Charter of Privileges and the Promotional Descriptions of Pennsylvania

Home Education Unit Plans William Penn and the Founding of Pennsylvania Charter of Privileges and the Promotional Descriptions of Pennsylvania

Charter of Privileges and the Promotional Descriptions of Pennsylvania

This lesson will use the student’s introductory knowledge of William Penn to begin a language arts lesson examining some of his writing. This lesson will teach students how to write persuasively as well as understand what rules governed the new inhabitants of Pennsylvania. It will do so by reading William Penn’s promotional descriptions of Pennsylvania and the Charter of Privileges. The lesson will culminate in the students writing their own persuasive essay on a new territory they will be settling; their essay must persuade the reader to want to live there based on the privileges granted. If time permits, students can vote on which territory would be the best option and why that particular essay persuaded them the most.

Essential Questions

What role does analysis have in historical construction?


Students will be able to:
• Explain how William Penn wrote persuasively when he advertised for settlers as well as in his Charter of Privileges that governed the new colony.
• Write a persuasive essay.

Suggested Instructional Procedures

1. Begin the class by reviewing what was previously learned about William Penn

2. Next, add the new vocabulary to the old vocabulary words. This can be done in pairs or as a class so students can understand what each of these words mean prior to the lesson.

3. After going through the vocabulary, begin reviewing William Penn’s promotional descriptions of Pennsylvania.

• Prior to reading it together as a class, make sure to go over that Penn was writing to the people of England and telling them that life will be better if they join his colony in Pennsylvania. Explain to the students that the goal of this writing was to persuade the English that they should move to Pennsylvania which was a huge undertaking at that time.
• Be mindful to tell students that the language is much different than what we are used to and that people talked differently. If helpful, while reading aloud, make sure to stop and explain what Penn meant if students seem confused.
• Also, when using the typed version of Penn’s writing, be sure they understand the typed version is not William Penn’s original writing.  It is a transcript or copy. Be sure to show them what the original writing would have looked like as well. This will set up the context for students to understand the historical background more clearly.

4. Give each student a copy of the promotional description and read it together as a class. While reading, have students highlight or underline any descriptive words used. In addition to highlighting the descriptive words, make sure to point out any similarities and differences to life today. Are these words you would use to describe Pennsylvania today? Why or why not?

5. After reading through Penn’s promotion, take out the descriptive words handout. This handout mentions several items discussed by William Penn and, as a class, will find how Penn described each of these things.

• For example “Air” was described as sweet and clear. Discuss as a class how it is important to use descriptive words in order to persuade somebody to agree with you. If Penn had said “In Pennsylvania we have air,” most people would have replied that there is air in England too so why move?
• Ask the students how the advertiser persuades the audience to want that product. Are advertisements today similar or different to the ones presented by William Penn?

6. Once the students have a grasp on the use of descriptive words in persuasion, move on the Charter of Privileges.

• Prior to reading the charter, remind students that Penn wanted this colony so that he could escape religious persecution as a Quaker. Therefore, the Charter of Privileges granted religious toleration to all Pennsylvania inhabitants. This idea became a useful took in persuading people to move as well as later influencing our national constitution.  You may need to take time to discuss what a "privilege" is.

7. Have the students look over the Charter of Privileges themselves or as a class depending on students’ abilities. Make sure to highlight the most important points, such as the arrangement of the government and religious toleration.

• If students are reading on their own, you can use the abridged charter handout which can be found on and only highlights certain sections of the Charter to make it easier for the students to read.

8. Once the students have read the document, make sure they fill out a document analysis on the Charter and then as a class discuss the following questions as well as any other questions which might arise after reading.

• Based on your knowledge of Penn was there any privilege that surprised or confused you?
• Why was this charter so important?
• How did this charter persuade people to want to leave England and move 3336 miles to a brand new colony?

9. Students may write a persuasive essay to get people to move to Philadelphia now, or they can create an essay for people to move to a new colony that they will create.

10. An alternative would be to have students pair off into groups and each create their own colony with a charter of privileges and have them compose a persuasive paragraph on why people should move there.


Charter: Official document granting, or show the limits of, the rights and duties of a group.
Persuade: To win over by argument or earnest request.
Privileges: A right or liberty granted as a favor or benefit.
Promote: To advertise or help something grow and develop.