Southeastern PA

Pa. charter on display at William Penn's home

Pa. charter on display at William Penn's home

MORRISVILLE, Pa/ - "It is the most significant document in the state archives. It is document number one. It's the founding of Pennsylvania," Pennsbury Manor Historical Director Douglas Miller explained.

Written in old English on four pages of animal skin, the original Pennsylvania charter given to William Penn from King Charles the II of England is dated March 4, 1681.

"We can think of it as the birth certificate of Pennsylvania. It's the first document in which the name 'Pennsylvania' actually occurs," Miller went on to say.

The document is unveiled only seven days a year in Harrisburg during charter week.

For the first time in over 75 years it's appropriately on display at Pennsbury Manor, the 43-acre home of William Penn in Morrisville, Bucks County.

"For a 300 year old document, it's in extraordinary shape. You can read many of the words on it," Miller went on to say.

What you won't read inside the doubled plated micro climate glass encasing is the signature of King Charles.

A 19th century civil servant trimmed it away to fit the charter into a frame.

Charles granted Penn the land to repay a debt owed to Penn's father.

Inside Pennsbury, the history of Penn comes to life, such as a posthumous Penn becoming the model for future advertisements.

"If you look at an early Quaker Oats box, you see the same posture," Miller explained.

But Douglass says Penn's true impact was that his home and the government he created became a model for religious and ethnic tolerance and for our democracy.

"On any given day when visited you would see people of different color, hear different accents and languages," Miller added.

Penn only spent four years in Pennsylvania.

His charter will only be on display this year through Sunday.

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