Chapter 1: PENNSYLVANIA
The state of Pennsylvania is one of the Middle Atlantic States, and one of the thirteen original states of the United States. It entered the Union on December twelve, seventeen eighty seven, making it second after Delaware. Pennsylvania means “Penn’s woodland.” It was named in honour of Admiral William Penn, whose son, William Penn, founded the colony as a haven for members of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, and other religious minorities in sixteen eighty two. The state is known as the Quaker State, and is also referred to as the Keystone State. This term was apparently first used because of the state’s political importance, though it is also appropriate because of its location in the middle of the thirteen original states. With six states to the north and six to the south, Pennsylvania was the keystone in an arch of states.
Before Europeans arrived in what is now Pennsylvania, several major Native American groups inhabited the area. In the eastern river valleys lived Algonquian-speaking peoples, including the Delaware, who called themselves the Lenni Lenape, meaning original people. Along the Susquehanna River were the Susquehanna, a group who spoke an Iroquoian language. Originally living in the Wyoming Valley along the upper Susquehanna, the Susquehanna later moved to the lower Susquehanna River basin, until they were mostly absorbed into the Delaware and Iroquois in the sixteen seventies.
Less well-known native peoples existed in the western part of Pennsylvania. In the late seventeenth century the Shawnee began to migrate into Pennsylvania, and in the early eighteenth century the Tuscarora and the Nanticoke passed through on their way north to settle among the Iroquois. By that time the Iroquois Confederacy, cantered in what is now New York, had established dominance over most of the native groups from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River and from the Saint Lawrence River to the Tennessee River, including nearly all the native peoples living in Pennsylvania. For many years, European settlers in Pennsylvania lived at peace with the native peoples, who exerted an important influence on the colony. William Penn, the founder of the colony, treated the Native Americans as equals and scrupulously paid for land received from the local chiefs. In a treaty negotiated in sixteen eighty two in Philadelphia, he established a peace and friendship that lasted half a century. Because the Native Americans aided the early settlers, Penn’s colony suffered no periods of hardship and starvation, which were common in other colonies. The native groups’ trails were the original routes by which traders and settlers reached the interior. But later conflicts, mostly over settlement of traditional native lands, forced the eventual migration of most Native Americans from the state.
Much of present-day Pennsylvania was originally included in the land grant for the Virginia colony given in sixteen zero six to the London Company. About sixteen fifteen and sixteen sixteen French and Dutch explorers travelled parts of Pennsylvania. Étienne Brûlé of France claimed to have explored the Susquehanna River from the north, while Dutch Captain Cornelius Hendricksen sailed up the Delaware River to its junction with the Schuylkill River. The Dutch, with headquarters on Manhattan Island, established a trading post on the Schuylkill in sixteen thirty three.
Swedes established the first permanent settlement in Pennsylvania. They had already founded a colony, New Sweden, on the western shore of Delaware Bay, and in sixteen forty three they moved the colony’s capital to Tinicum Island near present-day Philadelphia. The Dutch captured New Sweden in sixteen fifty five in a contest over control of Delaware Bay and annexed it to their colony of New Netherland. In sixteen forty four the British captured New Netherland, renaming the entire region New York. From this area the colonies of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware were later formed.
The founder of Pennsylvania was William Penn, the son of the wealthy English Admiral Sir William Penn. The younger Penn was a rebellious youth who became a free thinker and joined the Society of Friends, or Quakers. When his father died in sixteen seventy, Penn inherited a sizable fortune, which he soon began to use to help his fellow Quakers escape religious persecution in England.
Penn helped create a Quaker colony in New Jersey, which encouraged him to seek a colony of his own. As payment of a debt the king owed to Penn’s father, Penn asked King Charles the second for a portion of the New York colony. The king, happy to be rid of both the debt and the Quakers, consented. On March forth, sixteen eighty one, the king signed a charter that made Penn proprietor of Pennsylvania, a name chosen to honour the elder Penn. The grant included much of present-day Pennsylvania. Penn later asked for and received the Lower Counties, now Delaware.
Calling his settlement the Holy Experiment, Penn promised religious toleration and participation in lawmaking to anyone who wished to settle there. In response to Penn’s advertisements, English, Welsh, and Dutch Quakers migrated to the colony. They settled much of the area within forty kilometres (twenty five miles) of Philadelphia, which was laid out in sixteen eight two at Penn’s request by Thomas Holme, the colony’s surveyor general. Early in the seven hundreds a large influx of Germans arrived, many of them members of such persecuted religious groups as the Amish, Mennonites, and Schwenkfeldians, followers of Kaspar Schwenkfeld von Ossig, a dissident sixteenth century theologian. They settled the rich farmland between Philadelphia and the Blue Mountains, a region that later became known as Pennsylvania Dutch country (Dutch was a corruption of the word Deutsch, meaning “German”).
Beginning about seventeen eighteen, large numbers of Scots-Irish arrived, and by the seventeen forties, they had settled the mountain valleys beyond the German belt. Many people from Virginia, Maryland, and Connecticut also settled land that, after boundary adjustments, became part of Pennsylvania. The colony grew rapidly, from about twenty thousand inhabitants in seventeen hundred to three hundred thousand in seventeen seventy six. Many different nationalities and religions were represented, but the major groups remained geographically separate, with the English in the east, Germans in the middle, and Scots-Irish in the west.
Penn first visited his colony in sixteen eighty two. The capital had been established at Upland, which Penn renamed Chester. He later named Philadelphia, which was then under construction, as his capital. By the terms of the king’s charter, the only limit on Penn’s authority in the colony was the right of a popular assembly to veto his laws. However, Penn was determined to bring the settlers into the government. His liberal Frame of Government, a written contract between himself as proprietor and the Pennsylvania colonists, was approved by the assembly in sixteen eighty three, and then revised that same year to give the settlers even more voice in the government. Under the new constitution, Penn shared the power to make laws with an elected council, which formed the upper house of the legislature. The assembly, or lower house, had the power to veto or approve laws proposed by the council. The Frame of Government guaranteed freedom of worship, protection of property, and trial by jury, and granted a role in government to Christian men over the age of twenty one who possessed some property or paid a personal tax.
From sixteen ninety two until sixteen ninety four, Penn’s right to govern the colony was revoked by the English monarchs, William the third and Queen Mary, who doubted his loyalty. Penn had been a close friend of King James the second, who had been overthrown and replaced on the throne by William and Mary. The royal governor of New York governed Pennsylvania as well until the monarchs were convinced of Penn’s loyalty and restored his authority.
Quarrels between the two houses of the legislature prompted Penn to alter the government in sixteen ninety six, giving the assembly full power to initiate legislation. Finally, in seventeen zero one, Penn prepared the Charter of Privileges, which remained in force until seventeen seventy six. Under the charter, the council ceased to have a part in legislation, and the assembly expanded so that it became more representative of the people’s interests. The assembly, independent of the governor, scheduled its sessions. The charter also allowed Delaware to form its own assembly, which it did in seventeen zero three.
After Penn’s death in seventeen eighteen, his second wife, Hannah Callowhill Penn, controlled the colony until her death in seventeen twenty seven. Control then passed to three of Penn’s sons, John, Thomas, and Richard Penn. John Penn drifted away from Quakerism, and the other two sons joined the Anglican Church. In the seventeen thirties the Quakers, who controlled the provincial assembly, began a political contest with the Penns that was to last for decades. They organized as the Anti-proprietary Party and sought the support of the prosperous Germans. The Quakers refused to appropriate money for military defence, wished to tax the lands the Penn’s held as proprietors, and tried to convert Pennsylvania into a royal colony. The Penn’s, mobilizing their supporters into the Proprietary Party, demanded appropriations for colonial defence and formed an alliance with the Scots-Irish, who desired better representation in the assembly and protection from raids by Native Americans on the western frontier.
One of the major figures in Pennsylvania and early American history arrived in Philadelphia in seventeen twenty three. Benjamin Franklin, a printer and newspaper editor from Boston, would soon become a powerful figure in the colony’s politics, as well as a noted author, scientist, and philosopher.
The powerful and highly organized Iroquois Confederacy, which acted as an overlord of other Native American groups in Pennsylvania, usually dealt with the colony’s leaders on issues that affected the Shawnee and Delaware. The colonists welcomed the Iroquois’s influence and saw them as an ally against the French in Canada during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
In seventeen thirty seven, the Iroquois’s agent in Pennsylvania, Chief John Shikellamy, helped the Pennsylvania government take over much of the Delaware and Shawnee land in the so-called Walking Purchase, which granted the colonists a strip of land defined by how far a man could walk in a day and a half. By Native American custom, this meant about fifty kilometres (thirty miles), but the colonists used trained athletes to claim a hundred kilometres (sixty miles), covering nearly all of the Delaware homeland. When the Delaware protested, the Iroquois humiliated them and told them to leave the region. Filled with resentment over the fraudulent land deal, many of the Shawnee and Delaware migrated to western Pennsylvania and Ohio and became allies of the French, who promised them a chance for revenge against the British and colonists.
In seventeen fifty four, the Pennsylvania colonists signed another treaty with the Iroquois to purchase a large tract of land west of the Susquehanna. The land was occupied by the Shawnee, Delaware, and Seneca, one of the Iroquois tribes, but their protests were ignored. The two deals set the stage for the dispossessed native groups to join the French and attack the colonies in the French and Indian War (seventeen fifty four to seventeen sixty three).