Wednesday 11 January 2012: The Dying Shrieks And Moans Of The Murdered
"Oh ye unhappy Perpetrators of this horrid Wickedness! Reflect a moment on the Mischief ye have done, the Disgrace ye have brought on your country, on your Religion, and your Bible, on your Families and Children! Think on? the infamous Death that hangs over your Heads. For JUSTICE, though slow, will come at last. All good People every where detest your Actions. You have imbrued your Hands with innocent Blood; how will you make them clean? The dying shrieks and Moans of the Murdered will often sound in your ears: Their Spectres will sometimes attend you, and affright even your innocent Children! Fly where you will, yours Consciences will go with you: Talking in your Sleep shall betray you, in the delerium of a Fever you yourselves shall make your Wickedness known."
--Benjamin Franklin, Narrative of the Late Massacres in Lancaster County, of a Number of Indians, Friends of this Province, by Persons Unknown, With Some Observations On The Same. (1764) --as quoted by Jack Brubaker, Massacre of the Conestogas (2010)
I've lived in Philadelphia, which is about an hour's drive from Lancaster, for almost thirty years. I'm invested in History. I'm all over subjects involving violations of the rights of dispossessed persons of whatever discription they may be. But somehow I have never heard (till now) of the extremely important story of the Paxton Boys and the massacre of the Conestoga Indians, which was so controversial in 1763-64 that it almost turned into a Civil War around here.
What happened? This is insane. I guess that because it is such a shameful story, and because there were no surviving Conestogas to carry the complaint, and because the protective function of government itself was shown to be a sham, that the tale has fallen through the cracks. But WOW, this is big! You just read what Ben Franklin had to say about the matter, and he's more famous than God in this old town --probably more popular too.
Everyone in this country knows about Franklin's tryst with electricity, but how many know that he stared down a mounted lynch mob, perhaps a hundred strong, that was on the edge of Philadelphia and about to kill still more Indians? The thing with the lightening is trivial bullshit, while his iron will in the face of mass murder was profound and dramatic. I never knew!
It reminds me of when some years ago, I visited Stone Mountain in Georgia. There loomed this staggeringly impressive monument, staring me in the face, but I had never known of its existence in over fifty years of life, while every Chinese tourist knew all about it! That was easily explained. I am from the North, while Stone Mountain cherishes the memory of the South's experience of the American Civil War. Just that way, I'm of European descent, which puts me on the side that now has possession of the land once occupied by the Conestogas. I inherited the loot in both cases, and that is why I could have gone all the way through life never knowing what happened.
One last suggestion: don't look it up. Too disgusting!