William Penn


October 14, 1644 — July 30, 1718


William Penn was an English writer and thinker recognized as the founder of Pennsylvania. Though technically a colonizer, Penn was a steadfast pacifist and helped to establish a rare peace between European colonizers and American-Indigenous. He also encouraged peace in Europe and religious liberty especially, helping to form a foundation for liberal democracy. An oft-overlooked figure, Penn is a quintessential Enlightenment Era thinker, liberal, and peacemaker.


Essential Thoughts


There can be no friendship where there is no freedom. Friendship loves a free air, and will not be fenced up in straight and narrow enclosures.


I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there can be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.


If thou wouldst conquer thy weakness, thou must never gratify it. No man is compelled to evil: his consent only makes it his. It is no sin to be tempted, but to be overcome.


If it be an evil to judge rashly or untruly any single man, how much a greater sin it is to condemn a whole people.


A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil that good may come of it. We are too ready to retaliate, rather than forgive, or gain by love and information. And yet we could hurt no man that we believe loves us. Let us, then, try what love will do: for if men do once see that we love them, we should soon find they would not harm us. Force may subdue, but love gains; and he that forgives first, wins the laurel.