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26-year-old William Penn received from King Charles II the charter to Pennsylvania on
MARCH 10, 1681, as repayment of a debt owed to his deceased father Admiral Sir William
Penn, who captured Jamaica and defeated the Dutch navy.
A student at Oxford, William Penn was expelled for having his own prayer services in his
dorm room instead of
attending the Anglican chapel.
Penn converted to Quakerism and was imprisoned in the Tower of London.
His colony was a "holy experiment" for persecuted Europeans, one of the few original
colonies to accept Mennonites, Amish, Catholics and Jews.
Emphasizing his plan of Christian tolerance, William Penn named the city "Philadelphia,"
Greek for "Brotherly Love."
History records that since William Penn insisted on treating the Delaware Indians honestly,
paying a fair sum for the land, his city of Philadelphia was spared the Indian attacks and
scalpings that other colonial settlements experienced.
Before arriving, William Penn wrote to the Delaware chiefs:
"My Friends, There is one...God...and He hath made...the king of the country where I live, give...unto me a great province therein,
but I desire to enjoy it with your...consent, that we may always live together as...friends."
Articles on William Penn:
William Penn (October 14, 1644–July 30, 1718) founded the Province of Pennsylvania, the British North American colony that became the
U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The democratic principles that he set forth served as an inspiration for the United States Constitution. Ahead
of his time, Penn also published a plan for a United States of Europe, "European Dyet, Parliament or Estates."
Although born into a distinguished Anglican family and the son of Admiral Sir William Penn, Penn joined the Religious Society of Friends
or Quakers at the age of 22. The Quakers obeyed their "inner light", which they believed to come directly from God, refused to bow or
take off their hats to any man, and refused to take up arms. Penn was a close friend of George Fox, the founder of the Quakers. These
were times of turmoil, just after Cromwell's death, and the Quakers were suspect, because of their principles which differed from the
state imposed religion and because of their refusal to swear an oath of loyalty to Cromwell or the King (Quakers obeyed the command
of Christ to not swear, Matthew 5:34).
Penn's religious views were extremely distressing to his father, Admiral Sir William Penn, who had through naval service earned an
estate in Ireland and hoped that Penn's charisma and intelligence would be able to win him favor at the court of Charles II. In 1668 he
was imprisoned for writing a tract (The Sandy Foundation Shaken) which attacked the doctrine of the trinity.
"If thou wouldst rule well, thou must rule for God, and to do that, thou must be ruled by him....Those who will not be governed by God
will be ruled by tyrants." –William Penn
Penn was a frequent companion of George Fox, the founder of the Quakers, travelling in Europe and England with him in their ministry. He also wrote a comprehensive, detailed explanation of Quakerism along with a testimony to the character of George Fox, in his Introductionto the autobiographical Journal of George Fox.