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Pennsylvania at the 17th


Pennsylvania land
Pennsylvania land

Penn first visited his colony in 1682. The capital had been established at Upland, which Penn renamed Chester. He later named Philadelphia, which was then under construction, as his capital. By the terms of the king’s charter, the only limit on Penn’s authority in the colony was the right of a popular assembly to veto his laws. However, Penn was determined to bring the settlers into the government. His liberal Frame of Government, a written contract between himself as proprietor and the Pennsylvania colonists, was approved by the assembly in 1683, then revised that same year to give the settlers even more voice in the government. Under the new constitution, Penn shared the power to make laws with an elected council, which formed the upper house of the legislature. The assembly, or lower house, had the power to veto or approve laws proposed by the council. The Frame of Government guaranteed freedom of worship, protection of property, and trial by jury, and granted a role in government to Christian men over the age of 21 who possessed some property or paid a personal tax.

From 1692 until 1694, Penn’s right to govern the colony was revoked by the English monarchs, William III and Queen Mary, who doubted his loyalty. Penn had been a close friend of King James II, who had been overthrown and replaced on the throne by William and Mary. The royal governor of New York governed Pennsylvania as well until the monarchs were convinced of Penn’s loyalty and restored his authority. Quarrels between the two houses of the legislature prompted Penn to alter the government in 1696, giving the assembly full power to initiate legislation. Finally, in 1701, Penn prepared the Charter of Privileges, which remained in force until 1776. Under the charter, the council ceased to have a part in legislation, and the assembly expanded so that it became more representative of the people’s interests.

The assembly, independent of the governor, scheduled its sessions. The charter also allowed Delaware to form its own assembly, which it did in 1703. After Penn’s death in 1718, his second wife, Hannah Callowhill Penn, controlled the colony until her death in 1727. Control then passed to three of Penn’s sons, John, Thomas, and Richard Penn. John Penn drifted away from Quakerism, and the other two sons joined the Anglican Church. In the 1730s the Quakers, who controlled the provincial assembly, began a political contest with the Penns that was to last for decades. They organized as the Antiproprietary Party and sought the support of the prosperous Germans. The Quakers refused to appropriate money for military defense, wished to tax the lands the Penns held as proprietors, and tried to convert Pennsylvania into a royal colony.

The Penns, mobilizing their supporters into the Proprietary Party, demanded appropriations for colonial defense and formed an alliance with the Scots-Irish, who desired better representation in the assembly and protection from raids by Native Americans on the western frontier.

One of the major figures in Pennsylvania and early American history arrived in Philadelphia in 1723. Benjamin Franklin, a printer and newspaper editor from Boston, would soon become a powerful figure in the colony’s politics, as well as a noted author, scientist, and philosopher. "Pennsylvania" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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