The continued erasure of America’s historic statues continues under President Joe Biden. Late last year, a statue dedicated to reconciliation between the northern and southern states was removed from Arlington National Cemetery after a brief hold was placed on the removal by a judge.
Now, it’s the founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn, who is being cancelled.
The Penn statue that sits atop his historic home site will be removed from the property, according to the U.S. Park Service. In its place, more memorials to American Indians will be installed.
Penn was a Quaker who came to America to avoid religious persecution in England. By most accounts, he was a stellar advocate for democracy, justice, and fairness to indigenous people.
“The National Park Service proposes to rehabilitate Welcome Park to provide a more welcoming, accurate, and inclusive experience for visitors. Welcome Park was designed by the internationally acclaimed design firm Venturi & Scott Brown Associates. The park is located on the site of William Penn’s home, the Slate Roof House, and is named for the ship, Welcome, which transported Penn to Philadelphia. The design and construction of Welcome Park was funded by the Independence Historical Trust and was completed in 1982,” the Park Service said.
The proposed “rehabilitation” of Welcome Park includes “expanded interpretation of the Native American history of Philadelphia and was developed in consultation with representatives of the indigenous nations of the Haudenosaunee, the Delaware Nation, Delaware Tribe of Indians, the Shawnee Tribe, and the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma,” according to the agency.
“The reimagined Welcome Park maintains certain aspects of the original design such as the street grid, the rivers and the east wall while adding a new planted buffer on three sides, and a ceremonial gathering space with circular benches. The Penn statue and Slate Roof house model will be removed and not reinstalled. In a separate and future effort, new exhibit panels will be installed on the south site wall to replace the Penn timeline,” the Park Service said.
Penn befriended local Indians and ensured that they were paid fairly for their lands. He learned several Indian dialects in order to negotiate land deals without interpreters. Penn introduced laws in the colony that guaranteed that if an Indian was wronged by a European settler, there around be a fair trial, with both Indians and Europeans in equal numbers on the jury.
“Penn chose to acquire lands for his colony through business rather than conquest. He paid the Indians 1200 pounds for their land under the treaty, an amount considered fair, according to ushistory.org. “Voltaire praised this ‘Great Treaty’ as ‘the only treaty between those people [Indians and Europeans] that was not ratified by an oath, and that was never infringed.'”
The public is invited to submit comments on the proposed design for the “rehabilitation” of Welcome Park for a 14-day period from Jan-21, 2024, through the National Park Service’s Planning, Environment and Public Comment at https://parkplanning.nps.gov.
Comments submitted through social media, phone calls, email or mail will not be accepted.