Short history of Pennsylvania/ Philadelphia

Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn, a Quaker by faith.

Religion and the Quakers

The official religion of England at this time was the Church of England. However, some people wanted to join other Christian churches, such as the Puritans and the Quakers. These other churches were considered illegal and people could be put in jail for joining them.

The Quakers believed that there shouldn't be any religious rituals or sacraments. They also refused to fight in any war, believed in religious freedom for all, and were against slavery.

Pennsylvania Charter

With the conditions for Quakers getting worse in England, Penn came up with a plan. He went to the king and proposed that the Quakers should leave England and have their own colony in the Americas. The king liked the idea and gave Penn a charter for a large tract of land in North America. At first the land was called Sylvania, which means "woods", but it was later named Pennsylvania in honor of William Penn's father.

A Free Land 

William Penn envisioned Pennsylvania to not only be a Quaker land, but also a free land. He wanted freedom for all religions and a safe place for persecuted minorities to live. He also wanted peace with the Native Americans and hoped they could live together as "neighbors and friends." Penn purchased the land from the Indians as opposed to taking it.

Pennsylvania adopted a constitution called the Frame of Government. The government had a parliament that consisted of two houses of leaders. These houses were to impose fair taxes and to protect the rights of private property. The constitution guaranteed the freedom of worship. Penn's constitution was considered a historical step towards democracy in America.


In 1682, William Penn and around one hundred Quaker settlers arrived in Pennsylvania. They established the city of Philadelphia. Penn had designed the city which had streets laid out in a grid. The city and the colony was a success. Led by Penn, the new government protected the rights of the citizens and maintained peace with the local Native Americans. By 1684, there were around 4,000 people living in the colony.

Penn named the city Philadelphia, which is Greek for "brotherly love," derived from the Ancient Greek terms phílos (beloved, dear) and adelphós (brother, brotherly). ... As a Quaker, Penn had experienced religious persecution and wanted his colony to be a place where anyone could worship freely.