On Monday, the National Parks Service rescinded a controversial plan for a redesign of Welcome Park in Philadelphia that would remove the statue of William Penn and the model of his house. Penn was the founder of the Pennsylvania Colony in 1681 and later the City of Philadelphia. Welcome Park is named after the ship that brought Penn to Philadelphia and sits atop the land where Penn’s house stood. In short, he is integral to the park, the city, and the state.
The NPS originally intended to remove the statue to “provide a more welcoming, accurate, and inclusive experience for visitors.” Backlash quickly followed, with many conservatives rightly denouncing this latest erasure of history by the Biden Administration. Representative Brian Cutler of the Pennsylvania State House said it was “another sad example of the left in this country scraping the bottom of the barrel of wokeism to advance an extreme ideology and a nonsensical view of history.”
The fact that removing Penn’s statue was even considered is troubling. It shows that Biden Administration officials either have a vicious desire to erase the pillars of America’s heritage or they are just historically illiterate. (We have to assume Joe Biden, a native of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was unaware of this decision.) Penn was a man born of privilege who identified with a mistreated religious minority, the Quakers. He became a Quaker himself and established the Pennsylvania Colony as their haven. But Penn’s vision for the Colony went beyond protecting just Quakers. He supported religious and political freedom. He had relatively good relations and honest dealings with the local Indians.
Yet his statue’s removal was supposed to prepare the park for celebrations of the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 2026. William Penn championed religious liberty and the equality of man, and he was committed to the “holy experiment” of democracy. His ideas for the government of Pennsylvania were studied by America’s Founding Fathers who signed the Declaration. It is shocking to even have to write in defense of a statue of William Penn in a national park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but here we are. It would have been almost unthinkable even a decade ago.
There is a positive side to this sorry incident. Although the Left wants, in time, to remove all monuments to the great men and women who built America, they will back down when pressured. William Penn was preserved for now, but we must be ready for their next attempt to erase America’s heritage.
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