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William Penn: Liberty and Justice for All
“You fool of a boy!” William’s father screamed. “You had the world ahead of you, and you threw it away for some religious meeting. Why, Parliament has ordered the heads of a dozen Puritans to be stuck on poles around the city as a warning against disobeying the law. Have you thought of that? Have you thought about anything?”
With the favor William’s father enjoyed in Britain’s royal court, all William had to do was show himself to be a faithful royalist, and wealth and privilege would be his. Instead he chose to follow his conscience–to expulsion from university, disinheritance, imprisonment, and the threat of death.
In a world where freedoms were subject to the whims of rulers, William Penn worked passionately for religious tolerance. When this Quaker reformer secured a land grant in America, he laid for Pennsylvania a foundation of liberty, justice, fairness, and tolerance that would later guide the drafting of the Constitution of the United States (1644-1718).
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