Friday, October 15, 2010

What Is Penn's Woods?

I've just caught up on Feedjit with a Fort Loudon visitor who wants to know the history of Penn's Woods. Sorry--I just assumed everybody knew about Penn's Woods, but I guess I may have been luckier in my teachers than some.
Penn's Woods=Pennsylvania. So the history of Penn's Woods is the history of Pennsylvania.
So why not just call it that?
Well, because back in Penn's time people thought Latin was classy, especially for names of places, book titles, anything official. Many people knew Latin in addition to their national language.
William Penn knew he had been granted a vast acreage that was heavily forested. He wanted to call it "Sylvania," which is Latin for "forest" or "wood".
But King Charles II wanted more. He wanted to honor Penn's father, Admiral William Penn, to whom he was indebted both for stellar service in the Royal Navy and for at least one crucial advance of money. He suggested the province be named "Pennsylvania"--"Penn's Wood" or "Penn's Woods", or "Penn's Forest."
Since the King was making the grant of land available (it was payment for at least part of the debt he owed young Penn's father), William, Jr. readily agreed. The state's name is not a salute to the ego of our founder, then; the place really is named after his father.
I am sorry it took so long to attend to this question. If you have questions, I believe it will be easier to enter them in the comment box below, and I will be able to help you much sooner.

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