September 20, 1737: Walking Purchase

William Penn was normally fair in his dealings with the Indians, but he did not pass this trait on to his sons. in 1737 they produced a deed purportedly from 1686  which the Lenape tribe promised to sell a tract beginning at the junction of the Delaware River and Lehigh River (modern Easton, Pennsylvania) and extending as far west as a man could walk in a day and a half.   Whether the deed was a forgery remains a matter of controversy Unwisely the Lenapes agreed to abide by the deed, assuming that a man couldn’t walk far in one day.  The Penn’s land office agent James Logan gained their agreement by use of a map which misrepresented the Tohickon Creek for the Lehigh River, which, if accurate, would have produced a far smaller amount of land ceded by the Indians.  He also had a dotted line on the map purporting to show the short distance that could be walked.  The Indians reasonably assumed that only about 40 miles could be walked.

Logan however, hired the three swiftest runners in Pennsylvania.  Seventy miles was covered, stopping, ironically, at what is now Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.  The land ceded consisted of one milion, two hundred thousand acres, an area the size of Rhode Island.


Published in: on September 20, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on September 20, 1737: Walking Purchase  
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