William Penn

Fortunately the execution of this project was facilitated by a claim which Penn had upon government. His father, Admiral Penn, had at different times advanced sums of money to the needy and dissolute government of Charles II, which, together with arrears of pay, amounted to L16,000; and as his father's heir Penn was of course entitled to the payment of this debt. In lieu of the money, Penn proposed that government should make him a grant of a tract of country in New England, yet uncolonised - the tract, namely, lying to the north of Maryland, bounded on the east by the Delaware river, extending as far to the west as Maryland, and as far to the north as was plantable. He had no doubt been led to fix on this territory by favorable accounts which he had received of its resources. When the application was made to government, considerable opposition was offered to Penn's proposal, on the ground that he was a Quaker. At length, however, on the 4th of March, 1681, a royal charter was granted, constituting Penn full and absolute proprietor, under the British crown, of all the land which he had petitioned for. The rights with which this charter invested him were most ample. 'The use, ' says his biographer, Mr. Clarkson, of all ports, bays, rivers, and waters in the specified territory, of their produce, and of all islands, mountains, soils, and mines there, was wholly granted to him. He was to hold the territory in free and common soccage by fealty only, paying two beaver skins annually, and a fifth of all the gold and silver discovered, to the kin g . He had the power of making laws, with the advice, assent, and approbation of the free men of the territory assembled for the raising of money for public uses; of appointing judges and other officers; and of pardoning and reprieving, except in cases of willful murder and high treason. had the power of dividing the province into towns, hundreds, and counties; of erecting and incorporating towns into burghs, and burghs into cities; of selling or alienating any part or parts of the said province, in which case the purchasers were to hold by his grant; of constituting fairs and markets; and of making ports, harbors, and quays. He had the power of assessing, reasonably, and with the advice of the free men assembled, customs on goods laden and unladen, and of enjoying the same, saving only to the king such impositions as were and should be appointed by act of parliament. In the case of incursion by neighboring barbarous nations, or by pirates or robbers, he had power to levy, muster, and train to arms all men in the said province, and to act as their captain-general, and to make war upon and pursue the same.' To these general provisions were added many regulations in detail, the whole charter amounting to one of the most full and absolute ever granted to a subject. With regard to the name of the new territory, Penn proposed at first that it should be called New Wales, by way of companionship, it may be supposed, to New England. Objections however, being taken to this name. He proposed Sylvania, as one which the woody nature of the country rendered suitable; and ultimately this name was adopted, with the prefix of the word Penn, in honor of William Penn's father, for whom both the king and the Duke of York had a great regard. Penn was anxious to have this prefix struck out, as apparently too assuming and he actually made application for that purpose: the king, however, insisted that the name Pennsylvania should remain, as accordingly it did.

Penn immediately took steps for the colonization of his newly acquired territory. He first published a paper giving Some Account of the Pro vince of Pennsylvania in America, lately granted under the Great Seal of England to William Penn;' and to this paper he annexed a statement of the terms on which he intended to sell his land to emigrants. According to this statement, he was to sell a hundred acres for forty shillings, reserving, for legal reasons, a perpetual quit-rent of one shilling for every hundred acres. He next published a list of those conditions as to the future management of the colony on which he was willing to part with his land to purchasers. The most prominent of these conditions related to the manner in which he wished the native Indians to be treated by those who settled in the new territory. With a degree of humanity rare in that age, though quite in consonance with his own noble character, he forewarned all his adherents that he was determined to put the native Indians on a level with the colonists as regarded civic rights, and that all differences between the two parties should be settled by an equal number of referees from both sides.

As it was deemed necessary, moreover, that intending settlers should have some previous idea of the form of government to be adopted in the new colony, Penn drew up a rough outline of such a constitution as he wished to be established, and as he had no doubt would meet the approbation of all likely to be interested. This constitution embraced twenty-four articles, of which the first, named by Penn the Great Fundamental, was as follows In reverence to God, the father of light and spirits, the au thor as well as object of all divine knowledge, faith, and worship, I do for me and mine, declare and establish for the first fundamental of the government of my province, that every person that doth and shall reside therein shall have and enjoy the free profession of his or her faith and exercise of worship toward God, in such a way and manner as every such person in conscience shall believe is most acceptable to God.'