Penn's Original Charter
The Quaker religion was founded by George Fox in about 1650, in England. In this period there was
constant struggle between the predominant religious groups, all of whom wished to have their religion accepted by governmental authority and be declared the state religion. Not only were there religious reasons for this, but monetary as well. The religion that was
the state religion could collect a tithe from each citizen, whether they were members of that religion or not. This caused much difficulty for those who belonged to other faiths, those who wished their hard earned money to go to the religion of their choice, rather than one chosen
for them by their ruler. By the 1600s, there were several hundred different religious sects in England, the Quakers being only one of this number.
Quakers refused to give tithes to state churches and would not take oaths to the crown, thus making them targets of any standing government. Their religious beliefs prevented them from lending any support, either personal or monetary, to any group who engaged in physical violence, for theirs was a religion that embraced pacifism. As governments kept, and used armies, Quakers could neither, by the tenants of their faith, lend support, in any way; nor
pledge allegiance to any but God, thus doubly angering the government.
In 1681 the land which is now Pennsylvania was given to William Penn to settle a huge debt owed to his father, by the King of England. William Penn, a devout Quaker, used this land grant to create Pennsylvania as a Quaker colony, thus
beginning the present day Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
This page updated on January 2, 2011