Penn, William
b. 1644-10-14
d. 1718-07-30
Penn is famous for his peaceful settlement with the Lenni Lenape people of the Delaware region. This negotiation, known as the treaty of Shackamaxon, has been recorded (and re-recorded) as the fairest page in American history.1 Penn himself boasted that, when the purchase was agreed, great promises passed between us of kindness and good neighbourhood, and that the Indians and English must live in love, as long as the sun gave light.2 Although the original treaty document was destroyed by a fire during the American Civil War, a wampum belt, presented to Penn in commemoration of the treaty, is preserved by the Pennsylvania Historical Society at the Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia.3
Frederick William Chesson, of the Aborigines Protection Society, cites Penn in Chesson, Frederick William to Lytton, Sir Edward George Earle Bulwer 10 August 1858, CO 6:26, no. 8016, 295 as an exemplary example of someone who negotiated a successful land treaty with Native Americans. Chesson expresses his desire that the colonial government in British Columbia will conduct their negotiations with the indigenous population in a manner as pacific as that of Penn.
William Penn was born in London on October 14, 1644. Despite the objections of his father, Sir William Penn, he became a Quaker in 1667. Penn was incarcerated on multiple occasions for religious dissent. He is well known as the founder of the state of Pennsylvania where he attempted to create a utopian society free of religious intolerance. Penn died in England on July 30, 1718.4
  • 1. H. Butterworth, The Wampum Belt; Or, 'The Fairest Page of History' A Tale of William Penn's Treaty with the Indians (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1896), iii-v.
  • 2. J. R. Soderlund ed., William Penn and the Founding of Pennsylvania 1680-1684: A Documentary History (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983), 316.
  • 3. K. Milano, Peace Treaty, Penn Treaty Museum Online.
  • 4. J. R. Soderlund, Penn, William, American National Biography.
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Chesson, Frederick William