William Penn, Some Account of the Province of Pennsylvania (1681).


[
Once William Penn received his charter from the Crown, he began to publish promotional tracts emphasizing the advantages of moving to Pennsylvania. Penn was trying to appeal to Quakers and non-Quakers alike. Since Penn had not yet been to Pennsylvania himself, he tended to emphasize the advantages of colonization that awaited the prospective colonist.]

 

Since (by the good providence of God) a country in America is fallen to my lot, I thought it not less my duty than my honest interest to give some public notice of it to the world, that those of our own, or other nations, that are inclined to transport themselves or families beyond the seas, may find another country added to their choice; that if they shall happen to like the place, conditions and constitutions (so far as the present infancy of things will allow us any prospect), they may, if they please, fix with me in the province hereafter described. But before I come to treat of my particular concernment, I shall take leave to say something of the benefit of plantations or colonies in general, to obviate a common objection.

Colonies, then, are the seeds of nations begun and nourished by the care of wise and populous Countries, as conceiving them best for the increase of human stock, and beneficial for commerce.

Some of the wisest men in history have justly taken their fame from this design and service. We read of the reputation given on this account to Moses, Joshua and Caleb in Scripture records; . . . Nor is the Roman account wanting of instances to the credit of that people . . .[who] not only reduced, but moralized the manners of the nations they Subjected, so that they may have been rather said to conquer their barbarity than them.

Nor did any of these ever dream it was the way of decreasing their people or wealth. For the cause of the decay of any of those states or empires was not their plantations, but their luxury and corruption of manners. For when they grew to neglect their ancient discipline that maintained and rewarded

virtue and industry, and addicted themselves to pleasure and effeminacy, they debased their spirits and debauched their morals, from whence ruin did never fall to follow to any people. With justice, therefore, I deny the vulgar opinion against plantations, that they weaken England. They have manifestly enriched and so strengthened her, which I briefly evidence thus:

Ist. Those that go into a foreign plantation, their industry there is worth more than if they stayed at home, the product of their labor being in commodities of a superior nature to those of this country. For instance, what is an improved acre in Jamaica or Barbados worth to an improved acre in England? We know it is three times the value, and the product of it comes for England, and is usually paid for in English growth and manufacture. . . .

2dly. More being produced and imported than we can spend here, we export it to other countries in Europe, which brings in money or the growth of those countries, which is the same thing. And this is Ito] the advantage of the English merchants and seamen.

3dly. Such as could not only not marry here, but hardly live and allow themselves clothes, do marry there, and bestow thrice more in all necessaries and conveniencies (and not a little in ornamental things, too) for themselves, their wives, and children, both as to apparel and household Stuff, which coming out of England, I say it is impossible that England should not be a considerable gainer.

4thly. But let it be considered that the plantations employ many hundreds of shipping and many thousands of seamen, which must be in diverse respects an advantage to England, being an island, and by nature fitted for navigation above any country in Europe. . . .


I Something of the Place. . . .


II. The Constitutions.

For the Constitution of the country, the patent shows, first, that the people and governor have a legislative power, so that no law can be made, nor money raised, but by the people's consent.

2dly. That the rights and freedoms of England (the best and largest in Europe) shall be in force there.

3dly. That making no law against allegiance (which should we, it were by the law of England, void of itself that moment) we may enact what laws we please for the good prosperity and security of the said province."

4thly. That so soon as any are engaged with me, we shall begin a scheme or draft together, such as shall give ample testimony of my sincere inclinations to encourage planters, and settle a free, just, and industrious colony there.


III. The Conditions.

My conditions will relate to three sorts of people: Ist, those that will buy; 2dly, those that take up land upon rent; 3dly, servants. To the first, the shares I sell shall be certain as to number of acres; that is to say, every one shall contain five thousand acres, free from any Indian encumbrance, the price £100, and for the quitrent but one English shilling or the value of it yearly for a hundred acres; and the said quitrent not to begin to be paid till 1684. To the second sort, that take up land upon rent, they shall have liberty so to do, paying yearly one penny per acre, not exceeding two hundred acres. To the third sort, to wit, servants that are carried over, fifty acres shall be allowed to the master for every head, and fifty acres to every servant when their time is expired. . . .


IV. These persons that Providence seems to have most fitted for plantations are,

Ist. Industrious husbandmen and day laborers, that are hardly able (with extreme labor) to maintain their families and portion their children.

2d1y. Laborious handicrafts, especially carpenters, masons, smiths, weavers, tailors, tanners, shoemakers, shipwrights, etc., where they may be spared or are low in the world. And as they shall want no encouragement, so their labor is worth more there than here, and there provision cheaper.

3dly. A plantation seems a fit place for those ingenious spirits that being low in the world, are much clogged and oppressed about a livelihood. For the means of subsisting being easy there, they may have time and opportunity to gratify their inclinations, and thereby improve science and help nurseries of people.

4thly. A fourth sort of men to whom a plantation would be proper, takes in those that are younger brothers of small inheritances; yet because they would live in sight of their kindred in some proportion to their quality, and can't do it without a labor that looks like farming, their condition is too strait for them; and if married, their children are often too numerous for the estate, and are frequently bred up to no trades, but are a kind of hangers on or retainers to the elder brothers' table and charity; which is a mischief, as in itself to be lamented, so here to be remedied. For land they have for next to nothing, which with moderate labor produces plenty of all things necessary for life, and such an increase as by traffic may supply them with all conveniencies.

Lastly, there are another sort of persons, not only fit for, but necessary in plantations, and that is, men of universal spirits that have an eye to the good of posterity, and that both understand and delight to promote good discipline and just government among a plain and well intending people. Such persons may find room in colonies for their good counsel and contrivance, who are shut out from being of much use or service to great nations under settled customs. These men deserve much esteem, and would be hearkened to. Doubtless it was this (as I observed before) that put some of the famous Greeks and Romans upon transplanting and regulating colonies of people in diverse parts of the world, whose names, for giving so great proof of their wisdom, virtue, labor and constancy, are with justice honorably delivered down by story to the praise of our own times; though the world, after all its higher pretenses of religion, barbarously errs from their excellent example.


Source: William Penn, Some Account of the Province of Pennsylvania . . . (London, 1681).

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