Holy Experiment

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Edward Hicks, The Peaceable Kingdom (c. 1834) showing William Penn treating with Native Americans, and the lion sitting down with the lambs

The "Holy Experiment" was an attempt by the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, to establish a community for themselves in Pennsylvania. They hoped it would show to the world how well they could function on their own without any persecution or dissension.

William Penn, a son of the great Royal Navy admiral William Penn, was a landlord of valuable estates and later went on to inherit a debt owed by King Charles II of England from his deceased father. Penn was a well-educated man, and before that became an evangelist for Quakerism. King Charles II paid off the debt to Penn with a large land grant of the land south and west of colonies of New York because King Charles II owed Penn's father for getting him out of the revolution in 1651. [1] Penn now had total control over his colony, which was named Pennsylvania (meaning "Penn's woods") by the king, after his late father.[citation needed] He now tried to attract settlers to Pennsylvania and make a profit off his newly founded colony. Penn did a brilliant job of advertising Pennsylvania, and it quickly became the most famous colony in England and the rest of Europe alike. Penn sought to create the Holy Experiment in Pennsylvania and he did this by creating a liberal frame of government, and attracting all sorts of people, including many Quakers, who made up the Holy Experiment. He also wanted to treat the Native Americans fairly and not cheat them out of land.

It did run well for a while but then the French and Indian War came and many Quakers in the community wanted all other Quakers out of office because they would be in a position to send the others to war. From that point on, the experiment failed and was completely finished off by the Revolution.

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  1. ^ Foner, Eric (2012). Give Me Liberty: An American History. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. p. 95. 

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