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William Penn Statue

Located atop City Hall at 1 Penn Square East, Philadelphia, PA 19107

 

William Penn’s statue atop City Hall faces the direction of Penn’s Landing. He appropriately presides over the City of Brotherly Love. Up until the 1970s, no building could be higher than the brim of Penn’s hat so as to honor the city’s founder. The central theme of William Penn’s leadership was good government coupled with religious liberty. On the cover page of Penn’s defense of religious liberty, he placed the verse Matthew 7:12: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (KJV). Penn wanted his city of brotherly love to be governed by Christ’s golden rule which was at the heart of his concept of religious liberty. He had been persecuted for his religion, having been jailed in the Tower of London for his Quaker street preaching. By following the Golden Rule, he knew he couldn’t justly persecute others for their religion.

The concept of religious liberty was developed and defended in America by two clergymen: William Penn of Philadelphia, and before Penn, Roger Williams of Rhode Island. This freedom is established by the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Sadly, this foundational freedom is still unknown to half of the inhabitants of our world today.