Friday, July 1, 2011

chicken wings, petroleum and pacifists

Not William Penn
I've never been to Pennsylvania but it borders Ohio on the East and the first immigrants to Ohio came from Pennsylvania in 1788 to found the first permanent settlement of the Northwest Territory, Marietta OH.
When you think of oil rigs in the US you probably think of Texas right? It was in fact Pennsylvania that had the first US oil boom in 1859 led by a man named Edwin Drake who had the radical idea of drilling for oil. People thought he was a madman.

Pennsylvania was founded in the 1680's in part by the Quaker convert William Penn, a man who because of his beliefs worked justly with the Delaware (Lenape) Indians and did not try to convert them to Christianity while other colonists like the Puritans lied and stole from them out of a believed moral superiority. This colony's name, which William disapproved of, actually came via King Charles II after Penn's father and not after William who was a bit embarrassed about the whole thing.

Pennsylvania is known as the Quaker State because of this "The Religious Society of Friends" and it is for these reasons we have Quaker State Oil (now owned by Pennzoil).
Quakers opposed religious ritual, formal religious leaders, taking oaths, violence, war and military service and believed in women's equality at a time when one could be whipped, killed or imprisoned for advocating such radical ideas. People thought Quakers were dangerous heretics.

William Penn
The wings restaurant chain Quaker Steak and Lube is based out of Pennsylvania too. I don't think Penn would have approved of the drinking, fancy hot sauce and idle amusements there. Quakers back then still had a few Puritan-like outlooks despite their progressiveness. It was the 17th century after all.

Daniel Boone was raised as a Quaker in Pennsylvania. Susan B Anthony, Thomas Paine, Annie Oakley, James Dean and surprisingly Richard Nixon were all raised in part as Quakers as well. History can sometimes be a paradox.

Like other historical legends, Penn had his flaws but I can't help but think that we could have used more people like him back then.

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