Pennsylvania State History – War, History, Capital, Population, Facts & Geography of Pennsylvania

Native Americans

The land of Pennsylvania was inhabited by Native American tribes long before the arrival of the first Europeans. These tribes included the Shawnee of the southwest, the Susquehannock of the south, the Delaware of the southeast, and the Iroquois of the north (the Oneidas and Senecas).

Information about Pennsylvania State:

Capital Harrisburg
Population 12,972,008 (Source: 2022 U.S. Census)
Major Cities Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, Reading, Scranton, Bethlehem
Borders Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) $961,945.6 million (2022 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis)
Key Industries Agriculture including apples, mushrooms, Christmas trees, chickens, and grapes
Electronics equipment, banking, insurance, pharmaceuticals, steel, and food processing

Flag of Pennsylvania State:

Europeans Arrive

A European began exploring the Pennsylvania area in his early 1600s. British explorer Captain John Smith said he traveled up the Susquehanna River in 1608 and met with several Native Americans in the area.

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Henry Hudson also explored the area in 1609 on behalf of the Dutch. Both England and Holland claimed ownership of the land, but it took several years before people began settling in Pennsylvania.

An English Colony

The first settlers to the area were the Dutch and Swedes. However, in 1664 the British defeated the Dutch and took control of the area. In 1681 William Penn received a large estate from King Charles II of England. He named the country Pennsylvania after his surname “Pen” and its forests in his country (“Sylvania” is Latin for “forest”).

Penn wanted his colony to be a place of religious freedom. Some of the first settlers were Welsh Quakers who were looking for a place where they could practice their religion without persecution. In the early 18th century, European immigration to Pennsylvania increased. Many of them came from Germany and Ireland.

Pennsylvania State Symbols

  • Pennsylvania State Nickname: Keystone State
  • Pennsylvania State Slogan: State of Independence; (formerly) Memories Last a Lifetime, You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania
  • Pennsylvania State Motto: Virtue, liberty, and independence
  • Pennsylvania State flower: Mountain Laurel
  • Pennsylvania State bird: Ruffed Grouse
  • Pennsylvania State fish: Brook trout
  • Pennsylvania State tree: Hemlock
  • Pennsylvania State mammal: White-tailed deer, Great Dane
  • Pennsylvania State foods: Chocolate Chip Cookie

Border Disputes

During the 18th century, Pennsylvania experienced many border disputes with other colonies. Parts of northern Pennsylvania were claimed by New York and Connecticut, the exact southern boundary was disputed with Maryland, and parts of the southwest were claimed by both Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Most of these disputes were settled in 1800. The boundary with Maryland, named the Mason-Dixon Line after surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, was drawn in 1767. Later this was considered the boundary between the north and south.

American Revolution

When the American colonies decided to fight for their independence during the American Revolutionary War, Pennsylvania was the center of activity. Philadelphia served as the capital for most of the Revolution and was the site of the First and Second Continental Congresses. It was at Independence Hall in Philadelphia that the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776.

Several battles were fought in Pennsylvania as the British tried to capture Philadelphia. In 1777, the British defeated the Americans at the Battle of Brandywine and then captured Philadelphia. That winter, General George Washington and the Continental Army stayed in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, not far from Philadelphia. A year later, in 1778, the British left New York City and retreated to New York City.

After the war ended, a constitutional convention was held in Philadelphia in 1787 and a new constitution and government were established for the country. On December 12, 1787, Pennsylvania ratified the Constitution, becoming her second state to join the Union.

The Geography of Pennsylvania State:

  • Total Size of Pennsylvania: 44,817 sq. miles (source: 2003 Census)
  • Geographical Low Point of Pennsylvania: Delaware River at Sea Level (source: U.S. Geological Survey)
  • Geographical High Point of Pennsylvania: Mt. Davis at 3,213 feet, located in the county/subdivision of Somerset (source: U.S. Geological Survey)
  • Central Point of Pennsylvania: Located in Centre County approx. 2 1/2 miles southwest of Bellefonte (source: U.S. Geological Survey)
  • Counties of Pennsylvania: 67 (source: National Association of Counties)
  • Bodies of Water of Pennsylvania: Lake Erie, Allegheny Reservoir, Raystown Lake, Delaware River, Susquehanna River, Allegheny River, Monongahela River

Civil War

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Pennsylvania remained loyal to the Union Army and played a pivotal role in the war. The state provided more than 360,000 men and supplies to the Union Army. Because of Pennsylvania’s proximity to the north-south border, southern Pennsylvania was invaded by Confederate forces.

The largest battle in the state was the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, which many consider to be the turning point in the war. Gettysburg is also the site of Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address.

Famous People of Pennsylvania State:

Chris Matthews Talk show host
Joe Montana Football Player
Joe Namath Football Player
Fred Rogers Host of Mr. Rogers TV show
Betsy Ross Designer of the U.S. Flag
Will Smith Actor
Jimmy Stewart Actor
Taylor Swift Singer and songwriter
Andy Warhol Artist
Milton Hershey Founder of the Hershey Chocolate Corporation
Rachel Carson Environmentalist
James Buchanan 15th President of the United States
Kobe Bryant Basketball player
Daniel Boone American explorer and folk hero
Guion S. Bluford First African-American in space

Interesting Facts of Pennsylvania State:

Pennsylvania is also known as Keystone State because it lies at the heart of the original 13 colonies.

The Constitution of the United States, the Declaration of Independence, and the Gettysburg Address were all written in Pennsylvania.

The first zoo in America was the Philadelphia Zoo.

The first public school in the American colonies was in Philadelphia.

William Penn founded the Pennsylvania Colony. He was given land by King Charles II of England.

The first commercial radio station was his KDKA in Pittsburgh. Founded in 1920.

Home to the world’s largest chocolate factory, Hershey is called the chocolate capital of the world. The whole town is wrapped in the scent of chocolate. delicious!

The Philadelphia Zoo is the oldest zoo in the country, he opened in 1874.

The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is a symbol of American independence.

Timeline Overview:

1608 – British explorer Captain John Smith sails up the Susquehanna River.
1609 – Henry Hudson claims most of the area for the Dutch.
1643 – Swedish settlers discover the first settlement.
1664 – The country comes under British rule.
1681 – William Penn receives a large estate from Charles II. He calls it Pennsylvania.
1701 – The Charter of Privilege is signed by William Penn and the government is established.
1731 – America’s first library is opened by Benjamin Franklin.
1767 – The Mason-Dixon Line is agreed as the southern boundary with Maryland.
1774 – First Continental Congress is held in Philadelphia.
1775 – The 2nd Continental Congress is convened and the Continental Army is established with George Washington as leader.
1777 – The city of Philadelphia is occupied by British forces.
1780 – Slavery is abolished.
1787 – Pennsylvania ratifies the Constitution, becoming the second state.
1812 – State capital moved to Harrisburg.
1835 – The Liberty Bell explodes.
1863 – Battle of Gettysburg takes place. It is the turning point of the Civil War.
1953 – Dr. Jonas Salk discovers the polio vaccine while on duty at the University of Pittsburgh.