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In the year 1815, it is true, a committee of the American Philosophical Society had been raised, and entitled the "Historical and Literary Committee." Admission was, however, dependent upon membership in the Philosophical Society; and an institution of this description, to be generally effective, must be as liberal as possible in the way of addition to its numbers. The labours of that committee must, nevertheless, by no means be disparaged, though but a single publication has appeared under its auspices. The value of that one is estimated, as it deserves to be, most highly; and on that account, in some degree, compensates for its standing alone. We refer to Heckewelder's "account of the history, manners and customs of the Indian nations, who once inhabited Pennsylvania and the neighbouring states."* It is understood, also, that the committee above referred to has succeeded in obtaining a valuable collection of historical memorials which, it is hoped, will one day be given to the public.

Some patriotic gentlemen, in the year 1825, determined to use their exertions to remove this inattention to the interests of their native state, and formed the "Historical Society of Pennsylvania." They very properly considered it a duty, as well as a pleasure, to collect and preserve the evidences of the history of their state, from its earliest date, and announced their object to be the elucidation of her natural, civil, and literary annals. Their association established certain standing committees, to whom the different topics supposed to be embraced in the general plan were allotted. We shall mention them, that it may be perceived how far the society has undertaken to consider the numerous themes which a complete history of Pennsylvania would embrace. Some of those, which we have before briefly alluded to, it appears are not included in the duties of any committee yet raised. The defect, however, may very readily be supplied by an addition to the list. One subject, though exceedingly delicate in its character, if impartially and dispassionately treated would be powerfully attractive,—the party history of the state. Many of the contests are probably of too recent a date to permit this to be done in a desirable way, for the grave has not yet received all, even of the very early actors in these scenes: but we could extract from the survey a lesson that might make us wiser and better citizens in all future time.

*The value of this book of Heckewelder, the labours of the committee of the Philosophical Society, the origin and character of the important researches of the venerable Duponceau into the structure of the Indian languages of North America, together with some interesting remarks upon Pennsylvanian history generally, are to be found recorded in a series of communications, attributed to Mr. Tyson, and published in vol. ix. page 221 of Hazard's Register of Pennsylvania.

The standing committees are,

1. On the national origin, early difficulties, and domestic habits of the first settlers.

2. On the biography of the founder of Pennsylvania, his family, and the early settlers.

3. On biographical notices of persons distinguished among us, in ancient and modern times.

4. On the aborigines of Pennsylvania, their numbers, names of their tribes, intercourse with Europeans, their language, habits, character, and wars.

5. On the principles to which the rapid population of Pennsylvania may be ascribed.

6. On the revenue, expenses, and general polity of the provincial government.

7. On the juridical history of Pennsylvania.

On the literary history of Pennsylvania.

9. On the medical history of Pennsylvania.

10. On the progress and present state of agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, in Pennsylvania.

The manner in which the members have responded to the wishes of the society will briefly engage our notice.

Several very interesting papers which are inserted in these volumes relate to matters of mere local importance, or to the lives of individuals of great worth, but not connected, in either case, with the general subject of Pennsylvanian history. Our limits will not permit us to dwell upon all these subjects in detail; and we must therefore, necessarily, confine ourselves to those of greater importance, referring our readers to the memoirs for the other articles which will be found well worth the attention, not only of the antiquarian, but of every reader.

The principal topics of the discourses and memoirs, so far, have been the character of the founder and of his companions, and his vindication from the attacks of various historians; the nature of his settlement and the conduct pursued towards the aborigines; the influence upon the state, generally, of the religious society, under whose auspices she was planted; the provincial literature of Pennsylvania; her medical history, and that of her university; the famous controversy as to boundaries, between Penn and Lord Baltimore; and negro slavery and its abolition. Upon some of these we will offer a few remarks.

An inaugural discourse was delivered by the venerable William Rawle, the father of the Philadelphia bar,* on the 5th of November, 1825. The orator gave, as appropriate to the

*Since the above was written, the venerable President of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania has paid the debt of nature. This is not the place for his eulogy. We may merely say, that he died full of years and of honour.

occasion, a general outline of the duties of the institution over which he presided. He sketched the nature of the settlement by Penn, remarking that he and his followers came not to conquer, but to cultivate the soil; to civilize, not to extirpate the natives; to earn their bread and to gain property, if it were to be gained, honourably and nobly, by the sweat of their brow, not by reducing the helpless savages to slavery or by a rabid search after the precious metals. He endeavoured to depict the character of the settlers; most of them the adherents of a sect of recent origin, whose motto was meekness and benevolence, which their lives so well attested; and he asserted, with truth, the influence of the character of settlers upon that of the country planted by them. His remarks on this topic we are tempted to transcribe.

"It may perhaps be fastidiously asked, what interest can be found in the narrative of husbandmen or manufacturers, whose days were spent in unvaried labour and whose nights were disturbed by no external alarms; who prosecuted, in peaceful and obscure succession, the same alternation of toil and rest that are practised by men of similar occupations over all the earth? Why does the peasant of Pennsylvania, in her early days, deserve a higher place in history than the peasant of England or of France?

"To this we answer that, to our predecessors, these mere labourers of our soil, we look for the elements of that success which almost uniformly has accompanied our progress, and on the same principles the relation may also be of value to others.

"The character of a nation, although not always fixed by the character of those with whom it originates, often retains a tincture from it that affects its subsequent course. And hence it follows, that when we see a nation rolling tumultuously down the torrent of time, invading, overwhelming, and destroying whatever falls in its way, we are led to enquire whether its origin was not a military association.

"When we perceive another steadily pursuing a course of peace and concord, both at home and abroad, we are induced to suppose that it arose from the voluntary or casual union of men who cultivated the earth with honest labour, or in other occupations confined themselves to useful industry, uninterrupted by the calculations of ambition or the incentives to violence and injustice.

"If we are sometimes disappointed in such inquiries, it is from the want of this elementary evidence.

"It is true, that however carefully and wisely the foundations of society may at first be laid, we cannot always depend on their permanence. New motives, unexpected exigencies, sometimes arise, changing or totally subverting all original principles. The Arabian shepherd becomes a warrior. The Teutonic chiefs sink into peaceful farmers of the land which they have subdued.

"Yet still-if we wish to understand the nature of man, to become acquainted with ourselves; it is our duty, and in the prosecution of that duty we shall find it a delight, to ascend to the rudiments of social existence; to elicit theory from facts, and not to imagine facts for the purpose of supporting theories; and thus, if possible, to discover by what means, order, peace, and happiness have been, or hereafter may be, rendered most permanent and secure.

"How little of this has been done in respect to the nations of the other three continents!"

Mr. Rawle proceeds to remark on the variety of national origin which characterised the infant colony of Pennsylvania: English, Swedes, Dutch, Germans, Irish, Scots, and French, all planted their emigrating feet on her territory. Far otherwise with New England, generally, and with Virginia proper; for the settlements in those parts were of a homogeneous description. Their colonists were all Englishmen.

One fact which the learned writer regards as unaccountable, viz. the indifference evinced by Penn towards inland exploring expeditions, we think may be explained by an attention to his character and views. Penn's information had led him to know the results of all such crusades; disastrous alike to the explorers and the poor Indians. The course of any such expedition would inevitably have been marked with blood; and the shedding of a drop was abhorrent from the feelings of the founder. Besides, the motive was wanting. He came not, either to "spy out the nakedness of the land," or to hunt after the hidden wealth of the aborigines. Their gold and their silver he wanted not; and their precious stones, if any, suited not the habits of himself or his followers. The presence of such visitants would have blighted the hopes of his settlement; for industry was to be the gold and silver of the colonists, and temperance and virtue their jewels. Penn, moreover, possessed a general knowledge of the country; and his treaties of amity with the natives were the most effectual sources of information, by means of voluntary communications from themselves.

The whole conduct of Penn in his mode of acquiring the soil of Pennsylvania, is further sketched in this interesting discourse. A comparison is instituted with the modes of settlement pursued in some of the sister states; and while great candour is evinced in discussing the conduct of others, the merits of William Penn are clearly established and maintained.

Considerable doubts were, at one period, entertained as to the locality of the great treaty between Penn and the Indians, in 1682, and the subject was thought worthy of separate consideration. A memoir upon the point was prepared by Roberts Vaux, and read before the society on the 19th of September, 1825. The careful investigations of this gentleman established the fact, in accordance with popular tradition, that the treaty was held under the great elm, in the district of Kensington, formerly called Shackamaxon. This "time honoured" tree was uprooted, and fell upon its parent earth, during a violent storm that occurred in 1810. Its age was then ascertained to be 283 years; so that at the time of the treaty it was 155 years old. Its trunk measured 24 feet in circumference. Near the spot

where this noble specimen of the American forest once stood, and covered with its branches as beautiful a scene as the annals of the world can present, there now stands a plain, but substantial, obelisk of granite, a memorial of rare human virtue.

Mr. Vaux also delivered an anniversary discourse before the society, on the 1st of January, 1827, being, at that period, one of the vice presidents. His object was to illustrate the treatment, by Penn, of the Indians, and to vindicate the behaviour of the quakers towards the provincial government. This he performed most successfully. He referred also to the founder's design in his settlement, as not the mere ambition of founding an empire; though, upon the principles which he put in operation, that were a noble ambition; but the improvement of the condition of the natives, and the extension of the blessings of Christianity and philosophy over savage shores. He quoted an expression from Penn's petition to King Charles, which evinced that great man's intentions. One of his purposes he declares to be "the glory of God, by the civilization of the poor Indians, and the conversion of the Gentiles, by just and lenient measures, to the kingdom of Christ." Mr. -Vaux proceeds to sketch, in a very interesting way, the general conduct pursued towards the natives during the progress of Pennsylvania in population and grandeur, and to portray, in its true colours, the course of the philanthropic Friends, with respect to them. It is a bright inheritance for the members of that religious sect. It will go down to future ages, a more eloquent advocate than the most elaborate panegyric.

We cannot leave this discourse of Mr. Vaux without adding in regard to the author--we may do it here with propriety, as the grave has closed over him—that he was one of the most zealous and untiring in the elucidation of the history of his native state, and in the promotion of those grand plans of philanthropy which are her chief glory. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania is much indebted to him for his useful labours in her behalf.

The pen of the learned Duponceau would hardly be idle in a society of which he was a member, and particularly of an institution that offered so many opportunities to one eminently skilled in philology. In Indian tongues his proficiency is notorious, and indeed in all the antiquities of this continent.

The council of the society invited Mr. Duponceau to translate, from the Swedish, a History of the Province of New Sweden, (as Pennsylvania was once called by the Swedes,) a production of Thomas Campanius Holm. With this request he promptly and cheerfully complied and, in addition, enriched his translation with some learned notes. To this production, the translator, in his preface, assigns its true value--and wherever the occaVOL. XIX. No. 38. 38

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