Definitions

Walking Purchase

Walking Purchase

The Walking Treaty or Walking Purchase is the name given to an agreement in 1737 between the Penn family, the proprietors of Pennsylvania and the Lenape (Delaware) tribe of American Indians.

William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania and a devout Quaker, made it a policy to deal fairly with the native tribes. As a result, the traditional mistrust between natives and settlers that existed in most other colonies was not as pronounced in Pennsylvania.

But by 1737, William Penn was long dead and his heirs and their agents were running the colony. The colonial administrators claimed that they had a deed dating to the 1680s in which the Lenape-Delaware had promised to sell a portion of land beginning between the junction of the Delaware River and Lehigh River (near present Wrightstown, Pennsylvania) "as far west as a man could walk in a day and a half."

The legal veracity of this document is greatly debated today and it is now generally believed that at best it was an unsigned, unratified treaty and at worst an outright forgery. In truth, the Penns' land agents had already sold vast areas of the Lehigh Valley and had to clear the Lenape before the land could be settled. Encyclopædia Britannica refers to the Walking Purchase as a " land swindle"

Since Chief Lappawinsoe and other Lenape leaders believed that the treaty was genuine, and because they assumed that about 40 miles (64 km) was the most a man could walk through the wilderness in a day and a half, they agreed to honor the treaty. But Provincial Secretary James Logan planned well, and hired the three fastest runners in the colony, Edward Marshall, Solomon Jennings and James Yeates to run out the purchase on a prepared trail. On September 19, 1737, the three began to run west from Wrightstown stopping only to sleep for the night. The pace was so intense that only Marshall actually completed the "walk." After a day and a half, Marshall had reached the vicinity of the town of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, a distance of about seventy miles (113 km).

The Penns acquired 1,200,000 acres (4,860 km²) of land in what is now northeastern Pennsylvania, an area roughly equivalent to the size of the state of Rhode Island in the purchase. The area of the purchase covers all or part of what are now Pike, Monroe, Carbon, Schuylkill, Northampton, Lehigh and Bucks counties.

Lenape Chief Lappawinsoe and other leaders felt that they had been swindled by the British colonists, but felt that they had no choice but to agree to the deal. The Lenape tribe fought for the next nineteen years to have the treaty annulled, but to no avail. The Lenape-Delaware were forced into the Shamokin and Wyoming Valleys, which were already overcrowded with other displaced tribes. Many Lenape-Delaware eventually moved west into the Ohio Country.

Sources

The Walking Purchase, as described by:

Search another word or see Walking Purchaseon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature