Our third project in Age of Exploration is one that, for me, is more difficult than it originally looked, but then again, isn’t that always the way with most projects? This particular assignment is to research one important political figure of the 17th century, but instead of just researching their life and giving a presentation on him or her, we are asked to come to a round table meeting ready to discuss our person’s political views and opinions – or at least what we think their views and opinions might be as pertaining to some questions drawn up by Mike (our Teacher). In the process of researching these people, we are also asked to write a bibliographic essay.
The person I am currently researching is William Penn. To tell the truth, there’s no real reason why I was drawn to him more than any of the other leaders on that list. Going into this project, the only thing I knew for sure about Penn was that he was a Quaker, and he founded Pennsylvania. As I began the project, I decided to make a list of what I should research and when.
My list was as follows:
1. Get basic background on William Penn
2. Get basic background on Quakerism
3. Research William Penn’s relationship to Quakerism
4. Research main events in William’s life
5. Research beliefs of William
Sadly, my list did not work out quite as well as I had hoped. Although by the end of the first week back from winter break, I had already finished steps one through four, I still have not touched much on Penn’s beliefs, especially about politics. As of today, I know that Penn governed in a very “Quaker-like” manner. By this, I mean that he tried to take a pacifistic approach to many of his treaties with the Indians residing in Pennsylvania and West Jersey, he gave the people of Pennsylvania a lot of governmental power with an expanded legislature, and, although he was very emphatic about being a Quaker, he, as most Quakers, believed in freedom of religion – especially relating to his new found colony, Pennsylvania.
Interestingly enough, most of the information (that I’ve gotten so far) about Penn’s political opinions has come from his governing style of Pennsylvania. Hopefully, though, further digging into the colonization and settlement of Pennsylvania will lead me to more on Penn’s beliefs, but for the mean time, I am left to interpret this iconic American man’s actions.