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William Penn's "Holy Experiment"

By Rebecca Price Janney, Sep 24 2018 04:54PM

One of my all-time American heroes is Pennsylvania’s founder , William Penn. The English colony, given to him by King Charles II, was actually named for William’s father, something the son objected to. He would never have been that vain! However, the king insisted and who, after all, can prevail against a reigning monarch?

I love Penn for his integrity, his deep faith, which he lived out consistently, and for his desire to create a haven of rest for Europe’s persecuted religious minorities. Some of my ancestors were Mennonites who accepted his invitation to come to the New World to begin anew, arriving in 1683. My husband’s Janney and Wynne families were themselves Quakers and friends of Penn, who also came in that initial wave to Pennsylvania. I am also grateful to be able to count Penn as one of my relatives—he’s my second cousin, ten generations removed.

Another reason I admire this man is because of his commitment to forge peaceful relations with the Native Americans already living in Pennsylvania. I believe if his model had been followed, American history would have looked quite different with respect to Anglo-Indian affairs.

Here’s a story of Penn and his initial encounters with the natives of Pennsylvania and New Jersey:

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