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Author Composer Writer Performer Famous Person: William Penn

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Famous Person: William Penn

Famous For: Founder of the Province of Pennsylvania

Achievements :

Founded the Province of Pennsylvania

Authors Description: Penn was born October 14, 1644 to Anglican parents, Admiral Sir William Penn and Margaret Jasper. For much of his young life he knocked about, getting expelled from Oxford, learning law at Lincoln's Inn, studying in the Huguenot Academy at Saumer, and managing his father's estates in Ireland. Soon after hearing the famous apostle Thomas Loe, he converted to Quakerism. Then in his mid twenties, he quickly involved himself in the Quaker cause, landing in prison several times for his 'radical' preaching for personal, property, and religious rights. In 1672 he married Gulielma Maria Springett, and five years later traveled in the company of George Fox to Holland. That year he also (almost definitely say historians) wrote the "Concessions and Agreements" charter for a group of Quaker colonists who were settling in the newly acquired New Jersey. Among its provisions were the right to trial by jury, the freedom from arbitrary imprisonment for debt, and edict against capital punishment. Penn also strongly argued for religious freedom, writing "no Men. . . hath Power or authority to rule over Men's Consciences in Religious matters." (DNB, 434) This document has been called "the first clear statement in American history of the supremacy of the fundamental law [universal rights] over any statutes that might be enacted" (DNB, 434). Penn, though wealthy and though a Quaker, lived beyond his means. In order to raise some funds he called in a debt owed his father by Charles II. On March 4, 1681 he obtained the charter for Pennsylvania, [and in August 1682 he gained the rights to Delaware from his friend James, the Duke of York.] Penn planned to make money by selling tracts of land, and although he was able to attract a good number of investors he never realized the profit he imagined. However, he saw this venture as more than a money-making exercise; it was, in his famous words to his friend and land agent for Pennsylvania, James Harrison, a "holy experiment." This experiment would become, as he confidently predicted, "the seed of a nation." (Soderlund,54). Penn imagined a "free. .sober and industrious people" living by their own laws. (54) In 1682 he sought to delineate these laws in the First Frame of government; and though somewhat less liberal than his New Jersey bill, it provided many of the same rights. Penn first arrived at his new colony in the fall of 1682 and stayed only until August of 1684. It was at this time that he supposedly signed his famous treaty with the Delaware (Leni Lenape) at Shackamaxon. And though no copy of such an agreement exists, we do have a wampum belt allegedly given to Penn by the Indians. The first treaty document in existence is one dated July 15, 1682 in which Penn obtains land from Idquahon and several other Leni Lenape leaders. In the next year Penn would broker at least eight other land transactions with the Delaware. He was busy with man other tasks as well. During his first stay, Penn began building his mansion and attending to numerous details of colony building, including a border dispute with Lord Baltimore, who controlled the territory south of Pennsylvania. He returned to England to continue his dispute with Baltimore, not to return to Pennsylvania until 1699. The England in the 1690s was a tumultuous place, especially for an outspoken, liberal Quaker. Penn never shirked from the political fray, as did many of his fellow Quakers, though his forthrightness proved dangerous. He supported James II, though in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 William and Mary bested James. Later, under suspicion of treason, Penn briefly lost control of his colony from 1692 to 1694. He received another setback when his wife died in 1694, though he rebounded by remarrying a year and a half later to Hannah Callowhill. Back in Pennsylvania, political squabbling had set in and various leadership changes took place. In 1691 George Keith led a religious schism, and Pennsylvania and Delaware separated into two provinces. And in 1696, William Markham's (Penn's secretary and then governor of Delaware) charter replaced the earlier 'Frame', though when Penn returned in 1701 he would again revise this version. By the time he left for good in November of that year, the colony's Assembly was elected yearly and enjoyed a more powerful position than the governor, who despite his veto power, was secondary to the legislative body. Though Penn planned to stay in the New World, settling at his manor Pennsbury, (up the Delaware from Philadelphia) but further political troubles in England forced his return, and in 1712 suffered an attack of apoplexy which disabled him. His wife Hannah managed his affairs until Penn died in 1718, and after her death ion 1727 the proprietorship of Pennsylvania passed to their sons, John, Thomas, and Richard.

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