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INV-23806 WILLIAM PENN Autograph Letter Signed to James Logan. n.p. [London?], June 27, 1706. 1 p., 6¼ x 7½ in. bifolium with integral address leaf with panel in Penn’s hand. 1706-06-27

Penn, writing from England, asks his trusted secretary in Philadelphia to assist Thomas Haywood regarding his lands and debts. Penn was in the midst of his own ongoing dispute about ownership of all of Pennsylvania, which had originated with the crowning of William and Mary in 1688, and trumped-up charges of treason due to Penn’s championing of religious freedom, which led to an opportunity for Penn’s manager to, in effect, embezzle the entire colony from him. (See below for more details). A month after Penn wrote this letter, Logan advises Penn to avoid ruin by selling the government “for a valuable consideration” as the only “probable method of clearing thy debts.” 

Penn did not heed Logan’s advice, and the court placed Penn in debtor’s prison from January 1707 to August 1708. Penn eventually settled the Ford claim with a payment of £7,600, and then began negotiations to sell the colony to the Crown. Unfortunately, a series of strokes from 1711 to 1713 interrupted his negotiations, and he died in poverty. His family (after its own dispute between step-sons) retained ownership of the colony of Pennsylvania until the American Revolution.

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