Pennsylvania Colony Facts, Religion, History: Founder William Penn, The Quakers, Religious Tolerance

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Pennsylvania Colony Life

Colonial Pennsylvania was the holy experiment of William Penn who was a Quaker. William Penn was not born into a Quaker family. he came to the faith by his own accord. Penn was fortunate to be born into a wealthy family, his father being an Admiral in the British Navy. Although William's father disowned him after William had become a Quaker, William was able to maintain his established political connections acquire from his father's influence and reputation. William delivered messages to the Stuart Kings for his father establishing a cordial relationship with the royal court which proved beneficial in later years.

William Penn pushed his Political alliances to the limit. It was a crime in itself to be Quaker but Penn went even further by challenging the English laws restricting religious liberty. Penn blatantly questioned the Anglican doctrine of Trinity and was quickly imprisoned in the Tower of London for doing so. From his cell in the tower, Penn wrote pamphlets defining the primary fundamental of Quakerism.

King Charles II owed a great debt to William Penn's father and at the same time was anxious to rid England of Quakers. After his release from prison, Penn petitioned and secured a charter from the king to start an American colony. Charles named the colony Pennsylvania after William Penn's father. It included the three lower counties of Delaware.

Penn called the colony his holy experiment because the government of Colonial Pennsylvania (indoctrinated by Penn) provided for the protection of private property, trial by jury, religious liberty and free press. these liberties attracted a large diverse ethnicity to Pennsylvania. By the time of the American Revolution,  Pennsylvania was one of the largest colonies in America. In 1787 at the time of the Constitutional Convention, Philadelphia personified religious tolerance, characterized by a host of churches present in the city. Each street featured a church of another denomination. There were the friends meeting house, and the old Buttonwood Presbyterian Church in the northeast corner .... There was a Christ Christ on Second Street and so forth.

George Washington not only supported religious toleration but openly practiced it. Washington during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 worshiped with impartial zeal in a number of churches in Philadelphia including St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church on May 27.

Voltaire once said of Penn, "William Penn might, with reason boast of having brought down upon earth the Golden Age, which in all probability had any real existence but in his dominions." Voltaire was famous for writing satirical verses criticizing the government and the Catholic Church. William Penn was a man of action. He did not just talk about religious freedom, he used his influence to make it happen maybe not in his homeland but in America.

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