Custom «William Penns Charter of Privileges Response » Essay Paper Sample
Pennsylvania has had many historical accounts that call for secure preservation. Among these is the William Penn's Charter of Privileges (1701). It was drawn by William Penn, on 28th October 1701, which replaced the frame of government for Pennsylvania of 1682 with the charter of privileges. The charter was for all the freemen, adventurers, planters, and all the inhabitants of the Province of Pennsylvania and territories. This saw the setting up of a unicameral legislature, an assembly of freemen elected annually consisting of four representatives from each county. This assembly was to meet in Philadelphia in order to preserve the liberty of conscience of the freeborn Englishmen. This assembly could instigate legislation, decide on the assembly's time of adjournment, judge or decide on the qualification of members, and also had the discretion of selecting its own officers and speaker. The charter also acknowledged freedom of worship for all people in all denominations. The Charter also provided that Christians of any denomination not owning a tavern or public house had a right to serve in the government. The charter also had provisions that guaranteed that criminals or accused persons would be given the same privileges as their prosecutors. Within the charter no person was under any obligation to answer any complaint, or matter whatsoever relating to property, before a council, governor or in any other place unless it is in the ordinary course of justice and unless an appeal is made in relation with the same. It also outlined guidelines to be followed by those wishing to own public amenities like taverns, or houses of public entertainment. The charter had provisions that did not allow any one to cause destruction to one's life, estate or any other property, or cause harm to wife, children or relative. If this happens then the person in question will be liable for prosecution before a court of law (William p 90).
This charter played a very big role in the history of the United States in that the US constitution is based on it. The charter helped in broadening of interfaith understanding and also immensely contributed to the religious freedom that exists in the United States up to date. It is this charter that also brought about the idea of abolishing slave trade and slavery that was very common in America. It is said that the freedom of worship provided in the Penn's charter, led to the birth of many Episcopal churches in America, for instance the Methodist Episcopal Church where the First African-American bishop was named, the first Hebrew bible was translated into English, and where the first Presbyterian Church General Assembly was, all happened in Pennsylvania. The good religious foundation provided by the Penn's charter makes Pennsylvania's history the history of the whole American nation (William p 89).
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The charter acknowledged that people can not be happy even if they are given all other liberties but denied the freedom of worship. It allowed freedom of conscience to all persons' religious profession and worship. That God being the father of everything should be worshiped by everyone without restrictions. The charter provided that, no person or persons residing in the province or territories, confessing or acknowledging one almighty God, shall not prejudiced or molested for doing so. This meant that people were no longer to be harassed for worshiping God in any religion so long as it was the almighty God being worshiped. It made sure that no religion was to force people to join it, that every one had his or her on decision on the choice of religion to join. It protected persons from being forcibly compelled to participate in any actions or practices that go against their religious persuasion. It allowed those professing to believe in Jesus Christ to serve the government in any capacity both executively and legislatively so long as the person promises to swear allegiance to the king in England. The charter also had a clause that made sure that the article relating to liberty of conscience remained without alteration for ever, safe guarding any future attempts to amend it. Although Penn is said to have offered religious liberty to his people, it was not really in its entirety. The charter had restrictions to the right to vote and to hold political office to those who were not Quakers. Groups like the Muslims and Jews, who did not profess their faith in Christ as the savior, and Catholics who were obedient to the Pope, were denied these rights. To these groups and any other non-Quaker group in the colony, religious freedom only meant that they were free to worship and practice their faith in Pennsylvania and nothing else. Similarly these protections were not extended to African Americans, neither were they extended to the enslaved Africans (William p 88).
Although Penn had a great vision for liberty, it is argued that he did not absolutely implement it to the later. Starting with the article on religious liberty, the charter denied other denominations, especially those that did not profess Jesus Christ as the only savior, from holding public office. This is not exactly what one will call liberty because critical political decisions were only being made by the Quakers regardless of whether they will go against other faiths. Penn grew up knowing that slave ownership was something normal because his owned slaves. He therefore extended this into his adulthood where by it is said that he also owned his own slaves. Penn was the authority figure head and therefore owned a good measure of property that he could have issued out to the slaves to save his humanitarian ideals. This seems to be against his vision of freedom to all persons in Pennsylvania. I think for him to unite this slave ownership and his humanitarian vision, Penn should give the slaves their own land so that they could at least make their own living out of it. He should also lobbied for the outlawing of slavery through the legislature and also convince his fellow Pennsylvania Quaker slave holders to set free their slaves (William p 90).
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The William Penn's charter of privileges played a great role in the history of America. The US constitution is founded on this charter. It provided for many liberties that are being enjoyed today by the American citizens. These included the freedom to own property, the freedom to worship and many other human rights and freedoms. This saw many people of diverse backgrounds, differing religious views, race and color, co existing in a very friendly way. This was the foundation of mutual co-existence that is being enjoyed today. Penn was definitely the father of the American nation and an example of many other nations in the world. The charter also put in place mechanisms aimed at making sure that the articles there in are not tampered with in future by those who might out to seek their own personal gains. But despite all this good attributes, it is argued that Penn did not follow his idea of liberty to all peoples in the colonies. It is said that he still condoned the idea of owning slaves; he even had his own slaves. This discredited his vision and humanitarianism ideals to Pennsylvania (William p 90).