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Colonization and Development of Pennsylvania

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Colonization and Development of Pennsylvania

King Charles II owed William Penn £16,000, money which Admiral Penn had lent him. Penn asked the King to grant him land in the territory between Lord Baltimore's province of Maryland and the Duke of York's province of New York. With the Duke's support, Penn's petition was granted. The King signed the Charter of Pennsylvania on March 4, 1681, and it was officially proclaimed on April 2. The King named the new colony in honor of William Penn's father; here the history of the successful and tolerant colony begins. Pennsylvania played a very important role in development of what we know as United States of America now.

Political history of Pennsylvania is very bright and controversial. There was a natural conflict between the proprietary and popular elements in the government. As a result of the English Revolution of 1688, Penn was deprived of his province. A popular party led by David Lloyd demanded greater powers for the Assembly. In December 1699, the Proprietor again visited Pennsylvania and, just before his return to England, agreed with the Assembly on a revised constitution, the Charter of Privileges. This gave the Assembly full legislative powers and permitted the three Delaware counties to have a separate legislature. William Penn's heirs were often in conflict with the Assembly, which was usually dominated by the Quakers. The people of the frontier areas contended with the people of the older, southeastern region for more adequate representation in the Assembly and better protection in time of war.

Economical system of Pennsylvania is its strength and proud. From its beginning, Pennsylvania ranked as a leading agricultural area and produced surpluses for export, adding to its wealth. Wheat and corn were the leading crops. Prosperous farming area was developed in southeastern parts of colony. Arts, crafts, and textile production grew rapidly. Sawmills and gristmills appeared, using the power of the streams. Shipbuilding became important on the Delaware. The province early gained importance in iron manufacture. Printing, publishing, and papermaking, as well as tanning, were significant industries. The rivers were important as early arteries of commerce and were soon supplemented by roads in the southeastern area. Trade with the Indians for furs was important in the colonial period. Later, the transport and sale of farm products to Philadelphia and Baltimore, by water and road, formed an important business. Philadelphia became one of the most important foreign trade centers and the commercial metropolis in the colonies.

Pennsylvania had very rich cultural and social life. First of all, Pennsylvania was multi-cultural. The failure of all attempts by Indians and colonists to live side by side led the Indians to migrate westward, leaving Pennsylvania. Open territories were shared by majority of English Quakers, thousands of Germans, Scotch-Irish (which became one-fourth of population), smaller groups of Irish, Welsh, French, Jewish, Dutch and Swedes and African Americans,(mostly slaves and servants). Pennsylvania was popular for its religious tolerance. Big Lutheran and later Catholic churches, as well as smaller sects: Mennonites, Amish, German Baptist Brethren or "Dunkers," Schwenkfelders, and Moravians were common for this area. Because of the liberality of Penn's principles and the freedom of expression that prevailed, the province was noted for the variety and strength of its intellectual and educational institutions and interests. An academy which held its first classes in 1740 became the College of Philadelphia in 1755, and ultimately grew into the University of Pennsylvania. It was the only nondenominational college of the colonial period. The arts, the sciences, and the public buildings of Philadelphia were the marvel of the colonies. Many fine old buildings in the Philadelphia area still bear witness to the richness of Pennsylvania's civilization in the 18th century. Newspapers and magazines flourished, as did law and medicine. Pennsylvania can claim America's first hospital, first library, and first insurance company.

Established by William Penn Pennsylvania was very successful, and played an important role in development of Middle English colonies and America in general. By 1776, the Province of Pennsylvania had become the third largest English colony in America, though next to the last to be founded. Its bright political history, (which provided people with Charter of Privileges), well-developed, prolific economical system, and rich cultural life during colonial period impresses even nowadays.

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