NOTICE: Citizendium is still being set up on its newer server, treat as a beta for now; please see here for more.
Citizendium - a community developing a quality comprehensive compendium of knowledge, online and free. Click here to join and contribute—free
CZ thanks our previous donors. Donate here. Treasurer's Financial Report -- Thanks to our content contributors. --

Pennsylvania, history

From Citizendium, the Citizens' Compendium
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is a stub and thus not approved.
Main Article
Definition [?]
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
This editable Main Article is under development and not meant to be cited; by editing it you can help to improve it towards a future approved, citable version. These unapproved articles are subject to a disclaimer.

The History of Pennsylvania treats the history of Pennsylvania a large Middle Atlantic state that played a major role in colonial period and 19th century, became a leading industrial state, and has recently lost its heavy industry and become a service-oriented state.

See also

Pre-colonial period

Before Pennsylvania was settled by Europeans, the area was home to the Delaware (also known as Lenni Lenape), Susquehannock, Iroquois, Eriez, Shawnee and other Native American tribes.

The Dutch and Swedes

The Delaware River watershed was claimed by the British based on the explorations of John Cabot in 1497, Captain John Smith and others, and was named for Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, the governor of Virginia. At that time the area was considered to be part of the Virginia colony. However, the Dutch also claimed the area, based on the 1609 explorations of Henry Hudson, and under the auspices of the Dutch West India Company were the first Europeans to actually occupy the land, opening two small settlements. Peter Minuit left the Dutch West India Company and was employed by [Sweden, then a major power in European politics. He set up the New Sweden Company and led a small group of settlers in 1638 to Fort Christina (now in Wilmington, Delaware). By 1644 there were several hundred Swedish and Finnish settlers. The Finns introduced the log cabin, which was ideally suited to the forested new world. The Dutch seized the Swedish communities in 1655 and in turn were defeated by the English in 1664, leaving the Duke of York the proprietary owner. The Swedes eventually intermarried and by the 1770s had fully assimilated.

The British colonial period

In March 1681, King Charles II, in payment of a longs-standing debt to Admiral William Penn granted a land tract to his son William Penn for the area that now includes Pennsylvania. Penn then founded a colony there as a place of religious freedom for Quakers, and named it for his father, adding the Latin sylvania meaning "Penn's woods".

William Penn, after painting by West

The western portions of Pennsylvania were among disputed territory between the colonial British and French during the French and Indian War. The French established numerous fortifications in the area, including the pivotal Fort Duquesne on top of which the city of Pittsburgh was built.

The colony's reputation of religious freedom also attracted significant populations of German and Scots-Irish settlers who helped to shape colonial Pennsylvania and later went on to populate the neighboring states farther west.


In order to give his new province access to the ocean, Penn had leased the proprietary rights of the King's brother, James, Duke of York to what became known as the "three lower counties" on the Delaware River. The Province of Pennsylvania was never merged with the Delaware because the Duke of York, and therefore Penn, never had a clear title to it. He did govern them both, however, and his deputy governors were assigned to both as well. In Penn's Frame of Government of 1682, he tried to establish a combined assembly by providing for equal membership from each county and requiring legislation to have the assent of both the "Lower Counties" (Delaware) and the Upper Counties (Pennsylvania) of Chester, Philadelphia and Bucks. The meeting place also alternated between Philadelphia and New Castle, . Once Philadelphia began to grow its leaders resented having to go to New Castle and gain agreement of the assemblymen from the sparsely populated Lower Counties and so there was a mutual agreement in 1704 for the two assemblies to meet separately.


Penn tried to make Pennsylvania a "holy experiment," by a union of temporal and spiritual matters. A large tract of land north and west of Philadelphia, in Montgomery, Chester, and Delaware Counties, was settled by Welsh Quakers and called the "Welsh Tract". Many Quakers moved to Philadelphia where they established a flourishing business community specializing in international trade.

Quakers took political control of the colony but were bitterly split on the funding of military operations or defenses; finally they relinquished political power. They created a second "holy experiment" by extensive involvement in voluntary benevolent associations while remaining apart from government. Programs of civic activism included building schools, hospitals and asylums for the entire city. Their new tone was an admonishing moralism born from a feeling of crisis. Even more extensive philanthropy was possible because of the wealth of the Quaker merchants based in Philadelphia. [1]

The Revolution

Most of Pennsylvania's residents generally supported the protests and dismay common to all 13 colonies after the Proclamation of 1763 and the Stamp Act. Pennsylvanians originally supported the idea of common action, and sent delegates to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765. When difficulties continued, they sent delegates to the first Continental Congress and its later meetings. Philadelphia, the largest city in the colonies, hosted the Continental Congress (with interruptions when the British occupied the city, 1777-1778).

Constitution of 1776

In June 1776 a convention of delegates met in Philadelphia. They had been selected by the Committees of Correspondence, the Sons of Liberty, and other revolutionary groups around the state. By June, the old Assembly altered their delegate instructions in an effort to remain effective. but it was too late. A Committee was formed with Benjamin Franklin as chair and George Bryan and James Cannon as prominent members. By September 28, 1776 the Convention produced a constitution.

The Constitution called for a unicameral legislature or Assembly. Executive authority rested in a Supreme Executive Council whose members were to be appointed by the assembly. This constitution was never formally adopted. In elections during 1776 radicals gained control of the Assembly. By early 1777, they selected an executive council, and Thomas Wharton, Jr. was named as the President of the Council. This ad-hoc government continued through the revolution, and would not be replaced until the Constitution of 1790.

The revolutionary war

Antebellum and Civil War

Pennsylvania was the target of several raids by the Confederate States Army, including cavalry raids in 1862 and 1863 by J.E.B. Stuart, in 1863 by John Imboden, and in 1864 by John McCausland in which his troopers burned the city of Chambersburg.

The critical 3-day Battle of Gettysburg took place July 1-3, 1863, decisively defeating the invasion by Robert E. Lee. Union armies failed to trap Lee and he escaped back to Virginia. Dead from this battle rest at Gettysburg National Cemetery, site of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in November, 1863, which redefined American democracy.

Industrial Power, 1865-1900

In the latter half of the 19th century, the oil industry was born in western Pennsylvania; it supplied the nation with kerosene for years and saw the rise of Standard Oil Company monopoly oil controlled by the Rockefellers.

Ethnicity and Labor 1865-1945

Pennsylvania received large numbers of European immigrants. Before 1890 most came from Germany, ireland and Britain. From 1890 until 1914 (when World War I closed off travel), most came from eastern and southern Europe, and included many Slavs and Italians. They took unskilled jobs in factories, steel mills, and coal mines.

Progressive Pennsylvania 1900-1930

Depression and War 1929-1950

WPA poster by Isadore Popoff, 1937

Decline of manufacturing and mining: 1950-75

During the 20th century Pennsylvania's existing iron industries expanded into a major center of steel production. Shipbuilding and numerous other forms of manufacturing flourished in the eastern part of the state, and coal mining was the basic industry (supplemented by textiles) in many mountain areas. The state was hard-hit by the decline of the steel industry and other heavy U.S. industries during the late 20th century.

In 1962, the Republican party which had lost the two previous gubernatorial elections and seen the state's electoral votes go Democratic in the 1960 presidential election, became convinced that a moderate like Bill Scranton would have enough bipartisan appeal to revitalize the party. He ran for Governor of Pennsylvania against Richardson Dilworth, the mayor of Philadelphia. The ticket was balanced by having Raymond P. Shafer, who would succeed him as governor, as his running mate. After one of the most acrimonious campaigns in state history, the Scranton/Shafer team won a landslide victory in the election besting their opponents by nearly half a million votes out of just over than 6.6 million cast.

As governor 1963-67, Scranton signed into law sweeping reforms in the state's education system including creation of the state community college system, the state board of education, and the state Higher Education Assistance Agency. Furthermore, he created a program designed to promote the state in national and international markets and to increase the attractiveness of the state's products and services.

The Service State: 1975-Present

Pennsylvania has suffered severely from the fall of steel and coal. Economic failure, severe population loss in many areas, closed-up factories, and much more. However, beginning in the late 1970s, Pennsylvania began to turn around and make a recovery. At every new census, the state grew faster than the previous ten years. Many new immigrants, especially from Asia and Latin America, have arrived for many reasons. Dirty, lifeless towns have become vibrant, growing places. Jobs and companies have begun transferring their headquarters to the state, and Pennsylvania has one of the best economies in the nation. With the turnaround from manufacturing, the state has turned to service industries. Healthcare, retail, transportation, and tourism are some of the state's biggest industries of this era.


Bob Casey was the governor, 1987-1995--Casey was an Irish American Democrat "pol" of the old school, the son and grandson of coal miners, who championed unions and believed in government as a beneficent force. Casey pushed through the legislature the "Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act," which placed limitations on abortion, including the notification of parents of minors, a twenty-four-hour waiting period, and a ban on partial-birth procedures except in cases of risk to the mother's life. Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania sued, with Casey as the named defendant, asserting that the law violated Roe v. Wade. The case went to the Supreme Court in April, 1992. The Court decided The Court decided Planned Parenthood v. Casey on June 29th, upholding all of Pennsylvania's contested restrictions but one (a requirement for spousal notification) and affirming the right of states to restrict abortions.[2] At the national level Governor Casey was the most prominent pro-life Democrat and he demanded publicly to give a minority plank on abortion at the 1992 Democratic National Convention. He was refused, and protested loudly. In 1994, Casey refused to endorse Harris Wofford, the Democrat he had appointed to the Senate and who was running for re-election. The reason was Casey rejected Wofford's pro-choice (pro-abortion) views. The result was a deep split in the state Democratic party that helped elect arch-conservative Republican Rick Santorum in 1994. Casey’s critics within the Democratic Party accused him of treason.[3] The Democratic divisiveness over abortion did not fade away so in 2006, five years after Casey's death, national Democratic leaders promoted Casey's son Bob Casey, Jr. for Senator as a way of defusing the issue and attracting disaffected pro-life Democrats; the son defeated Santorum by a landslide.[4]



  • Miller, Randall M. and William A. Pencak, eds. Pennsylvania: A History of the Commonwealth (2002) detailed scholarly history
  • Beers, Paul B. Pennsylvania Politics Today and Yesterday (1980), government textbook
  • Harris, Howard ed. Keystone of Democracy: A History of Pennsylvania Workers," (1999), 361pp essays by scholars
  • Klein, Philip S and Ari Hoogenboom. A History of Pennsylvania (1973).
  • Weigley, Russell. Philadelphia: A 300-Year History (1982)

Pre 1900

  • Brunhouse, Robert L. The Counter-Revolution in Pennsylvania, 1776-1790, 1942 online edition
  • Buck, Solon J., Clarence McWilliams and Elizabeth Hawthorn Buck. The Planting of Civilization in Western Pennsylvania (1939), social history online edition
  • Dunaway, Wayland F. The Scotch-Irish of Colonial Pennsylvania (1944) online edition
  • Frantz, John B.. and William Pencak; Beyond Philadelphia? The American Revolution in the Pennsylvania Hinterland 1998 online edition
  • Higginbotham, Sanford W. The Keystone in the Democratic Arch: Pennsylvania Politics, 1800-1816 (1952) online edition
  • Illick, Joseph E. Colonial Pennsylvania: A History (1976) online edition
  • Ireland, Owen S. Religion, Ethnicity, and Politics: Ratifying the Constitution in Pennsylvania (1995) online edition
  • Kehl, James A. Boss Rule in the Gilded Age: Matt Quay of Pennsylvania (1981) online edition
  • Kenny, Kevin. Making Sense of the Molly Maguires (1998) online edition
  • Klees, Fredric. The Pennsylvania Dutch (1950)
  • Klein, Philip Shriver. Pennsylvania Politics, 1817-1832: A Game without Rules (1940) online edition
  • McCullough, David. The Johnstown Flood (1987)
  • Mueller, Henry R. The Whig Party in Pennsylvania (1922)
  • Smith, Billy G. The "Lower Sort": Philadelphia's Laboring People, 1750-1800 (1990) online edition
  • Snyder, Charles Mccool. The Jacksonian Heritage: Pennsylvania Politics, 1833-1848 (1958) online edition
  • Sullivan, William A. The Industrial Worker in Pennsylvania, 1800-1840 Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1955 online edition
  • Thayer; Theodore. Pennsylvania Politics and the Growth of Democracy: 1740- 1776. 1953. online edition
  • Tinkcom, Harry Marlin. The Republicans and Federalists in Pennsylvania, 1790-1801: A Study in National Stimulus and Local Response (1950) online edition
  • Williamson, Harold F. and Arnold R. Daum. The American Petroleum Industry: The Age of Illumination, 1859-1899 (1959) online edition
  • Wood, Ralph. et al. The Pennsylvania Germans (1942) online edition
  • Wulf, Karin. Not All Wives: Women of Colonial Philadelphia. Cornell University Press, 2000 online edition

Since 1900

  • John Bodnar; Immigration and Industrialization: Ethnicity in an American Mill Town, 1870-1940, (1977), on Steelton online edition
  • Thomas Dublin and Walter Licht, The Face of Decline: The Pennsylvania Anthracite Region in the Twentieth Century Cornell University Press, (2005). ISBN 0-8014-8473-1.
  • Kenneth J. Heineman; A Catholic New Deal: Religion and Reform in Depression Pittsburgh, 1999 online edition
  • M. Nelson McGeary, Gifford Pinchot: Forester-Politician (1960) Republican governor 1923–1927 and 1931–1935
  • Warren, Kenneth. Big Steel: The First Century of the United States Steel Corporation, 1901-2001 (2002)

Primary sources

  • Carocci, Vincent P. A Capitol Journey: Reflections on the Press, Politics, and the Making Of Public Policy In Pennsylvania. (2005) memoir by senior aide to Gov Casey in 1990sexcerpts online
  • Casey, Robert P. Fighting for Life: The Story of a Courageous Pro-Life Democrat Whose Own Brush with Death Made Medical History. Dallas, Texas: Word Publishing (1996). Autobiography. Hardcover: ISBN 0-849-91224-5, ISBN 978-0-84991-224-5.
  • Dubois, W. E. B. The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study (1899) online edition
  • Myers, Albert Cook, ed., Narratives of Early Pennsylvania, West New Jersey and Delaware, 1630-1707, (1912) online edition
  • Soderlund, Jean R. ed; William Penn and the Founding of Pennsylvania: A Documentary History 1983 online edition

External links


  1. Illick (1976) p 225
  2. Boyer 2005
  3. Carocci 2005, who says "In my judgment, his [Wofford's] decision to support the Clinton position on abortion may have cost him his seat in the U.S. Senate." online excerpt
  4. Shailagh Murray, "Democrats Seek to Avert Abortion Clashes, The Washington Post January 21, 2007 page=A5; Peter J Boyer. "The Right to Choose", The New Yorker November 14, 2005 online