Philadelphia celebrates its founder more than any other American city, but who exactly is William Penn? For many, he is a statue atop City Hall, but Penn’s busy life reflected an era of chaotic upheaval and conflict. He is at once a radical Quaker, political prisoner, visionary city planner, absent landlord, and a slaveholder. His ideals, contradictions, and ambitions cast a long shadow across American history.
Philadelphia: The Great Experiment is a multi-format historical documentary television film and Internet project that presents the story of Philadelphia, the single most compelling stage for the unfurling and testing of American ideals. William Penn’s city was the first in the world to codify freedom of religion, individual rights, trial by jury, and a democratic assembly as the pillars of a constitution amendable by the people.