Stories from PA History
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The Vision of William Penn
More than three hundred years ago, William Penn established a colony based upon his vision of religious tolerance, participatory government, and brotherly love. Penn's unique vision helped shape Pennsylvania and American history, and it continues to affect our lives today.

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Overview: The Vision of William Penn
Chapter One: Europeans Before Penn
Chapter Two: Penn's Arrival
Chapter Three: Indian Relations
Chapter Four: Legacy of Toleration and Reform

Historical Markers In the Story
marker icon Finland (Delaware) marker icon Governor Printz Park (Delaware)
marker icon Lower Swedish Cabin (Delaware) marker icon New Sweden (Delaware)
marker icon Tinicum (Delaware)

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Story Bibliography

Original Documents
icon full text Queen Christiana, Land Deed to Captain Hans Ammundson Besk, 1653.

1609 Henry Hudson first explores the Delaware Bay and River
1638 Swedish establish first trading post on the Delaware River
1640 Dutch establish trading post at Fort Nassau
1644 Birth of William Penn
1652 George Fox starts Quaker Faith in England
1655 Dutch troops seize Fort Christina and took control of New Sweden
1681 King Charles II grants William Penn 45,000 square-mile colony in the New World to pay off debt to Penn's father.
1682 Penn's arrival in Pennsylvania
1682 Thomas Holme lays out plan for City of Philadelphia
1683 Meeting of the first colonial Assembly in Philadelphia
1688 Mennonites in Germantown issue first protest against the African slave trade
1689 Penn establishes first Quaker school in Pennsylvania: Philadelphia Quaker Meeting hires George Keith as schoolmaster to supervise local instruction
1700 Penn and his second wife, Hannah, move to Pennsbury Manor
1701 Penn meets with the Native people of Pennsylvania at Conestoga Indian Town on the Susquehanna River
1701 Penn issues the Charter of Privileges, the most liberal constitution of Britain's North American colonies
1712 William Penn suffers a stroke. His wife, Hannah, becomes acting proprietor until her death in 1726
1718 Death of William Penn
1728 Oneida Chief Shikellamy moves to the West Branch of the Susquehanna to serve as Iroquois's cultural emissary to Pennsylvania
1754 Outbreak of the French and Indian War
1763 End of the French and Indian War
1763 Men from Paxton massacre peaceful Iroquois and other Indians at Conestoga Indian Town
1787 Organization of the Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons
1829 Opening of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia
1879 Opening of the Carlisle Indian School in Carlisle, PA
1917 The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) organizes the American Friends Service Committee to provide alternative service for conscientious objectors to war
1947 The American Friends Service Committee wins a Nobel Peace Prize for its relief work in post-war Europe
1949 40,000 gather at Aaronsburg, Pennsylvania to celebrate the principles of religious toleration and freedom of conscience personified by the actions of Aaron Levy in the late 1700s
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