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Penn, William

Penn, William (1644–1718), religious leader, pacifist, social philosopher, and colonial proprietor.Born in London the son of Adm. William Penn, conqueror of Jamaica, and Margaret (née Jasper) van der Schuren Penn, young William was given a rigorous classical education evident in his adult writings. He entered Oxford in 1660 but was dismissed for refusing to attend chapel, an early example of his religious rebellion. He studied theology briefly at a Protestant seminary in France, then read law at Lincoln's Inn, London, for a year. Managing the family estates in Ireland, he became converted in 1667 to Quakerism, a radical, pacifist, Protestant way of thought. He zealously published books and pamphlets, was repeatedly jailed, but never ceased advocating liberty of conscience, which could only be realized through an official policy of tolerating dissent. A pragmatic young man, Penn sought to defend his fellow Quakers through official channels, using the courts and becoming involved in politics. Resented by some older, purer Friends and facing a fading Whig cause, Penn turned to America to institutionalize his religious and political principles. Charles II granted him proprietorship of Pennsylvania in 1681 in part to repay a loan by Penn's father to the crown, but also to help fill a sparsely populated gap on the Atlantic seaboard.

In visits to America, Penn set up his “holy experiment,” which included peaceful relations with the Indians. Subsequently, Penn was caught between the demands of the English government and Scotch‐Irish frontier dwellers for military support and the intransigence of the Quaker Pennsylvania legislators. Pennsylvania had no militia until 1755. His own commitment to pacifism was evident in his publication of An Essay towards the Present and Future Peace of Europe, by the Establishment of an European Dyet, Parliament or Estates (1693).
[See also Militia and National Guard.]

Bibliography

Joseph E. Illick , William Penn, the Politician, 1965.
Richard S. and Mary Maples Dunn, eds., The Papers of William Penn, 1986.

Joseph E. Illick

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Jasper, William

William Jasper, c.1750–79, American Revolutionary soldier, b. South Carolina (possibly near Georgetown). He joined William Moultrie's regiment early in the Revolution (1775), was made sergeant, and was ordered to Fort Sullivan (now Fort Moultrie) in Charleston harbor. There he bravely rehoisted the flag over the fort in the face of British gunfire (1776). He later distinguished himself as a scout before he was killed in the attack on Savannah.

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