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Library of CongressJohn Locke is considered one of the most important political philosophers in Western thought. Works such as An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and his Two Treatises of Government were political essays that influenced thought during the English Glorious Revolution of 1688-89 and thereafter. His theories of government revolved around the idea that government derived its powers from the consent of the governed, and that any government should enact laws that serve the common good of society. This idea of where the power of government is derived, and what purpose it should serve, influenced the thinking of William Penn during the period in which he granted Pennsylvania the Charter of Privileges in 1701.
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Pennsylvania Charter of Privileges
Historical Society of PennsylvaniaThe Pennsylvania Charter of Privileges, granted by William Penn in 1701, gave many powers to the colonial government of Pennsylvania. These powers included the ability to enact its own laws and appoint its own legislative leaders. Penn granted these powers before leaving Pennsylvania because he feared that the power of the monarchy would erode the powers of the colonial government and would force Pennsylvania into becoming a royal colony. In 1812, as part of an initiative to preserve historical documents, members of the American Philosophical Society secured the donation of the original charter from a Philadelphia resident, Joseph Anthony. The charter remains in the collection of the society.