The charter of privileges was granted by William Penn to the residents of Pennsylvania. William Penn was the founder of the province of Pennsylvania. The charter was created for all the people who dwelled in Pennsylvania and its territories. The charter brought about a unicameral governing body. The charter brought in liberty and freedom. It allowed freedom of worship for all and Christians were granted the right to serve in the government. The charter protected even accused persons or scandalous people. They were given the same concessions as their prosecutors. The charter protected life, property and marginalized people e.g. women and children (Somerville, 2006).
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Freedom of Worship
The charter granted freedom of worship to all the inhabitants of the state of Pennsylvania. The charter agrees on the fact that people even when granted all the freedoms to whatever they want, would not be happy if they are denied the freedom of worship. The charter thus allowed the freedom of sense of right and wrong to everyone’s religious vocation and worship. The charter acknowledged that God was the Almighty, the Creator and the father of all. This meant that God could be worshipped by all and there should be no restrictions to that. The charter provided for the rights of any person or persons who inhabited in the province and who acknowledged the almighty God. These kinds of people or persons were not to be prejudiced or discriminated against. They were not to be harassed for worshipping God in any religion as long as it was the Almighty God being worshipped. The charter also ensured that no religion had the right to force people to be its member and hence everyone had the right to choose whatever religion they wanted to join (Somerville, 2006).
The charter allowed those who confessed their faith to the Lord Jesus Christ to serve the government in any capacity whether executive or legislative. The charter however, restricted groups such as the Muslims and Jews who did not acknowledge their faith in Christ Jesus. It also denied rights to the Catholics since they were obedient to the Pope. Non-Quaker groups in the province and African Americans were also denied religious freedom that was granted to other groups (Somerville, 2006).
Slavery in the Colonies
Even though the charter granted liberty to all, the issue of slavery was evident. Penn’s attitude towards slavery is questionable. He was a slave owner just like his fellow Quakers. He preferred slaves to servants. This is because the slaves could be kept for a lifetime unlike servants. Penn however, released his slaves on his return to England. He also persuaded Pennsylvania’s government to enact a law that abhors the breaking up of slave families through selling of slaves. Penn could have reconciled his humanitarianism with slavery by extending the charter to the slaves too. He would have granted them freedom and a chance to live their lives without being slaves. Penn should also have given out some of his property to the slaves and their own land so that they could earn their living. Penn would also have reconciled his humanitarian ideals by advocating the abolition of slavery. Penn would also have influenced his fellow Quakers to free the slaves (Somerville, 2006).
Significance of the Charter
The charter is of great importance to the USA. The US constitution was built on this charter. The liberties it advocated for are still being enjoyed by US citizens as of today. The charter promoted co existence amongst the people. It protected private property and life. The charter has immensely contributed to the history of US. The charter protects all the liberties granted to citizens by having clauses that block any attempts to alter the charter (Isaackson, 2003).
William Penn is indeed a great man. The charter of privileges ensures that everyone has a right to something and freedom to do what they think is best for them. His ideas have evolved the conscience of men and made all equal in the eyes of the law (Isaackson, 2003).