Narratives of Early Pennsylvania, West New Jersey and Delaware, 1630-1707

By Albert Cook Myers | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

THE founding of the province of Pennsylvania by William Penn was the direct result of his active participation -- beginning, as we have seen, in 1675 -- in the management of the affairs of the New Jersey settlements. He had thus become fully acquainted with the conditions and possibilities not only of the latter region but of the whole domain of the English America of that day, and particularly of that portion of it contiguous to West New Jersey on the west side of the Delaware. A keen desire (evolved under the influence of his Quaker viewpoint and experiences from a germinating idea, as he tells us, of his youthful days at Oxford University), had grown up in him to plant in the New World a colony all his own, where he might exemplify his altruistic ideals of the government and development of such a settlement and establish a democracy, under his paternal care, which while essentially Quaker in character, would nevertheless attract other desirable European immigrants seeking religious freedom and economic opportunity. Along with these great purposes, but subordinate to them, William Penn as an Englishman of rank and influence in the realm, with the traditions of his class, had also a concern for his material interests and for the perpetuity of an estate for his family.

The realization of his dream of a Quaker commonwealth was made practically possible through a claim of £16,000, which as his father's heir he held against the crown. He could rely also upon the sincere friendship of the royal brothers. Having vainly sought the direct recovery of the debt, he now made this loss to his estate, as he phrases it, the basis of a

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