British religious leader William Penn (1644-1718) was a champion for peace, love, and liberty. Born in London, he was the wealthy son of naval hero Admiral Sir William Penn. Young William studied at Oxford, became an advocate for Quaker practices, and was imprisoned for his "radical" writings.
"No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown," he once proclaimed.
On this day in 1681, to satisfy a debt, King Charles II of England granted Penn the deed and governorship of Philadelphia. Penn established "The City of Brotherly Love" as a haven for Quakers, a "holy experiment to serve as the seed for the future nation."
To prove his commitment to brotherhood and because he respected their equality, Penn successfully made peace with the Delaware Indians, the most powerful tribe of all the Algonquians.
"Knowledge is the treasure," Penn believed, "but judgment the treasurer of a wise man."
In removing the notion of ranks and class, Penn designed a government based on self-rule. He also called for the separation of church and state. Penn's ideals of brotherhood, freedom of worship, and representative government inspired Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.
"The public must and will be served," wrote Penn. He drafted the Plan of Union in 1697, considered a forerunner of the U.S. Constitution.
"No man is fit to command another that cannot command himself," he said.