William Penn Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

Penn was the founder and owner of the colony of Pennsylvania. As one of America’s earliest proprietors, his business practices were unique in that he maintained an amicable business relationship with local Native Americans instead of seeking to conquer them.

On March 4, 1681, King Charles II of England granted William Penn a charter for the land located in America that was west of the Delaware River and between New York and Maryland. The king made this grant in settlement of a debt owed to Penn’s deceased father, Admiral Sir William Penn. Penn viewed the colonization of Pennsylvania as both a business opportunity and a chance to create a community providing religious freedom to anyone who believed in God. By selling parcels of land relatively cheaply and marketing the colony in Europe, Penn succeeded in selling more than 620,000 acres to approximately five hundred buyers by August, 1682. Thousands of persecuted people moved to Pennsylvania in search of religious freedom.Penn, William

In October, 1682, Penn arrived in Pennsylvania for the first time. That same year, he made a treaty of friendship with the local Native American tribe, the Lenni Lenape (also known as Delaware), and paid them for the land that King Charles had already given him. Penn lived in the colony until 1684 and continued to maintain a business relationship with the indigenous people. In 1683, Penn founded the town of Philadelphia and named it Pennsylvania’s capital. Unfortunately, by the time Penn returned to England in 1684, he viewed the colony as a business failure, because it had not yet yielded him a profit. He and his family retained ownership of the colony until the American Revolution.

Colonial economic systems

Native American trade

Revolutionary War

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