WILLIAM PENN (1644-1718)
Born and raised in London, England, William Penn was an English Quaker who was noted for his advocation of religious toleration. The son of Sir Admiral William Penn, the younger attended Oxford University in 1660, where he came under the influence of nonconformity and separation from classical education. By 1670, he had come in contact with three of the foremost Quakers of the time, including George Fox, Robert Barclay, and George Keith. By 1681 they, along with eight other Quakers, bought proprietary rights in the colonies. The King of England ceded a large territory in the Americas to William as payment for a debt owed to his father. A year later, Penn's "holy experiment" began. He established the colony of Pennsylvania, which allowed those of all religious faiths to attempt to settle and establish a life in the New World. His project emphasized the major tenets of Quaker Philosophy, including the concept of the Inner Light, or the spiritual essence of the mind and body. Penn's colony succeeded, but in his role as administrator, he lost the faith of fellow colonists.
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