Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Penn, William

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PENN, WILLIAM, founder of the State of Pennsylvania; son of Sir William Penn; born in London, Oct. 13, 1644. He received a good education, completing it at Christ Church, Oxford, but disappointed his father's expectations by turning Quaker, and was discarded by him. Sir William afterward relented, and sent his son abroad. Young Penn visited France and Italy, and returned to his native country in 1664. He spent two years in the study of law at Lincoln's Inn, and was then sent to Ireland to manage his father's estates; but, happening to hear a discourse at Cork, by Thomas Loe, a leading Quaker, he reverted to his former opinions, and traveled to propagate this new faith. He was taken up for preaching, and sent to prison; but was released through the interest of his father. After his return to England, he was sent to the Tower, on account of a book which he had written;

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WILLIAM PENN

and, while there, he composed his principal work, entitled "No Cross, no Crown," intended to show the benefit of suffering. On his release, he resumed his former labors, and was apprehended, with some others, and tried for preaching at a conventicle in Gracechurch Street. The jury persisted in finding them not guilty, and were fined for acting contrary to the dictates of the judge. Admiral Penn was reconciled to his son before his death, and left him all his property. He continued firm in his attachment to the Society of Friends. In 1681 he obtained from the crown, in lieu of the arrears due his father, the grant of the province in North America, and it was Charles II. who, in honor of Penn, proposed the name Pennsylvania. The code of laws which Penn prepared for the province was exalted in aim, comprehensive in scope; yet, with slight exceptions, its details were marvelously practical. Accompanied by emigrants, Penn sailed from Deal Sept. 5, 1682, for America, and landed at New Castle, Del., Oct. 24, and at Upland, Pa., (now Chester), Oct. 29, 1682. The work of organization was rapid. A few Swedes and Dutch had previously settled in Pennsylvania, but colonists from various regions of the Old World now poured in. Universal toleration was proclaimed, a charter of liberties was solemnly consecrated, and a democratic government was established. In his dealings with the Indians and their chiefs, Penn manifested his accustomed magnanimity and justice. The capital city, Philadelphia, was planned on a scale commensurate with Pennsylvania's expected greatness. Penn's family was in England. Hearing that his wife was ill and that his friend Algernon Sidney had perished on the scaffold, he sailed for England. During the reign of James II. Penn was continually at court. James had been his father's friend, and he had always been glad and prompt to help Penn himself. The overthrow of James was in more than one respect a misfortune for Penn. In the spring of 1690 he was arrested on the charge of holding treasonable correspondence with the dethroned monarch. The absurdity of the charge being swiftly and glaringly evident Penn was set at liberty. Yet, though his conduct continued to be blameless, he was, by an order in council, stripped, March 14, 1692, of his title to the Pennsylvanian government—a tyrannical act involving his utter ruin; for, besides that he had risked his whole substance in the Pennsylvania experiment, his estates, both in England and in Ireland, had been grievously mismanaged by incompetent or dishonest overseers. An order in council capriciously restored to Penn, in 1694, the Pennsylvania government. But the ownership of territories so extensive was almost barren to him. His agents were faithless, and the colonists, though profuse in expressions of regard, were in reality ungrateful and grasping. A visit to his Irish estates preluded Penn's second expedition to the New World. His family went with him to America, though rather from necessity than choice. Penn's residence in the colony was more beneficial to the colonists than to himself. He branded as iniquitous negro slavery, and to the aged, the sick, and the destitute he was a bountiful almoner. In 1701 he returned to England, and endeavored to negotiate the sale of Pennsylvania to the crown for $60,000. This negotiation was interrupted in 1712, through his being attacked by an apoplectic fit, which, happening twice afterward, greatly impaired his mental faculties. He survived for six years longer, quite unfitted for any serious employment. Penn died July 29, 1718; and was buried at the village of Jordan, Buckinghamshire.