Friend William

Friend William

by Willard M. Wallace
©1958, Item: 86970
Hardcover, 157 pages
Not in stock

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"All gentlemen must conform to the religion of the state, if they know what is good for them," Admiral Penn told his son. In 17th century England there was no place—and no peace for those who did not belong to the established church. But the dashing young man, who had studied at Oxford and made the "grand tour" of the Continent, turned his back on the world of wealth and power to join the poor, devout, and brave people who called themselves the Friends, though others referred to them as "Quakers."

Five times William Penn went to prison for his faith, for he believed that freedom to worship as he chooses is man's most priceless possession. One of his trials made legal history, for Penn knew that judges should not try to influence juries; his pleas to the jurymen encouraged them to defy the judges, and William was freed.

But hundreds of Quakers were still in English jails. Somewhere, William reasoned, there must be a haven for the Friends and all who were persecuted because of their religion. Charles II owed money to the Penns, and in payment of the debt William persuaded the King to give him more than 40,000 square miles of land in the New World. Here he could begin his "holy experiment," a colony where religious and political freedom could flourish.

In Pennsylvania, William founded the city of Philadelphia, framed the most liberal of colonial constitutions, and established friendly relations with the Indians by the Great Treaty, "the only one never sworn to and never broken."

William Penn had given up all chances for renown when he joined the Quakers, and he spent all of his inheritance on his colony, But by standing fast against persecution, he won the greatest of riches, undying fame.


Willard M. Wallace is a native of Maine, and a graduate of Wesleyan University where he is now Professor of History. He lives in Berlin, Connecticut, with his wife and two young daughters, in a large white house built in 1830.

Mr. Wallace has traveled and studied in Europe on a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is the author of a military history of the American Revolution, and a biography of Benedict Arnold. He is interested in music, historical novels, and football, having coached junior varsity football at Wesleyan for four years.

William Penn, Mr. Wallace says, was a man of strong will and extraordinary dedication to his faith, but one with a normal number of imperfections. Accordingly, in his book, he has presented the great Quaker as a real human being.

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