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American colonies need labor forces to sustain and maintain their economic growth. As a tenant farmer in England, in the early-mid 1700s, I labor from early morning to night working the fields. Life is difficult; a challenge for the poor. At times I feel there is no hope, just a mere existence farming another’s land. Land that I most probably will never own. As fate would have it, I heard of an opportunity to relocate to the New World, to a colony of fertile land, bought from the Indians. The colony is called Pennsylvania, named in honor of pacifist William Penn. Pennsylvania, where agriculture is the source of man’s livelihood, with a dire need for labor to work these lands, egalitarian beliefs prevailing, and total religious diversity. Former Englishman William Moraley called it “The best poor man’s country” (39).
Well, I certainly fit the bill, I am a poor, a man, and I know agriculture. Moraley said the colonies would change my life, an adventure for the brave, a choice opportunity, a better life, and many of my fellow Englishmen are taking this chance for a secure future; I would not be alone. I thought, how could anyone in their right mind pass on this opportunity and stay in England during these changing times? However, there is no way I could outright afford passage to leave England. Yet, there is a solution; sign a document and agree, in exchange for passage across the Atlantic to the colony, a willingness to work for a fixed period of time, 5 years. I would be known as an indentured servant, I would be indebted to my master, un-free, working a trade, receiving food, shelter, along with the right to worship the religion of my choice, all this until the end of my contract agreement. Upon my contract’s completion, I am assured some shillings and even land from my former master. Moraley did mention, however, that I could be sold before my contract was completed, but I am a dedicated, hardworking man and believe, I will be valued by my master.
Since, I am willing to leave what I am familiar with in my homeland, England and venture into the unknown, of Pennsylvania, I will assure myself of success. I realize that if I don’t accept this opportunity, I will continue the hard work until my death in England and never experience a genuine opportunity. Yet, once my servitude ends in the New World, I will be a free man. Freedom, with the ability to make my own choices. There is definite evidence of social equality in Quaker Pennsylvania. The founding of this colony is on the ideology of egalitarianism; the belief that all people are socially and politically equal, with complete religious tolerance, freedom to practice the religion of their own choice, unlike the harsh religious persecution evident in England. An Historical and Geographical Account of Pennsylvania (1698) Gabriel Thomas (Source 1) is distinct evidence of economic mobility presenting enticing reasons for me to actually consider my passage to Pennsylvania and after my service, possible trade diversification. Gabriel Thomas speaks of Pennsylvania, as a land of opportunities for workers and property owners. Trades-Men and other occupations have the opportunity to earn wages much higher than offered in England, lands can be purchased at reasonable prices, and the ability for farmers to grow and sell their produce for higher profitability because of a lucrative geographic location, fertile soil and port-trade accessibility.
Plantations in Pennsylvania (1743) William Morley’s analysis of the reason for the necessary hiring of English Servants, to clear and service, the lands of Pennsylvania, although in a “servitude” capacity, is realistic and valid. Once my “servitude” became null, real property, tracts of land, would be offered for my hard work and loyalty. Therefore, with my arrival and working in Pennsylvania, I have the genuine possibility to own some of the land where I will diligently work, as opposed to remain working as a tenant farmer in England and not ever owning real property. I envision Pennsylvania as the source for this opportunity. The American Husbandry (1775) is a definite inducement to my passage. The advertised Quaker principles of freedom, support for those of need and where all people live in harmony. The article offers information on small freeholders living in Pennsylvania with the comparison to great farmers in England and others with just the necessities of life; this analogy offers a sense of encouragement that this new land can and will be a place of opportunity and moral fiber to newcomers of any ethnicity. Pennsylvania is seen as a haven of prosperity and economic change from the overcrowding and despairs of my life in England. I am very impressed with the critique of William Penn on House Construction in Pennsylvania (1684).
Penn, a notable Quaker, offered his knowledge and observation of the availability of quality resource materials along with his genuine ability to assist in the construction of this suitable home. Penn’s home plans are to be built for comfort, longevity, minimal maintenance, construction ease, and cost-effective, even for a novice like me. Penn demonstrated to me that comfortable living is attainable. Cabin, Berks County is another definite incentive to me that I did make the right decision to venture to Pennsylvania. I can envision the arriving of British immigrant families enjoying this comfortable cabin, as well as myself. This cabin has eye appeal and genuine look of reality to obtain from my hard work and labor. To me, the cabin represents hope for my future.
Charles Norris’s Mansion Chestnut Street- built 1750 offers a visional aid to the possibilities of what could be built in Pennsylvania. This picture allows me to think and even dream of the possibilities in my future that could be available to me. This photo is a source of mental enticement and the reality of a tangible asset. Another exciting factor is the Early Settlements in Pennsylvania (1696) with the Map of Early Pennsylvania (1696) re-establishes the evident fact that wealth is equated to the holding of land. In England, the land I had worked was not mine, however, the vast lands of Pennsylvania hold the opportunity for me to be part of this developing colony. William Penn’s vision for this settlement is ingenious, utilizing the port city of Philadelphia as a commercial hub, with land parcels allocated for towns to surround the port. Therefore, industry and labor would thrive in Philadelphia and encourage the movement of people to the area. Penn’s plan for the townships shows great thought, viability, permanency for settlers, and increases my belief, I chose the right path to venture to the colony.
Upon seeing Source (11), Acquisition of Land by Former Indenture Servants (1686-1720) it was a reassurance to me of the decision I have made. Indentured servants, after their commitment was fulfilled, were afforded the opportunity to obtain a sizable number of acres of land. Real property, valuable land that I could call mine. I believe that my owning of land would never have been a reality in England. I would be using my same work ethic in this new colony as in England; I knew there is the absolute chance that my hard work and diligence would eventually afford me to be a freeholder. I am willing to take the chance to allow myself to advance my position in life to be a landowner. As with the positives of life, there are also the negatives; therefore, Journey to Pennsylvania (1756) Gottlieb Mittelberger (Source 3) has given me a raw distinct account of the treacherous ocean voyage from England to Pennsylvania.
As a poor English farmer, I have never seen the ocean, but I only heard of its vastness nor did I even think about myself becoming ill onboard. Mittelberger’s brutal accounts of family separations, illnesses and myself with a price on my strength after a long tedious voyage is disturbing. I am thinking, perhaps, did I made my original decision to leave England in haste? Another negative, the Advertisement for a Runaway (1759) was the reality that people, contracted as indentured servants, no longer wanted to be enslaved, and working tirelessly. Hergesheimer’s description was meticulously documented as a piece of property! He no longer had individuality. I fear the retribution he would face upon his capture. I began to think that once I commit, I must give myself to the reality of a harsh, restrictive life with only the hope the promises I will be given will be kept with integrity. I am trusting my life and future on mere words! Wealth Distribution in Philadelphia, (1693-1774) demonstrates the obvious, for a period of 81 years, the rich continued to prosper and the wealth of poor continued to decline. There is a real disparity of classes between the upper and lower class regarding “free” adult property holders in Philadelphia. I am concerned that in a period of 81 years there has not been a growth for the poor class, whereas an indentured servant, I would be considered in the poor class. However, one would have to think that in 81 years, the Port of Philadelphia and all its residents would have definitely increased their wealth over this span as opposed to agricultural rural residents located much further from Philadelphia.
In conclusion, I am confident in my decision to venture to a new land called Pennsylvania. I no longer believe I can accept my meager existence in England. However, I am aware I could face death crossing a huge ocean, but what is life without risks? Upon my freedom, I will succeed and make my mark upon society in America, for I have ambition, fortitude and above all faith.
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