Review Of "The Political Writings Of William Penn" By W. Penn, Annotated By A. R. Murphy
Using the 1726 edition of A Collection of the Works of William Penn, Murphy (Univ. of Chicago Divinity School) has reprinted with annotations 12 of Penn's most significant works on religious toleration. All except one date from 1670 to 1687, the period in Restoration England when Quakers and other dissenters from the Church of England experienced religious persecution. Until now Penn's tracts have been republished only in editions of his works. The essays presented here in chronological order show how Penn's emphases shifted over time. He drew upon the history of England, the nature of religion, the results of persecution, and a pragmatic desire to strengthen the kingdom to make his case for toleration. However none of these tracts shows any influence from the Pennsylvania experience of religious freedom. So we do not know whether Penn saw any implications from Pennsylvania's practice of religious liberty as distinguished from religious toleration with an established church. Murphy's introduction and explanatory footnotes are helpful in clarifying Penn's meaning, but readers will need a good background in English religious and political history to assess the contribution of these tracts. Recommended for advanced undergraduates and graduate students, and for purchase by libraries specializing in English, Colonial American, and religious history.
J. William Frost.
"Review Of "The Political Writings Of William Penn" By W. Penn, Annotated By A. R. Murphy".