Most of us are familiar with William Penn’s Treaty with the Indians. A lesser known treaty, made by Penn’s sons, is known as The Walking Treaty or Walking Purchase of 1737.

William Penn, a Quaker, was given a charter in 1681 by to establish a colony. King Charles II gave Penn a land grant to settle a large debt that he owed Penn’s father.  Penn arrived in the colonies in 1682, negotiated peace and bought land from the Lenni Lenape (Delaware) Indians. This occurred through “The Great Treaty”.  The treaty was also known as Penn’s Treaty” or the Treaty of Schackamaxon. He made this treaty with the High Chief, Tamanend. Tamanend was the Chief of Chiefs and Chief of The Turtle Clan of the Lenni-Lenape nation.  The treaty formalized the purchase of land in Pennsylvania and was the start of a strong relationship between the Quakers and Indians.

During the treaty, Penn promised to live with the natives in “openness and love” and as “one flesh and one blood” to which Tamanend replied, “We will live in love with William Penn and his children, while the sun, moon, and stars endure.”

Shackamaxon, the site of the treaty, was a meeting place that was used by the Lenape Native American tribe in North America. Situated near the Delaware River, this site was sacred to the tribe and it was where they named their head and clan chiefs. Shackamaxon was located within what are now the neighborhoods of Fishtown, Kensington, and Port Richmond in Philadelphia.  While this treaty, peace, and friendship are what is frequently cited in American history, that brief era of goodwill ended within a generation.

Some researchers believe that William Penn very likely signed a treaty, but that his less scrupulous sons, William Jr, John, and Thomas, destroyed the original document. Through such means, the younger Penn’s sought to renege on the treaty to which their father had agreed.

Two of Penn’s sons later cheated the Lenni-Lenape out of thousands of acres of land thru the Walking Purchase of 1737. John and Thomas Penn, along with a land agent named James Logan, claimed to have a sale deed from 1686 for the land north of Wrightstown that a man could walk in a day and a half.  Some researchers state the deed was forged.

To manipulate the situation in their favor, the Penns and Logan hired three trained men to run a path cleared in advance by settlers. One of the men ran more than 65 miles in a day and a half..  Through this means, the Lenape were cheated out of a massive amount of ground.


The History of Bucks County Pennsylvania, 1876. By W.W.H. Davis
Philadelphia History Museum


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Meet Timothy A. Mann, a passionate historian born and raised in the heart of Shelby County, Ohio where Tim’s roots run deep in the rich soil of American history. As the author of articles and books, including “Frontier Miscellany Concerning the Miami County Ohio Militia,” “Colonel John Mann, His Kith and Kin,” and “Frontier Militia – The War of 1812,” Tim’s literary contributions have enlightened and inspired countless history enthusiasts.

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