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The Contagious CityThe Politics of Public Health in Early Philadelphia$
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Simon Finger

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801448935

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801448935.001.0001

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“An Infancy of Government”

“An Infancy of Government”

Population, Authority, and the Problem of Proprietorship

(p.21) 2 “An Infancy of Government”
The Contagious City

Simon Finger

Cornell University Press

This chapter illustrates the problems Penn faced in colonizing Pennsylvania. When he departed the colony in 1684, he was confident that his plan was solid enough and his settlers public-spirited enough that his direct supervision was unnecessary. However, both inclination and obligation limited Penn's ability to impose his plan against the will of his colonists. People ambitious enough to traverse the ocean were unwilling to accede meekly to proprietary demands, and the proprietor ultimately found himself unable to make any demands at all upon a population that came to his colony for their own reasons. With his authority further attenuated by distance, Penn could only rebuke his colonists and lament his impotence as Philadelphia came to embody his most hated aspects of both wilderness and city.

Keywords:   Philadelphia, colonization, proprietorship, proprietary demands, William Penn

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