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Pennsylvania: Colonial Times - 1876


Important People


Philadelphia was known as the "Athens of America" because of its rich cultural life. Penn’s ideas on freedom succeeded and the province strengthen its intellectual and educational institutions. Arts, sciences, newspapers, magazines, law, and medicine flourished. Pennsylvania provided a lot of opportunities for people to explore new things. Education and cultural fields expanded. Philadelphia was the center of new enterprises and greatly developed.


The first catholic chapel was made in 1733. Pennsylvania had the second largest Catholic population amongst the colonies. There were anti-Catholic riots in 1844 but later, German and Irish immigrants added to the catholic population in the state.

PA ha a significant Jewish population

1789 John Carroll became the first catholic bishop in America

Quakers had their fist meeting at Upland (Chester) in 1675

Germans belonged to Lutheran and reformed churches.

Other sects: Mennonites, Amish, Baptists


1834 Free School Act started with initiated a series of public schools.

1852 state teachers association started

1860 there were six public high schools in the state.

Philadelphia was the leader in music publishing, piano manufacture, and the birthplace of American opera; making the city the theatrical center of America until 1830.

The world’s first computer was developed at the University of Pennsylvania.

Today there are 200 schools, even some founded before 1865.

Population and Immigration

William Penn was born on October, in London. He was the wealthy son of Admiral William Penn and used his money to support and protect his fellow believers, the Quakers. It was an unpopular religion but he was socially accepted amongst the community because of his ties/relationship with the Duke of York, later King James II. King Charles II granted William’s requests for land in the new world because he owed Penn money. The Charter of Pennsylvania was officially Penn’s on April 2, 1681. The new colony was named after Penn’s father. Because of William Penn’s practices of peace, before settling in PA, he brought the claims of land from the Indians. Although after the French and Indian war, the Indians and colonists sill couldn’t live side by side. So the Indians gradually migrated westward, eventually leaving PA.

English Quakers (some were Irish and Welsh) made up most of the population. They thrived in agriculture and commercial, soon making Philadelphia the center of intellectual and commercial life.

Germans made up one third of the population and the German immigration increased after 1727. They contributed greatly to expanding prosperity of the colony through their skill in farming. They made the region into a rich farming country.

Scottish and Irish came in 1717 and made one fourth of the population in 1776.

In the 1840s Irish fled into America because of the potato famine. Germans also came because they were running from the political turbulence in their country. By 1850, the population was scattered about throughout the state.

African Americans were considered free men because of the Quakers beliefs against slavery. In 1790, 6,300 slaves out of 10,000 received their freedom. The Pennsylvania slave population dropped from 2,727 to 64. In 1850 all Pennsylvania African Americans were free except they were run away slaves from the South. The African American community continued to grow and in 1860 there were 57,000 free people.

Pennsylvania also composed many other ethnic groups from northern Europe: English, Irish, Scottish, Germans; and later Slavic, Italian, Scandinavian, and Jewish immigrants.

This wide variety of ethnic groups created an open-minded tolerance, which helped PA flourish.

PA was the third largest English colony in American and Philadelphia was the second largest English-speaking city in the world behind London.