IntroductionThe Quakers, also known as the Society of Friends was religious group thatfounded Pennsylvania. William Penn, one of the leaders, worked with the Quakers,Indians and the other population to make an ideal world for him, his followers, andthe other people in his environment. With his efforts, and the help of others, theQuakers left a huge impact on Pennsylvania and the entire nation.
The Quakers are a religion that originated in England in protest of theAnglican Church’s practices. The man in charge of this religious revolution wasGeorge Fox.1 He believed that God didn’t live in churches as much as he lived inpeople’s hearts.2 In that state of mind, he went out into the world in search of histrue religion. He argued with priests, slept in fields, and spent days and nights tryingto find followers.
His first followers were mostly young people and women. Besides freedom of religion, they wanted freedom of speech, worship and assembly,refusal to go to war or take oath, and equality of the sexes and social classes.3 In England, between the years of 1650 and 1700, more than 15,000 Quakerswere fined and/or imprisoned; 366 were killed.4 The reason why the Quakers wereput through such torture was because their beliefs and culture was different from theAnglican Church. At that time, any religion that was practiced in England other than the Anglican Church would be persecuted. They believed that religion shouldn’t bepracticed in a church as much as in your heart.
The differences that were between theQuakers and the Anglican Christians was that the Anglicans practiced strict disciplinein their prayers. They would go to prayer every morning, and ask for forgiveness oftheir sins. They believed that the sacred authority was the Bible, the only way tomake your way to heaven was to go to sermon; they should glorify God in the world;and pay no attention to the irrationality of God. They didn’t believe men couldachieve anything for themselves; only God could do that. The Quakers, on the otherhand, believed that God should be in your spirit, not in sermon, and that your sacredauthority shouldn’t be a book, it should be your inner light, the force that drives youthrough you life. They believed you shouldn’t be servants of God, but to be friends ofGod. They believed violence was an unnecessary part of life, and things could beworked out in other ways.5 The Quakers thought the authority of God was absolute,but didn’t need to be preached at a formal meeting as much as the Anglican Churchbelieved that should happen.
In 1661, William Penn was introduced to Quakerism. He had been studying atChrist Church in Oxford. He started to notice that he didn’t believe in some of thethings that he was studying in his religion.
So, he started to go to Quaker meetings,and believe in that religion instead.6 In England, he was expelled from Oxford in1662 for refusing to conform to the Anglican Church, so he moved on toPennsylvania in the “New World.” In this new colony that he established, he set up afreedom of worship. It became a retreat for many religious groups coming fromGermany, Holland, Scandinavia, and Great Britain.
7 He decided to go to the NewWorld, but first he made a trip with Quaker leader George Fox. When they got there,the construction from the plans of Penn’s was already in progress. 8In 1682, Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn. He came upon his ownpersonal ship, Welcome, along with William Bradford, Nicholas Waln, and ThomasWynne and other less known men.9 Now they had many established colonies inPennsylvania and a strong belief system with which build a state.One of the things William Penn is known well for is his attitude toward theNative Americans. He created a friendly environment with his colonies and theNative Americans.
He believed that treating the Native Americans fairly, not harshly,would prevent any tension between the two groups, which could cause warsotherwise. He knew that they were different than himself and his followers, but theyshould be given much respect for they were in the New World centuries beforeEngland even knew about it. He included them in jury and everyday actions. Heconsidered them to be equal to him.10The Natives I shall consider in their Person, Language, Manners,Religion and Government, with my sence of their Original.
For their Persons, they are generally tall, streight, well-built, and of singular Proportion; they tread strong and clever, and mostly walk with Bears-fat clarified, and using no defence against the Sun or Weather, their skins must needs be swarthy; Their Eye is little and black, not unlike a straight-look’t Jew. The thick Lip and flat Nose, so frequently with the East-Indians and Blacks, are not common to them; for I have seen as comely European-like faces among them of both, as on your side of the Sea; and truly an Italian Complexion hath not much more of the White, and theNoses of several of them have as much of the Roman.11He had great respect for the Indians, and understood their culture, so he, fromthen on, would have an excellent relationship with the Indians. On of the mostfamous things he had ever done was to have a treaty with the Indians under the TreatyElm at Shackamaxon in 1682. Although it has been said it actually happened, thereare no written records of the occurrence.
12 He left the New World to go back toEngland in August of 1684, knowing he left behind economic wealth, and increasingpolitical and social strengths.13William Penn suffered from a crippling stroke in 1712, and managed to stayalive in a vegetable state until 1718 when he died.14 He was seventy-four.15Afterhis death, the Delaware Indians sent his widow a cloak sewn from the skins of wildanimals “to protect her whilst passing through the thorny wilderness without herguide.”16 The rest of his family knew they could not let Penn’s work go to waste, sothey stepped in and worked to their fullest to keep his ideas alive. His wife becamethe Proprietor of Pennsylvania. Her goals had succeeded, and she ruled for eightyears after his death, until she died in 1726.17Thomas Penn, his middle child, wasnamed the managing proprietor.
He lived in the colony for forty years after hismother’s death. He ruled for almost as long as his father, but like the rest of hisfamily, he left the Quakers and joined the Church of England. The French and Indian War broke up the friendly relationship of the Quakersand the Indians. Although a majority of the Indians stayed on the Englishss side, theothers went to the French side. After the war, the Native Americans didn’t agree withthe Quakers, causing tension. They no longer got along. This caused violence on thepart of the Indians.
One tribe, on a visit to Philadelphia, killed cattle and robbedorchards as they passed. Another tribe on their way back from Philadelphiadestroyed the property of the interpreter and Indian agent, Conrad Weiser. 18ConclusionThe Quakers had an enormous effect on Pennsylvania. They created thefoundations of what is now Pennsylvania. William Penn will be remembered for hiskindness and his hard efforts to help the Quakers and to be a great leader, which hewas. That is why it is reasonable to call the colony that started so many great things Pennsylvania.
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“The Quakers.” Dictionary of American History. Volume V.
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Elgin, Kathleen. The Quakers. New York: David McKay Company Inc.
, 1968.Fisher, Sidney G. The Quaker Colonies.
New York: United States PublishersAssociation, 1919.Janson, Donald. New York Times. “Burlington Awaits Quakers.
” September 1981. pp.2-3.Morgan, Ted.
Wilderness at Dawn. New York: Simon and Schmister, 1993.Myers, Albert Cook. William Penn’s Own Account of the Lenni Lenape or DelawareIndians. New Jersey: The Middle Atlantic Press, 1970Today in History: William Penn. November 23, 1999. pp. 1-3http://memory.
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