Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Quaker William Penn founded Philadelphia and advocated for religious and civil freedom

It is the birthday of English philosopher and real estate tycoon William Penn (1644), who not only founded the American colony the Province of Pennsylvania, but also advocated for civil rights and religious freedom. He successfully (after much coaxing) convinced hundreds of Quakers, Huguenots, Mennonites, Amish, Catholics, Lutherans, and Jews from all over Europe to  move to his 45,000 square miles of land in the New World. He planned the city of Philadelphia and laid out the framework for an ethical society. He steadfastly refused to exploit the settlers or the native Lenape tribe. He was a pacifist Quaker who was imprisoned in England for his religious beliefs. While in prison he wrote No Cross, No Crown (1669), now a classic in Christian literature. Penn also made a case for a European Union, centuries before the radical notion of cooperation between countries in Europe finally took hold.

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