Peaceable Kingdom Lost: The Paxton Boys and the Destruction of William Penn's Holy Experiment

Kevin Kenny, Author . Oxford Univ. $29.95 (294p) ISBN 978-0-19-533150-9

In 1682, the Quaker William Penn established a colony where settlers would attempt to coexist peacefully with Native Americans. But 80 years later, his vision had been destroyed by violence, ideology and greed. Boston College historian Kenny (The American Irish ), in this mostly fast-paced account, offers new insights on the demise of Penn's “holy experiment,” focusing on a violent group of militiamen called the Paxton Boys, who in 1763 wiped out a group of Conestoga Indians living on land ceded to them by Penn. As Kenny points out, Pennsylvania moved from its peaceful ideal through the greed and deceit of Penn's sons (who swindled Indians out of their lands), the carnage of the French and Indian War, and the ruthless brutality of the Paxton Boys, who declared that the Indians' land belonged to them by right of conquest. Although the provincial government denied the Paxton Boys the land, it never prosecuted them. Kenny concludes that the Boys' attitude toward the Indians and their attacks on the ruling powers presaged the military and political activities of the American Revolution and the new nation's mistreatment of the Indians. 39 b&w illus. (July)

Reviewed on: 05/11/2009
Release date: 07/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-19-975394-9
Ebook - 305 pages - 978-0-19-973445-0
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