American Heritage: A look at the man who established the ‘colony’Published 9:11pm Wednesday, April 18, 2012
“We, the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking his guidance, do ordain and establish this Constitution.”
— Pennsylvania Constitution
We’ve been looking at the different groups of people and some of the individuals who were instrumental in the establishment of America.
In this article, I’d like to take a look at a man who established a “colony,” which became my homeland. The man’s name is William Penn.
William Penn was born in 1644. His father was a famous British Navy admiral who had discovered Bermuda and helped strengthen Charles II’s throne in England.
At age 22, William was converted to the “Christian Truths of the Society of Friends,” which is known as the Quakers. He later became a Quaker preacher.
In 1622, the Act of Uniformity was passed by Parliament. Anglicanism was established as the state religion. It became a law that all meetings of more than five people of any faith were illegal and were allowed to be disbanded by force. This resulted in William being imprisoned over three times because he refused to be silenced. In fact, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for eight months.
During his time in this imprisonment, he wrote a book, “No Cross, No Crown.”
In that book, we get a picture of the type of man he was and what he believed about life. He wrote, “No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown…” He also wrote, “Christ’s cross is Christ’s way to Christ’s crown. This is the subject of the following discourse, first written during my confinement in the Tower of London in 1668, now printed with great enlargement of matter and testimonies, that thou mayest be won to Christ, or if won already, brought nearer to him. It is a path which God in his everlasting kindness guided my feet into, in the flower of my youth, when about two and twenty years of age.”
At the time of his father’s death, William Pen benefited from a claim for some 16,000 pounds against King Charles II, by his father.
Mr. Penn had a desire to establish a Quaker settlement in the New World. So, in settlement of the claim, William accepted a large tract of land west of the Delaware River, which was named “Sylvania,” which meant “woodland.” This land would be called Pennsylvania, or Penn’s Woods.
Mr. Penn would soon see his dream become a reality. Because of the persecution in his homeland, he would establish a colony in the New World that would offer people the freedoms they could no longer enjoy in England.
In our next article, we will continue our look at William Penn and his “holy experiment” in freedom.
Please join us as we continue our study of our wonderful American Heritage.