The Papers of William Penn: 1701-1718 - Vol. 4

The Papers of William Penn: 1701-1718 - Vol. 4

The Papers of William Penn: 1701-1718 - Vol. 4

The Papers of William Penn: 1701-1718 - Vol. 4

Excerpt

This is the fourth volume in a select edition of The Papers of William Penn, designed to present the most interesting and representative correspondence, religious and political papers, journals, and business records of WP—as he will be referred to henceforth. In a companion fifth volume, Edwin Bronner and David Fraser present an interpretive bibliography of WP's published writings. The overall plan of the work is described in the introduction to our first volume. Volume One, spanning the years 1644 to 1679, documents WP's proceedings as a young Quaker activist. Volume Two, spanning the years 1680 to 1684, documents the founding of Pennsylvania. Volume Three, spanning the years 1685 to 1700, documents WP's controversial career in England before and after the Glorious Revolution, his efforts to govern Pennsylvania in absentia, and his return to America in 1699. Volume Four documents the final eighteen years of WP's life, from 1701 to 1718. It opens with his last months as resident proprietor of Pennsylvania—a moment of great importance in the political history of the colony, since WP on the eve of his departure in 1701 agreed to a constitutional reorganization that shaped the character of Pennsylvania politics until the American Revolution. After returning to England, WP spent a busy decade defending his proprietorship from a series of crippling attacks by opponents on both sides of the Atlantic, a situation further complicated by a protracted legal struggle with the heirs of Philip Ford, his former steward. In 1708, with the fate of his proprietorship in the hands of Lord Chancellor Cowper, and after a lengthy stay in debtor's prison, WP paid £7600 to the Fords. But his continuing financial pressures in England, and his political reverses in Pennsylvania, persuaded WP as early as 1703 to seek the surrender of his colony's government to the crown, and he was on the point of completing this surrender in 1712 when he suffered a series of disabling strokes. After lingering for nearly six more years as an incapacitated invalid, he died on 30 July 1718.

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