History of the United States of America: From the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 1

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVI.
PENNSYLVANIA.

IT was for the grant of a territory on the opposite bank of the Delaware that William Penn, in June, 1680, became a suitor. His father, distinguished in English history by the conquest of Jamaica, and by his conduct, discretion, and courage, in the signal battle against the Dutch in 1665, had bequeathed to him a claim on the government for sixteen thousand pounds. To Charles II., always embarrassed for money, the grant of a province was the easiest mode of cancelling the debt. Penn had friends in North, Halifax, and Sunderland; and a pledge given to his father on his death-bed obtained for him the favor of the duke of York. With such support, he triumphed over "great opposition," and obtained a charter for the territory, which received from Charles II. the name of Pennsylvania, and was to include three degrees of latitude by five degrees of longitude west from the Delaware. The duke of York desired to retain the three lower counties--that is, the state of Delaware--as an appendage to New York; Pennsylvania was, therefore, in that direction, limited by a circle drawn at twelve miles' distance from Newcastle, northward and westward, to the beginning of the fortieth degree of latitude. This impossible boundary received the assent of the agents of the duke of York and Lord Baltimore.

The charter, as originally drawn up by William Penn himself, conceded powers of government analogous to those of the charter for Maryland. That nothing might be at variance with English law, it was revised by the attorney-general, and amended by Lord North, who inserted clauses to guard the sovereignty of the king and the commercial supremacy of par-

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