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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   

3. Utopian

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Activities: Author Activities

William Penn - Selected Archive Items

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[1211] John Sartain, William Penn Portrait (The Armor Portrait) After 1666 Portrait, Penn Aged 22, Only One Taken From Life (n.d.)
courtesy of Pennsylvania State Museum.
This portrait depicts a young William Penn at the age of 22. The original piece was composed four years after his expulsion from Oxford University as a result of his denunciation of the Anglican Church, and sixteen years before Penn's voyage to America where he established the colony of Pennsylvania. His colony was meant to be a safe haven for Quakers, like himself, and other religious minorities who faced persecution in the other New England colonies. Other famous Quakers include John Woolman who argued on behalf of American slaves in Some Considerations For The Keeping Of Negroes. See also: Relations with Native Americans. Freedom of Religion. Quaker. Francis Daniel Pastorious."

[1214] Benjamin West, William Penn's Treaty with the Indians (1711),
courtesy of the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts.
The work portrays Penn's 1682 peace meeting with the Delaware tribe in Shackamaxon (present-day Kensington, Pennsylvania). Although there is no evidence that this meeting between Anglos and Indians actually took place, it has become part of American mythology—in large part because of West's painting.

[1216] William Penn, Plan for the City of Philadelphia, in A Letter from William Penn... to the Committee of the Free Society of Traders of That Province, Residing in London (1683 [1881]).
Penn's plan reflects Quaker hopes for a colonial utopia of human reason informed by inner divine revelation. The right-angled plan treats the land like a Lockean blank slate and differs sharply from Native American settlement patterns.

[2092] Constantin Brumidi, William Penn and the Indians (ca. 1878),
courtesy of Architect of the Capitol.
This is a representation of Penn with the Lenni Lenape (Delaware) Indians at the time of the Treaty of Shackamaxon in 1682, designed to ensure the friendship between the Native American group and Penn's Pennsylvania Colony. William Penn and the Indians is a panel from the Apotheosis of Washington frieze, by Brumidi, which lines the rotunda of the United States Capitol.

[2094] Major, William Penn at the Treaty-Signing in 1682 (1882),
courtesy of Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania.
Lithograph on title page of Bicentennial March: 1682-1882: William Penn's March by Aug. Loumey (Philadelphia: Lee & Walker, 1882). This depiction of Penn at the signing of the treaty with the Delaware Indians at Shakamaxon shows him wearing a Broadbrim or "Quaker hat," usually gray or brown and made of felt or beaver.

[4092] William Penn, The Frame of the Government of the Province of Pennsylvania in America (1682),
courtesy of the Library of Congress,
Rare Book and Special Collections Division [27].Title page from Penn's charter.

[5214] Iroquois wampum belt,
courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Wampum, usually found in bead form and made from Quahog shells found along the southern New England coast, was an important item for exchange and political dealings among Indians; after European settlement, it came to resemble a type of currency.

[7175] Gary Nash, Interview: "Penn and the Indians in Comparison to the Puritans" (2001),
courtesy of Annenberg Media.
Nash, the award-winning author of First City: Philadelphia and the Forging of Historical Memory and a professor of American history at UCLA, discusses similarities and differences between William Penn and the Puritans, particularly their relations with Native Americans.

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