William Penn, Quaker Hero by Hildegarde Dolson

One of the Landmark series of non-fiction histories and biographies, William Penn, Quaker Hero is a very readable biography of a perseverant and courageous man. There’s not much in the book about what the Quakers (Society of Friends) actually believed, nor does the book really explain why they were so hated and persecuted. But it does show a man who came to his beliefs with much investigation and forethought and who clung to those beliefs with a strength and tenacity that would put most Christians in the United States during the twenty-first century to shame.

I posted this famous quotation from William Penn on my Facebook the other day when I read it in the book:

“My prison shall be my grave before I will budge a jot; for I owe my conscience to no mortal man.” William Penn, 1668

Any guesses as to what contemporary news story this declaration reminded me of?

I would probably not agree completely with Mr. Penn as to theology or ecclesiology, just as I don’t agree with Mrs. Davis and her theology or the details of her conduct in regard to issuing marriage licenses. However, I do admire them both for their courage and trust in the Lord to sustain them in following their conscience rather than the orders of an unjust government.

Getting back to Penn, he was a quite admirable man, a bit lax and inattentive about money matters, but absolutely a good and faithful husband, a conscientious governor, and a brave dissenter who rescued other Quakers from imprisonment and endured prison himself to stand for the principles of democracy, religious freedom, and trial by jury. I would be proud to have my children read about his life and come to admire him.

Ms. Dolson’s writing is complemented by the illustrations of Leonard Everett Fisher. I love Fisher’s woodcut silhouette illustrations. Such a talented artist. Whoa, I looked, and Mr. Fisher is still living (b.1924). He’s illustrated more than 250 books. “Fisher has also designed 10 United States postage stamps including 8 Bicentennial issues, 1975 Stamped Envelope Liberty Tree and the 1978 commemorative ‘Legend of Sleepy Hollow.'” (Wikipedia)

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