William Penn (1644-1718), the founder and proprietor of Pennsylvania, had high hopes for Philadelphia. He wanted the city to become the economic and moral hub and showpiece of the nearly 50,000 square miles that he had been granted as Pennsylvania (Penn’s Woods). Penn outlined his radical notion when he advertised the city for settlement in 1681: he intended to construct a physical, economic, political, and religious environment in which divine virtue would tame the human tendency for sin and corruption. His mission would leave an indelible imprint on the politics, economics, culture, and land-use of the Delaware River valley region and Philadelphia, the Quaker City.
As a member of the Religious Society of Friends of the Truth (Quakers), a British Christian splinter group, Penn shared in the belief that Christ’s arrival was occurring in his time. In response, it behooved people to live up to Christ’s presence. Though there is no evidence that Penn used the term “The Quaker City” for Philadelphia, he drew inspiration from Quaker founder George Fox, his mentor, as he imagined a communal environment where people would live in a way that “taketh away the need for all wars.” Read More