Great Law of Pennsylvania

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GREAT LAW OF PENNSYLVANIA was enacted 7 December 1682 by an assembly of freeholders called at Upland (Chester) by William Penn shortly after his arrival in Pennsylvania. It expanded upon a body of laws that Penn had submitted, known as the Laws Agreed upon in England (also known as Penn's Frame of Government). The Great Law established liberty of conscience, extended manhood suffrage, and limited the death penalty to relatively few offenses. Through these statutes, which remained the basis of law in colonial Pennsylvania, Penn attempted to legislate a perfectly moral state.


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

Lockridge, Kenneth A. Settlement and Unsettlement in Early America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

Robert Fortenbaugh / s. b.

See also Colonial Settlements ; Religious Liberty ; Suffrage: Colonial Suffrage .

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Great Law of Pennsylvania

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