William Penn Is Born

William Penn, English reformer and founder of Pennsylvania, was born on October 14, 1644, in London, England.

Persecuted in England for his Quaker faith, Penn established freedom of worship in Pennsylvania. The colony became a haven for minority religious sects from Germany, Holland, Scandinavia, and Great Britain.

Born the privileged son of a landed gentleman, young William Penn was greatly affected by the preaching of Quaker itinerant minister Thomas Loe. Expelled from Oxford in 1662 for refusing to conform to the Anglican Church, Penn joined the Religous Society of Friends five years later. At that time, Friends, commonly called "Quakers," were subject to official persecution.

William Penn (October 14, 1644 – July 30, 1718) was an English founder and "Absolute Proprietor" of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future U.S. State of Pennsylvania. He was known as an early champion of democracy and religious freedom and famous for his good relations and his treaties with the Lenape Indians. Under his direction, Philadelphia was planned and developed.

As one of the earlier supporters of colonial unification, Penn wrote and urged for a Union of all the English colonies in what was to become the United States of America. The democratic principles that he set forth in the Pennsylvania Frame(s) of Government served as an inspiration for the United States Constitution. As a pacifist Quaker, Penn considered the problems of war and peace deeply, and included a plan for a United States of Europe, "European Dyet, Parliament or Estates," in his voluminous writings.q

Time is what we want most, but what, alas! we use worst; and for which God will certainly most strictly reckon with us, when Time shall be no more.”

— William Penn, Some Fruits of Solitude, 1693.