live together, as neighbors and friends, as the Great God has intended, for all men.

I would have thee all know, moreover, that I am aware, that thou and thine, have not always been treated as thou shouldst have been, by the people of those parts of the world: and so thou hast been angry, and blood has been shed, which kindled the anger of the Great Spirit also: But, I am not such a man, as is well known, in my country. I love and regard thy people, and I desire to gain their love, by a kind, just, and peaceable life. The people I send to thee, shall be of the same mind.

If in anything they should offend, or injure any of thine, thee shall have speedy satisfaction. I shall come shortly, (myself,) to confer with thee, on those subjects. Meanwhile, I have sent my Commissioners, to treat with thee and thine, about land and about a firm league of PEACE. Let me desire thee to be kind to them, and to all my people: Receive these Presents and Tokens, which I have sent thee, as a Testimony of my Good Will, to thee, and my Resolution, to live justly, friendly and peaceably, with thee, and thy people.

I am, thy loving Friend,
William Penn

The Elm Tree here represented, was blown down in 1803, it was very aged, and is renowned from the celebrated Treaty, made by the Indians and William Penn, in 1682, under its umbrageous branches

History of Philadelphia

Source: A History of Philadelphia: With a Notice of Villages, in the Vicinity, Printed and published by Daniel Bowen, 1839
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