Penn, William - Jury Goes to Prison - PENN'S LAWS

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William Penn, although wealthy, lived beyond his means while he was still in England. Because Charles II owed a debt to Penn’s father, William (the son) was able to call-in that debt (from the King).  On March 4, 1681, the monarch satisfied his debt by giving William a charter for land in America (which would become known as Pennsylvania). Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863–1930) created a painting representing his interpretation of the King granting Penn the charter, which was later used as the basis for a 1932 postcard (depicted here) published by The Foundation Press, Inc., for its series “The Pageant of a Nation.” Online via the Library of Congress. Click on the image for a better view.


William Penn never forget the outrage against him and his jurors.

When he came to America, and founded his colony, Penn's laws were a model of freedom. (Penn’s Treaty with Native Americans, based only on verbal representations, was never broken by either side.)

Immigrants flocked to Pennsylvania. As an example of his approach to government, compared to the Crown's approach, Penn reserved the death penalty for murder and treason. Britain used it for 200 different offenses.

Penn also never forgot the effects of the Conventicle Act.

By calling religious dissent "sedition," the government set up an enrichment program for itself. Sedition, a serious crime against the Crown, allowed the government to throw thousands of people into prison and take all their lands and property. Penn's wife and her family had lost their family estate through such "legal" shenanigans.

In America, thanks to William Penn, the founders of the United States had a great model to follow when they wrote the Constitution. And ... thanks to Edward Bushell and his colleagues, today's juries can reach a just result even when it is not the popular thing to do.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 01, 1999

Updated Last Revision: Jan 19, 2015

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"PENN'S LAWS" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 01, 1999. Feb 22, 2020.
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