Statue Of PA Founder William Penn Won’t Be Removed From Public Park Following Backlash
William Penn statue
John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

The National Park Service announced that it is reversing course on removing a statue of Pennsylvania founder William Penn from a historical park due to massive backlash against the decision. 

The organization announced on Friday that it would remove both the statue and a replica of Penn’s home from Welcome Park, a recreation area within Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia.

Per the original announcement, the NPS was seeking “to rehabilitate Welcome Park to provide a more welcoming, accurate, and inclusive experience for visitors.”

The stated replacement for Penn’s statue and home included an homage to American Indians.

“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,” the update said.

The NPS invited public comment on the change, which led them to scrap the plans altogether following public outrage.

“The preliminary draft proposal, which was released prematurely and had not been subject to a complete internal agency review, is being retracted. No changes to the William Penn statue are planned,” an updated NPS statement said.

Critics of the plan, including politicians, expressed their opinions online. 

State Representative Martina White (R-PA) wrote on Facebook, “I hope they will find a way to incorporate the statue into the renovations,” while inviting constituents to share their opinions with the NPS on the proposed changes.

A lot of the backlash came via X.

“It started with Confederate statues. Now they’ve arrived at William Penn,” entrepreneur Michael Seifert wrote in one popular post. “It doesn’t matter that he supported religious freedom, opposed slavery, and treated Native Americans with respect. It was always about replacing the history of the United States.”

Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Josh Shapiro seemed to agree with the NPS’s course reversal, writing in an X post, “My team has been in contact with the Biden Administration throughout the day to correct this decision. I’m pleased Welcome Park will remain the rightful home of this William Penn statue — right here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Penn founded.”


“Yay!” X owner Elon Musk commented, while another commenter thought “the only reason why this decision was stopped is because the public got wind of it and became rightfully outraged.”

“Make no mistake: the Biden Administration tried to tear down a statue of William Penn as part of its toxic obsession with ‘equity.’  They only stopped because they got caught,” Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) wrote of the controversy.

William Penn was an influential Quaker who founded the Province of Pennsylvania during the British colonial era. The deeply religious Englishman was an advocate of democracy and religious freedom and was well-known for making fair and lasting treaties with native tribes as he helped establish the commonwealth. 

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