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Thursday, December 31, 2015
History Documentary: William Penn, the Religious Revolutionary; "The American Birthright" Documentary, History of Pennsylvania
William Penn, the Religious Revolutionary; from "The American Birthright Part I" Documentary
Portrait of William Penn
William Penn (24 October 1644(O.S. 14 October 1644) – 30 July 1718) was an
English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker and founder of the
Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was an early advocate of democracy and
religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful treaties with
the Lenape Native Americans. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was
planned and developed.
In 1681, King Charles II handed over a large piece of his
American land holdings to William Penn to satisfy a debt the king owed to
Penn's father. This land included present-day Pennsylvania and Delaware. Penn
immediately set sail and took his first step on American soil in New Castle in
1682. On this occasion, the colonists pledged allegiance to Penn as their
new proprietor, and the first general assembly was held in the colony.
Afterwards, Penn journeyed up river and founded Philadelphia. However, Penn's
Quaker government was not viewed favourably by the Dutch, Swedish, and English
settlers in what is now Delaware. They had no 'historical' allegiance to
Pennsylvania, so they almost immediately began petitioning for their own
assembly. In 1704 they achieved their goal when the three southernmost counties
of Pennsylvania were permitted to split off and become the new semi-autonomous
colony of Lower Delaware. As the most prominent, prosperous and influential
"city" in the new colony, New Castle became the capital.
As one of the earlier supporters of colonial unification,
Penn wrote and urged for a union of all the English colonies in what was to
become the United States of America. The democratic principles that he set
forth in the Pennsylvania Frame of Government served as an inspiration for the
United States Constitution. As a pacifist Quaker, Penn considered the problems
of war and peace deeply. He developed a forward-looking project for a United
States of Europe through the creation of a European Assembly made of deputies
that could discuss and adjudicate controversies peacefully.