(which includes the full text of a letter written in his own hand)
"William Penn was a rare and special person. His Indian policies reflected the unique blend of the practical, the pious, and the decent that was Penn's mind. Recent scholarship has tended to compensate for previous hagiography by emphasizing his political side. Nevertheless he was a devoutly believing member of the Religious Society of Friends - so renowned that there are people today who can name him as such though they would stammer before being able to name a second Quaker - and there is no understanding Penn or his colony without taking the Friendly faith into account. Penn's Quaker faith was his reason for being interested in the New World. Quakers were pacificists and tolerationists. Pennsylvania became a colony without an army or militia, in which persons of all religions - even Catholics, Jews, and heathen Indians - could worship without official hindrance. The Quakers launched no military campaigns and therefore required no Indian warriors to aid in such campaigns, and they sent out no missions to persuade or persecute the tribes into religious factionalism.
"Courtier, mystic, spendthrift, great magnate, intellectual, and practical man of the world, Penn was an extremely complex man, and the complexities of his character were almost matched by the variety of his functions as True and Absolute Proprietary of Pennsylvania. He had refused a title, on principle, but he was a great lord in powers. By the terms of his charter, Penn held the province as a feudal fief. He had two distinct rights: he owned all the land, subject to the performance of his feudal due to the crown (no mention of Indian right intruding in the charter), and he had full power to govern so long as his laws were consented to by the colony's freemen and were consistent with the laws of England. Insofar as law could prescribe, Indian relations were absolutely under Penn's personal control. As governor he had full power to conclude treaties with the Indians on his own authority, and in secrecy if he so desired. As proprietor, he voluntarily obliged himself to extinguish all native claims to the land in order to sell his own patents of land 'free from any Indian incumbrance.'
"Penn's interest in the Indians transcended his legal powers and responsibilities. He saw them in five distinguishable aspects: souls to be shown the Truth by example, exotic objects for study, native owners of the soil, objects of government, and trading partners. He founded no missions, believing instead in converting the Indians by a display of righteousness in practice. He followed the precepts of the founder of Quakerism by admonishing the first settlers of Pennsylvania, 'Don't abuse [the Indians], but let them have Justice, and you win them,' ending with the comment, 'It were miserable indeed for us to fall under the just censure of the poor Indian Conscience, while we make profession of things so far transcending." Such a humble equation of consciences was rarely to be found in the seventeenth or eighteenth century.
"To say that Penn was interested in the Indians as objects for study is inadequate. On his first visit to his colony, he 'made it my business to understand' the Delaware language, 'that I might not want an Interpreter on any occasion.' In itself this fact distinguished Penn sharply from upperclass Englishmen in all the colonies...