The key to understanding Pennsylvania German migration, the formation of its political culture, and the configurations of its future colonial politics/policy comes down to a drive of Germans to own their own land–their home–and the land on which it is built/farmed. Of course, there are many moving parts, and driving forces and beliefs, but time and time again they focus on how to acquire land for a homestead, and then hold onto it so that one can have an individual domain amid a community of people who share common values and policy/ethnic/religious beliefs. German Protestants (Pietism, Reformed and Lutheran) left Europe to achieve a dream that was not possible in Rhineland-western Germany: to break away from the feudal lord, his manor economy/politics, and secure a niche in which the individual could carve out his/her own future in the image they framed in their own minds and hearts. A bit romantic, true, but there was a romantic, idealistic element that drew people willingly to cross the harrowing Atlantic in a desperate and dangerous quest to begin a new life. The wanted opportunity to carve out a piece of space on which they could make a living, raise a family, and share common experiences with friends and people you could related to. There was no “city on a hill” to create; there was instead toleration and opportunity to achieve one’s inner vision and future hopes and live in a community with others who shared that vision. Penn’s Holy Experiment was a Quaker version Big Sort.

When they got to Pennsylvania,however, land was expensive. It was expensive because all unowned land was controlled by one family: the Penn Proprietary. When immigrants, Quaker or otherwise, arrived in force during the 1720’s, control over the Proprietary had passed on to the sons Penn’s second family: John, Richard, and Thomas. No longer practicing Quakers–or in John’s case not even a Quaker at all (he was Anglican). Like their father they were in desperate need of money to sustain their English estates and manor lifestyle. They owned Unowned” Pennsylvania land by law and the King’s 1681 grant. In the 1720’s, they sold ten acres for 15+ pounds and quitrents (taxes); they doubled annual taxes. What’s more, they kept ten percent of a settlement’s land personally for their own future investment. In the nine years the youngest of the Penn prodigy, Thomas, lived in Pennsylvania he “reserved’ about 150,000 acres [99] Joseph E. Illich, Colonial Pennsylvania: a History (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1976), p. 178. In the minds of the son, the Proprietary task-goal was to sell land in quantity and the collection of annual land taxes. Demand for land was arose mostly from the constant stream of immigrants. Immigration was constant in volume, not composition, through the American Revolution (with exceptions during wars).

In the 1730’s the Sole Proprietorship transitioned from the Holy Experiment, into a gigantic real estate development whose proceeds were revenues and wealth for the family. Governance of the colony was mostly a means to that end, and the Penn sons optioned it off as the responsibility of their appointed Deputy Governor–the day-to-day executive of Pennsylvania’s executive branch. With control over land sales, the Penns had total legal authority to give permission to found a settlement; town and city-building, its location and design, was often personally a proprietor decision. On top of all this, it was the Proprietorship that issued/approved the charter for the incorporation of a township, county seat–without input from the General Assembly. If German immigrants want to engage in town-building, they had to do so with a charter approved by the Penns.

If the Legislature was a poor check on the Penns in terms of town-building, incorporation and location, the Penn sons did have a nemesis in the form of our James Logan, the Provincial Secretary for the Penns (a Penn-appointed position outside the authority of either the Deputy Governor or the Legislature). Logan as described in an earlier module had largely transitioned from land sales as his source of income, for himself and the Penns, and developed instead an Indian fur-trading commercial empire. Into the early 1720’s Logan had successfully maneuvered the local Indian tribes into being both trading partners, and a clientele dependent upon him for their quality of life, if not homestead. Logan in the meanwhile sold land to himself, the most attractive parcels, and made himself into Pennsylvania’s largest, non-Penn family landowner and wealthiest private citizen–with all the power, status and access on could imagine that went with such wealth. In this relationship, the critically important Penn bureaucracy, the Land Office was secondary, and its chief function was to survey land, record land sales and collect taxes [999].


[999] The Land Office, the key to their father’s land sale program, had simply imploded over the last twenty-five years, pillaged by James Logan, outmaneuvered by the General Assembly, and simply left adrift so its bureaucrats could make their own way into personal profits and outright corruption. So lackadaisical was its site control, wholesale squatting, just settling up a homestead without land claim or taxes and hoping one didn’t get caught. Logan was caught square in the middle, and so the three brothers “reorganized” it. They hired an “efficient” manager, dealmaker, and incrementally clamped down on squatters, and establish sufficient site control that German immigrants could no longer simply head for the periphery hinterland and just hunker down. Moreover, although decidedly weaker than the General Assembly, the Proprietorship kept stricter control over their governor and the administration of its executive branch. If they were losing control over Philadelphia to special districts, they still held sufficient authority and bureaucracy to get their fair share of land sales. The movement and settlement of western counties were key elements of their involvement with the General Assembly, and while in the end they usually lost to it, they were on occasion in a position to fight back and even grab some temporary majorities in the General Assembly.


Without doubt, the crisis Pennsylvania was facing in the 1740’s was mostly created by population growth, economic growth, and a ceaseless immigration that spilled over the traditional boundaries of today’s eastern Pennsylvania into central, southwestern, and eventually northwestern Pennsylvania. It was about settlement, and the basic currency of settlement politics and policy-making is land. Land was seeded with the dreams of its landowner, and was the object of everyone. This is true of Pennsylvania and each American colony in this period of time. A goodly number of our thirteen colonies were at this point settling into their western counties–and usually the people were different as obviously was the time period. Native Americans were differently disposed in this period than they usually were a hundred years earlier.

Lost in the fog of history, we are about to enter the period in which Native Americans formidably contested the onslaught of white Europeans. We are approaching the turning point, 1754-1763 in Britain’s control of North America. We have lost sight of the reality that Britain did not obtain essentially uncontested dominance of the Atlantic coast colonies until 1763–only to lose it twelve years later. The land we are about to discuss, and which the Pennsylvania legislature is undergoing its policy crisis largely on its account, is turbulent, volatile, and quite fragile in terms of policy-making. The legislature is policy-making for land that is beyond its effective control. That is the context important to our discussion of whether Pennsylvania Penn Frame Policy System truly “failed”, or instead faced a crisis that needed a much larger force–like a second British army led by General Forbes in 1760. The crisis with which the Penn Frame Government faced throughout the 1740’s and 1750’s resulted from two major causes: (1) the stresses that western settlement driven by sustained European immigration and the Penn land sales Proprietary “fixation”, and (2) the simultaneous transformation of Quakers into a minority in Pennsylvania, and the activation of their Third Rail political opposition to war [collapsed into the term pacifism)]which triggered the fragmentation of Quaker unity in politics, and allowed in, in not compelled, non-Quaker English into their ruling elite, a dynamic we have referred to as Privatism.

In any event, our first topic deals with Pennsylvania’s settlement of its southwestern (and central) counties. It provides some context, for our eventual return to Pennsylvania’s 1740’s (and 1750’s) policy crisis. It also lays a lot ground for the politics and policy of our drift to Revolution and Independence. Most importantly, the heritage of this twenty-five years on Pennsylvania’s policy system still lingers on today, but it certainly lingered long enough to affect Pennsylvania entrance into the American Union in 1776. Westernization manifestly impacted the Penn Frame Policy system throughout the 1740’s, focusing on war, pacifism, self-defense, and the money to pay for it all. It came to a climax between 1746 and 1748. While the battle over the consequences of western settlement was fought out during the 1740’s its roots were deep in the Frame’s Proprietary politics, and the goals of the sole proprietary itself. To these dynamics we now turn in the next section. In that section we establish a larger context for understanding Pennsylvania’s crisis, but also expose the internal contradictions and tensions which the system either could not, or likely would not, resolve.

Pennsylvania’s  Post 1740 Settlement of Western Hinterland

By the 1720’s it was doing all these critical functions rather badly, in many cases hardly at all. That was not a glaring problem until the immigrants arrived in force and continued to pile in, quickly passing through Philadelphia as possible, and heading out to the hinterland. That put tremendous pressure on land available for sale–and that meant less land for fur-trapping, and even less land for the Indian tribes to live on. In effect, during the 1730 immigration and Indian relations were an increasingly zero-sum relationship. To make matters more complicated, Logan an employee of the Penns, had amassed such wealth, structural and political power, and bureaucratic independence that the young Penn sons also increasingly found themselves in a zero-sum relationship with Logan–as did the Deputy Governor who more and more needed access to tax receipts from land taxes, controlled by Logan. Until the youngest Penn son, Thomas, came to Pennsylvania in 1732, the chief struggle within the Penn proprietorship was between Logan and the Deputy Governor.  The only exception was land development which fell between the cracks of the conflict, meaning many immigrants would up squatting, paying exorbitant prices, paying little to no taxes.

Once again in this competition, it was Native Americans who were on the bottom of this totem pole economics. But the cast of Indian characters had changed radically in the 1720’s. The local tribes were reduced to tributory status to a newcomer tribe, the Iroquois Six Nations. Literally between a rock and a hard place, the Lenape/Shawnee pushed back–mostly against Logan’s extravagant land development projects. Still tied to these tribes for his fur-trading revenues, Logan delicately tried to balance these demand, but by the early 1730’s the local tribes had enough. They demanded to negotiate not with Logan, but with the Penn sons–and in 1732 John Penn came to town to negotiate. Logan’s delicate balance was about to come apart completely. John Penn wanted more land to sell, of necessity Indian controlled land, Logan understood the Indian reaction to this and the threat to fur revenues and so he resisted the Penns–who got upset with him. So the eldest son arrives in 1734 (John)–so much in debt that he was determined to negotiate as much land from the tribes as he could. To keep up with the demand for land, the Penn brothers renegotiated with the Native Americans for more land.

What followed was a succession of treaties, the most famous of which was the “Walking Man” Treaty (1737) in which the tribes were deceived by agreeing to sell land one day’s walk from an agreed upon point. John hired a series of walkers–runners actually–that took off in four directions at once, instead of the one the Indians thought they had agreed to. Logan countered by negotiating with the Six Nations and obtaining from them permission to sell the land–outflanking the local tribes. The volume of land claimed by the Penns shocked the tribes who while forced to comply, never, ever forgot the deception–and for a decade or more after demanded its repudiation. This land sales treaty proved to be an open sore in Native American relations, and by the 1750’s finally forced the tribes to ally with the French in the 1754 French and Indian War. That lies well into the future of this module, but the key takeaway is that Penn family rush to make profit from former Indian lands by selling it to immigrants, and thereby populating Pennsylvania’s central and western hinterland, littering it with small white, vulnerable settlements deep in Pennsylvania’s interior and periphery. The “walking man treaty”, a rip-off the Indians, acquired more land in central and northeastern Pennsylvania, and other treaties brought in more in southeastern and western Pennsylvania along the Great Wagon Road to Maryland and points south.

As the number of counties increased  in central and Pennsylvania, General Assembly developed a western versus eastern schism, with the latter enjoying only half the number of eastern representative elected. New counties were larger, held more people and households, but elected proportionately fewer representatives, and so were easily dominated by their eastern delegates. The level of malapportionment, however, was masked by the simple failure to create new counties as Scots-Irish and Germans continued into the interior. In 1729, one new county (Lancaster) was broken off from the original three upper counties. No other county was created until 1749 and another in 1750 (York and Cumberland-each with only two legislative representatives, half the eastern core). In 1752, yet another two counties (Berks and Northampton–with one representative each) were created. These new counties contained a disproportionate number of Germans, and that is likely why they were malapportioned  [99] Joseph E. Illich, Colonial Pennsylvania: a History), p. 174.

Without any formal rupture or precipitating event, Pennsylvania was fast splitting into an eastern core region, around the Delaware/Susquehanna Valleys and a southwestern region that was vaguely defined and expanded over the period in question (Cumberland Valley). New immigrants, mostly Scots-Irish and some Germans (and a hodge-podge of frontier settlers of all stripes and ethnicity) were settling and setting up a homestead from land sold to them by the Proprietary, stole outright from Native Americans, or simply squatted upon. With no real road system, the western counties were remote and relatively isolated. Few Pennsylvania policy-makers had any illusions that there was any site control–indeed the fear which grew with each passing year, was an inevitability of yet another war with France, and some combination of Indian tribes. As I am sometimes wont to quote a line from a John Ford western, “we ain’t in Philadelphia now darling”. We are on the 1740 American frontier.

Other than stop immigration outright, there was no way this European western land rush was going to stop on its own. For all practical purposes, Quakers stayed put in the eastern core colony.  Western settlement was composed of Calvinist Scots-Irish, and Lutheran-Reform Dutch Germans–most of whom, after 1740, were un-naturalized, non-voting Americans. The peak years of German immigration were yet to come (1748-54), and the Scots-Irish after 1765. Arguably, the root cause of this was a power vacuum between England and France, engaged as they were in wars (the King George War (War of Spanish Succession in Europe commenced in 1740, but King George’s War in North America commenced 1744-48) and the to be later discussed French and Indian War (1755-63) in which the Pennsylvania land in question was a no-man’s-land, contested by both parties–and to compound the matter still further, by other colonies (Virginia and Maryland) who also claimed portions of the disputed territory. Indeed, in 1754 it was Virginian George Washington who started the French and Indian War in a “battle” that took place in today’s downtown Pittsburgh. The Legislative debate in Philadelphia was in another world entirely.

To remind the reader, this distinction between eastern, core, colony and the western hinterland periphery existed in all thirteen colonies to some degree, and to some degree its resolution varied dependent on the colony. It was yet one more element in our answer to the question of why cities and states are different, and why even cities-regions- in states vary among themselves. In Pennsylvania’s case, the western settlement bore little resemblance to Penn’s core, and much earlier, eastern settlement. It would not be that long in the future that a series of rebellions would occur in these territories, ranging from little known insurrections, to the Regulatory War, to Shay’s Rebellion, and the most famous, Pennsylvania Whiskey Rebellion that was fought precisely in the area of which we now are concerned. In short, I am asking the reader to put on her cowboy hat, put down the textbooks and ideologies, and recognize that policy-wise this is not the place for rational and sophisticated policy-making. Say it another way, the legislative battle that the Penn Frame Policy System was waging at this time, was not all of its making by any means. It did not control events, have effective site control over the disputed territory, and it was a relatively small minnow in a larger fish fry. Sometimes policy-making is driven by larger events, and this is one of them.

Germans, malapportioned though they might be, could seriously impact several eastern county elections. But relatively safe and far away, eastern Germans were not inclined to support their compatriots who settled in the West. Like their Quaker neighbors, they favored conciliatory Indian relations programs that made a militia response unnecessary. At no point did they stand in the way of the Proprietary in acquiring Indian lands, however. Western representatives, Scots-Irish, the Penn Proprietary, and even western county German residents–the cluster involved in the western land rush–wanted more to remove–transfer Indians across the Appalachians into the Ohio territory. The differences regarding Indian negotiations played out through 1754 in a series of negotiations, and almost annual treaties, with different Indian tribes and leaders–not in the Legislature, although the negotiations and policy outputs were equally ineffective, and dissatisfying to all parties.

Partly, sometimes mostly, this ineffectiveness was caused by “pure” Quakers, whose values and doctrine had been stiffened by the Great Awakening and who yearned for the simplicity and brotherhood that Quakers had sought in the good old days of the 1650’s–a hundred years in the past. Opposed to them at the negotiating campfire were secular Quakers who were extremely reluctant to pick a fight with their evangelistic co-religionists, but also sympathetic toward self-defense and negotiated removal of the tribes from contested regions. The third party to the Indian negotiations were Penn Proprietary representative (who would never make concessions on the “walking treaty” or temper their land acquisition program), and the bruised Scots-Irish who were usually ready to fight for revenge in the raids on their settlements. Whatever benefits these treaties had, the Penns were able after several treaties to purchase considerable additional land from their participants–and whatever legality they enjoyed, did not offer serious protection to those whites who bought the land and settled there. These areas included territory in the Cumberland Valley, settled mostly by Scots-Irish which would be pockmarked with Indian raids thereafter.

The Native Americans, divided and fragmented into tribes, and rival chieftains–including the not always present Iroquois who were trying to decide whether they wanted to join with the French and expel/stop the British settlements, or make their deal with the Brits. It is not clear there was ever a deal to be made among this crowd, but no fear, what ever dancing occurred around the negotiating campfire produced nothing that addressed the larger concerns, or that resulted in any measure of security for western European (or Native American, for that matter) residents. An occasional band-aid agreement defused the situation for a very limited time was the best that came out of these efforts. Conversely, the ill-effects of an inability to resolve Indian concerns did little to help the ongoing battles in the Legislature.

In essence, malapportionment cut the German-Scots-Irish immigrant voters into a safe from Indian/French attack eastern county group, and the underrepresented western county contingent whose settlements were often burned down, and who were pressed to fight Indians and French, and who after 1754 were a ground zero of the French and Indian War . With a lower boiling point, and a tradition of firm resistance to authority, the Scots-Irish drew apart from Germans, commenced their own “relationships” with Indians (massacre, war, and seizure of land), and since all that was sort of congruent with the Penn proprietorship drive to settle the western interior (and Ohio Valley)  the Scots-Irish “sort of” became allies of the Proprietorship–while the Germans became the chief pillar of the Quaker Party. Once again, yet another group of issues-policies and politics intertwined and were superimposed on the first layer described above.  In the following sections we will provide more granular detail that hopefully will flesh out the sequence of events, the factors and dynamics of the various policy areas, and discuss the after effects and consequences.

What had Penn family land sales fixation wrought to their sole proprietorship–and Pennsylvanians both white and Native American?

Penn land sales priority conflated town-building, western county settlement, and deteriorating Native American relations into a large convoluted policy nexus, which in the 1740’s translated into a crisis of western county public safety, a strong potential for Indian raids, and potential collusion with the French in northwestern (Pittsburgh area) Pennsylvania. This crisis logically cried out for self-defense, which in colonial America meant establishing a militia and expending tax-derived money for soldiers and material–neither of which eastern county Quakers wanted any part of. How does one pay for an unwanted militia that violates the absolutely fundamental Quaker value of pacifism, one might ask? The reasonable answer at that time was to issue/print large sums of paper dollars–the precedent for which had been set during the early 1720’s. Philadelphia merchants and the London Board of Trade, however, were opposed to this, almost instinctively. The Penn Proprietary was not opposed to the militia, but wanted no diversion of taxes to support it; nor would the Penn’s pay any taxes on their land–period, for any reason. As we shall see, the nexus of issues associated with western settlement  struck, in typically Maslowian fashion, on security and how to pay for it. This meant the Quaker Party-dominated General Assembly was going to be the battleground arena for a policy solution. If there was any place the Quaker political culture would manifest itself, it was in the Legislature.

The reader can hopefully see how intertwined all these seemingly distinct and separate  dynamics, policy areas and initiatives became during the 1740’s decade. Event after event piled onto the policy agenda, more and more immigrant settlements intruded on Indian land, increased hostility with France–and corresponding concern and weariness from London–cascaded onto the legislative policy-making plate–only to encounter an unrelenting zero-sum struggle of the anti-Penn Quaker Party with the land-grubbing Penn Proprietorship and its allied local “associates”. In the beginning, off to the side was the general population whose eligible voters spoke annually, electing General Assembly representatives from its geographic malapportioned regions.


Start of a Far-Away War Electrifies Pennsylvania’s Third Rail: Penn Proprietary Seizes Upon the Vacuum

The Pennsylvania mid-century political crisis begins in 1740 with a European war (Spanish Succession), that caused quite a stir in Pennsylvania when the Board of Trade instructed its Deputy Governor to raise troops and provide provisions and transport for a British invasion of the West Indies–and sufficient reserves to protect Pennsylvania from French or Spanish attack. The Legislature, using the pretexts of appropriating ill-defined funds, approved a small 3,000 pound sum hoping to satisfy the British. The Deputy Governor, mostly on his own authority, however. complied more strictly with London’s demands and made significant efforts to recruit and form militia companies to be sent to the West Indies. Volunteers were few, but the greater number of them that did volunteer were, in effect, runaway indentured servants (about 250).

By 1740, the composition and nature of the Pennsylvania Quaker community had changed. Gone were the first generation, Holy Experiment First Settlers. Instead, a second and even a third generation Quaker community had taken their place. The experience of these cohorts was based on the economic evolution enjoyed by a goodly number of Pennsylvania Quakers. A period of growth had led to successful entrepreneurship, wealth, social status, the formation of family dynasties, and in a period dominated by internal Quaker Party-Proprietor war, they had jelled into a political oligopoly that dominated politics, policy, and even the Penn Proprietary domestic faction. The arrival of war at the doorstep of Pennsylvania (the West Indies was Philadelphia’s largest trading partner), threatened their livelihood, and third generation Quakers, many of whom had been educated in England, had been “secularized”, or a smaller grouping “radicalized” by a Quaker reaction to the 1739 Great Awakening. By the early 1740’s Quakers had internally fragmented, while attempting as best they could to maintain a public unity to hold off non-Quaker “adventurism” that might threaten their political and economic hegemony. An outside observer (a Quaker minister) commented about the status of this ostensible Quaker unity:

John Churchman, an itinerant Quaker minister, observed that there were three kinds of Friends: the nominal members who were satisfied that other Quakers thought well of them; the hypocrites who censured others, but failed to see their own profligacy; and the ‘humble and bowed’ who said little except to lament the state of society and their own weakness. Yet even those who honestly feared straying from the truth were more concerned with [personal] behavior than [a unified Quaker] belief. In politics [they submerged their internal divisions and] fostered a united Quaker interest. … The minority, aare of what was happening, could not effect reform [or compromise] so long as the fear of dissent in the Society, and the abhorrence of change without unanimity assumed greater priority than adherence to principle [99] Joseph E. Illich, Colonial Pennsylvania: a History, pp. 185-6

In practice that meant the Quaker Party oligopoly were unwilling to publically take a position devient from orthodox Quaker pacifism and traditional political values, and they blocked legislation that divided them internally. Their long-standing Quaker Party leader and Speaker of the House had retired in 1739 (Andrew Hamilton), and was replaced by a very worldly Quaker, John Kinsey, whose worldliness would be exposed by the embarrassing discovery he had collaborated with the Legislature’s Loan Office (source of the colony’s paper money and loan program] and had misappropriated 3,000 pounds for personal use. Conflicted, the power of the Speaker and his appointed committee oligopoly held the line against the Proprietary and London war pressures, and resisted the war efforts of the non-Quaker Deputy Governor.

Predictably, as war initiatives factionalized Quakers, caused an uproar among merchants and farmers who lost their valuable servant property; also predictably, the Quaker Party blocked the Deputy Governor’s request for a draft to avoid further recruitment of indentured servants. In response to the stand-off, the Quaker Party Legislature pulled back its previous 3,000 pound authorization, until the indentured servants were sent back to their owners. Supporting the Deputy Governor, the Penn Proprietary and its domestic allied faction, led in 1740 by the activist new leader William Allen. Allen was a Presbyterian, a native-born Scots-Irish, and he joined with the pivotal and wealthy Anglicans, a core of Philadelphia’s commercial elite. Allen in 1741 saw his opportunities in the weakened unity and general policy uproar, and went for broke: an attempt to seize control over the Legislature and break the Quaker Party’s opposition to the Proprietary.


the Prelude: 1741 Election, Proprietary Strikes Back

Having decided to contest Quaker Party hegemon after having secured the Penn’s cooperation, Allen and domestic faction vigorously campaigned in the 1740 election. War was the real issue as Pennsylvania was being pressed by Parliament in particular to pay for its share in the effort, and more importantly to raise Pennsylvania troops to fight. The oath-taking issue always crept into any discussion about war involvement, as did the issue of whether active Quakers could continue to serve in a war-time government. The most pressing war-related issue was an earlier action by Penn’s Deputy Governor, who had on his own initiative formed several companies of militia, in part by supporting the volunteering of indentured servants for military service (about 250 seem to have volunteered). The legality of that decision, and the issue of who was responsible for paying these indentured volunteers (their owners demanded to be reimbursed, to no avail). In the background was the fear Parliament would formally require compliance and do what it took to ensure obedience. The third rail of Pennsylvania politics electrified the 1741 campaign.

War divided Pennsylvania Quakers, and triggered anti-Quaker emotions in Pennsylvania’s non-Quakers. Anglicans, never at a loss to take a whack at Quakers were on the cutting edge, and were a key element in the Quaker Party coalition. Splits within Quakers were both generational (younger Quakers less intense in their devotion as the religion had lost much of its 17th century jihad tendencies, and the Great Awakening added a few more religious complexities. Over the past several decades, a time of prosperity and business success, many Quaker merchants and professionals had to some degree become secularized, and others had determined that for them it was permissible and helpful to remain active in government and politics. Those Quakers who did not think accordingly simply left the political battlefield to others. It did not help matters that Parliament threatened to disallow Quakers from serving in a wartime government. These splits, schisms, and a hostile non-Quaker environment was what Allen hoped would propel the domestic Penn faction to legislative victory.

In 1740, with the British Empire at war, William Allen and his friends thought that the time had come for them to gain control of the Assembly…. the war might well put Quakers on the defensive in both England and America. It was not improbable that the [indentured] servant case might prompt Parliament to place a prohibition on the Quakers holding office in times of war. It was with keen interest that Thomas Penn, on his visit to America, watched the political maneuvers … the Allen party he observed relied mainly on picturing the calamity which would befall the colony unless and non-pacifist Assembly was elected.

On the other hand:

The Quakers, with much more effect, told the people that the Quaker Party was the only thing that stood between them an onerous military duties, burdensome taxation, and the arbitrary rule of the few [Proprietary]. The Governor’s action in ordering the enlistment of servants … was an example of what lay ahead if the Quakers were not reelected. Confident of success, the Quakers held their usual caucus at their yearly religious meeting [deciding] … who should be chosen members of he Assembly [99] Theodore Thayer, Pennsylvania Politics and the Growth of Democracy, 1740-1776 (Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1953), pp. 15-6

The campaigning was hot and heavy and on election days fights broke out–with leaders of the Proprietary duking it out with a Quaker Party literally around the election box. Brotherly love abounded, however. When the votes were counted the Quaker Party swept decisively into control of the Assembly–again.

the Election of 1742, Immigrants Enter into Elections, the Aftermath of Quakers the Minority of their Policy System

Allen redoubled his efforts the following year. First the Deputy Governor directly petitioned the Board of Trade to remove Quakers from office in war time. For a while it looked like that would work, but a month out from the election, the Board turned the Governor’s request down. That only increased the desperation the anti-Quaker coalition thru into the final days. Rumors abounded, including a not unrealistic possibility that the Quaker Party would quickly naturalize the un-naturalized Germans in time to vote. To prevent this, and in general to discourage Quaker voting on election day, Allen hired hundreds of sailors to intimidate Quakers at the Courthouse and other voting places–including taverns. Proprietary controlled most sheriffs who presided over the election, and was in position to use “inspectors” to inspect the secret voting to “ensure legality”. On election morning, all hell broke loose as polling booths were inundated by sailors. Once again Quaker and Proprietary officials argued and fought each other around the ballot box.

The Quakers would not be frightened and they dominated the early voting (Quakers dressed in plain brown clothes wore a distinctive style hat so their voting was obvious). Allen called in the sailors and as Quakers walked in they were beaten and chased away. The Quakers then hired Germans to beat up the sailors and chase them from the polling places–which they did. Only to have Allen hire more and send a bigger force in–countered by yet a larger army of hired Germans. Although in the final moments Allen tried to compromise and end the fighting, the sailors’ dander was up and order was restored only when the Quaker Party called off their hired Germans.

Once again the Quaker Party won a smashing victory, and the Assembly returned to their safe control. Moreover, the anti-Proprietary forces were totally discredited among the general population, and the Penns, not directly involved in the fisticuffs, became a magnet for public disapproval. The new Assembly launched an investigation into the election day episode, and Allen did not come off very well. In the next Assembly election he lost, and was not to regain his Assembly position for fourteen years. The Assembly meanwhile had suspended the Governor’s pay, and not only refused to pay for the militia or indentured servants, but sent a bill for the expenses of the latter to the Board of Trade.

In the following year, however, moderate Quakers reached a compromise with the Deputy Governor, “to pay Caesar his due” and over the next several years as the war waged, an occasional bill was approved to handle the war financing and soldiering in a more responsible fashion. The Assembly reached an tenuous accommodation with the Deputy Governor who agreed not to press matters that challenged Quaker religious beliefs in return for an open position by both the Quaker and Proprietary in future legislation–and to reimburse his salary (1744) , and the Board of Trade/Privy Council/Parliament chose not to press the Quakers and force their compliance.

the Politics of Self-Defense and Benjamin Franklin’s Association for General Defense

Still the war did not go away, and in 1746 through 1748 Pennsylvania itself was under attack from privateers who entered the Delaware river and periodically threatened to sink ships in Philadelphia harbor. Quakers remained opposed to militia involvements, and still could not find reason to support a local militia for defense of the harbor What’s more, and what in fact was the deciding factor, was yet another “dog that didn’t bark”: the London Board of Trade, nor Parliament neither came to the aid of the Proprietary and break the power of the Quaker Party, nor did it definitively move against the oppositional Quaker Party on its own terms. The policy and political logjam that was the dominant characteristic of the 1740’s Penn Frame Policy System continued uninterrupted to 1744–when France joined Spain in the War of Spanish Succession, and the King George’s War commenced in British North America.

From 1745 through and into 1747, Pennsylvania’s complexed policy system maneuvered its way through the Empire’s war program and requests for soldiers, money, and support. Firmly refusing to take part in an invasion of Canada it refused funds, and soldiers in 1745. After New England troops captured Louisburg, the Legislature “sidestepped the war issue” by approving 4,000 pounds to support the English garrison at Louisburg; specifically it authorized the money for the “purchase of “Bread, Beef, Pork, Flour, What or other Grains”, Benjamin Franklin quipped in his newspaper, the Gazette, that they Legislature defined “other grains” as grains of gunpowder” [99] Joseph E. Illick, Colonial Pennsylvania: a History, p.21. In 1746, however, the Legislature crossed over the line and approved 5,000 pounds for an abortive invasion of Canada from New York. The action kept the Privy Council at bay, and led it to formally state it would not of choice replace Pennsylvania’s Penn Frame Policy System–unless forced to do so. In reality the war was continuing and Pennsylvania, Philadelphia especially had become by 1747 increasingly vulnerable to Spanish and French privateers who sallied up the Delaware repeatedly, and even launched a raid near Newcastle. As 1747 dragged on without any action from either the Proprietorship or the Legislature, time to respond seemed to be running out.

Philadelphia became greatly alarmed and a clamor arose for forts at strategic positions along the Delaware. Pennsylvania in truth was utterly defenseless; not only did it have no batteries to guard the approaches to Philadelphia, but it had no militia or military organizations to call up in case of need … Rumor arose that the French in the West Indies were preparing to attack the city with six privateers early the next spring [99] Theodore Thayer, Pennsylvania Politics and the Growth of Democracy, 1740-1776 (Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1953), p.21.

While the general public was going nuts, the Legislature low-keyed the perceived crisis, and refused to appropriate funds for self-defense. Desperate some proponents submitted a bill to fit out one ship to defend the harbor; it was rejected. The rejection appears to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back; the private sector, with its commercial assets at some perceived risk, wanted action. The Legislature either at deadlock, or minimally predisposed to participate in any self-defense scheme for most of the decade, was not likely to do so in this situation, and accordingly, if somethings was to be done, they would have to do it on their own dime. A group of merchants raised sufficient funds to pit out the single ship, which was upon completion christened as  the Warren, and set off to patrol the harbor. This was not sufficient for its newly retired newspaper editor.  In November he published a pamphlet, today known as “the Plain Truth” in which he presented a case that immediate action was needed to defend Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and its citizens and commerce.

Consciously framing his argument so that it offered support to Quakers opposed to war, allowing them room to participate without violating their beliefs. He cited several Quakers, for example, that supported self-defense initiatives. Framing self-defense in larger context he stressed that “the common interests of Pennsylvanians [included] the importance of defending the western frontier and eastern coast; the general benefits of trade, endangered by foreigners, the need to defend “the middling People, the tradesmen, shopkeepers, and Farmers of this Province and City” who were being left vulnerable by the “Great and Rich Men, Merchants and others who are ever railing at the Quakers for doing what their Principles seem to require, but take not one step themselves for the Public Safety”. In an unusual sentiment for Franklin he generously praised the fighting spirit of the Germans, and the “fierce fighting Animals” from the British Isles (Scots-Irish).

He immediately followed up by calling a public meeting whose purpose was to form an organization to be called “the Association for General Defense” that would raise funds to erect fortifications and build ships, and purchase arterillary, and weapons, and construct earthworks. Simultaneous he and several friends submitted a proposed legislative bill to permit the formation of militia companies to defend the Province and City; the bill was approved. Using the Plain Truth blog, he recruited volunteers for the militia, which which subsequently organized into companies and regiments, which over the next several months were trained weekly. A battery (fort) was built, mounted with cannon, and staffed with militia volunteers. To pay for all this Franklin and his supporters he organized a public lottery to raise 3,000 pounds for the Association, but rather was so successful, he organized yet a second lottery to support the militia. In effect, Franklin had organized his own private military force, and fortifications.

In fact, that is exactly how Thomas Penn, the chief Proprietor, saw his actions. His reaction to the Plain Truth was that “it had done much mischief”. He wrote to his chief operative that Franklin was “a dangerous Man, and I should be very Glad he inhabited any other Country, as I believe him of a very uneasy spirit. However, he is a Sort of Tribune of the People, he must be treated with Regard”. [99] Joseph E. Illick, Colonial Pennsylvania: a History, pp. 193-4. What Franklin may not have expected was the reaction of “militant” Quakers, led by a powerful, central player in the Quaker Party, Israel Pemberton, so-called “King of the Quakers”, a rich merchant whose influence was pervasive, and who personally injected himself and like-minded Quakers into the treaty negotiations with the Native Americans. Franklin and Pemberton knew each other well, and had and were to participate in several community projects and philanthropic endeavors (to be discussed in a later module).

On the occasion of the Association formation, however, Pemberton took almost violent exception, perceiving the Association and its self-defense actions as a direct attack on Quakers, their doctrines, and was particularly upset with Franklin’s recruitment of Germans, whose antiwar sympathies were fundamental to their alliance with the Quaker Party [99] James M. Hutson, “Benjamin Franklin and Pennsylvania Politics, 1751-1755: A Reappraisal” (the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol 93, Issue 3, (July, 1969), pp. 313-15. To make matters even worse, William Allen, the just retired leader of the anti-Quaker Party Proprietary electoral revolt and chief personnel officer for the Proprietary, also opposed the Association and Franklin. In short, Franklin’s self-defense privatist initiative, while obviously meeting the approval of the general public, and commercial classes, had managed to outrage each of the major factions in Pennsylvania’s politics.

As the reader may suspect, the entrance of Franklin into active political affairs with the Plain Truth and the Association for General Defense is a major event in this Pennsylvania chapter. Franklin had been involved earlier (1729 with his conceptual piece on colonial use of paper money) and his involvement in the politics of approving use of paper dollars). He was. after all,  the owner and editor of Pennsylvania’s most successful newspaper publisher, a publication that covered the major events of the day. He also had been involved as we shall discuss in our module on Pennsylvania Community and Economic Development, involved in several major projects as a private actor. But in 1748, Franklin cut a deal with his editor, and transferred the operation of the Gazette to him–in effect retiring, although still in ownership of the newspaper network (which by that time had branch enterprises in several colonies).

Sufficiently affluent, Franklin shifted his attentions to science, experimentation, and more genuine intellectual matters. Less appreciated, was his 1747 adventures in Pennsylvania politics also tickled his interests as well, and from then on his involvement in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania politics deepened with each passing year. In October, 1748, he was elected as a Philadelphia municipal corporation councilman; in 1749, elected appointed a Philadelphia county justice of the peace, and in 1751 elected, in cooperation with the Quaker Party, to the Pennsylvania General Assembly. To complete the transformation into politics, in 1753, he was appointed to the Crown-appointed position as Deputy Postmaster General of North America. Benjamin Franklin was “now in the office”.

But before we switch our attention to Franklin and his involvement in Pennsylvania policy-making, we ought to conclude our present module with an assessment of what had transpired in Pennsylvania policy-making through the 1740’s.

That decade was less than auspicious at least if one comes from an active, efficient, involved government perspective. Pennsylvania, at virtually any level of its governmental system, was fragmented into hostile segments and political factions. While it was certainly unable to achieve any serious electoral success, the Penn Proprietary complex was still formidable. Through its appointed Deputy Governor, it dominated Pennsylvania’s provincial executive branch, and through appointments had reasonable control over county and township local governments. The Judiciary was split in two, between the Proprietary and the dominant Legislative wing, and the Legislature through the creation of “special districts” had seized control of vital policy areas of local administration/service, including the operation of significant policy areas in Philadelphia’s municipal corporation. The Legislature, hugely powerful, had through sheer cussedness and centralized power in its speaker forged a very tenuous veneer of autonomy from British colonial administration–a tribute to its Quaker pacifism as much as anything else. It was without question, the most powerful single institution in the Pennsylvania policy system–enhanced by its effective dominance by the Quaker Party, itself dominated by wealthy Quaker landowning and merchant class through its electoral alliance with the Germans.

But in the 1740’s we did see two developments which proved long-term, and enduring. The first was that a good deal of what was public affairs in other colonies were handled by combinations of semi-public actors and private individuals (negotiation of Native American relationships and treaties), and most vividly in Franklin’s Association of General Defense, a private army funded by public lotteries, operated by a retired newspaper editor, and sanctioned, under protest, by the Legislature and Proprietary. The Association was autonomous of government while it existed, and it arguably performed the most basic of all public functions safety from foreign invasion. While all this was going on, the “normal” politics and policy-making of the colony reasonably resembled a logjam of issues, that seemed beyond the capacity of the government to resolve, only sidestep, and postpone. This was limited government by anyone’s definition–and that is why so much of its key functions drifted into management of private actors.

The second development, which we did not overemphasize in this module, was the rather quixotic relationship that the members of the Pennsylvania policy system had evolved with British colonial administration. Why this cacophony of policy-non-making had been permitted, especially while an eight year major war was being waged, by the various actors in London, is a wonder in itself. That question will be picked up when we explore the role and activities of Franklin in the next module, but it is clear that the combination of a Penn sole Proprietary form of government, and the power of its Quaker political culture had combined to temper British colonial administrators willingness to step in and assert their authority.