William Penn

All the necessary preparations having been made, three ships full of emigrants set sail for Pennsylvania in the end of 1681. The superintendence of this first detachment was intrusted by Penn to his relative, Colonel Markham, assisted by commissioners. These were instructed to open up a communication with the natives, and to make all possible arrangements for the establishment of a peaceful relation between them and the future colony. With this view they carried a letter, written in Penn's own hand, and addressed to the Indians; of which remarkable document the following is a copy There is a great God and Power which hath made the world and all things therein, to whom you and I, and all people, owe their being and well-being, and to whom you and I must one day give an account for all that we have done in the world. This great God hath written his law in our hearts, by which we are taught and commanded to love, and to help, and to do good to one another. Now this great God hath been pleased to make me concerned in your part of the world; and the king of the country where I live bath given me a great province therein. But I desire to enjoy it with your love and consent, that we may always live together as neighbors and friends; else what would the great God do to us;. who hath made us, not to devour and destroy one another, but to live soberly and kindly together in the world? Now, I would have you well observe that I am very sensible of the unkindness and injustice which have been too much exercised toward you by the people of these parts of the world, who have sought to make great advantages by you, rather than to be examples of goodness and patience unto you. This, I hear, hath been a matter of trouble to you, and caused much grudging and animosities, sometimes to the shedding of blood, which hath made the great God angry. But I am not such a man, as is well known in my own country. I have great love and regard toward you, and desire to win and gain your love and friendship by a kind, just, and peaceable life; and the people I send are of the same mind, and shall in all things behave themselves accordingly; and if in anything any shall offend you or your people, you shall have a full and speedy satisfaction for the same, by an equal number of just men on both sides, that by no means you may have just occasion of being offended against them. I shall shortly come to see you myself, at which time we may more largely and freely confer and discourse of these matters. In the meantime, I have sent my com missioners to treat with you about land, and a firm league of peace. Let me desire you to be kind to them and to the people; and receive the presents and tokens which I have sent you, as a testimony of my good-will to you, and of my resolution to live justly, peaceably, and friendly with you.

I am your loving friend, WILLIAM PENN.'

Penn was busy making preparations to follow the settlers, whom he had already despatched, when he was afflicted by the death of his mother, for whom he had ever manifested the greatest affection. Shortly after this melancholy event, he published in full the constitution to which we have already alluded, under the title, The Frame of Government of the Province of Pennsylvania, in America, together with certain Laws agreed upon in England by the Governor and divers Freemen of the aforesaid Province, to be further explained and confirmed there by the first Provincial Council that shall be held.' After stating in the preface that he does not find a model of government in the world that time, place, and some singular emergencies have not necessarily altered, and that it is not easy to frame a civil government that shall serve all places alike,' he proceeds to detail the arrangements which, after due deliberation and consultation, he concluded to be advisable in the meantime. The following is the summary of these arrangements, given by Penn's biographer, Mr. Clarkson. The government,' he says, was placed in the governor and freemen of the province, out of whom were to be formed two bodies; namely, a Provincial Council, and a General Assembly. These were to be chosen by the freemen; and, though the governor or his deputy was to be perpetual president, he was to have but a treble vote. The provincial council was to consist of seventy-two members. One-third part - that is, twenty-four of them - were to serve for three years; one-third for two; and the other third for only one year. It was the office of this council to prepare and propose bills; to see that the laws were executed; to take care of the peace and safety of the province; to settle the situation of ports, cities, market-towns, roads, and other public places; inspect the public treasury; to erect courts of justice, institute schools, and reward the authors of useful discoveries. Not less than two-thirds of these were necessary to make .a quorum; and the consent of not less than two-thirds of such a quorum was required in all matters of moment. The general assembly was to consist, the first year, of all the freemen; and the next of two hundred. These were to be increased afterwards according to the increase of the population of the province. They were to have no deliberative power; but when bills were brought to them from the governor and provincial council, they were to pass or reject them by a plain " Yes " or " No." They were to present sheriffs and justices of the peace to the governor; of the number presented by them, he was to select half. They were to be elected annually. All elections of members, whether to the provincial council or to the general assembly, were to be by ballot. This charter, or frame of government, was not to be altered, changed, or diminished in any part or clause of it, without the consent of the governor, or his heirs or assigns, and six parts out of seven of the freemen both in the provincial council and general assembly.'