"Some Account of William Penn's Birth, Education, and Death"
Scope and Contents
In 1676, Penn became a trustee of the Quaker colony of West New Jersey and in 1681, in exchange for a large debt owed by Charles II to his father, he was granted the province of Pennsylvania. William Penn's aim was to create a colony with the greatest possible civil and religious liberty for all Christians. In 1682, Penn sailed to North America, but returned to England in 1684. He spent most of the 1690s writing, preaching, and trying to resolve the politicial, military, imperial, and constitutional problems of his colony. Almost all of his political writings adressed issues of liberty and conscience. The exception was his utopian idea for securing permanent peace in Europe (Essay Towards the Present and Future Peace of Europe). In 1699, he returned to North America and then again went to England in 1701. In 1707, he spent nine months in debtors' prison, and on his release, he mortgaged his North American properties and tried to sell them back to the Crown. He suffered a paralytic stroke in 1712 from which he never recovered.
Penn's philosophy was a combination of religious idealism and political practicalites. His arguments for toleration were grounded in a secular and expansive version of interest theory. He believed that oppressed subjects were a threat to peace, stability, and prosperity, and that true religion was a matter for individual conscience, not legislation. There was never a question of tolerating non-Christians or atheists. He never advocated a separation of Church and State, nor for the secularization of civil affairs.
Biographical information from article by Martyn P. Thompson in Dictionary of Seventeenth Century British Philosophers. Sterling, Virginia: Thoemmes Press, 2000
0.08 Linear Feet (1 volume)
- "Some Account of William Penn's Birth, Education, and Death," 1863
- Kara Flynn
- October, 2015
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