Penn in Pennsylvania

During his tenure there, Penn and the elected colonial assembly adopted his Frame of Government (later known as the Charter of Liberties), the basis of Pennsylvania law for nearly a century. Among its provisions were universal manhood suffrage, and fair and open trials for those accused of a crime. The law also opened the colony to persons from all religions, with no threat of persecution. The government of the colony consisted of a governor with limited powers and a deputy governor. The Provincial Council, a seventy-two-member body, proposed legislation. The General Assembly could have up to 500 members and had as its responsibility the approval or defeat of legislation proposed by the council. One-third of the members were elected each year and each served a term of three years. The governor held the power to veto legislation. In addition to establishing a working government, Penn also labored to achieve good relations with the native peoples in the area. Penn was convinced that no minorities should suffer persecution, as the Quakers had in England. As part of his effort, Penn purchased the land of Pennsylvania from the Native Americans and instructed officials to treat them as equals. Penn also insisted that negotiators utilize translators. Peaceful relations with the Susquehannock, Shawnee, and Lenni Lenape resulted from Penn’s efforts; Penn also gained a reputation of courage among the native population. Penn returned to England in 1684, his primary goal being the resolution of Pennsylvania’s southern boundary. When James II assumed the throne in 1685, the dispute was settled, with the territory in question being equally divided, half going to Lord Baltimore and the other half reverting to the Crown. Penn spent many years as an active member of the royal court, his influence evident in the 1687 royal proclamation that declared liberty of conscience for all. Penn’s favor with the court disappeared when William of Orange overthrew the Stuart dynasty.

Penn in Pennsylvania Photo Gallery

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