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The Greatest Lawgiver The World Has Produced

Take a deeper look at the man who inspired America's Founding Fathers, William Penn, who was described by Thomas Jefferson as, "the greatest lawgiver the world has produced. Read Transcript


Reporter: IN 1825,

THOMAS JEFFERSON GAVE

TRIBUTE TO ONE OF AMERICA'S

FOUNDING FATHERS.

WILLIAM PENN WAS THE

GREATEST LAW-GIVER THE WORLD

HAS PRODUCED.

BEING THE FIRST IN EITHER

ANCIENT OR MODERN TIMES WHO

HAS LAID THE FOUNDATION OF

GOVERNMENT IN THE PURE AND

UNADULTERATED PRINCIPLES OF

PEACE AND RIGHT.

Reporter: HE WAS BORN

IN ENGLAND, AND AT 22, HE

JOINED THE SOCIETY OF

FRIENDS, ALSO KNOWN AS

QUAKERS.

A DECISION THAT CHANGED HIS

HEART AND MIND.

WILLIAM PENN OPERATED OUT

OF A LENS OF PLEASING THE

FATHER.

Reporter: DARYL FIELDS,

AUTHOR OF "THE SEED OF A

NATION," SAYS PENN WAS THE

FIRST TO HAVE THE IDEA OF A

SELF-GOVERNING PEOPLE, BUT

ONLY THROUGH THE PRINCIPLES

OF THE BIBLE.

THAT IDEA WAS THE SEED THAT

FORMED A NATION.

THAT'S A HUGE PRECEDENT.

THAT'S WHAT I THINK

JEFFERSON SAW.

THAT'S WHAT I THINK WE'RE

SEEING YET TODAY.

Reporter: ON MARCH

4th, 1681, KING CHARLES

THE SECOND GAVE PENN FULL

AUTHOR OVER THE PENNSYLVANIA

GOVERNMENT.

THE NEXT DAY HE PENNED A

LETTER TO A FRIEND WITH

THESE WORDS: "MY GOD, WHOM

HAS GIVEN IT ME THROUGH MANY

DIFFICULTIES, WILL, I

BELIEVE, BLESS IT AND MAKE

IT THE SEED OF A NATION.

I SHALL HAVE A TENDER CARE

TO THE GOVERNMENT, THAT IT

BE WELL-LAID AT FIRST."

Reporter: PENN LIVED

ONLY FOUR YEARS AT

PENNSYLVANIA.

IT WAS A SYMBOL OF HIS

WEALTH AND HIS AFFLUENCE,

AND SOME COULD ARGUE HIS

SEED OF GOVERNMENT.

SO IT WAS BIG AND NEEDED TO

BE SUCH.

Reporter: DOUG MILLER

IS THE ADMINISTRATOR OF

PENN'S MANOR.

PENN SET UP A COLONY

BASED ON RELIGIOUS

TOLERATION.

HE FOUND THIS WONDERFUL

NICHE.

PENN BEING AN EDUCATED MAN,

WAS PA PAMPHLETING IN

DIFFERENT COUNTRIES AND

LANGUAGES.

MANY PEOPLE WANTED A FRESH

START, AND PENN OFFERED THAT

HERE.

Reporter: IN 1751, HE

WROTE PENNSYLVANIA'S FIRST

CONSTITUTION.

THIS DOCUMENT WOULD LATER

BECOME THE FOUNDATION FOR

AMERICA'S BILL OF RIGHTS.

IT IS BASED IN FREEDOM.

IT'S SOCIAL JUSTICE, CIVIL

EQUALITY, RELIGIOUS FREEDOM,

REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT --

IT HAD ALL OF THE THINGS

THAT WERE NON-EXISTENT IN

THE WORLD AT THAT TIME.

BY THE MID-18th CENTURY,

PHILADELPHIA IS THE ECONOMIC

EPICENTER OF THIS

HEMISPHERE.

MORE COMMERCE IS GOING IN

AND OUT OF PHILADELPHIA THAN

ANY OTHER POINT ON THIS SIDE

OF THE ATLANTIC.

IT WAS HUGE.

AT LEAST A PORTION OF THAT

WE OWE TO THE STRUCTURE THAT

PENN PUT IN PLACE.

Reporter: 50IARIE 50

YEARS LATER, IN

PHILADELPHIA, THEY HAD THE

LIBERTY BELL, IN HONOR OF

WILLIAM PENN.

45 YEARS LATER, DURING

THE READING OF THE

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE,

THAT BELL RINGS OUT TO BRING

THE PEOPLE INTO THE COURT

YARDS FOR THE READING OF

THEIR SEVERANCE FROM THE

MOTHER COUNTRY.

Reporter: THE BELL WAS

INSCRIBED WITH THESE WORDS:

"PROCLAIM LIBERTY THROUGHOUT

THE LAND AND TO ALL OF THE

INHABITANTS THEREOF."

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