William Penn is justly famous for his part in the political development of colonial America. Yet he was also one of the leading Quaker theologians of the seventeenth century and the most important translator of Quaker religious thought into social and political reality, and his life and works cannot be fully understood without a knowledge of his religious hopes and ideals. Melvin Endy goes beyond the political histories, biographies, and histories of Quakerism to provide a comprehensive account of Penn's religious thought, its influence on his political thought and activity, and the significance of his life and thought to the Quaker movement.
His assessment of Penn's place in the Quaker movement and his discussion of Penn's thought in relation to Puritan, Spiritualist. Anglican, and pre-Enlightenment developments has led to an understanding of Quakerism that differs from the recent tendency to stress strongly its Puritan origins and affinities. Because of the revisionist nature of this interpretation and the author's conviction that early Quaker thought has never been adequately related to its intellectual milieu, this study of Penn has been developed into a vehicle for a new analysis of aspects of early Quaker thought. Finally, the Pennsylvania venture is examined and assessed as a laboratory in which the vision of a society run according to the principles of a spiritual religion was put to the test.
Originally published in 1973.
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