by George L. Harrison
William Penn was born in London, England, on October 14, 1644, and would become many things, including a father, husband, legal and religious figure. He is most well known for founding the state of Pennsylvania. Penn was born into a family of wealth and political power, and as such, he enjoyed quality schooling, including attending Christ Church College, now University of Oxford, in 1660. However, he was expelled for criticizing the Church of England. During the 1660s, Penn met some members of the Society of Friends while in Ireland, and he eventually converted to the religion. He was jailed for blasphemy his 1668 work, The Sandy Foundation Shaken. Undeterred, and even more committed to his faith, he wrote No Cross, No Crown. He married fellow Quaker, Gulielma Maria Springett, and together they had three children. In 1681, Penn petitioned King Charles II for a charter to found Pennsylvania, which he hoped to develop as a place tolerant of all religions, and to have peaceful relationships with the numerous Native American tribes inhabiting the area.
Penn lived in and out of Pennsylvania after founding it, but returned to England after 1701, and ultimately passed away in Berkshire, England, on July 30, 1718. His health had been failing after he suffered a stroke in 1712. His second wife, Hannah Callowhill, largely ran the colony.
This edition is dedicated to the library readers of the Friends Meeting in Washington, D.C.