William Penn and James II, 1685–1688
The accession of James II paved the way for William Penn to play an increasingly prominent political role. Liberty of conscience appeared closer than ever, under a sympathetic king who cultivated Penn’s personal involvement in advancing his tolerationist program of repealing penal legislation and the Test Acts. In insisting that legitimate laws are made by consent-based political institutions, and that they ought to be motivated by civil interest and the common good, Penn was able to endorse immediate toleration through the king’s prerogative powers and simultaneously urge the legitimation of James’s Declarations by Parliament. However, Penn’s association with James would bring about his downfall, as he quickly became identified with an unpopular (and, after 1688, deposed) ruler. This chapter elaborates Penn’s high hopes for James, his theoretical and practical contributions to the tolerationist effort, and the eventual downfall of the campaign for liberty of conscience and James’s reign more generally.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.