The New International Encyclopædia/Penn, William

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PENN, William (1644-1718). A celebrated English Quaker and the founder of Pennsylvania. He was the son of Sir William Penn, was born in London, and was educated chiefly at Christ's Church, Oxford, where he became a Quaker. His enthusiasm for his new faith assumed a pugnacious form. Not only did he object to attending the services of the Church of England and to wearing the surplice of a student—both of which he considered papistical—but, along with some companions, who had also become Quakers, he attacked several of his fellow-students, and tore the obnoxious robes from their backs. For this conduct Penn was expelled from the university. His father, although excessively annoyed at his conduct, sent him to travel on the Continent, where he became a frequent guest at the Court of Louis XIV. After studying law a short time at Lincoln's Inn, he was sent by his father to Ireland to look after his estates in the County of Cork. In the city of Cork, however, he fell in with Thomas Lee, and for attending a Quaker meeting was, along with some others, imprisoned by the Mayor, though he was promptly released. He now became a minister, and on his return to England he and his father again quarreled, because his 'conscience' would not allow him to take off his hat to anybody—not even to the King, the Duke of York, or the Admiral himself. Penn was for a second time turned out of doors by his father, but his mother smoothed matters so far that he was allowed to return home, and the Admiral even exerted his influence with the Government to wink at his son's attendance at the illegal conventicles of the Quakers, which nothing could induce him to give up. Meantime he was engaged in preaching and writing tracts on various religious subjects. In 1668, however, he was thrown into the Tower, where he was confined for eight months on account of a publication entitled The Sandy Foundation Shaken, in which he attacked the ordinary doctrines of the Trinity. While in prison he wrote the most famous and most popular of his books, No Cross, No Crown, and Innocency with Her Open Face, a vindication of himself which contributed to his liberation through the interference of the Duke of York. In September, 1670, Admiral Penn died, leaving his son an estate of £1500 a year, together with claims upon the Government for £16,000. In 1671 he was again committed to the Tower for preaching in violation of the Conventicle Act, and, as he would take no oath at his trial, he was sent to Newgate for six months. Here he wrote four treatises, one of which, entitled The Great Cause of the Liberty of Conscience, is an admirable defense of the doctrine of toleration. After regaining his liberty he, together with Fox and Barclay, visited Holland and Germany for the advancement of Quaker interests. The Countess Palatine Elizabeth, the granddaughter of James I., showed him particular favor. On his return he again engaged in preaching and writing on religious topics, but circumstances soon turned his attention to the New World. In 1676 Penn and several associates founded a Quaker colony in West Jersey, which had come into their possession by purchase. In 1681 Penn obtained from the Crown, in lieu of a debt of £16,000 due from the King to his father, a grant of the territory now forming the State of Pennsylvania. By a royal charter he was made full proprietor of the territory of Pennsylvania. His great desire was to establish a home for his coreligionists in America, where they might preach and practice their convictions in unmolested peace. In the same year he sent out a governor to take possession of the province, and in the following year, 1682, with several friends, sailed for the Delaware, arriving in October. After taking formal possession he laid out a site for his new capital, which he named Philadelphia. Some time during the following year he had his famous interview with the Indians under the great Elm at Shakumaxon (now Kensington) and concluded a treaty of lasting friendship with them. Penn's colony in its infancy escaped the horrors of Indian warfare which befell some of the other American settlements, and under the wise and liberal government of its founder made immense progress during the next few years. Not only Quakers, but persecuted members of other religious sects, sought refuge in his new colony, where, from the first, the principle of toleration was established by law. Having called the colonists together, he gave the colony a constitution in twenty-four articles. Almost from the beginning Delaware, which was secured by a grant from the Duke of York, formed part of the Pennsylvania colony. In 1682 Penn and other Quakers bought East Jersey. Neither West Jersey nor East Jersey, however, remained permanently in the possession of the Quakers, the whole region being surrendered to the Crown in 1702. Toward the end of the reign of Charles II., in 1684, Penn returned to England to exert himself in favor of his persecuted brethren at home, leaving behind a prosperous colony of 7000 inhabitants. His influence with James II.—an old friend of his father—was so great that his exertions in favor of the Quakers secured in 1686 a proclamation by which all persons imprisoned on account of their religious opinions were released, and more than 1200 Quakers were set free. In the April following, largely as a result of the same influence, James issued an edict for the repeal of all religious tests and penalties, but the mass of nonconformists distrusted his sincerity, and refused to avail themselves of it. After the accession of the Prince of Orange as William III., Penn was twice accused of treason as a result of his relations with the exiled monarch, but was acquitted. In 1690 he was arrested on a charge of conspiracy, but was again acquitted for lack of evidence. Nevertheless in the following year the charge was renewed, and for a time he was deprived of the government of Pennsylvania. Nothing further appears to have been done for some time, but at last, through the kindly offices of his friends, Locke, Tillotson, and others, the matter was thoroughly investigated, and he was finally and honorably acquitted November, 1693, and restored to the government of his province. In 1699 he paid a second visit to the New World, and found Pennsylvania in a prosperous condition. His stay, which lasted two years, was marked by many useful measures, and by efforts to ameliorate the condition both of the Indians and of the negroes. Penn departed for England toward the end of 1701, leaving the management of his affairs to a Quaker agent named Ford, by whose dishonesty he was virtually ruined. When the agent died, he left to his widow and son false claims against his principal, and these were so ruthlessly pressed that Penn allowed himself to be thrown into Fleet Prison in 1708 to avoid extortion. His friends afterwards procured his release, but not until his health had been fatally impaired. Later he was stricken with paralysis and in this condition lingered until his death in 1718. He was twice married and left issue by both marriages. The works of Penn were published in 1782 in five volumes, and again in 1820 in three vohimes. An important biography of Penn is that of Janney (Philadelphia, 1852). His Memoirs, in two volumes, were edited by Clarkson (Philadelphia, 1813). A biography refuting charges made against him by Lord Macaulay was written by Dixon (new ed., Philadelphia, 1856). A small popular biography is that by Hodges (Boston, 1901). Consult also Fisher, The True William Penn (Philadelphia).