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Charter of Privileges


CHARTER OF PRIVILEGES. On 28 October 1701, William Penn replaced the Frame of Government for Pennsylvania (1682) with the Charter of Privileges, setting up a unicameral legislature, an annually elected assembly of freemen consisting of four representatives from each county, who would meet in Philadelphia to preserve freeborn Englishmen's liberty of conscience. The assembly could initiate legislation, determine its time of adjournment, judge qualifications for membership, and select its own speaker and officers. The charter declared freedom of worship for all monotheists. Christians of any denomination who did not own a tavern or public house could serve in the government. It also guaranteed that criminals would have the same privileges as their prosecutors.


Bronner, Edwin B. William Penn's Holy Experiment. New York: Temple University Publications, 1962.

Dunn, Mary Maples. William Penn, Politics and Conscience. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1967.

Dunn, Richard S., and Mary Maples Dunn, eds. The World of William Penn. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986.

Geiter, Mary K. William Penn. New York: Longman, 2000.

Michelle M.Mormul

See alsoAssemblies, Colonial .

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