Living in Colonial America Essay Example
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I am a Friends Church preacher from the colony of Pennsylvania. The locals call us Quakers. I moved to Pennsylvania from Britain and settled in the capital city of Philadelphia. We are freer to express our religion and follow our Quaker beliefs without threats of persecution or any other form of harm in this new world. I am traveling to the Southern counties of Delaware, along with my ministerial colleagues, hoping to move further south, finally ending up in Louisiana. I aim to spread the Christian gospel and the Friends doctrine to the Southern population. As we make our way South, I am pondering over my experiences in the new world, our ministry’s future, and the changing social and political environment in Pennsylvania and the entire North American colony.
Although the Quaker community found Pennsylvania precisely as promised, I found elements of the colony positive, engaging, and surprising. For instance, the British Crown, King Charles II of England, had handed over the propriety rights of the territory to William Penn, the son of a deceased businessman to whom the crown owed a significant sum of money (Pennsylvania Historical Museum and Commission). Notably, unlike his other upper-class folks, Penn is a Quaker, having joined the ministry several years ago and becoming a firm believer in our ways and doctrines. Consequently, many of us view the territory as a Quaker colony not because we are the majority but because the governing power belongs to a Quaker. For this reason, the colony is safe for Quakers and other religions. After assuming the colony’s governing rights, Penn drafted the Frame of Government, which later resulted in the Charter of Privileges as the colony’s first constitution. This constitution significantly affects our social and political life in the colony.
The Pennsylvania constitution guarantees religious liberty. Having suffered oppression in Britain, Penn desired a society where everyone could practice their religion without fearing persecution or intimidation from the state (Sahle 33). Resultantly, the laws protect the rights and freedoms of worship and belief. This free environment has led to the migration of people from different religions into the state, increasing its diversity. Pennsylvania has many Anglicans, Catholics, Baptists, Mennonites, and Presbyterians (Sonderlund). Thus, Pennsylvania is a free-for-all province. The constitution also provides the governance system.
Though Pennsylvania is under the crown and part of the British Empire, the proprietary rights belong to Penn. Under this arrangement, Penn appoints the state’s deputy governor, referred to as the deputy governor, since the crown considers him the governor (Penn 172). However, in Pennsylvania, we call this deputy governor the governor because Penn spends most of his time away from the territory. Besides the governor, the Charter of Privileges also provides an assembly with representation from all the colony’s counties. The law provides equal representation to the lower and upper counties, allowing every free male to cast a single vote in the election (Penn 172). This assembly offers some democratic representation in the colony, allowing the people to participate in the governance. As a result of the constitution, the governance and religious aspects influence the local custom.
Since I belong to the Friends congregation and live among a community of Quakers, the local custom derives from our religious beliefs and doctrines. Firstly, we believe in restraint and simplicity (Sahle 23). As a result, the community’s language and dressing represent this simplicity. Additionally, our beliefs support non-violence and Christian teachings, so we do not bear arms or go to war (Sahle 23). Besides our cultures, there are general societal traditions in the colony. For instance, slavery is a norm, with white masters buying, keeping, and selling black slaves. However, our church believes that the master must support their slave’s religious needs along with our doctrines (Sonderlund). Nonetheless, other cultural elements are based on the Christian religion since, despite the numerous denominations, the fundamentally shared view is the Christian one. Celebrations, including Easter and Christmas, derive from the biblical doctrines, indicating that Christian beliefs mainly provide a basis for the traditions and customs. As I travel to the south, I envision this social environment for other colonies.
Generally, as a preacher, my goal is to spread the gospel to other settlers in the colony. However, I envision a supportive and receptive environment for religious diversity in other areas similar to Philadelphia, especially for my fellow Quakers who faced a very harsh environment in Britain. It is essential to adopt the guaranteed religious freedom in our Charter of Privileges in other states. Penn’s vision for Pennsylvania can help other settlers create a new world that welcomes everyone and allows them to set up a home and be comfortable. Furthermore, the democratic system in the constitution is an example that other states can follow to promote an inclusive society where everyone matters. Thus, as the society changes and the calls for independence intensify, Pennsylvania’s actions should set an example for other colonies in promoting a better, God-loving society.
Penn, William. “Charter of Privileges to the Province and Counties of Pennsylvania.” American Religion: Religion in the New Nation, edited by David Turley, Taylor & Francis, 1998. pp. 171-185.
Pennsylvania Historical Museum and Commission. 1681-1776: The Quaker Province, 2021, www.phmc.state.pa.us/portal/communities/pa-history/1681-1776.html. Accessed 8 Dec. 2021.
Sahle, Esther. Quakers in the British Atlantic World, C. 1660-1800. Boydell & Brewer, 2021.
Sonderlund, Jean R. Colonial Era. The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, 2017, philadelphiaencyclopedia.org/archive/colonial-philadelphia/. Accessed 8 Dec. 2021.