Digital Paxton: Archive, Critical Edition, and Teaching Platform

A New Looking-Glass

At the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763, France ceded to Britain its claim on North American territories spanning from Quebec to New Orleans. Faced with the prospect of British expansion, a diverse group of native peoples launched a preemptive strike against forts across the trans-Appalachian west.

That December, armed settlers from Paxton township murdered six unarmed Susquehannock in the Conestoga reservation, and 14 more sheltered in the Lancaster jailhouse. In January, they marched toward Philadelphia where the government harbored 140 Moravian Indians. They were stopped in Germantown by a delegation led by Benjamin Franklin, who persuaded their leaders to publish their grievances in a document, Declaration and Remonstrance.

Waged in pamphlets, political cartoons, broadsides, and correspondence, the ensuing pamphlet war featured some of Pennsylvania’s preeminent statesmen, including Benjamin Franklin, governor John Penn, and Hugh Williamson, who would later sign the U.S. Constitution. At stake was much more than the conduct of the Paxton men. Pamphleteers used the debate over the conduct of the Paxtons to stake claims about peace and settlement, race and ethnicity, masculinity and civility, and religious association in pre-Revolutionary Pennsylvania.

A material exhibition at the Library Company of Philadelphia (Spring 2017) situated the stakes of the debate in the context of war, settlement, and nation-building. This digital companion both reproduces and enriches that  exhibition by foregrounding rich archival and scholarly resources available in the Digital Paxton.

Follow the path below Contents to explore the exhibition. In addition to tracing the narrative of the exhibition, web pages often include contextual Tags to supply further reading suggestions. If you have questions or suggestions, please don't hesitate to contact Will Fenton, at fenton at fordham dot edu.

Both the material exhibition and digital companion would not be possible without the resources, support, and generosity of staff at the Library Company of Philadelphia, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, American Philosophical Society, and Haverford College Quaker and Special Collections. Special thanks are due to Michael Goode (Utah Valley University), who helped shape this exhibition, and James N. Green (Library Company of Philadelphia), who helped make it all possible.

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  1. A Declaration and Remonstrance - Title Page