APRIL 8, 1756

PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR ROBERT MORRIS ENACTS “THE SCALP ACT.”

The Act, which legalized taking native scalps for money paid by the Pennsylvania government, was meant to get rid of the Lenape (Delaware).  It stemmed from three treaties.  The Treaty of 1732, between the Penn family and the Iroquois, removed the Shawnee from the Susquehanna River Valley.  The Treaty of 1736, between the Pennsylvania colony and the Iroquois, similarly affected the Delaware.  In September 1737, Thomas Penn proposed an event to map out the lands to be ceded by the Delaware.  The “Walking Purchase” ended when a colonist ran rather than walked, doubling the amount of land the Indians had to release.  Benjamin Franklin wrote that the “Walking Purchase” was direct cause of the ensuing warfare of 1755 and 1756 in which the Shawnee and Delaware allied with the French.  By December 1755, after numerous minor attacks, settlers appealed to the legislature.  The Act turned all the tribes against the colonists.  

Source:  Christina Rose, “Native History: Greed, Deception and Exile Result in 1756 Scalp Act,” Indian Country Today, 4/8/2014.  Retrieved 6/26/2019, https://newsmaven.io/indiancountrytoday/archive/native-history-greed-deception-and-exile-result-in-1756-scalp-act-nXwNA_aCrEqYgzP8yVPCPQ/
Painting:  Benjamin West (1738-1820), 1771.  William Penn’s 1682 treaty with the Lenape.  State Museum of Pennsylvania.  Public Domain in U.S.:  Pre 1/1/1925.  Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 100 years or less.

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