The 1763 Conestoga Massacre was the brutal murder of 21 Susquehannock men, women, and children by a vigilante group of Scotch-Irish frontiersmen from central Pennsylvania known as the Paxton Boys.
These frontiersmen and their families had settled on American Indian lands in violation of established agreements between the Quakers and various tribes. Several tribes raided frontier settlements in response to this encroachment and, in retaliation, the Paxton Boys attacked the Susquehannock, who they claimed had passed “secrets” to hostile groups.
Afterward, many writers and politicians wrote pamphlets either condemning or supporting the Paxton Boys. A month after the attack, the Paxton Boys and hundreds of their supporters marched to Philadelphia to defend their actions.
Exploring the Conestoga Massacre and the ensuing pamphlet war provides a window into how people thought about race, gender, and power in late colonial America. This document display is based on the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's recent collaboration with the Digital Paxton Project.