Pennsylvania Politics and the Growth of Democracy: 1740- 1776

By Theodore Thayer | Go to book overview

VII
THE WESTERN PROBLEM. 1760-1764

T HE CAPTURE of Fort Duquesne in November, 1758, having brought hostilities to an end on the Pennsylvania frontier, the province was free to go ahead with western expansion and development. As early as 1760, Peters noted that the settlers were extending themselves all along the road to Pittsburgh, regardless of Indian rights to the land. The Rev. Thomas Barton of Lancaster also noted that many of those who left Pennsylvania during the Indian raids were flocking back and buying up land. Good land was everywhere in great demand and high in price except on the extreme frontier.

Although the suffering had been great on the exposed frontier, there were many in the West, especially in the Lancaster area, who had profited much by the war. At Lancaster farmers sold provisions to the Army contractors at high prices, the tavern keepers did a thriving business, and wagonmakers, saddlers, blacksmiths, and other tradesmen found the demand for goods and services greater than their ability to provide for them. Naturally many Pennsylvanians who had profited by the war were not at all displeased to learn that England was considering sending ten thousand troops to America for garrison duty after the war.1

To help those impoverished by the war, Pennsylvania in 1759 passed a special relief act. This law permitted the Loan Office to make larger or additional loans to persons who had suffered severe losses by the war. Unfortunately the law was disallowed by the Privy Council on the theory that it was economically unsound. Besides passing this law the province canceled taxes and the Proprietors canceled quitrents and interest due on war-ravished property.2 Acts such as these disprove the thesis that the frontier people suffered discrimination at the hands of an eastern oligarchy in Pennsylvania.

Of substantial relief to the Pennsylvania taxpayer was the British policy of reimbursing the colonies for part of their war expenditures. England did this in order to encourage the raising of troops in America so that it might be saved the heavier cost of transporting more men

____________________
1
Norris Letter Book, 1756- 1766, 92. Joseph Shippen thought that Pennsylvania should have no objection to the Quartering Act provided some American officers were appointed. William Allen thought the presence of British troops tended to maintain the provincial currency at a high rate with sterling. "William Allen's Letter Book", 37; Shippen Papers VI, 5. HSP.
2
Statutes, V, 427-443; Lamberton Scotch-Irish Coll., I, 37. HSP.

-77-

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