Pennsylvania is rich in history in the period before and during the formation of America. Tourists return year after year to see the monuments where pivotal events in history happened, including the Liberty Bell, Gettysburg battlefield, and more. These are the most significant historical events that happened in Pennsylvania.
The founding of the colony
William Penn was granted the land by King Charles II of England in 1681 for a debt the king owed. The name Pennsylvania comes from Penn and the Latin word for woodland, sylvania. It was one of the first 13 colonies and Penn meant for it to be a haven for his fellow Quakers to practice their religion without persecution.
The capital of Pennsylvania at the time, Philadelphia, was instrumental in the formation of what is now the United States of America. There were two Continental Congresses held there, the first in 1774 and the second the year after. That second congress would produce the Declaration of Independence, which was signed in 1776. The declaration would be the spark that lit the fire of the American Revolution, which ran up to 1783. That declaration and the war that followed is responsible for America being formed, and Pennsylvania was where it all happened.
U.S. Constitution and the American Revolution
The American Revolution saw war on the borders of the state, and while there was external struggle happening, Pennsylvania internally struggling for its own identity. In the middle of it, in 1780, the state became the first to abolish slavery. It also ratified a radical state constitution.
The Constitutional Convention was held in Philadelphia, and so Pennsylvania is the place where the American constitution was written in 1787. There were delegates from each state sent to be a part of the four-month-long task of hashing out the details. At the end of the process, Pennsylvania became the second state, after Delaware, to ratify the constitution and be admitted to the new Union, with a motto of “Virtue, Liberty, and Independence”.
Famous American patriot and inventor Benjamin Franklin is seen as a son of Philadelphia, even though he was born in Massachusetts. He moved to Philadelphia at the age of 17. His legacy includes both civic and scientific achievements, and while in Philadelphia he founded both the fire company and the library company of the city.
The Battle of Gettysburg
The new union would not have it easy, as almost 100 years later America erupted into civil war. The iconic Battle of Gettysburg was fought in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in July 1863. The defeat of the Confederate Army would stop the invasion of the North, and bring the war to a close, reuniting the divided country. Gettysburg is also the site of Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address. This is one of the best-known speeches in American history. In part two of this series, the most significant historical events in Pennsylvania to happen after the 1800s will be covered.