Travels Through North America, during the years 1825 and 1826
In order to celebrate the day on which William Penn landed in the year 1683 in America, which was the origin of the state of Pennsylvania, those who respect his memory have established a society, which celebrates the 24th of October as a public festival. At this time the celebration consisted of a public oration in the University and a public dinner. Mr. Vaux called for me at twelve o'clock to go to the oration. The building of the University of Pennsylvania was originally intended as a dwelling for President Washington, who declined the present, and it was then used for the University. A great number of people had collected in one of the lecture rooms; they seated me within the tribune whence the orator was to speak; the President, who entered soon after me, was led to the same place, and received with loud and warm acclamations. The oration was delivered by a lawyer, Mr. Charles Ingersoll; it contained rather a statistic account of the state of Pennsylvania than of the landing of William Penn; this the Quakers did not like, although the oration was well conceived and generally admired. The orator mentioned a particular fact, which, as far as I know, is unknown in Europe, viz. William Penn mentions in one of his writings, of which I had already seen the original in the library of the Philosophical Society, shown to me by Mr. Vaughan, that by an act of Charles II. this land was given to William Penn, and his Majesty, in honor of Penn s father, Admiral Penn, called it Pennsylvania; he, William Penn, had proposed the name of New Wales, but the king did not sanction this name; Penn then offered to the secretary of the king twenty guineas, if he would persuade the king to call the country merely Sylvania; but even this proposition did not succeed; the name of Pennsylvania was very unpleasant to him; for they would think it great vanity in him, although he was very far from being vain. In his observations concerning the manufactures of Pennsylvania, the orator went now and then too far. He said, for instance, that nowhere, not even in Europe, are better carriages made than in Philadelphia, although the carriages of this place are not the very best nor the most convenient. The school establishments, however, he pointed out in a too indifferent light, and confessed complainingly that in the northern states they were farther advanced than here; he particularly observed that the University of Pennsylvania was in a poor condition. He also complained of the dissipation of the lower classes. This oration was much applauded; the audience likewise exhibited their respect to the President as he retired.