Monday, October 14, 2019

Francis Daniel Pastorius, founder of German Town, Pennsylvania, to his father in Germany, 1698


Letter of Francis Daniel Pastorius, founder of German Town, Pennsylvania, to his father in Germany, 1698 (excerpts)

Francis Daniel Pastorius, founder of the first German settlement in Pennsylvania (1683), wrote several accounts of the colony to persuade his countrymen to emigrate. "It is truly a matter for amazement," he exclaims, "how quickly, by the blessing of God, it advances, and from day to day grows perceptibly." In this letter, he answers five questions about German Town and Pennsylvania
submitted to him by his father.

 I received in proper condition, on April 25, 1698, my honored father’s latest, of August 15, and I
was greatly rejoiced by the sight of his dear handwriting. But to answer his questions submitted, I would wish that my pen could reach down to the uttermost depth of my soul, for so should I do the same with more satisfaction than is the case now. Nevertheless I do not doubt that my honored father will supply by his keen apprehension that which is not perfectly expressed on this paper:

1. Now as to the first question, concerning the ordering of the civil government.
 . . . In my German city, Germanton, there is an entirely different condition of things [i.e., different
government than that in Philadelphia]. For, by virtue of the franchise obtained from William Penn, this town has its own court, its own burgomaster and council, together with the necessary officials, and wellregulated town laws, council regulations, and a town seal. The inhabitants of this city are for the most part tradespeople, such as cloth, fustian, and linen weavers, tailors, shoemakers, locksmiths, carpenters, who however at the same time are also occupied with the cultivation of the soil and the raising of cattle.  This region would be sufficient to maintain twice as many inhabitants as are now actually there.  This town lies two hours’ distance from Philadelphia, and includes not only six thousand acres (morgen) by the survey, but twelve thousand morgen of land have also been assigned to us by William Penn for the establishing of some villages. As to the taxation and tribute of the subjects, in this country, it is treated as it is with the English nation, where neither the king himself nor his envoys, bailiffs, nor governors may lay any kind of burden or tax upon the subjects, unless those subjects themselves have first voluntarily resolved and consented to give a specified amount, and, according to their fundamental laws, no tax may remain in force for longer than a single year.

2. To come to my honored father’s second question. What form of government have the
 so-called savages and half-naked people? Whether they become citizens and intermarry
 with the Christians? Again, whether their children also associate with the Christian
 children and they play with one another, etc.?
 It may be stated in reply, that, so far as I have yet gone about among them, I have found them
reasonable people and capable of understanding good teaching and manners, who give evidence of an inward devotion to God, and in fact show themselves much more desirous of a knowledge of God than are many with you who teach Christianity by words from the pulpit, but belie the same through their ungodly lives, and therefore, in yonder great Day of Judgment, will be put to shame by these heathen.  We Christians in Germanton and Philadelphia have no longer the opportunity to associate with them, in view of the fact that their savage kings have accepted a sum of money from William Penn, and, together with their people, have withdrawn very far away from us, into the wild forest, where, after their hereditary custom, they support themselves by the chase, shooting birds and game, and also by catching fish, and dwell only in huts made of bushes and trees drawn together. They carry on no cattle-breeding whatever, and cultivate no field or garden; accordingly they bring very little else to the Christians to market than the pelts, the skins of animals, and the birds which they have shot, and fishes, nor do they associate much with the Christians; and certainly no mutual marriage-contract between us and them has yet taken place. They exchange their elk and deer-skins, beaver, marten, and turkeys, ordinarily, for powder, lead, blankets, and brandy, together with other sweet drinks.  In the business of our German Company, however, we now use in trade Spanish and English coins, as also the Dutch thalers; with this difference only, that that which is worth four shillings on the other side of the sea, passes for five here.

3. Concerning the third question: How our divine worship is regulated and constituted in this place?
 The answer is that, as experience testifies that by the coercion of conscience nothing else than
hypocrites and word Christians are made, of whom almost the entire world is now full, we have therefore found it desirable to grant freedom of conscience, so that each serves God according to his best understanding, and may believe whatever he is able to believe. “we have therefore found it desirable to grant freedom of conscience, so that each serves God to his best understanding”  It is certain, once for all, that there is only one single undoubted Truth. Sects however are very numerous, and each sectarian presumes to know the nearest and most direct way to Heaven, and to be able to point it out to others, though nevertheless there is surely no more than a single One Who on the basis of truth has said: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. . . .

4. Concerning the fourth question: How our German Company and Brotherhood is at present constituted? 
It should be stated that this same company was started by some pious and God-fearing persons, not so much for the sake of worldly gain, but rather to have a Pella or place of refuge for themselves and other upright people of their country, when the just God should pour out His cup of wrath over sinful Europe  With this intention they arranged to purchase from the proprietor, through me, about thirty thousand acres of land in this country, of which the third part is now cultivated, but two-thirds still lie waste.  The principal members are, by name : Doctor Jacob Schiitz, Jacobus von de Walle, Doctor Weilich, Daniel Behagel, Johann Lebrunn, Doctor Gerhard von Maastrich, the Syndic of Bremen, Doctor Johann Willhelm Peters of near Magdeburg, Balthasar Jabert of Lubeck, and Joannes  kembler, a preacher at the same place. Of these partners some were to have come over here to me and helped to bring the undertaking to the desired result, but up to this time that has not happened, because they fear the solitude and tediousness, to all of which I, thank God! am now well accustomed, and shall so remain accustomed until my happy end.

However, that the merciful God has so graciously preserved my honored father together with his
dear ones in this recent devastation of the French war, gives me occasion to extol His everlasting
goodness and fervently to beseech Him to protect you still further, with gentle fatherly care, from all chances of misfortune, but especially that He will bring us ever more and more into His holy fear and obedience, so that we may feel abhorrence to offend Him, and, on the contrary, may strive to fulfill His holy will with happy hearts. . . .

5. Concerning the fifth question: Whether William Penn, the proprietor of this country, is easy of access, and if one might address some lines of compliment to him.  It may be stated, that this worthy man is a good Christian, and consequently entirely averse to the idle compliments of the world. But he who wishes to exchange sensible and truthful words with him, either by mouth or by letter, will find him not only easy of access, but also prompt in reply, since he is, from his heart, sweet-natured, humble, and eager to serve all men. . . .

 . . . All must have an end, and therefore this letter also, in closing which I greet my honored father a thousand times, and kiss him (through the air) with the heart of a child, perhaps for the last time, and most trustingly commend you with us, and us with you, to the beneficent protecting and guiding hand of God; and I remain  My honored father’s  Truly dutiful son,
Philadelphia F[rancis]. D[aniel]. P[astorius]. 30 May 1698. 

Francis Daniel Pastorius, Circumstantial Geographical Description of the Lately Discovered Province of Pennsylvania, Situated in the Farthest Limits of America, in the Western World, 1700; in Narratives of Early Pennsylvania, West New Jersey, and Delaware, 1630-1707, ed. Albert Cook Myers (New York, Scribner’s, 1912), pp. 360-448; in series Original Narratives of Early American History, gen. ed. J. Franklin Jameson.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Rev. Mr. John Cotton on Anne Hutchinson & Local Economics. The Just Price, 1639.

(The Rev. Cotton, born, Derby, England, 1585. BA, Trinity College, Cambridge, 1602. Masters, Emmanuel College, 1606, BD, 1613. Fellow, Head Lecturer, Dean & Catechist, Emmanuel College. First Wife, Elizabeth Horrocks. Vicar, St. Botolph's Parish Church, Boston, Lincolnshire. Arrived New England, 1633. Second Wife, Sarah (Hawkredd-Story) Children: Seaborn, John (Jr), Elizabeth, Maria. FCB, 1633-52. Died in Boston, 1652, age 67.)

The Rev. John Cotton (1584-1652) of Boston was the leading Puritan minister in the early decades of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He is known for his initial defense of Anne Hutchinson.  During his 1st 10 years in the colonies, he actually had a prominent part in the 2 controversies which rocked New England to its core, the exile of Roger Williams and the heresies of Anne Hutchinson. First, he was at the center of the antinomian controversy that swirled around Anne Hutchinson. Hutchinson, who had followed Cotton to the New World and to Boston, claimed to adhere to Cotton’s emphasis on the primary of grace and divine sovereignty in conversion, and accused all the other New England ministers (except her newly arrived brother-­in-­law, John Wheelwright) of preaching a covenant of works rather than the covenant of grace. Enthusiastically embracing the doctrine of immediate revelation, she asserted that assurance of faith is experienced by inner feelings of the immediate testimony of the Holy Spirit rather than the evidence of good works. She downplayed the need for sanctification and for the law as a rule of life. The gifted woman attracted many believers into her fellowship and managed to cause friction between Cotton and other ministers, even to the point that some of the ministers began to question Cotton’s orthodoxy. Cotton initially seemed to support Hutchinson and a few of her ideas, particularly a clerical overemphasis on sanctification as evidence of election. Cotton embraced both of these doctrines, but he felt uncomfortable with the amount of emphasis they were receiving among the New England clergy.  Hutchinson’s views were gradually brought out into the open, however, and when she openly lapsed into mysticism, Cotton sided with the other ministers against her.  Cotton’s fellow clergymen presented him with a list of questions to clarify his views in relation to Hutchinson, after which the synod detailed a list of Hutchinsonian errors. The controversy ended dramatically with Hutchinson’s trial and conviction both by the colony’s general court and by the Boston church, which led to her banishment from the colony. The Williams controversy dealt with the relation between church and state. Magistrates are God's deputies and their power goes as far as life and death, said Cotton. Roger Williams declared that a man's religious loyalties are untouchable by civil power. 

In the document below, Gov. John Winthrop recorded in his Journal what Cotton's conclusions were in a sermon about fair local economic behavior. 

Mo. 9 [Sept. 1639]
At a general court holden at Boston, great complaint was made of the oppression used in the country in sale of foreign commodities; and Mr. Robert Keaine, who kept a shop in Boston, was notoriously above others observed and complained of, and, being convented, he was charged with many particulars; in some, for taking above six-pence in the shilling profit; in some above eight-pence; and, in some small things, above two for one; and being hereof convict, (as appears by the records,) he was fined £200, which came thus to pass: The deputies considered, apart, of his fine, and set it at £200; the magistrates agreed but to £100. So, the court being divided, at length it was agreed, that his fine should be £200, but he should pay but £100, and the other should be respited to the further consideration of the next general court. By this means the magistrates and deputies were, brought to an accord, which otherwise had not been likely, and so much trouble might have grown, and the offender escaped censure. For the cry of the country was so great against oppression, and some of the elders and magistrates had declared such detestation of the corrupt practice of this man (which was the more observable, because he was wealthy and sold dearer than most other tradesmen, and for that he was of ill report for the like covetous practice in England, that incensed the deputies very much against him). And sure the course was very evil, especial circumstances considered: 1. He being an ancient professor of the gospel: 2. A man of eminent parts: 3. Wealthy, and having but one child: 4. Having come over for conscience' sake, and for the advancement of the gospel here: 5. Having been formerly dealt with and admonished, both by private friends and also by some of the magistrates and elders, and having promised reformation; being a member of a church and commonwealth now in their infancy, and under the curious observation of all churches and civil states in the world. These added much aggravation to his sin in the judgment of all men of understanding. Yet most of the magistrates (though they discerned of the offence clothed with all these circumstances) would have been more moderate in their censure: 1. Because there was no law in force to limit or direct men in point of profit in their trade. 2. Because it is the common practice, in all countries, for men to make use of advantages for raising the prices of their commodities. 3. Because (though he were chiefly aimed at, yet) he was not alone in this fault. 4. Because all men through the country, in sale of cattle, corn, labor, etc., were guilty of the like excess in prices. 5. Because a certain rule could not be found out for an equal rate between buyer and seller, though much labor had been bestowed in it, and divers laws had been made, which, upon experience, were repealed, as being neither safe nor equal. Lastly, and especially, because the law of God appoints no other punishment but double restitution; and, in some cases, as where the offender freely confesseth, and brings his offering, onlv half added to the principal. After the court had censured him, the church of Boston called him also in question, where (as before he had done in the court) he did, with tears, acknowledge and bewail his covetous and corrupt heart, yet making some excuse for many of the particulars, which were charged upon him, as partly by pretence of ignorance of the true price of some wares, and chiefly by being misled by some false principles, as 1. That, if a man lost in one commodity, he might help himself in the price of another. 2. That if, through want of skill or other occasion, his commodity cost him more than the price of the market in England, he might then sell it for more than the price of the market in New England, etc. These things gave occasion to Mr. Cotton, in his public exercise the next lecture day, to lay open the error of such false principles, and to give some rules of direction in the case."

Some false principles were these: 
1. That a man might sell as dear as he can, and buv as cheap as he can.

2. If a man lose by casualty of sea, etc., in some of his commodities, he may raise the price of the rest.

3. That he may sell as he bought, though he paid too dear, etc., and though the commodity be fallen, etc.

4. That, as a man may take the advantage of his own skill or ability, so he may of another's ignorance or necessity.

5. Where one gives time for payment, he is to take like recompense of one as of another.

The rules for trading-, were these:
1. A man may not sell above the current price, i.e., such a price as is usual in the time and place, and as another (who knows the worth of the commodity) would give for it, if he had occasion to use it: as that is called current money, which every man will take, etc.

2. When a man loseth in his commodity for want of skill, etc., he must look at it as his own fault or cross, and therefore must not lay it upon another.

3. Where a man loseth by casualty of sea, or, etc., it is a loss cast upon himself by providence, and he may not ease himself of it by casting it upon another; for so a man should seem to provide against all providences, etc., that he should never lose; but where there is a scarcity of the commodity, there men may raise their price; for now it is a hand of God upon the commodity, and not the person.

4. A man may not ask any more for his commodity than his selling price, as Ephron to Abraham, the land is worth thus much. 

Keayne was censured by his church in Boston (in addition to the fine imposed by the General Court). Fourteen years later (1653), Keayne wrote a 158-page justification for his actions as his last will and testament.

Source: John Winthrop, The History of New England from 1630 to 1649

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Portrait of an 17C Boston British-American Girl

The Freake Limner (American Colonial Era Painter, active 1670-c 1680) Margaret Gibbs of Boston c 1670 Age 7.

Not long after Boston was settled, a wealthy merchant named Robert Gibbs commissioned three paintings of his young children. They are among the finest of the few extant portraits made in New England in the seventeenth century. The artist who painted Margaret Gibbs, the eldest at seven, and her brothers—Robert, aged four and a half, and Henry, aged one and a half (Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, Charleston, West Virginia)—is unknown. However, it is thought that the same artist created likenesses of John and Elizabeth Freake and their baby Mary (in two portraits now at the Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts) in 1674. The artist is thus known as the Freake-Gibbs painter and is considered one of the most skilled portraitists of the seventeenth-century colonies, possessing an exceptional sense of design and an admirable feel for color. Probably trained in provincial England, the Freake-Gibbs painter worked in a typically English flat style derived from Elizabethan art, which emphasized color and pattern. As was customary for portraits at the time, the children, such as Margaret, appear like adults in pose and manner.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

17C & 18C Slaves & Rice Cultivation in Georgetown County, South Carolina

Salves and Rice Cultivation in Georgetown County, South Carolina

The intricate steps involved in planting, cultivating, harvesting, and preparing rice required an immense labor force. Planters stated that African slaves were particularly suited to provide that labor force for two reasons: 1) rice was grown in some areas of Africa and there was evidence that some slaves were familiar with the methods of cultivation practiced there, and 2) it was thought that the slaves, by virtue of their racial characteristics, were better able than white laborers to withstand the extreme heat and humidity of the tidal swamps and therefore would be more productive workers. Rice cultivation resulted in a dramatic increase in the numbers of slaves owned by South Carolinians before the American Revolution.
In 1680, four-fifths of South Carolina's population was white. However, black slaves outnumbered white residents two to one in 1720, and by 1740, slaves constituted nearly 90% of the population. Much of the growing slave population came from the West Coast of Africa, a region that had gained notoriety by exporting its large rice surpluses.

While there is no consensus on how rice first reached the American coast, there is much debate over the contribution of African-born slaves to its successful cultivation. New research demonstrates that the European planters lacked prior knowledge of rice farming, while uncovering the long history of skilled rice cultivation in West Africa. Furthermore, Islamic, Portuguese, and Dutch traders all encountered and documented extensive rice cultivation in Africa before South Carolina was even settled.
At first rice was treated like other crops, it was planted in fields and watered by rains. By the mid-18th century, planters used inland swamps to grow rice by accumulating water in a reservoir, then releasing the stored water as needed during the growing season for weeding and watering. Similarly, prior records detail Africans controlling springs and run off with earthen embankments for the same purposes of weeding and watering.

Soon after this method emerged, a second evolution occurred, this time to tidewater production, a technique that had already been perfected by West African farmers. Instead of depending upon a reservoir of water, this technique required skilled manipulation of tidal flows and saline-freshwater interactions to attain high levels of productivity in the floodplains of rivers and streams. Changing from inland swamp cultivation to tidal production created higher expectations from plantation owners. Slaves became responsible for five acres of rice, three more than had been possible previously. Because of this new evidence coming to light, some historians contend that African-born slaves provided critical expertise in the cultivation of rice in South Carolina. The detailed and extensive rice cultivating systems increased demand for slave imports in South Carolina, doubling the slave population between 1750 and 1770. These slaves faced long days of backbreaking work and difficult tasks.
A slave's daily work on an antebellum rice plantation was divided into tasks. Each field hand was given a task--usually nine or ten hours' hard work--or a fraction of a task to complete each day according to his or her ability. The tasks were assigned by the driver, a slave appointed to supervise the daily work of the field hands. The driver held the most important position in the slave hierarchy on the rice plantation. His job was second only to the overseer in terms of responsibility.
The driver's job was particularly important because each step of the planting, growing, and harvesting process was crucial to the success or failure of the year's crop. In the spring, the land was harrowed and plowed in preparation for planting. Around the first of April rice seed was sown by hand using a small hoe. The first flooding of the field, the sprout flow, barely covered the seed and lasted only until the grain sprouted. The water was then drained to keep the delicate sprout from floating away, and the rice was allowed to grow for approximately three weeks. Around the first of May any grass growing among the sprouts was weeded by hoe and the field was flooded by the point flow to cover just the tops of the plants. After a few days the water was gradually drained until it half covered the plants. It remained at this level--the long flow--until the rice was strong enough to stand. More weeding followed and then the water was slowly drained completely off the field. The ground around the plants was hoed to encourage the growth and extension of the roots. After about three weeks, the field was hoed and weeded again, at which time--around mid-June or the first of July--the lay-by flow was added and gradually increased until the plants were completely submerged. This flow was kept on the field for about two months with fresh water periodically introduced and stagnant water run off by the tidal flow through small floodgates called trunks.
Rice planted in the first week of April was usually ready for harvesting by the first week of September. After the lay-by flow was withdrawn, just before the grain was fully ripe, the rice was cut with large sickles known as rice hooks and laid on the ground on the stubble. After it had dried overnight, the cut rice was tied into sheaves and taken by flatboat to the threshing yard. In the colonial period, threshing was most often done by beating the stalks with flails. This process was simple but time consuming. If the rice was to be sold rough, it was then shipped to the agent; otherwise, it was husked and cleaned--again, usually by hand. By the mid-19th century most of the larger plantations operated pounding and/or threshing mills which were driven by steam engines. After the rice had been prepared, it was packed in barrels, or tierces, and shipped to the market at Georgetown or Charleston. In 1850 a rice plantation in the Georgetown County area produced an average yield of 300,000 pounds of rice. The yield had increased to 500,000 pounds by 1860.

See National Park Service

Saturday, October 5, 2019

17C New England

The northeastern New England colonies had generally thin, stony soil, relatively little level land, and long winters, making it difficult to make a living from farming. Turning to other pursuits, the New Englanders harnessed water power and established grain mills and sawmills. Good stands of timber encouraged shipbuilding. Excellent harbors promoted trade, and the sea became a source of great wealth. In Massachusetts, the cod industry alone quickly furnished a basis for prosperity.

With the bulk of the early settlers living in villages and towns around the harbors, many New Englanders carried on some kind of trade or business. Common pastureland and woodlots served the needs of townspeople, who worked small farms nearby. Compactness made possible the village school, the village church and the village or town hall, where citizens met to discuss matters of common interest.

The Massachusetts Bay Colony continued to expand its commerce. From the middle of the 17th century onward it grew prosperous, and Boston became one of America's greatest ports.

Oak timber for ships' hulls, tall pines for spars and masts, and pitch for the seams of ships came from the Northeastern forests. Building their own vessels and sailing them to ports all over the world, the shipmasters of Massachusetts Bay laid the foundation for a trade that was to grow steadily in importance. By the end of the colonial period, one-third of all vessels under the British flag were built in New England. Fish, ship's stores and wooden ware swelled the exports.

New England shippers soon discovered, too, that rum and slaves were profitable commodities. One of the most enterprising -- if unsavory -- trading practices of the time was the so-called "triangular trade." Merchants and shippers would purchase slaves off the coast of Africa for New England rum, then sell the slaves in the West Indies where they would buy molasses to bring home for sale to the local rum producers.

For more, see Outline of U.S. History, a publication of the U.S. Department of State from the website of the United States Information Agency, where it was published in November 2005.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

The Unhealthy 17C Chesapeake - Desperate for Women

Life in the American wilderness was nasty, brutish, and short for the earliest Chesapeake settlers; malaria, dysentery, and typhoid took a cruel toll, cutting ten years off the life expectancy of newcomers (half of people born in early Virginia/Maryland did not survive to twenty).

The disease-ravaged settlements of the Chesapeake grew only slowly in the seventeenth century, mostly through fresh immigration from England; the majority of immigrants were single men in their late teens and early twenties, and most perished soon after arrival. And most had left their women behind, when they set sail for the new world.
Surviving males competed for the affections of the extremely scarce women, whom they outnumbered nearly six to one in 1650. Although they were still outnumbered by three to two at the end of the century, eligible women did not remain single for long. Families were both few and fragile in this ferocious environment; most men could not find mates and most marriages were destroyed by the death of a partner within seven years. Weak family ties showed in many pregnancies among unmarried young girls (in one area, a third of those married were pregnant).
Yet despite these hardships, the Chesapeake colonies struggled on; the native-born inhabitants eventually acquired immunity to the killer diseases that had ravaged the original immigrants. The presence of more women allowed more families to form and by the end of the seventeenth century, the white population of the Chesapeake was growing on the basis of its own birthrate.  At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Virginia, with some 59,000 people was the most populous colony and Maryland, with about 30,000 people was the third largest colony (after the Massachusetts colony).