Pennsylvania History

The history of Pennsylvania before the arrival of European settlers includes the Pennsylvania history of various Native American tribes, including the Delaware, the Iroquois and the Shawnee, although these are just a few of the native tribes who once inhabited the area today known as Pennsylvania. As early as the 17th century, conflicts between settlers and existing native inhabitants were recorded as increasing numbers of Europeans began making their way to North America.

Pennsylvania history during the British colonial period got its major start in 1681 when the current King of England, Charles II, gave William Penn a section of land in what would eventually be the modern day state of Pennsylvania. William Penn, a devout Quaker, went on to found a Quaker colony in Pennsylvania surrounding the area that would eventually become the city of Philadelphia. Many of the counties surrounding Philadelphia are still known by their original Welsh-Quaker names, including Chester and Montgomery counties.

As the population of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania grew, so did the need for cohesive government structures. Pennsylvania history goes on to reflect the growing resentment of the new government structures in the new world against the ruling British government back in Europe. The history of Pennsylvania includes the support of most of the citizens of the city of Philadelphia and surrounding townships for the revolt against the British, particularly when a British soldier opened fire against a civilian during a peaceful protest in Pennsylvania. Although not all citizens of the colonies agreed with the revolt, citizens of Pennsylvania almost overwhelmingly supported it.

Pennsylvania history records the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence outside of Independence Hall near the brand new Liberty Bell. The history of Pennsylvania also goes on to include most of the planning for the American Revolution and the writing of the new Constitution of the United States. For many of the early years of the United States, Philadelphia was the federal seat of government for the new country until it was moved to Washington D.C. Later, Pennsylvania would also be the site of the Battle of Gettysburg, one of the bloodiest and most decisive battles of the American Civil War. The Gettysburg National Military Museum and the Gettysburg National Cemetery are both found in Gettysburg today and serve to memorialize these events.

As the state of Pennsylvania continued to develop, the Pennsylvania railroad began to be an important part of connecting the people of Pennsylvania with the rest of the country. Pennsylvania railroad history includes the opening of the Pennsylvania railroad in the 1860s, which connected Pennsylvania with Baltimore in Maryland. Pennsylvania railroad history goes on to recorded the inclusion of the United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Companies, which connected Camden and New York City with the city of Philadelphia. Finally, in the 1870s Pennsylvania railroad history included the opening of the Union Railroad, which officially opened on July 24th, 1873. The Union Railroad provided additional direct connections between Philadelphia and the rest of the major cities of the Union.

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