William Penn, most commonly known for the establishment of the state of Pennsylvania, could also be referred to as the first great pioneer of American liberty. His beliefs on equal rights and religious toleration not only contributed to liberty in the Old World, but in the New World as well. In a time when religions persecuted one another for their beliefs, colonists were stealing land from Indians, and women had little to no rights, Penn established a sanctuary free from the stereotypes that were common in that time in history. Founded by William Penn, Pennsylvania, and the eventual city of Philadelphia, will continue to bear the marks of the advancement of religious tolerance still witnessed by society today.
William Penn was born October 14, 1644 in London, England and spent most of his youth in that general vicinity. He was the oldest of three children, having a younger brother and a younger sister. “As the eldest son, Penn followed the usual path as heir to his father’s estates. Thus he was educated in the typical manner of the gentry, being sent to a private school and later to a university” (Geiter, 14). After being homeschooled until the age of 11, he began his formal training at Chigwell Academy near Wanstead in Essex, England. Penn attended several colleges throughout Europe including Oxford University and Lincoln’s Inn, a prestigious law school in London. William Penn’s education and law background helped round out his skills and prepare him to take his place in society. His eventual conversion to Quakerism, however, prevented him from entering a political career as expected by his family. “While Penn did not follow the traditional route, by becoming, for example, a member of parliament, he d...
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...eiter, Mary K. William Penn. Harlow, England: Longman, 2000. 14, 167. Print.
Powell, Jim. "William Penn, America's First Great Champion for Liberty and Peace." Quaker.org. The Freeman. Web. 1 Mar. 2012.
Patton, Allyson. "Brotherly Love Comes To Philadelphia." British Heritage 26.6 (2006): 43-48. MasterFILE Premier. Jstor. 20 Mar. 2012.
Foster, Genevieve. The World of William Penn. New York: Scribner, 1973. 32. Print.
Geiter, Mary K., and W. A. Speck. Colonial America: From Jamestown to Yorktown. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. 97. Print.
William Penn Biography. N.p., 3 Dec. 2007. Web. 20 Mar. 2012.
Lingelbach, William E. “William Penn and City Planning.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography , Vol. 68, No. 4 (Oct.,1944): 401. MasterFILE Premier. Jstor. 20 Mar. 2012.
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