William Penn lived in England. He was a member of a religious group called the Quakers. The Quakers had no religious leaders. They believed every man was equal. All members met to worship God as equals.
The Quakers could not worship in England because they did not follow the Church of England. Many Quakers were sent to jail for not going to the Church of England.
William Penn was one of those who had been sent to jail. The King of England owed Penn's father a lot of money. Penn's father asked the King of England to give him land in America instead of the money. The King agreed.
In 1682 William Penn and his fellow Quakers came to the New World. They named their new colony Pennsylvania. This meant Penn's woods. Penn opened his land to Quakers from all over the world. Thousands came from Germany, Scotland, Ireland, and England.
Penn was also given Delaware after the English took it from the Swedes. The British governor, the Duke of York, did not want the problems of running a small colony, so he gave it to William Penn.
In 1704 Penn let it become a separate colony. The Middle Colonies of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York were called the Bread Colonies. The soil was good in this area for raising crops. Many rivers made transportation easy. The chief products of this area were grain and livestock. Vegetables, cotton, and tobacco were also grown.