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William Penn: Liberty and Justice for All

post written by Emma Filbrun

William Penn: Liberty and Justice for All by Janet & Geoff BengeTitle: William Penn: Liberty and Justice for All
Author: Janet & Geoff Benge
Series: Heroes of History
Major Themes: England, Great Britain, Pennsylvania, William Penn
Synopsis: William Penn’s life story is told in a very readable, engaging way.

We are still really enjoying the “brown biographies”, as the Christian Heroes: Then and Now and Heroes of History series are known as in our house. We make a point to read them for bedtime stories, when Daddy can hear them, too, as he particularly enjoys them.

I realized recently that my boys had no idea who William Penn was or what he did, so when I found a copy of William Penn: Liberty and Justice for All, I decided that would be our next evening story. What a challenging story it is, too—and fascinating! I learned a lot I didn’t know about the man’s life.

William Penn was the son of an admiral in England’s navy. His family were quite important in their country, but the admiral fell into disgrace when Cromwell conquered the country. Young William’s mother owned a house in Ireland, so the family moved there until Cromwell died. During the time in Ireland, however, William heard a Quaker man speak—and his life was never the same again.

Everyone who knows anything about William Penn’s life knows that he founded the colony of Pennsylvania—but I didn’t know about his convictions that government should be based on laws, not on the whims of the king or judge. It was fascinating to see how his life experiences shaped Penn’s design for his colony, and eventually the American nation. It was also incredible to read about the injustices that were perpetrated in the courts in England.

I’m glad we have had the chance to read this book together. We all learned a lot about American history and where the ideas behind the form of government in the United States came from. I also appreciated the way history was tied together—I hadn’t known before that William Penn experienced the Great Plague and the Fire of London in 1666, as well as Cromwell’s Protectorate and Charles II being brought back from exile.

WARNING: Chapter 1, page 11 mentions torture on the rack. Chapter 2, page 16 states that the king was beheaded. Chapter 6, page 52 describes a beating by William’s father. Chapter 8, page 88 mentions more tortures that were common in England at that time.

Age Levels:

Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15


Links to buy William Penn: Liberty and Justice for All:

Amazon: Paperback | Kindle

AbeBooks: View Choices on


England, Great Britain, Pennsylvania, William Penn

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