Department

History

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Chair

Brian Melton

Primary Subject Area

American Studies; History, General; History, United States; Political Science, General

Keywords

Benjamin Franklin, movement for royal government, Paxton Boys, Pennsylvania, political, Thomas Penn

Disciplines

American Studies | History | Political History | Political Science | United States History

Abstract

In late 1755, the vituperative Reverend William Smith reported to his proprietor Thomas Penn that there was "a most wicked Scheme on Foot to run things into Destruction and involve you in the ruins." The culprits were the members of the colony's unicameral legislative body, the Pennsylvania Assembly (also called the House of Representatives). The representatives held a different opinion of the conflict, believing that the proprietors were the ones scheming, in order to "erect their desired Superstructure of despotic Power, and reduce to a State of Vassalage and Slavery, some of His majesty's most faithful and loyal Subjects." The conflict between the Assembly and Pennsylvania's proprietors began as early as the 1740s, but it did not explode until the outbreak of the French and Indian War in 1754. It would define the colony's politics until the mid-1760s as clashes over military supply bills became the primary battleground.

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