Philadelphia Legal Scene
The American legal profession grew up in this town, creating institutions and traditions that set the style for everyone else. Boston, New York and Washington have lots of influential lawyers, but Philadelphia shapes the legal profession.
Quakers: William Penn
Although Ben Franklin gets more ink lately, William Penn deserves at least equal rank among the most remarkable men who ever lived.
The characteristic American behavior called volunteerism got its start with Benjamin Franklin's Junto, and has been a source of comment by foreign visitors ever since. It's still a very active force.
Historical Motor Excursion North of Philadelphia
The narrow waist of New Jersey was the upper border of William Penn's vast land holdings, and the outer edge of Quaker influence. In 1776-77, Lord Howe made this strip the main highway of his attempt to subjugate the Colonies.
It was a signal and blessed providence which first induced so rare a genius, so excellent and qualified a man as Penn, to obtain and settle such a great tract as Pennsylvania, say 40,000 square miles, as his proper domains. It was a bold conception; and the courage was strong which led him to propose such a grant to himself, in lieu of payments due to his father. He besides manifested the energy and influence of his character in court negotiations, although so unlikely to be a successful courtier by his profession as a Friend, in that he succeeded to attain the grant even against the will and influence of the Duke of York himself who, as he owned New York, desired also to possess the region of Pennsylvania as the right and appendage of his province.
"This memorable event in history, this momentous concern to us, the founding of Pennsylvania, was confirmed to William Penn the Great Seal on the 5th of January, 1681."
-John F. Watson,
Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania in the Olden Time
Originally published: Thursday, February 17, 2000; most-recently modified: Wednesday, June 05, 2019