Wednesday, March 5, 2008

"The German Bleeds..," never the Quaker

political cartoon, circulated after the 1763 Conestoga massacre
(click image to enlarge)
"The German bleeds & bears ye Furs
Of Quaker Lords & Savage Airs

The Hibernian frets with new Disaster
And kicks to fling his broad brim'd Master

But help at hand Resolves to hold down
The Hibernian's head or tumble all down"

In 1760s backcountry Pennsylvania Scots-Irish and German settlers became increasingly convinced that Quaker leaders were encouraging and arming neighboring Indians to brutally attack their families in an effort to make them leave the colony altogether. In 1763 their resentment erupted into violence when the Scots-Irish "Paxton Boys" murdered six Indians at the Conestoga town near Lancaster, and afterward burned their cabins. Subsequent attacks followed in an attempt to wipe out their entire local tribe. The gang threatened to march eastward to Philadelphia killing all Indians in their path. In the image above, one of Pennsylvania's first political cartoons, an Indian and Quaker ride on the backs of German and Scots-Irish settlers as a house in the background is burning. A mother and child lie dead in the foreground. It is true that Quakers provided arms to some frontier Indians. More significantly, upon disembarking at the port of Philadelphia, German and Scots-Irish immigrants were maneuvered by the Quaker authorities into settling the western Pennsylvania frontier. Their presence there provided a strategic defense shield between the gentrified coast and hostile Indian nations, without having to compromise their personal Quaker pacifist principles.