Colonial Pennsylvania: A History

By Joseph E. Illick | Go to book overview
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Political development during the first two decades of Pennsylvania's existence demonstrated a steady drive toward autonomy but a rather confused search for local authority until, in 1701, the Assembly became the dominant institution. This was also a period of increasing imperial control, as the policies of James II, William and Mary, and Parliament not only rationalized administrative procedures and commercial regulations but also attacked the charters of private colonies. William Penn, who played the difficult role of mediator, lamented after almost two decades of buffeting: "You cannot easily imagine the difficulties I lie under, what with the King's affairs, those of the Government, and my Proprietary ones. . . 'tis I that pay the reckoning." Proprietary power declined, even as the colony prospered, developing in some directions that Penn never imagined. He had not been able to supervise the "holy experiment" with a firm hand. Having sailed from his homeland in the autumn of 1682 with the intention of passing the rest of his life in his New World haven, he remained in Pennsylvania less than two years. His return to England was prompted by a controversy with the proprietor of Maryland over control of the Three Lower Counties, which both men viewed as crucial to the commercial lives of their respective colonies. The matter would be handled in London by the Lords of Trade, a committee of the Privy Council recently established to deal exclusively with colonial affairs, and


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Colonial Pennsylvania: A History


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