*A Footnote to “Savagery in the Susqhehanna” – Frederick Stump (Part 1a)

It was said that Frederick Stump’s release from jail was accomplished by the “Paxton Boys” who were a group of pioneers frustrated with the lack of protection from Native American attacks during the Pontiac Wars of 1763-64.

The worst raid of Native Americans against white settlers in 1764 was by four Delaware who killed and scalped a school teacher and ten children.  After these types of attacks, the Pennsylvania legislature, with Gov. Penn’s approval, reinstated the “scalp bounties” of the French and Indian War.   These promoted attacks against Native American men and women above the age of ten.

The Iroquois were not part of the Pontiac War confederacy of tribes.  They had made a previous “covenant chain” with the British.  This is one reason the British were so quick to make amends with the Six Nations of Iroquois after the murders committed by Frederick Stump.

The Paxton Boys eventually turned vigilante and murdered Native Americans — some of whom were living peaceably among them.  Benjamin Franklin accurately described the prevailing attitude in Pennsylvania surrounding the attacks of the Paxton Boys: “the Spirit of killing all Indians, Friends and Foes, [has] spread amazingly thro’ the whole Country.”  (Benjamin Franklin to Richard Jackson, February 11, 1764, in The Papers of BenjaminFranklin)  There seemed to be little difference between “self-defense” and “revenge” against Native Americans on the Pennsylvania frontier in the 1760’s.  It is against this backdrop in which Frederick Stump committed the murders in 1768.  He may well have been a Paxton Boy.

© 2011 Melinda Holloway All Rights Reserved

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