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William Penn Arrives in Philadelphia - This Day in History - October 29, 1682

Posted on Friday, October 29, 2021

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On This Day in History, October 29, 1682, William Penn first arrives in what will become the City of Philadelphia

William Penn


On August 31, 1682, William Penn set out for America. Penn had recently been granted a large tract of land from King Charles II as a payment of a debt that King Charles owed Penn's late father. The land had been held by the Lenni Lanape for thousands of years, but in more recent years the land had also been home to Sweedish Settlements which were subsequently taken by the Dutch following their victory over the Sweedes in the Second Northern War in 1655 and incorporated in the Dutch Colony of New Netherland. Two decades later, the Dutch handed the colonies over to the English following their defeat in the Third Anglo-Dutch War in 1674. The land that was granted to Penn contained much of the land contained within the present day states of Pennsylvania and Delaware and was to become a new English Colony named Pennsylvania in honor of Penn's deceased father, who was an admiral in the English Navy. 

Penn sailed out to visit his colony along with dozens of others who were traveling with him aboard the ship "Welcome," many of whom were fellow persecuted Quakers. Penn's voyage to America was troubled as it took "Welcome" 57 days to reach America, which was slow even by 1682 standards. There was also a small pox outbreak on the ship that killed nearly a third of the passengers. But finally on October 27, 1682, Penn arrived in America as his ship landed in New Castle, Delaware. The next day Penn continued up the Delaware River and arrived in Upland, which he renamed Chester. It is actually unclear how long Penn stayed in Chester, but it is believed that the following day on October 29, 1682, Penn arrived for the first time in the city he would name Philadelphia. 

Philadelphia was named by Penn after an ancient Greek city and translated from Greek means, "The City of Brotherly Love." In Philadelphia, Penn would conduct his "Holy Experiment" where people were welcomed to escape persecution elsewhere and experience freedom of religion. The city would quickly grow into the largest in the American Colonies. Today Penn's arrival in Philadelphia is commemorated by Penn's Landing, a park along the Delaware River Waterfront in Philadelphia, that occupies the land where Penn first stepped foot in Philadelphia.

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