Why William Penn? - The William Penn Connection

William Penn

William Penn (1641-1718) was a British leader best known as the founder of Pennsylvania. He wanted the colony to be a “holy experiment” where Christianity would thoroughly inform social relations and political institutions. In many respects, his experiment was successful. The colony was a shining beacon of religious liberty, and it rapidly became a commercial success. Penn learned Algonquian and Iroquois so that he could communicate directly with Native Americans. In no other colony were they treated better by European settlers.

Why is the honors program named after William Penn?

Penn received an education that overlaps in significant ways with the education provided by George Fox University’s honors program. It helped prepare him to engage his world meaningfully from a Christian perspective.

George Fox connection

Penn and George Fox were quite close. According to some biographers, Fox was a substitute father for Penn after his father passed away. Penn traveled frequently with Fox, through Europe and England. He also wrote a comprehensive, detailed explanation of Quakerism along with a testimony to the character of George Fox, in his introduction to the autobiographical Journal of George Fox.

What did William Penn do besides found Pennsylvania?

Penn was one of the most important advocates for religious liberty in 17th-century England. As an attorney he litigated a number of important cases, and he wrote multiple pamphlets advocating religious toleration.

Was Penn merely an activist?

Penn was a great thinker and writer who published more than 150 books and essays, including No Cross, No Crown; The Rise and Progress of the People Called Quakers, and Essay Toward the Present and Future Peace of Europe.

What did Penn believe?

Penn was born into an Anglican family, but as a young man he joined the Society of Friends (the Quakers). In that era Quakers were a despised minority, and Penn was thrown in jail multiple times because of his religious convictions.

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