In visioning a mecca for trade and religious freedom based on the universal principle of love, over a period of time, Penn mapped out a two-mile wide rectangular grid perfectly spaced with roadways, lawns, gardens, and waterways. He believed that by creating the infrastructure of a “greene country towne” with more open space and wider streets (100’) would prevent the risk of fire like the devastation that he had seen in his native London. Whether communities grew as cities or remained as towns, the formation of government relied on the democratic standards of law. William Penn and his followers understood this and it’s those ideals that served as inspiration for the framing of the US Constitution almost a century later. In fact, Penn was one of the earliest advocates that expressed that the American colonies should be unified as a country. He considered the entire human family bound as one harmonious entity.
Across the banks of the Delaware River, the wild terrain of New Jersey was divided into two provinces: East Jersey and West Jersey. East Jersey was under the control of Sir George Carteret whereas West Jersey was molded into William Penn’s Holy Experiment as a sanctuary for Quakers. In the beginning, government officials were straddled with arduous tasks involving abundant claims of land ownership, but gradually that changed with the creation of specific land councils. With these matters cast aside, leaders would delve into drafting one of the first documents in the colonies that embodied the separation of Church and State. Known as Concessions and Agreements, it also granted the right to vote for women and freed blacks, with the caveat that their financial statements equated to least 50 pounds sterling of English currency. From 1674 until 1702, a great line existed between Carteret’s land and Quaker territory. Its backbone served as the northeastern border of Burlington County, which was formed in 1694. As with William Penn’s prediction for the colonies, and the embracement of mankind, the English Crown pressured the provincial governments to bring New Jersey together as a single colony. Life remained hard among settlers of different faiths and cultures but freedom, as the common bond, endured.
So how does the genius of William Penn, the Society of Friends, the roots of Philadelphia, and the thirst for freedom, unite with the theme of Bordentown’s inception? Two words: Joseph Borden.