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Mike Volpe

Penn's Treaty

The sun shone brightly on a gathering of Quakers and Lenni Lanape Indians as the waves from the Delaware River gently lapped the shore. Under the tender shade of The Great Elm Tree, William Penn, an English Quaker and Tamanend, a Lenni Lanape Indian Chief, made a unique Pact which would forever change the course of history.

The Great Elm Tree, once rooted in an area of present day Philadelphia formerly known as Shackamaxon, served as a symbol of strength, peace and friendship. The two leaders stood strong as one, like the Great Elm, on that fateful day in 1682.

Known as “the treaty never written, never broken,” Penn’s Treaty of Amity and Friendship established a peaceful coexistence between two very different cultures.  William Penn founded this Treaty on the Quaker principals of equality, integrity and peace. In return, Chief Tamanend bestowed a great gift upon Penn, sealing the pact with a Native American wampum belt. These two cultures formed a “chain of friendship,” that lasted for more than 70 years.


Today, I start my journey at the sacred location where Penn’s treaty took place. The Delaware River still gently laps the shore of what is now known as Fishtown. A direct descendant of The Great Elm stands in what is the immortal commemoration of Penn’s Treaty called Penn Treaty Park. This park, dating back to 1893, has been protected, preserved and maintained by ordinary citizens to keep the legacy of Penn’s Treaty alive.

As I stand under the shade of the descendant Elm, I will listen for the peaceful whispers of our past, sealing a Pact founded on love and friendship. These voices will guide me along my journey.