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European Immigration

The early 1600’s were a time when Swedish and Dutch settled and fought over land surrounding the lower Delaware River. Both the Swedish and Dutch colonists participated in trade with the Lenni Lenape tribes that lived up the river, but they did not venture up the river themselves. The Native Americans were seen merely as a source of furs as well as a hindrance to future settlement (Hugh Moore Historical Park and Museums).

In 1664-1665, the English conquered the Dutch on the mainland of America. The English made an alliance with the Iroquois, who in turn began a series of military conquests that began to push Indian tribes out of the wide area between the Delaware and Ohio rivers. This caused many of the Lenni Lenape tribes in the Lehigh and Delaware Valleys to move across the Lehigh and Delaware rivers (Hugh Moore Historical Park and Museums).

The area that came to be known as Pennsylvania was given to William Penn from King Charles II in order to settle a debt. William Penn was a Quaker and believed in religious tolerance. Because of this, his land not only attracted Quakers but many other people including Germans, Hugueonots, and Scotch-Irish. As a pacifist, William Penn also looked down on violence and felt that the Lenape should be paid for their land. Beginning in 1682, Penn began to purchase land fairly from the Indians. The first of these purchases occurred on July 15, 1682, and included the area north of the Falls of the Delaware to Neshaminy Creek (Hall and Hall, 1982).

With the death of William Penn, his son Thomas took over; but he did not have the same values of his father. Tension arose between the Lenni Lenape and the white settlers as the settlers began to take more land. The Forks of the Delaware, where the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers intersect, was an area surrounded by controversy. Lenni Lenape Indians had settled in this area which is presently part of both Lehigh and Northampton Counties. By the 1720s, both German and Scotch-Irish people began to settle in the area as well, causing problems between the settlers and the Lenni Lenape (Hall and Hall, 1982).

In 1734 Thomas Penn "found" a document known as the "Walking Purchase," based on a treaty made between William Penn and the Lenni Lenape Indian Chief Tammany (both deceased) in 1686. The Walking Purchase helped bring to an end the peaceful environment established by William Penn when he first came to the area. The document stated that the Lenni Lenape Indians would allow the English to have a plot of land. The boundaries of this plot of land would be determined by the distance that a man could walk, starting at a given place on the Delaware and going northwest (Tom Gettings). Although the Indians denied that such a treaty had ever been made and the document itself had never been produced, the Lenape consented to this pact after three years of negotiations (Hall and Hall, 1982).

On September 19, 1737, James Yates, Solomon Jennings, and Edward Marshall started out on their voyage at a Chestnut tree in the present town of Wrightstown in Bucks County, PA. These three men were all in very good shape and were very athletic. These men spent the next day and a half determined to reach the farthest point possible (Tom Gettings). Only Edward Marshall completed the journey, arriving the following day at noon at the junction of the Lehigh River and Tobyhanna Creek in the present day Carbon County. He traveled a total distance of fifty-five miles (Hall and Hall, 1982).

The Indians felt cheated because they thought the walk would cover approximately thirty-five miles. Lappawinsoe, a Lenape chief remarked:

The white runners should have walked along by the River Delaware or the next Indian path to it… should have walked for a for a few miles and then sat down and smoked a pipe, and now and then have shot a squirrel, and not have kept up the run, run all day (MacArthur 1999).To the Lenni Lenape’s outrage, the settlers drew the line to the Delaware River at a right angle, although the agreement was to draw the line to the nearest point of the Delaware River. This meant that thousands more acres of land were taken from the Lenni Lenape than if the line were drawn to the closest point on the Lehigh (Hugh Moore Historical Park and Museums).

The Lenni Lenape believed that they were treated unfairly and refused to leave the Forks. This caused problems when settlers began to enter the area. Following a conference in Philadelphia, the Iroquois leader, Canasatego, agreed to force the Lenni Lenape out of the land the settlers had gained in the Walking Purchase (Hugh Moore Historical Park and Museums). The Iroquois Indians insulted the Lenni Lenape and said that they did not even have the right to sell the lands that were lost with the Walking Purchase. The Lenni Lenape were defeated and ended up moving to the present day Wilkes Barre, PA. Some of the survivors then ended up in the Indian Territory, in present day Oklahoma. The Lenni Lenape lost their land in Pennsylvania which they had roamed for hundreds of years. The European settlers moved right onto this land and took over (Hugh Moore Historical Park and Museums).

There were four specific groups that were prominent in the area surrounding the Lehigh River following the Walking Purchase. Firstly, German Protestants left their country to establish settlement in America. The second group encompassed more radical religious groups. This group was also mainly German although there were other nationalities intermingled as well. A good example of this group would be the Moravians who settled in both Bethlehem and Nazareth. The third group was composed of the Scotch-Irish. Poor harvests as well as land scarcity led these people to search for something better in the New World. Finally, the English represented the third, and smallest group who settled in the Lehigh Valley. Members of this group were the largest landholders in the area.

Settlement in the area was not exactly easy for these new immigrants. Native Americans were still bitter about the influx of Europeans as well as the outcome of the Walking Purchase. The new immigrants were taking over the land. Between the years of 1755 and 1763, there were numerous Indian uprisings in the Lehigh Valley. The Europeans fought back and the Lenni Lenape were pushed off the land that they had lived on for hundreds of years.



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